MATCHDAY 29 OF 38
Lobi Stars’ sustained climb out of the murky waters of relegation suffered a setback on Sunday May 22 as they were forced to a barren draw by Sunshine Stars in the 2021/2022 NPFL MatchDay 29 fixture played at the Aper Aku stadium Makurdi.
Despite an overwhelming statistics of 60-40 ball possession, 9-1 shots at goal and 11-1 corner kicks all in favour of Lobi Stars with goalkeeper Okiemute Odah literally on holiday through out the duration of the game, the ‘Pride of Benue’ failed to break the deadlock even as a 53rd penalty awarded to the hosts couldn’t change the result of the match.
Lobi Stars camped in the half of Sunshine Stars where they consistently launced offensives against the visitors but none of the attacks produced the desired result as the ‘Akure Gunners’ defence remained impregnable.
Ifeanyi Ogba had the first opportunity as he was set up by Utim Godfrey but his left footed shot was blocked out for the second corner kick to Lobi Stars following the first in the 4th minute.
Former Lobi Stars forward, Austin Ogunye, made a dashing run on the right but his attempted cross was blocked out by defence marshall, Moses Tsehuan of Lobi Stars for Sunshine Stars’ first and only corner kick of the match.
Another opportunity provide itself for Lobi Stars in the 19th minute as Samuel Ganda’s kick from a dead ball across the goal was headed on target by towering Utim but goalkeeper Opubo Japheth picked it up with ease.
Then Onyeka Nwaiwu incurred the wrath of the referee as he was cautioned following a rough tackle on Lobi Stars’ fearless, agile and tireless striker Utim as he attempted to dribble towards goal.
Another chance fell to Utim who was freed by Ogba’s well measured pass that beat the entire defense line of Sunshine but the young striker’s left footed shot in the 37th minute missed the target by inches.
Three minutes later, another of Utim’s header from Douglas Achiv’s free kick teased the fans out of their seats but missed target narrowly.
Ogba then came close again as his bicycle kick from Lazarus John’s dead ball cross caught Sunshine Stars goalkeeper napping but the ball veered off target for the half to end 0-0 to the disapointment of the home fans.
Before resumption, Coach Mohammed BabaGanaru tinkered with his starting team as he pulled out Douglas Achiv for mercurial and sleeky Onuwa Chukwuka.
Onuwa’s inclusion increased the tempo of the game as eight minutes into the second half, a penalty was awarded to Lobi Stars after Nwaiwu Onyeka handed the ball in the box as he attempted to stop a goal bound move by Lobi Stars Shobowale Azeez.
Ayagwa Raphael confidently stepped forward but it was heart break for the teeming home fans as his kick was saved by Opubo who stretched fully leftwards to keep the Owena Whales in the match.
From then on, it was Lobi Stars against keeper Opubo as he stood solidly to deny all incursions from the ‘Shoe get size’ boys who desperately needed to take the three points at stake.
Chances came the way of Lobi Stars almost per minute but it was the same old story with luck refusing to smile on them as they ended up sharing the spoils with the resilient Sunshine Stars.
Following the failure to secure the three points, Lobi Stars are still sitting on 16th place on the league table but precariously this time as some of the teams below them have outstanding matches in hand.