Late second half substitute Samuel Kayongo Ssekamatte scored a late equalizer to earn BUL an important point against NEC FC at FUFA technical centre in Njeru. He came on for Jerome Kirya around the 78th minute.
Trailing to a first half Rashid Okocha goal, the Eastern Giants industriousness and tenacity eventually paid off in the second half.
Ssekamatte, who had been introduced with about twelve minutes on the clock, brushed from inside the box to peg the visitors back with his first league goal this season.
The goal secured a deserved draw for BUL who remained unbeaten at home this season with 26 points at the top of the table.
The opening twenty minutes of the contest were dominated by NEC in terms of ball possession and goal mouth action – playing with precision and intent to get an early lead.
They threatened with just four minutes in when Cromwell Rwothomio found himself into acres of space to receive a pass but his effort missed by inches.
The visitors threatened once more from a Sulaiman Ssesaazi free kick delivered from a deep position on the right flank – but an alert Douglas Muganga stepped up and hooked the ball away.
Tom Ikara, who made more than five point blank saves in the game, was the first keeper properly tested with twenty five minutes played, palming away a Rashid Okocha biting shot in a one on one situation. The left back breezed into the box after dribbling past a couple of markers but Ikara spread his body well to deny him.
BUL’s first realistic chance arrived midway the half when Nicholas Mwere played a give and go with Alex Kitata. The full back picked out Jerome Kirya in the box who held the ball up and then laid for Kitata whose effort went wide.
Ibrahim Kazindula tried his luck quite often from range whenever he got the opportunity but was let down by his boots which didn’t find the much needed target.
And it was NEC who would break the deadlock to finish the first half strongly. Rashid Okocha benefited from space on the left side and guided a ferocious shot past Ikara to finally give his side a 1-0 lead at halftime.
Unlike the opening half, BUL grew with the game – playing with a high tempo and creating chances after making some changes before the restart. Gerald Ogweti and Lawrence Tezikya were brought on for Alex Kitata and Ibrahim Kazindula.
Their impact was felt immediately with Tezikya stinging the gloves of Samson Kirya direct from a corner. BUL continued to press relentlessly and a few moments later, another fantastic ball was sent into box only that Martin Aprem failed to connect with it.
Tom Ikara was however called into action by Joseph Dhata from range, the goalkeeper flexed to stop the shot but it left him needing medical attention on 54 minutes.
By this time, NEC were again fighting to stretch their lead and came close to doubling their advantage when Enock Ssebaggala went through on goal and into the box but Ikara for another time proved mister reliable for BUL with another wonderful save.
Okocha was presented with one more shooting opportunity following a poor clearance into his path. He travelled into the box, broke and teased a defender before shooting but George Kasonko was in the right place to block the ball with his knee.
It later became an Ikara show as the battle between him and Okocha continued. He was further called into action by the marauding lefter in another one on one faceoff but the netminder buoyantly refused to concede a second.
Abbey Kikomeko’s men remained optimistic for a comeback – throwing everything at the visitors with Gerald Ogweti testing Kirya with a perfect strong header before the long awaited moment arrived.
In the 84th minute, Mwere used his energy well – whipping in a dangerous cross. With the goal in his back but knowing well where it was, Ssekamatte went airborne and twisted his neck to brush in past the onrushing goalkeeper to force the game level and ultimately rescue a point for the Eastern Giants.
The goal was turning moment for BUL. The team began to play flowing football and almost took all the three points in the additional minutes after the ninety but Ogweti’s header was tipped over the bar before Kasonko drove a long shot wide.
Next for BUL will be the nervewrecking encounter against Vipers SC at St. Mary’s Kitende on the 23rd of December.
Tom Ikara (GK), Douglas Muganga, Richard Ayiko, George Kasonko, Ibrahim Kazindula (Lawrence Tezikya), Jerome Kirya (Samuel Ssekamatte), Hillary Onek, Nicholas Mwere, Alex Kitata (Gerald Ogweti) Shafiq Kwikiriza (Reagan Kalyowa), Martin Aprem (Ibrahim Mugulusi).
John Okuruti (GK), Joel Mutakubwa (GK), Emmanuel Obua, Mathew Odongo, Vicent Zziwa, Emmanuel Kalyowa,.