Sunshine Stars FC of Akure started life in 2019 NPFL season, with a point on the road, following a 1-1 draw against Kwara United at the Kwara State Stadium Complex.
Franklin Sasere scored in the first half but goalkeeper Ariyo David, who made several goal bound saves was eventually beaten by his own man late on in the second half.
In coach Kabiru Dogo‘s first league game in charge, the gaffer would perhaps be the most pleased with the result as he handed debuts to Fuad Ekelojuoti and academy product, Kolade Adeniji on his return to home in Ilorin.
The game was barely matured before centre referee Nura Abubakar pointed to the spot in the 12th minute, adjudging Tope Akande to have tripped Odeyemi inside the Akure side’s box.
Segun Alebiosu stepped up for the home side and Ariyo David guessed right to deny him and keep the game level.
Fifteen minutes later, Ariyo collected calmly from a header off a corner kick, before saving a freekick from former teammate Sunday Emmanuel. Captain of the team, Sunday Abe also put his body on the line and made a goal mouth block to ensure the Akure side soak the host’s pressure.
Sunshine Stars broke the deadlock at the stroke of halftime through Franklin Sasere who lobbed home from a ball that ricochet in off the woodwork and the goalkeeper.
The Dogo tutored side resumed the second half in the driver’s seat and goalkeeper Ariyo David stood firmly between the sticks to ensure a safe drive.
Jide Fatokun tested the Kwara United goalkeeper with a low drive in the 49th minute and Amah also missed a chance to double the visitors advantage eight minutes later.
In the 68th minute, Ariyo was finally beaten, no thanks to a miscue which caused Seun Olulayo to divert Usman Mohammed’s cross into his own net for the home side’s equalizer.
Stars almost regained the lead in similar fashion as Peter Momoh overhit a back pass which narrowly missed his own net, minutes after Fatokun had acrobatically sent a volley just high from the target inside the area.
There was still plenty of time for Ariyo David to make more heroic saves, even as academy product, Kolade Adeniji was also thrown into the fray to replace Dayo Ojo – and the starlet sure made some attempts.
Debutant Fuad Ekelojuoti, whose presence was heavily felt on the pitch made way for Ibe due to a knock as the game ended with a goal to either sides.
Coach Dogo content
Facing the media after the thrilling contest, Dogo appeared just satisfied with the share of the spoils while hinging the own goal conceded on momentary loss of concentration.
“Happy New Year to my people in Ilorin! Though we came here for a win, the result is good for us. We are not our best yet and we have not clear most of our new players.
“The own goal was just a loss of concentration between the goalkeeper and the defender. We know Lobi Stars (next opponents) very well and they are play continental, ahead of other teams already, but with determination and the support we have from the government, management and the people, Lobi will be defeated in Akure,” the ‘Owena Waves’ handler boasts.
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