Sunshine Stars hang on to beat Heartland 2-1 in Akure

By Blessing Fowowe

In a battle to keep their NPFL status, relegation threatened Sunshine Stars and Heartland FC locked horns at the Akure Stadium, Akure in a Matchday 21 fixture.

Goals from Sikiru Alimi and Franklin Sasere proved to be enough for the Akure club as they pipped Heartland FC 2-1 at home.

Hosts Sunshine made four changes to the side that lost one-nil away to Lobi Stars in Makurdi. Ezekiel Boboye dropped to the bench and was replaced by Chigozie Obasi, Franklin Sasere returned to the starting line up after missing the defeat to Lobi due to illness.

Heartland on their part made five changes with Obioha Macmarcel and Nwandike Okey dropping to the bench.

Alimi put Sunshine ahead 12 minutes into the the start of the game with a well controlled pass from defender Seun Olulayo, his turn deceived his marker and he slotted home beyond goalkeeper Japhet Opubo.

With little coming from the visitors, it was all Sunshine Stars in the first half and 10 minutes after they went ahead, Franklin Sasere doubled their lead.

Sasere got the ball off former Sunshine player Ike ThankGod in the box, and in a composed manner beat Heartland goalkeeper to put Sunshine two goals ahead.

Midfielder Jide Fatokun who was drafted into the defence by Sunshine Stars coach Henry Abiodun as a replacement for Nojeem Raji went into the referee’s book for a rough challenge on former Shooting Stars man Fuad Ekelojuoti in the 32nd minute of the game.

Eight minutes later, Heartland had the chance to reduce the deficit through a freekick at the edge of the Sunshine box, but Amaechi’s kick was easily gathered by keeper Henry Ayodele as Sunshine took a two-nil lead into the second half.

At the start of the second half, the Nazi Millionaires came out of the dressing room with more hunger and they were promptly rewarded with a goal through Fortune Omoniwari who capitalised on an error from Henry Ayodele who rushed off his line to nod over into the net.

From then on, Heartland kept pressing and pushing for an equalis]zer. They came close in the 57th minute with a chance to level up after goalkeeper Henry Ayodele misjudged a kick, but he recovered quickly to deny Heartland.

Opubo was called into action in the 68th minute of the game when he saved Kehinde Adedipe’s goal bound effort from a freekick.

The Akure club were pegged back for large parts of the second half as Heartland kept going forward in search of a leveller. They however found a breathing space late in the second half, when Sikiru Alimi who had put in a man of the match performance attempted a bicycle kick inside the box but it was off target.

The hosts stayed solid to withstand a second half onslaught from Heartland as they ran out 2-1 winners, much to the delight of home fans.

Teams

Sunshine Stars: 22. Henry Ayodele 2. Chigozie Obasi 12. Kehinde Adeyemi 13. Jide Fatokun 6. Seun Olulayo
14. Anthony Omaka 32. Yusuf Jaiyeola 24. Kehinde Adedipe 15. Sunday Emmanuel 9. Franklin Sasere 17. Sikiru Alimi

Subs: 22. David Ariyo 3. Niyi Adekunle 4. Ezekiel Boboye 11. Abiodun Joseph (Sunday Emmanuel 63′) 16. Yahuza Bala (Franklin Sasere 83′) 20. Ezekiel Thompson 29. Alaba Adeniyi

Heartland: Opubo 2, Onyebuchi Onyechefula 31, Adebayo Ayinde 29, Odera Onyiri 21, Kenneth Ikwugbado 14,ThankGod Ike 6, Fuad Ekelojuoti 5, Moses Akinade 9, Fortune Omoniwari 7, Abiodun Thompson 34, Amaechi Orji 15

Subs: Ebele Obi 18, Chimankpa Onwubuchi 17 (Ekelojuoti 75′), Nwadike Okey 12 (Akinade 49′), Nnamdi Egbujor 27 (Onyiri 34′), Macmarcel Obioha 11, Lucky Emerujake 10, Oraraugo Chukwudi 3

Stats
Sunshine Stars 2-1 Heartland
Shots 4-3
Shots on target 2-2
Corner 1-3
Fouls 15-14
Offside 0-3
Yellow 1-0
Red 0-0
Throws 20-16

Results

Club1st Half2nd HalfGoalsOutcome
Sunshine Stars F.C202Win
Heartland F.C011Loss

MATCH HIGHLIGHTS.

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