Thompson puts Rivers United to the sword
Records, the saying goes, are meant to be broken.
The Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt, home lair of Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) club, Rivers United have represented an impregnable fortress where many a big side have be dispatched and put in their place.
No side, since February 19, 2016 had beaten the ‘Pride of Rivers’ at that venue in domestic competition but all that was always going to be history one day.
That day was Wednesday, July 19 2017!
Sunshine Stars, the ‘Akure Gunners’ have now written their names in the history books as the first side to trip Rivers United in front of their supporters this season following a stunning 1-0 victory on match day 30 of the NPFL.
Sunshine Stars won 1-0 but it in all honestly, it could have been more had Sikiru Alimi’s seemingly legitimate strike on the stroke of half time not been controversially ruled out for offside.
Sunshine Stars’ players protested the decision and it seemed to affect their concentration levels and United almost scored an outrageous opener soon after as the game finally opened up.
Lukam Mohammed got on the end of a sweeping team move as his fierce drive, destined for the top right hand corner, was spectacular tipped over by the Sunshine Stars goalkeeper, Henry Ayodele.
United, on the back foot in the later part of the first half, almost opened the scoring in the 38th minute when Bolaji Sakin’s snapshot caught the Sunshine Stars’ goalkeeper Henry Ayodele off guard but he recovered well enough to make an outstanding save with Obomate Frederick sweeping the loose ball goal wards.
It was the best chance the hosts enjoyed in a tepid first-half display with the visitors finishing the stronger.
The alarm bells were well and truly ringing for the home side but the visitors’ first-half display of intent proved to be a premonition the hosts refused to heed.
Sunshine Stars continued to carve the more clear cut openings and would get due reward with just over 20 minutes remaining when Thompson headed home an Otegbeye Ajibola cross from the left.
It was the least the visitors deserved for a display of verve, belief as endeavour even as the home side stepped on the accelerator late on in a bid to avoid their first home reverse of the season.
Ovoke had a dangerous free kick tipped over by Ayodele who had a barnstorming game and Ogbugh, United’s liveliest performer in the second half, also had several good openings to make goal scoring contributions at the death.
In the end, Sunshine Stars defended valiantly to close out a richly-deserved victory.
A member of the technical crew of Rivers United, Boma Joseph and the Sunshine Stars captain, Abe Sunday Oluwashina spoke to our official website, www.riversunitedfc.comshortly after the final whistle (audio files have been attached) as they shared their post-match assessment.
Rivers United dropped two places on the log and now occupy 15th spot on the log with 37 points from 28 matches while Sunshine Stars climbed away from the relegation zone as a result of the stunning win. The Akure club are now in 14th place on the NPFL log with 39 points from 30 matches.
Rivers United: Abiodun Akande, Ifeanyi Nweke, Zoumana Doumbia, Douhadji Joseph, Gabriel Olalekan, Emeka Atuloma Lukman Mohammed, Ovoke Bernard (Daniel Israel 80’), Bolaji Sakin (Emeka Ogbugh 25’), Weli Christian and Obomate Frederick (Efosa Eguakun 58′)
Substitutes not used: Femi Thomas, Ali Chiwendu, Yusuf Jaiyeola and Semiu Liadi.
Sunshine Stars: Henry Ayodele, Abe Sunday, Alaba Adeniyi, Michael Okoyoh, Oke Ogagetewho, Nojeem Raji, Ekundayo Ojo, Ajibola Otegbeye (Kelechi Ogoh 72′),Thompson Ezekiel (Thomas Adesina 84′) Anthony Omaka and Sikiru Alimi.
Substitutes not used: Olumide Akinroyeje, Seun Olulayo, Isaac Hele Hele, Tope Orelope and Abiodun Joseph