Lobi Stars on Sunday, April 24, 2022, failed in another spirited attempt to pick points on the road as they gallantly lost 0-1 in MatchDay 25 fixture against the team of the moment, Akwa United, who extended their unbeaten run to six matches at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium Uyo.
Although the coach Deji Ayeni boys exhibited coherence and a strong winning mentality, they were vehemently resisted by the ‘Shoe get size’ boys from Benue State who were in Uyo on a mission to pick at least a point from the all important match.
Indeed, the story would have been different, if Sai’d Mubarak had taken the two first half chances that came his way in the 13th and 45th minute of the game.
Akwa United’s front men Wisdom Fernando, Ubong Friday, Adams Yakubu and Bello Babatunde who were firing upfront from all cylinders with threatening vibes were stoutly checked by the coach Mohammed Baba Ganaru tutored wards.
Lobi Stars’ experienced goalkeeper, Aliko Mustapha, was effective all through the match as he continued to neutralise all the menancing shots at goal from the homers until the 39th minute when new signing, Babatunde Bello, broke the deadlock.
A high ball had dropped behind the defense of Lobi and was headed into corner kick by John Lazarus and the quick restart with a short pass saw a rampaging Bello who eliminated former U-17 and CHAN Eagles player, Lazarus and Duke Osimaga before unleashing a powerful strike that nested in Lobi Stars’ net for the only goal of the keenly contested fixture.
Three minutes into the second half, Lobi Stars got a free kick about 30 metres away from the goal but Lazarus’ goal bound missile-like shot from the set piece was blocked by the Akwa defensive wall.
Lobi Stars’ strong man at the rear and scorer of the first goal against Gombe United in the MatchDay 24, Endurance Ebedebiri, was booked for unsporting behaviour two minutes to the hour mark.
In the 63rd minute, Coach Ganaru tinkered with his team to intensify the search for the much needed equaliser as he replaced Mubarak Sa’id and Chinonso Okonkwo with U-20 invitee and team’s leading goal scorer, Ifeanyi Ogba and the ageless David Tyavkase.
Tyavkase’s first contribution after two minutes on the field was a left footed volley at goal which narrowly missed the target.
Ayagwa Raphael then took a second booking of the game for applying excessive force in tackling an opponent.
The last opportunity for Lobi Stars to equalise availed itself when a free kick from the right side of the penalty area was taken with precision by Lazarus but the venomous shot was blocked by a former Lobi Stars centre back, Etim Matthew in the 88th minute.
There was six minutes additional time but Lobi Stars fired blank to go down gallantly by Bello’s solitary strike in the first half.
Despite the loss, Lobi Stars are still 16th on the table and will be going back to Makurdi to keep double home dates with neighbours Nasarawa United and Katsina United in MatchDays 26 and 27 respectively.