Kolade Adeniji proved decisive as Sunshine Stars triumphed 1-0 at home to 10-man Plateau United in a frenetic NPFL match day 20 meeting at the Dipo Dina Stadium, Ijebu Ode on Sunday.
A display defined by willpower and resilience drove the Owena Whales to the victory that brought the Tin City boys invincible run to a halt, after 12 matches.
The starting shirts handed Ebonam Nwagboga, Azeez Ajagbe and Ejike Uzoechi by acting Head Coach, Kayode Adeyemi meant no fewer than three changes were made to the side that lost to today’s opponents in the last game of the first stanza.
Our boys edged the early battle for possesion and had the first opening at goal when Azeez Ajagbe released Samson Olasupo after five minutes, but the later’s shot was kept out by Suraj Ayeleso, while Ikenna Cooper sent his effort on the rebound high.
Mustpaha Lawal who again proved to be one of the best savers in the league dived low to tip behind from a pile driver in the 37th minute before combining with Mutiu Dauda to repel the visitors in quick succession.
We almost end the opening half with a goal but Cooper’s effort from a square ball was deflected behind, while Ajagbe rattled Ayeleso with a fierce shot from the the resulting corner kick.
Olasupo went close to slotting home the opener just after the restart, however his effort past onrushing Ayeleso drifted wide
Sunday Anthony caused a scare at our goal with a long range free kick that sailed just wide of Lawal’s right post on the hour mark.
In the 65th minute Dauda went close with a free kick at the opponents end; his curling ball from an acute angle was stopped by the frame while the follow up on the rebound was off the mark.
Then a moment later our boys appealed for a penalty when Cooper went down under a challenge in the area, but the referee appeared unconvinced.
Onyeka Nwaiwu who put in a great shift from his holding midfield role intervened in the area with a decisive clearance that denied the Fidelis Ilechukwu’s side a real chance after 71 minutes of play.
The former champions were reduced to 10 men as Haggai Katoh was sent to the early shower for a second bookable offense.
Adeniji, like he did in the crucial 3-2 win over Plateau United last season, put us in front with a low header at the near-post, off Dauda’s cross 12 minutes from time.
Goalkeeper Lawal pulled a big save in added time by tipping over from a header at close range to ensure Sunshine Stars take home all points and moved up to sixth despite a late rally from the away side.
POST MATCH REACTION
Acting Head Coach, Adeyemi faced the media at the end of the NPFL classic and his words were transcribed below by Sunshjne Stars media.
“I am very, very happy, although I know what my boys can do and we didn’t change from the philosophy that is on ground. Even when we traveled to Jos we played them very well, but that is their own home.
“I give the boys kudos for what they have done. Now our target is to get a point off Wikki in our next match.”
Sunshine XI | Lawal; James (Ozor 62′), Anioke, Uzoechi, Dauda; Nwaiwu, Cooper, Ajagbe (Awosanmi 62′); Adeniji (Olalusi 89′), Nwogbaga (Jimoh 54′), Olasupo (Hadi 54′)
Unused Subs | Ariyo; Abe, Chilekwu, Pius Ojo
Caution | 79′
Media Head; SSFC
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