Uganda Premier League
Mbarara City FC 1-0 Vipers SC
Kakyeka Stadium, Mbarara
Vipers SC were denied a chance to retain top spot in the Uganda Premier League as they lost 1-0 away to Mbarara City FC on Saturday.
After a goalless first half in which both sides enjoyed spells of relative domination, former Vipers striker Henry Kitegenyi scored the only goal of the contest after racing onto a long ball and applying a neat dinked finish.
It was a game that saw Vipers line up in an unusual 3:4:3 formation, one that saw them struggle to deal with the aerial prowess of the Mbarara City forward line.
The result sees Vipers stay second on the League standings with 27 points, one behind leaders Express FC who beat Busoga United 1-0 on Friday.
For Mbarara City, they climb into 10th spot with 13 points from 12 games.
Venoms fail Mbarara test to lose unbeaten start
Vipers were looking to return to the top of the table having started the day just a point behind leaders Express FC.
With a twitch in the set-up as Ibrahim Orit looked to be playing at left wing-back, it was interesting to see how the Venoms would cope with a three-man back line for the first time this season.
They started the brighter side and Orit seemed to be excelling in his new role down the left channel.
Off the first corner of the contest, Ceaser Manzoki headed Paul Mucurezi’s delivery onto the cross bar and out for just a corner.
Orit would moments later swing a cross into the area but Mucurezi directed his header wide after Mbarara failed to clear their lines.
The former Mbarara City duo also combined on the break but Orit shot straight at Ssekeba from an acute angle.
The Venoms were however struggling at the other end, letting in several crosses from the left as Halid Lwaliwa lacked enough cover with several Mbarara players running at him freely as they looked to supply their forwards.
The back-three with Willa playing on the right was clearly hurting the visitors and after failing to deal with a long ball, Kitegenyi made them pay dearly, five minutes after the break.
Having appreciated that the set-up was hurting them, Kajoba sent on Rashid Toha, do deal with the aerial short comings, in place of Jospeh Dhata, something that looked to have worked as the Venoms looked far better defensively.
With the game slowly slipping away, Vipers set into desperation mode as first, Orit sent a wild effort into the side netting and then the winger forced Ssekeba into a good save with a shot from just inside the area before seeing a goal-bound strike charged down by the impressive Karim Ramathan.
In the last few minutes, Kajoba’s side resorted to long balls but could not hurt a well organised Mbarara City back-line.
In the end, the Venoms could not find a leveler as they were subjected to a first loss of the campaign, halting their unbeaten run at 11 games.
Mbarara hang on for famous result
Mbarara City have endured mixed form of late and were coming off a 3-1 loss at the hands of Police FC at Lugogo.
Returning home, this would not be an ideal fixture for them as they were coming up against the defending champions and a side that they had not defeated since their latest return to the top flight in 2017.
After a shaky start that saw them allow Manzoki to head onto the cross bar, hey looked to have grown into the contest after the quarter hour mark.
Makweth Wol failed to direct Henry Kitegenyi’s fierce low drive as the South Sudanase striker found the skies instead of the back of the net from with the goal at his mercy.
Edwok shot over from outside the box, Jude Ssemugabi allowed Bashir Ssekagya to bail out Lwaliwa who had played a short back-pass back to his goal keeper while Kitegenye headed across goal from a Ssemugabi well-weighted cross.
The host’s best chance in the first half fell to Bebe Swalik but the day’s captain, in the absence of Hillary Mukundane who was suspended, shot wide from inside the area with Ssekagya stranded.
Five minutes after the break, Kitegenyi raced onto a long ball behind the Vipers back-line and sent it over the stranded Ssekagya and into the back of the net.
Kitegenyi could have made it 2-0 moments later but fired wide after he was set-up expertly by Wol’s well directed header. Pistis Barenge then forced Ssekagya into a sharp save from a free kick.
Having failed in their previous five attempts, the Ankole Lions completed the task as beat Vipers on the sixth time of asking.
In the next fixtures, Mbarara City are away to Onduparaka FC on Tuesday while Vipers hosts SC Villa the following day.
How both teams started
Mbarara City FC
Muhammad Ssekeba (GK), Stephen Othieno, Jasper Aheebwa, Ramathan Karim, Ronald Otti, Pistus Barenge, Ronald Edwok, Jude Ssemugabi, Bebe Swalik, Makueth Wol, Henry Kitegenyi.
Bashir Ssekagya (GK), Paul Willa, Joseph Dhata, Halid Lwaliwa, Bashir Asiku, Musa Ssali, Karim Watambala, Paul Mucurezi, Ibrahim Orit, Ceaser Manzoki, Yunus Ssentamu.