Akwa United rush three past Lobi Stars in first-half blitz
Akwa United ran out 3-0 winners against Lobi Stars, making their devastating first-half performance count at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium, Uyo. The win is their ninth after Matchday 18 of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL)
The Promise Keepers’ head coach, Kennedy Boboye stuck to the players that pipped MFM at the Agege Stadium, Lagos last weekend with injured Ubong Friday the only absentee from the squad that secured the away win. Nasiru Jubril was the replacement for the injured winger.
Lobi’s Kabiru Dogo also restricted himself to only three changes from the Pride of Benue that bagged two successive victories against Plateau United and Rivers United in Makurdi.
Ebube Duru was absent at the left-back and his place was taken by Moses Tsehuan while Aghahowa Alex was also another key omission. His position was filled by Chigozie Chilekwu. Jimoh Oni was replaced by Samuel Matthias in the start list.
It was Lobi Stars that started the game with the woodwork the saviour for Akwa United Goalkeeper, Adeyinka Adewale after Ossy Martins tried a long-range shot that almost sailed in.
Akwa United then seized control all the way after that early scare and the home team were a goal up in the 17th minute through the strike of Ikechukwu Nwani. Sampson Gbadebo provided the assist for that Akwa United’s opener.
Before Lobi Stars could recover from that early setback they were trailing 2-0 by the 24th minute through the strike of former NPFL highest scorer, Mfon Udoh. Ndifreke Effiong’s defence-splitting pass evaded Lobi Stars’ sea of legs and Udoh was left one-on-one with Goalkeeper, Aliko Mustapha. He easily dribbled the veteran goalie for his fifth goal of the season.
There was still a chance for the third goal before the half time whistle. Udoh received a-squared pass from first goal scorer, Nwani and he was presented with the simple task of tapping the ball into the gaping net.
At the start of the second half, Lobi Stars’ Dogo made some changes ostensibly to keep the rampaging Promise Keepers at bay from wreaking more havoc.
Lobi were presented with a decent chance in the 56th minute when a good pass into the vital area of the home team left Ossy Martins through on goal and one on one with Goalkeeper, Adeyinka Adewale but the goaltender raced out of his goal area to clear the ball out of danger.
It went from bad to worse for the visitors in the 90th minute when their goalkeeper, Aliko Mustapha was adjudged to have handled the ball out of his goal area with Saddick Abbas clearly on the path of goal while one on one with the goalie. Mustapha was red-carded and after much hesitation, he was replaced by a striker, Segun Alebiosu as they had already exhausted their five substitutions.
It was an emphatic home win for Akwa United and they restored them to the third position with 32 points from 18 games behind Kwara United and Kano Pillars who are a point better in the first and second spots.
Lobi Stars on the other hand slipped a place down to the 10th spot with 25 points from 17 games.
Akwa United Team List
Adewale Adeyinka, Etim Mathew, David Philip, Morice Chukwu, Sampson Gbadebo, Olisa Ndah (Hamisu Saleh, 83′), Mfon Udoh (Dare Ojo, 74′), Ndifreke Effiong (C) (Marshall Johnson, 74′), Ikechukwu Nwani (Saddick Abbas, 83′), Seth Mayi, Nasiru Jibril (Adam Yakubu, 74′)
Bassey Akpan, Ali Chiwendu, Inemesit Sunday, Akarandut Orok
Head Coach: Kennedy Boboye
Goals: Ikechukwu Nwani 17′, Mfon Udoh (2) 24′, 45+1 (Akwa United)
Man of the Match: Mfon Udoh (Akwa United)
Lobi Stars Team List
Aliko Mustapha, John Lazarus, Chigozie Chilekwu, Duke Osimaga, Mutiu Ogundimu, Moses Tsehuan (Anthony Ogwuche, 46′), Tersoo Zenke (Carlos Geleya, 74′), Samuel Mathias (Solomon Agaigbe, 46′, Ossy Martins (Segun Alebiosu, 78′)
Douglas Achiv, Austin Ogunye (Jimoh Oni, 35′)
Daniel Atsaka, Emeka Isaac, Chinonso Okonkwo, Monday Akile
Yellow Cards: Ossy Martins, 25′, Chigozie Chilekwu, 39′, Jimoh Oni, 52′ (Lobi Stars)
Red Card: Aliko Mustapha, 90′ (Lobi Stars)