StarTimes Uganda Premier League
Express FC 1-1 Vipers SC
Betway-Mutessa II Stadium, Wankulukuku
WANKULUKUKU – Tito Okello scored a controversial late goal as Express and Vipers draw 1-1 in the StarTimes Uganda Premier League.
In a game that Vipers failed to click, Tito scored with nine minutes to play, cancelling out Tony Odur’s first half penalty as the two rivals each walked home with a point.
It was a frasturating afternoon for the Venoms, evident with the substitutions of Moses Waiswa and Dan Sserunkuma, two of Vipers’ most important players.
Vipers started slowly, with Express on the front foot but could not capitalize as the Red Eagles missed several chances.
Michael Birungi, Tony Odur and Eric Kambale were all guilty of missing chances in the opening 28 minutes.
However, a minute to the half hour mark, Odur put the host ahead, converting from the spot after Ibrahim Kayiwa was brought down inside the area.
Just a few minutes later, Express’ Isaac Mutanga handled the ball in the area and the referee Ronaldie Kirangwa pointed to the spot but Daniel Sserunkuma sent the resulting kick wide of the target.
Express went into half time with a single goal caution.
At the start of the second half, Martinez took of Waiswa and introduced fresh legs in Abraham Ndugwa as Vipers chased the game.
The Venoms looked to be in control of proceedings but were always suspect to counter attacks and on 50 minutes, Odur made an excellent run down the right and delivered a cross for Kambale but the striker could only blaze over while inside the area.
Moments later, Express broke again but Birungi did no better than Kambale as the former KCCA midfielder shot straight at Mutombora.
The Red Eagles were nearly made to pay for the missed opportunities as Sserunkuma ran through on goal but shot wide will one on one with goalkeeper Mathais Muwanga.
In an attempt to cub Vipers’ dominance, Kambale was booked for a challenge on Tadeo Lwanga inside the center circle.
Just past the hour mark, Tito Okello was brought on in place of Sserunkuma to add more fresh legs upfront for the Venoms.
Odur who had been complaining to the referee all day eventually entered into Kirangwa’s black book for descent on 66 minutes.
Three minutes later, Kayiwa found himself unmarked in the area following Kambale’s lay off but shot agonizingly wide on the volley.
In a last throw of the dice, Martinez took off Tom Matsiko and introduced Duncan Sseninde and what a tactical switch that would later prove to be.
With nine minutes to play, Sseninde sent in a free-kick from the left which was half cleared by Express, Geoffrey Wasswa sent the ball back into the area and it found Tito unmarked in the area to tap past Muwanga for 1-1.
The goal angered Express fans and players on and off the pitch respectively who claimed Tito had been off-side as the ball came to him. Despite protests, referee-Kirangwa allowed the goal to stand.
Express then made two quick substitutions with Shafick Kaketo and Davis Mayanja coming on for Isaac Mutanga and Badru Nsubuga respectively.
Express got a glorious opportunity to win it with only a minute to play but Odur who had ran through on goal decided to play in Kayiwa while one on one with Mutombora. This allowed Ibrahim Kiyrmba to intercept the intended pass end eventually clear the ball to safety.
At the sound of the final whistle, Express fans who had been angered by the officials’ officiation all day went crazy and tried to attack the referee who had to be escorted off the pitch by anti riot Police.
The point means Express drop a spot into 6th on the table with 12 points from their first seven games while Vipers are second level on points (15) with leaders KCCA FC.
The other games played on Wednesday:
– Police FC 2-1 Tooro United
– Paidah Black Angels 0-2 Mbarara City
– Maroons 2-1 Onduparaka FC