Lugazi FC secured a vital three points in their pursuit of a first promotion to the StarTimes Uganda Premier League, as Ronald Ssempala’s superb hat-trick inspired them to an emphatic 4-1 victory over bottom side Young Elephants.

Care taker boss Gerald Efiti had earlier said that they needed to find answers to the team’s low scoring run in front of goal, after a return of two goals in three matches.

Having failed to score at home in their previous game against Kataka, Efiti started with the striking duo of Ssempala and Sam Ssemugugu for the third consecutive game.

The Leaders came out flying out of the blocks in front of an energised crowd at the Lugazi FC stadium in Najjembe on Sunday afternoon.

And their positive approach was rewarded with a breakthrough inside only four minutes.

Solomon Akodi was the architect of the goal, heading in his well delivered free kick at the back post.

Undeterred by the hosts’ dominant start, the visitors found a leveller against the run of play in the 20th minute.

That did little to stem the momentum though, with Lugazi coming close to restore their lead, before their fortunes seemed to be taking a turn for the worse as Solomon Akodi was then replaced by Abdul Kalanzi after 40 minutes.

Not to be denied, the hosts deservedly restored their lead shortly after, when Ssempala took charge, to sweep home Alvin Birungi’s through pass after some clever interplay between the two.

Ronald Ssempala

Determined to find a route back into the contest, Young Elephants showed signs of life after the restart.

But Ssempala had other ideas. His third, arriving 10 minutes into the second half was the pick of the bunch as he lobbed the ball over the goalkeeper with ice in his veins.

Efiti called for more changes shortly after, with Birungi withdrawn for Derrick Mwanje, while shortly after Ssempala’s perfect evening had a shade of grey with a caution for a foul.

With 20 minutes to go, he was withdrawn to a loud adulation and appreciation to the crowd, who had just witnessed the first hat-trick of the season at home.

Ssempala alongside Moses Buga were sacrificed for the introduction of Freedom Mungudit and Mubarak Mitala respectively.

Striker Sam Ssemugugu in action against Young Elephants FC

As Lugazi moved through the gears, Ssemugugu rounded off the biggest victory of the season, with his 10th goal of the season, as he swept Kalanzi’s through pass past the stranded keeper.

Armed with a commanding three-goal advantage, the Leaders unsurprisingly took their foot off the gas, easing through the closing stages to wrap up a seventh home victory.

The victory sees them move to 47 points, and remain second on the table, as Lugazi now opens up a four-point lead over Kataka in fourth with two games to go.

The Leaders could seal a historic promotion to the top flight with victory over Kaaro Karungi at home next Sunday (26, May 24), should Kataka and Onduparaka fail to win their games.

How we lined up: Fahad Emuran (GK), Muhammed Gift Lubega, Richard Ayiko, Paul Wasswa, Faizo Matovu, Solomon Akodi, Moses Buga, Sam Ssemugugu, Ronald Ssempala, Alvin Birungi

Subs: Francis Anguzu (GK), Abdul Kalanzi, Amagu Louis Anguti, Shafic Kiryowa, Derrick Mwanje, Samuel Nsubuga, Ssajjabi, Freedom Mungudit, Mubarak Mitala