- Posted by Editor
- On September 29, 2018
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DELTA Stars Football Club in a hard-fought victory over Stationery Stores in a Match-Day 11 fixture in the Nigeria National League (NNL) at the Ughelli Township Stadium garnered three vital points at stake.
The home team began the match patiently stringing passes together and looking for genuine chances to strike down Stationery Stores. Stars’ efforts in the early exchanges paid off in the 26th minutes eventually.
Man of the Match, Ikoko Andrew, set up Walter Igboakpokire on the left flank, with a fine pass from the center of the park. The left-footed defender ran into space with the ball and floated in a nice cross into the 6-yard box and located Moses Omodumuku, whose header flashed across the face of goal.
Delta Stars were not done yet, as in the 33rd minutes Ikechukwu Nwafor delivered a goal-bound free-kick into a sea of heads within the vital area. A slight flick by Moses directed the ball delicately towards goal.
But Stores’ goalkeeper, Kelvin Mark, who was hindered by a cluster of players in his front from being in firm control of his area managed to push the ball outside the box.
Stars had another opportunity to score two minutes later, when Ibor Uro on the right flank whipped in a free-kick into the path of Moses, who headed it agonisingly wide at close range with the goal frame.
Thus, the first half of the encounter finished goalless with Stars ruing all their missed chances.
The second half commenced in earnest with Delta Stars playing with more desire and hunger to win the game.
Within the opening ten minutes of the second half, Stars almost took the lead, when standing-in-captain, Akaba Otega, fired a fierce shot towards goal. But the ball travelled few inches above the wood-work after Stores’ goalie, Kelvin Mark stood rooted to the ground.
In the 55th minutes, Maurice James had his first chance of the game, when he took a well-timed shot goal-ward, which came off the balled fists of the visitors’ goalkeeper, Kelvin Mark. Douye Golden, who was close by, could not head the rebound.
Having had enough of their contributions, Delta Stars’ technical crew pulled out Elvis Ori and Douye Golden in the 57th minutes and introduced Yusuf Omotayo and Onos Esogobor into the tie.
Thereafter, in the 60th minutes, Ikoko freed Moses with a pin-point pass down the right side of the visitors’ vital area. Moses ran towards the bye-line and square-played to Maurice, who dragged the ball painfully wide.
There was a moment of concern for Delta Stars in the 72nd minutes. Akaba Otega picked up an injury and Michael Kalala was brought in to replace him subsequently.
The introduction of Kalala gave the resolute Stores’ defence line a tough aerial battle defending his long throws from right, which created some glaring chances begging for conversion into goal.
However, Stores almost won the game in the 83rd minutes, when Mutiu Adebayo noticed Stars’ goalkeeper, Eloho Obonodor was off his line and rifled an audacious shot from about 35-yard but an alert Eloho pushed the ball against the woodwork and easily gathered the rebound.
Delta Stars eventually calmed down all nerves deep into added time. Maurice received a pass from Yusuf Omotayo on the edge of the vital area. He ran into space on the right and hit the ball with venom beyond an on-rushing Stores’ goalkeeper to put Stars ahead for the first time.
That goal was significantly the moment that preceded the final action of the encounter. The blast of the final whistle saw the Ughelli Township Stadium erupted into wide celebrations for both the home team and their fans.
An elated Delta Stars’ chairman, Moses Etu, said the team took Stores for granted initially, but came into the game in the second half.
He commended the chairman of the Delta State Sports Commission, Tonobok Okowa, for assisting the team financially.
According to Mr. ETU, ”my boys took them for granted, having defeated Stationery Stores by a lone goal in Lagos. They came into the game in the second half, but they lost so many scoring chances before then. I want to give kudos to the boys for their fighting spirit.”
Mr. Etu added, “I want to thank the chairman of the Delta State Sports Commission too. He actually rescued us with his personal money on Friday night for us to execute this game. I want to thank the fans. They were singing and dancing until the goal came. That’s how to be agood fan.”
On his part, head coach, David Ochei said the game was difficult because everybody is fighting for a place in the league, adding, “we are fighting for points to improve our status in the league. ‘Stationery Stores are fighting for points to escape relegation. We will take one game at a time. We will now prepare for the next game on Wednesday against Dynamite.”