Uganda Premier League
Express FC 3-1 URA FC
Mutessa II Stadium, Wankulukuku
Express FC moved to within a point of top spot following a comfortable 3-1 victory over URA FC on Saturday.
The Red Eagles produced arguably their best first-half display in ages, scoring all three goals in the opening 37 minutes.
Godfrey Lwesibawa netted the first inside the opening 10 minutes as he rose highest to node home from Charles Musiige’s pin-point-accurate cross.
Moments later, Kambale make it 2-0, heading past Hannington Ssebwalunyo from a Martin Kizza free kick.
The game was all but won eight minutes to the break as Kambale completed his brace from the spot after Kizza was fouled in the area.
As Express looked to be cruising to a comfortable victory, Murushid Juuko was sent off for two yellow cards to give URA a glimmer of hope.
Mukwala scored the visitors only goal, five minutes after the red card, as he converted from the spot after Kambale was judged to have handled in the area.
Despite playing a man less, the Red Eagles held on to win the game.
Express now move to 35 points, one behind both Vipers SC and URA who sit joint top of the standings after 16 match-days.
Express Complete Rare Double Over Tax Collectors
Express who have not beaten URA home and away in over a decade, had endured a dip in form towards the end of the first half as they won only one of their final three games.
With striker George Ssenkaba side-lined due to injury, the Red Eagles struggled in front of goal as they scored just twice in four games to end the first round.
Having edged URA 1-0 in the early season meeting courtesy of Ssenkaba’s goal, one could not help but worry where the goals were to come from on Saturday.
Up stepped the front four of Kambale, Kizza, Lwesibawa and Musiige as they tormented the URA back line from the very start.
Kizza, who was making his Express debut, tried his luck from distance in the opening exchanges and was involved in the opening goal as he set up Kambale to cross for Lwesibawa.
The former SC Villa winger’s trickery and speed was a big issue for the URA back-line and he was fouled by Majwega in the build up to Kambale’s headed second.
Again it was Kizza who was fouled by Majwega for the penalty as he raced onto a lose ball in the area.
Playing upfront for the second successive game, Kambale must be giving the Express technical team all sorts of thinking to do in regards to what his best position is.
In the presence of Ssenkaba, he plays as a number 10, a position in which he thrived at the start of the season but three goals in two games must be a catalyst to a major decision in case the club’s top scorer returns.
As the Red Eagles looked certain for three vital points, game took a turn of events on 53 minutes as Juuko was sent off for a second yellow card.
Playing a man less, Musiige was deployed at right-back with Enock Walusimbi partnering Lumu at centre-half.
The move robbed Express of firepower upfront as they went all out and tried to defend and see out the result.
On one or two occasions, they looked dangerous on the break but clearly lacked the legs to find a fourth.
URA Defensive Issues Costs Them Dearly
URA were without a doubt the best side in the division in the first round and went into the break with a three-point lead at the top.
Most of the credit had to fall to their defence which conceded just nine goals in 15 games, the second best record behind Express (7).
In the build up to the game, Paul Mbowa was ruled out due to suspension and Huud Muliki could not feature because of injury.
Because of the two major absentees, the Tax Collectors were forced to start midfielder Ivan Sserubiri alongside Benjamin Nyakoojo in defence.
The lack of pace at centre-half was evident in the early exchanges as the Express front four consistently ran at them.
After going down 2-0, Sam Simbwa was forced into a 23rd minute substitution as he brought on defender Faruku Katongole in place of Moses Sseruyidde, relieving Sserubiri of his duties at centre-back and pushing him into the midfield.
Having not started a single game for the Tax Collectors since joining last August, Katongole was poised to struggle and it came as no surprise that it was his weakly headed clearance that Kizza pounced on before he was brought down by Majwega for Kambale’s penalty.
At the other end, Steven Mukwala and Cromwell Rwothomio who were looking the part before the end of the first round, struggled for most of the game until Murushid Juuko was sent off for a second yellow card after elbowing Joachim Ojera.
Mukwala scored from the spot, moments later, to reduce the deficit but that was all that URA could smile about on a day that they were clearly second best.
How both teams started
Mathais Muwanga (GK), Enock Walusimbi (C), Sadiq Ssekyembe, Isa Lumu, Murushid Juuko, Daniel Shabena, Mahad Kakooza, Charles Musiige, Martin Kizza, Godfrey Lwesibawa, Eric Kambale.
Hannington Ssebwalunyo (GK), Ashraf Mandela, Brian Majwega Benjamin Nyakoojo, Ivan Sserubiri, Julius Mutyaba, Sseruyidde Moses, Shafiq Kagimu, Joachim Ojera, Steven Mukwala, Cromwell Rwothomio.