By Austin Tyowua, Media Officer Lobi Stars FC
Lobi Stars on Sunday 28th March 2021 faltered inside the Godswill Akpabio stadium, the nest of champions, Uyo in an NPFL 2020/2021 Match Day 18 fixture as they succumbed woefully to Akwa United by three first-half goals.
A second-minute miss by Ossy Martin was what signaled a bad day for Lobi Stars as Akwa central defenseman Samson Gbadebo misdirected a header to the advantage of Ossy Martin, whose one-time power-packed left volley that caught Goalkeeper Adewale Adeyinka unprepared but his shot hit the crossbar for what would have been unarguably the goal of the season.
The 17th minute single by Ikechukwu Nwani and 24th and 45+3 minutes brace by Mfom Udoh made the 3 first-half goals that left a sore taste in the mouth of Lobi Stars.
It all started when Akwa United Mfom Udoh break the left side of the Lobi Stars defense outrunning Chigozie Chilekwu to deliver a cross that beat Aliko Mustapha for Ikechukwu Nwani to slot into a defenseless goal for the opener for Akwa United.
A 24th-minute kick by Akwa overhead Lobi Stars central defense saw Moses Tsehuan who’s reaction was too slow, giving advantage to Mfom Udoh to place the ball into the net for the second goal for Akwa United.
Lobi Stars’ reaction to seek equalizer saw spirited Ossy Martin Luther who ended up with a yellow card as he tackles against Ndifreke Effiong midway in the 25th minute.
35 minutes extent of play, Coach Kabiru Dogo was forced to pull out Austin Ogunye who seemed lost in the game for Sunday Jimoh Oni. Substitute Oni got a chance after 4 minutes of his involvement to equalize but his hurried shot at goal lacked the desired power to beat Goalkeeper Adeyinka of Akwa United.
Akwa made it three in the 45+3 minutes when a similar run by Nasiru Jibril tore the same left side of Lobi Stars defense for a flick left-footed cross for Mfom Udoh the scorer of the second goal to make it three. Referee Abdulsalam Kazeem ended the first on the first touch after the restart.
Upon resumption, Coach Kabiru Dogo introduced Anthony Ogwuche for Tsehuan and Emeka Isaac for Mathias Samuel. The substitutions didn’t prove effective for Lobi Stars as Goalkeeper Aliko Mustapha was still more in action.
Jimoh Oni in his desperation to justify his inclusion tried to pull down the goal but ended up with a yellow card in the 51st minute as if the referee was duty-bound to show a yellow card to every effective player of Lobi Stars.
Ossy Martins breakaway in the middle and was face to face with Goalkeeper Adewale Adeyinka but his shot was blocked out as a result of the early closure of the keeper in the 55th minute.
In the 74th minute, Carlos Galeye took over from a seemingly worn-out Zenke Tersoo, while Emeka Isaac closed up to win the ball from a short corner kick from Akwa United and reversed the attack that eventually broke Akwa defense for an opportunity for Ossy Martin once again but he mis-stepped and fell down as he was attempting to create a scoring convenience.
Akwa United pulled out Nasiru Jubril for Adam Yakubu in the 76th minute. Segun Alebiosu took over from Ossy Martin. Lazarus received another yellow card as he effectively tackled for defense on the Fringe of the penalty area in the 83rd minute. In the 84th minute, Hamisu Saleh and Sadick Abbas took over from Ikechukwu Nwani, the first goal hero, and Olisa Ndah.
85th minute, Jimoh Oni got a golden opportunity but his late reaction gives the Goalkeeper an advantage to close in and block the ball out of danger. Akwa United brought in Date Ojo and Marshall Johnson for Mfom Udoh and Ndifreke Effiong.
Lobi Stars got their last close opportunity to get a consolation but Emeka Isaac blew away the free-kick wild of goal.
In the 90+2 minute, Aliko was forced to come out of the penalty area for a tackle to avert another goal possibility and was penalized for handling with a yellow card and free-kick, not really knowing what happened thereafter, the center referee apply for a second yellow card before the restart and red card after the second yellow, Segun Alebiosu has to take over the goal as Lobi Stars had exhausted their substitution chances. The resultant free-kick was taken after 10 minutes of disagreement but was deflected out with a header from the defensive wall of Lobi Stars and the referee ended the game after the resultant corner kick was taken. Akwa United 3-0 Lobi Stars
Lobi Stars with the result have dropped one step down from 9th position on the log to 10th with a game in hand. The pride of Benue will be going back to wait for Jigawa Golden Stars on Sunday 4th April 2021.