Failure to convert any of the four clear scoring chances coupled with some brilliant saves from goalkeeper Kingdom Osayi in the MatchDay 32 fixture against the resurgent MFM at the Dipo Dina stadium in Ijebu-Ode scuttled what would have been Lobi Stars first three points on the road in the ongoing Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season.
In a highly technical battle masterminded by Coach Mohammed BabaGanaru of Lobi Stars and his counterpart Festus Allen, there was nothing to separate the two relegation-troubled sides as they ended up sharing the spoils of the round leather war.
Lobi Stars started the contest strongly as a tailored pass by defence ace, Moses Tsehuan in the 4th minute located Chinonso Okonkwo who in turn put across a tantalizing cross but MFM’s centre back, Adewale Moses skilfully lowered the ball with his chest into the safe hands of his goalkeeper Osayi.
The host then responded almost immediately as Nduka was put through on the right side by diminutive Akanni Elijah in the 15th minute but his cross was caught off by attentive Okiemute Odah in goal for Lobi Stars.
The Coach BabaGanaru tutored boys would have broken the deadlock in the 23rd minute as another accurate pass from Tsehuan left on rushing Barnabas Imenger Jnr with the goalkeeper to beat but his faulty control let the ball out of his reach for Osayi to quickly gather.
Unrelenting Lobi Stars had another goal scoring chance when defence strongman, Endurance Ebedebiri initiated an attack from the rear as he made a double pass with David Tyavkase to split the flat defence of MFM on the right side but his powerful strike at goal was palmed away by the excellent Osayi.
After a couple of misses by the ‘Pride of Benue’, MFM came close to scoring in the 34th minute when Duke Osimaga headed a back pass in error to Nduka David but the Lobi Stars defence recovered quickky enough to thwart the move.
Two minutes later, Lobi turned the heat on their hosts but petit Mubarak Sa’id’s inviting cross was cut out by agile Moses in defence for MFM.
Towards the end of the first 45 minutes, MFM’s Oludayo Alabi received a pass from Nduka with his back to goal but creatively managed a good shot that slightly missed the target and the referee’s whistle went for the end of the entertaining first half.
Despite the misses, Coach BabaGanaru kept showing the confidence of one who was on a mission to annex the maximum points in Ijebu-Ode as he refused to jettison his attacking approach by introducing Atule Collins and Adams Olamilekan for Imenger jnr and Mubarak.
MFM also made their first substitution in the game as Micah Ojodomu took over from Chukwudi Ekeocha in the 58 minute.
The half time changes made by Lobi Stars were greeted with mixed feelings as Atule had a debut he would want to forget in a hurry as he was subbed off after only 22 minutes on the pitch obviously for missing one of the most glaring chances in the 67th minute.
After out running the last player in the defence, he had only the goalkeeper to beat but his tame shot failed to go on target.
Atule was replaced by Ifeanyi Ogba while former MFM star, Onuwa Chukwuka came on for David Tyavkase who had justified his legendary status by bringing his wealth of experience to bear on the match.
As Lobi Stars continued to knock at the door of MFM, Olamilekan who kept terrorising the opposing defenders broke loose from the right but his cross was blocked out by Alimi Adebayo into corner kick.
The resultant kick taken by Samuel Ganda was headed towards goal by Ebedebiri but was blocked again by the same Adebayo.
In the 78 minute, Lobi Stars made a forced substitution as injured Odinaka was replaced by Tony Agbaji and one minute later, Olamilekan found himself in a contest with MFM goalkeeper Osayi who went out to close but he somehow managed to evade the keeper.
With Osayi on the turf, Olamilekan who faced an acute angle managed to place a well crafted shot at goal but was unlucky as the ball hit the side post before going out.
Neither side could break the deadlock till the referee finally called time on proceeings after regulation time plus two added minutes.
It must be noted that unlike what obtains at most NPFL match venues, the contest in Ijebu-Ode didn’t witness the usual time wasting tactics usually deployed by teams to run down the clock.
Although there were no goals to show for their efforts, both sides exhibited the fighting spirit expected of teams desperate to survive the drop.