Match Report: Lobi Stars 1-0 Sunshine Stars
By Chris Okunnuwa
Sunshine Stars fell narrowly through an own goal to leaders, Lobi Stars in a week 20 Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) tie at the Aper Aku Stadium, Makurdi on Sunday.
An evenly balanced and entertaining opening half saw some few chances created at both ends, with the visitors threatening first through Sikiru Alimi who headed high from Sunday Emmanuel’s chip off a free kick in the 4th minute.
In the 21′ Cletus Itodo was set up by another former Sunshine Stars’ player, Ayo Saka’s lovely lay up, but the experineced midfielder chiped past Ocheje, and also the target.
Four minutes later Emmanuel had a lovely run, and skipped past a few of his former teammates before unleashing a goal bound low drive that was cut out with a finger tip save by Olufemi Kayode in goal for Lobi.
Samad Kadiri was involved in an aeriel duel with Sunshine Stars’ goalkeeper Moses Ocheje, however the striker’s header from a sumptuous cross dropped just above the target to the relief of the visitors at the strike of half time.
On the hour mark Ocheje pulled a great save with his left leg to deny his former side when Austin Ogunye came calling from point blank inside the area.
In the 69′ Ezekiel Thompson collected an Emmanuel’s pass in a well coordinated reprisal attack, cut in from an acute angle, but his tame effort was calmly collected by Kayode.
The home side got the advantage courtesy of an own goal when on-rushing gallant defender, Kehinde Adeyemi, under pressure turned a Samad’s low cross into his own net 18 minutes from time.
A late Sunshine Stars’ rally almost yielded result deep into stoppage time when late entrant, Yahuza Bala acrobatically volleyed another second half substitute, Chigozie Obasi’s corner kick just wide.
With the defeat Sunshine Stars have now dropped to 19th on the NPFL log with 21 points from 20 matches and will next face basement boys, Heartland FC on match day 21.
Lobi Stars’ coach, Solomon Ogbeide was left impressed with his lads and his former side in the game but hinged the win on the optimism of Lobi Stars.
“It was very good game, both side came for it with different game plans but we were optimistic until the end that we will get the maximum points. As potential champions you don’t drop point at home.
“Football is like this sometimes, you play, but won’t just score like the game I saw before coming for this match.” Ogbeide scooped at post match presser.
When faced with the media Sunshine Stars’ coach, Henry Abiodun was somewhat sure his side will move out of the drop zone, even in time before the world cup break.
“The game has come and gone. The guys played well though not the result we wanted. Lobi have a good team.
_”We will get out of the relegation zone, we will try do that before going on break for the world cup.”_ Abiodun assured.
Starting Stars XI: Kayode, Bunde, Duru, Zango, Monsuru, Sanou, Itodo (Tayvakase 81), Saka, Akleche (Mbah 68′), Kadiri, Okpotu (Ogunye 57′)
Unused Subs: Agbaji, Kaka, John,
Caution: Zango 27′
Sunshine Stars XI: Ocheje (C); Boboye (Obasi 77′),Olulayo, Adeyemi, Raji; Omaka, Adedipe, Fatokun; Emmanuel (Adeniyi 73′) Thompson (Bala 78′), Alimi
Unused Subs: Ayodele, Adekunle, Jaiyeola,
Caution: Boboye 43′