MATCH REPORT- Ayodele’s Herorics Deny Heartland On Opening Day
|January 14, 2018||4:00 pm||Nigeria Professional Football League||NPFL 2017/2018||1|
|Okigwe Township stadium|
|Bishop Ilonu, Okigwe, Nigeria|
Following their exploits in the Nigeria National League (NNL) last season, bookmakers had tipped the Owerri side to grab a win on the opening day against a relatively experienced Sunshine Stars FC of Akure.
Heartland head coach Ramson Madu handed debuts to three of his new signings including winger, Fuad Ekeluojuiti, acquired from lower league side, First Bank of Lagos.
Not much could be picked out from the first half, but Ayodele managed two saves off efforts from Moses Akande and Lucky Emeriojake in the 15th and 30th minutes respectively.
Ayodele began from where he left off in the first half, tipping Francis Momoh’s effort from the edge of the box to safety, to keep his side in the game.
At the other end, the visitors almost capitalized on Heartland’s slack defending on 65 minutes, when Alaba Adeniyi raced past his marker and whipped the ball into the area, but Uche Odeh was quick enough to clear his effort off the line, with goalkeeper Ebele Obi beaten.
Heartland would further seek the advantage, commiting men upfront, against a well organized Sunshine defence. The pressure almost paid off on 78 minutes, but Egbujor Nnamdi agonizingly failed to tap home from six yards, as the visitors failed to clear their lines.
With less than ten minutes to regulation time, Ayodele was forced into three smart saves within minutes off Momoh (15 yards), Chukwudi (12 yards) and Ndukwe (10 yards) to keep his side in contention for a share of the points.
Heartland were lucky to have earned a point, as the tide turned with three minutes to play. Ezekiel Thompson picked the ball from the centre, and his pass picked out substitute Franklin Sasere, whose curling shot was kept out by Obi.
Heartland: Obi; Onyebuchefula, Oparaugo, Ubido, Kenneth, Odeh, Ekeloujuoti, Akande, Nnamdi, Momoh
Sunshine Stars: Ayodele; Sunday, Joseph, Fatokun, Omaka, Alimi, Thompson, Kehinde, Raji, Adigun, Adeniyi
Heartland 0-0 Sunshine Stars
On Target: 6-3