Goals from Sikiru Alimi and Dayo Ojo handed Sunshine Stars FC a 2-1 victory over Gombe United in a week 25 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) played at the Dipo Dina Stadium, Ijebu Ode.
Sunshine Stars FC who returned to Ijebu Ode following a banishment order from the League Authority came out in search of an early goal like pride of lions smelling blood as the coach Akin Olowookere tutored side dominated their visitors in the early exchanges but could not find a breakthrough.
Stars came agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock in the 31st minute when Sikiru Alimi who was handed a rare starting shirt had his tamed effort from Thompson Ezekiel’s low cross saved from close range by United’s goalkeeper, Joseph Onwuga. But there was no denying Alimi two minute later as the former Warri Wolves predator found the back of the net from a tight angle off Seun Olulayo’s assist to give Stars a deserved lead.
Gombe United almost secure an instant equaliser but Kelechi Ogoh put his body on the line to deflect a fierce shot into safety and help preveseved Sunshine Stars lead into the break.
Sunshine Stars extended their lead inside the first 6 minutes of the second half courtesy of Dayo Ojo’s strike from the edge of the yard. However Gombe United responded with a goal of their own in the 57th through a sublime overhead kick by Austin Oladapo that left Stars goal tender, Henry Ayodele motionless.
Dayo Ojo came closed to restoring the home side two-goal cushion in the 66th minutes but Onwuga made a full stress save to repelled his effort from a free kick while goalkeeper Ayodele denied United the chance to levelled up 3 minutes later with a great save as well.
Oladapo’s goal for Gombe set the tone for a nervy ending to thr game as the Desert Scorpions made advances to find the equaliser and will rue their luck in the 69th when Afolabi Abdulwaheed failed to connect properly to a low across with only Henry Ayodele to beat.
Stars will later retained possession almost throughout the closing stages of the match and held on for their first victory in four matches in a relegation 6 pointer.
Sunshine Stars Interim coach, Akin Olowookere described his team performance as satisfactory after the game.
“Am very pleased with my boys performance, am particularly happy for the victory. Gombe played well too. It’s not easy returning to winning ways after so many matches. You will see a much more better Sunshine Stars in our next games.”
While also speaking after the game Sikiru Alimi who bagged a goal in the game posited that the group believe strongly in their survival quest.
“We know the class of our team (Sunshine Stars), we are not where we belong but we strongly believe we can achieve our objectives and target for the remainder of the season. We cannot go on relegation.” Said Alimi
Sunshine Stars XI: Ayodele, Boboye, Hele Hele, Omaka, Durand, Ogoh, Agogo, Alimi (Alaba Adeniyi 50), Thompson Ezekiel (Thomas Adesina 77), Ojo, Olulayo (Michael Okoyoh 84)
Unused Substitutes: Olumide Akinroyejo, Nojeem Raji, Kehinde Adedipe, Tope Abraham
Gombe United XI: Joseph Onwuga, Umar Zango (Morris Chigozie 75), Suleiman Usman, Isaac Giwa, Igho Ogbu, Ibrahim Abdullahi, Bilya Aliyu, Sani Mohammed Abbani (Austin Oladapo), Joseph Onoja, Mannir Ubale, Afolabi Abdulwaheed
Unused Substitutes: Danjuma Hussain, Zaidu Mohammed, Haruna Adamu, Uche Onwasanya, Mohammed Gamandi
Sunshine Stars FC who has now amassed 30 points with the victory next faces MFM in a week 26 NPFL clash at the Soccer Temple in Agege, Lagos.