Delta Force scored on the stroke of halftime and another in the second half to hand the White Lions a 2-0 defeat on a wet evening away at the Austin Jay-Jay Okocha stadium.
The objective was clear for us as we looked to get one over the team who defeated us narrowly earlier in the season and more paramount was the need to stay afloat in this season’s Nigeria National League. There was nothing to separate both sides until a well swung free-kick in the 45th went straight into the top corner.
Another scrambled-in goal midway through the second half gave us a huge task to surmount but we pushed hard without finding a way past the Delta goalkeeper as our quest for survival received a minor setback.
Coach Kazeem Alabi lingered with almost the same lineup that prosecuted the game against Unicem Rovers with the only alteration being Stone Evbuomwan who was restored in midfield in place of Emmanuel Damian who suffered a knock during midweek.
Having in mind the huge implications the game posed, both teams began the encounter treading cautiously, thus, there were limited clear-cut chances in the early stages.
Delta Force got the first effort of the game as it took a reactionary save at the near post by Emenike to deny an early opener while our opening attempt came just immediately through Omaka whose acrobatic effort wasn’t cleanly hit as the keeper claimed comfortably.
Delta Force got close twice in quick succession; first was a header glanced wide and a grounder from a loose ball which was excellently blocked by Joseph. However, we came closest after a neat buildup in attack saw Enuademu’s curler from over 23 yards palmed out on the stretch.
We continued to defend resolutely, while trying to hit on the break and twice we edged close to breaking the deadlock. Omaka’s header from a well swung-in freekick by Ezeali was feeble and straight forward for the keeper. Ogunsuyi’s well drilled shot which seemed destined for the far corner was blocked by some desperate defending.
Delta Force were reduced to speculative efforts from range even as Enuademu’s nimble feet took him past two defenders easily but his cutback was too close to the keeper.
Just as the two sides looked to be heading into the break all-square, Delta took the lead. The goal came after Oronsaye had allegedly fouled the opponent close to the edge of the box. The preceding free-kick which was well hit dipped straight into the top corner.
The White Lions knew a huge 45-minutes was awaiting them but it was Delta Force who continued to threaten. Excellent defending by Joseph ensured we didn’t concede a second goal early in the second half and Coach Alabi wasted no time in introducing Atagana- a former Delta Force striker to add more presence in attack and the move almost paid off immediately as it took a last-ditch block to deflect his well bent effort away from goal after some tenacious run to burst through two challenges.
Atagana continued to see plenty of the ball and only a perfectly-timed tackle denied him a chance on goal after Stone had played him into space.
At the other end, it took some brilliant saves from close range by Emenike twice in quick succession to deny Delta from extending the lead. However, they got the second in agonising fashion with 9 minutes to go. We failed to defend a corner kick properly and it broke for their striker who tucked the ball into the net on second attempt after Emenike got a hand to the first.
Despite plenty of pressure in midfield and around the Delta box, chances remained hard to come by as they hung on to the win.
The White Lions are next in action against Prime FC at home in the coming weekend.
Delta Force XI: Amen Godwin, Amadi Obinna, Udem Chinonso, Daniel Ijeh, Adjavon Jules, Akposhowoba Martins, Olaoke Yomi, Aniekeme Okon, Egbom Emmanuel, Ogu Buchi, Obi Samson.
Subs: Isah Ismail, Udeze Stephen, Edeh Peter, Laba Tega, Ajulu Darlington, Okuoka Happy, Dibia Chukwuyem.
C.O.D United XI: Paul Emenike, James Oronsaye, Alaba Balogun, Kenneth Joseph, Obinna Adiukwu, Kingsley Ezeali, Stone Evbuomwan, Anthony Omaka, Odunayo Ogunsuyi, Chinedu Enuademu, Tosin Omoyele.
Subs: Kolawole Oladipo, Afeez Bankole, Anthony Nwoye, Kevwe, Oladimeji Obafemi, Soji Adu, Theophilus Atagana.