An Adejoh Ojonugwa ‘s 37th minute strike was enough to save Heartland’s blushes against Sunshine Stars.
It was a tight contest, a game of familiar foes as Sunshine paraded a couple of former Heartland players such as Goal Keeper Japhet Opubo, Ugochukwu Leonard, Chigozie Chilekwu, Ike Brandon, Ikenna Cooper and Kingsley Maduforo.
Japhet denied Ojonugwa in the 9th minute as he got on the end of a cross from Lordson Ichull. Heartland continued to probe for opportunities as Ojonugwa’s tame effort in the 18th minute couldn’t beat Japheth in goal.
Murphy Ndukwu Chibuike Nwaiwu Monday Yakubu and Nwaodu battled to peg back the opposition.
The efforts paid off in the 37th minute as Ojonugwa broke the deadlock applying the finish off a beautiful delivery from Chibuike Nwaiwu.
The Naze Millionaires came close in the 44th minute, but Nonso Nzediegwu was hacked down by Chinedu Ozo truncating a goal bound move.
Moments later Monday Yakubu drilled in his trade mark long range strike but Japheth Opubo again was forced to make a save.
In the second period both sides made substitutions to rejig thier set up. Chinedu Ozo who got a yellow in the first period was sacrificed for Habeeb Yakubu
While Heartland substituted the goal scorer Ojonugwa for Chijioke Mbaoma .
Sunshine Stars started applying pressure on the hosts with Ike Brandon bossing the midfield. Former Heartland Striker Ugochukwu Leonard ghost past Andrew Abalogu but his strike went wide.
In the 60 minute Heartland made more substitutions introducing the petite Alfred Alexander and Chukwujike Jacob for Chukwudi Nwaodu and Nonso Nzediegwu .
Sunshine Stars responded by introducing two former Heartland players in Ikenna Cooper and Kingsley Maduforo.
Chijioke Mbaoma’s introduction added some verve to Heartland’s attack but later lost its steam.
In the 74th minute Heartland’s Chibuike Nwaiwu tried to create something , breaks up play and glides past two sunshine defenders but his pass to Murphy Ndukwu was slightly over hit as it went out of touch
moments later Chibuike repeats the drill , ghosts past two defenders and lays it on a plate for Chinedu Sunday but his first touch let him down.
The visitors will return the favour in the 80th minute but Nnaemeka Anyanwu rose to the occasion to intercept the cross .
Heartland was forced to make another substitution in the dying moments of the game. Chukwujike Jacob clattered with another player in an aerial duel hence he was substituted for Issah Lenkat while Ebejo Chibueze came in for Murphy Ndukwu.
The scoreline remained the same even after 4 minutes of additional time.
It ended in a one nil victory for Heartland FC of Owerri. The victory means Heartland are 17th on the log with 44 points from 36 games.
Heartland will battle Niger Tornadoes in Kaduna for her penultimate game of the season .