C.O.D United returned to winning ways with a deserved victory over Akwa Starlets courtesy of Anthony Omaka’s lone effort.
A number of chances did go begging until a composed finish in the 79th minute by Omaka ensured the White Lions began the second half of their Nigeria National League (NNL) season on a confident note.
Having endured a narrow defeat away to Akwa Starlets a fortnight ago and with the advent of the mid-season break and the transfer window ensuring he arrival of new players, Coach Kazeem Alabi made five changes to the starting line-up. Midfielder, Oronsaye was drafted to right back and Ogunsuyi was given his first NNL start. New recruits, Alaba Balogun, Nnamdi Damian and Chinedu Enuademu replaced Nwoye Anthony, Evbuomwan Stone,and the injured Soji adu respectively.
We began the game all guns blazing as Enuademu’s inviting free-kick on the edge of the box took a last-ditch clearance at the expense of a corner. Enuademu’s dazzling run and well-weighted crosses looked like the most likely route to a goal for C.O.D United in the opening exchanges as a lovely whipped cross by the winger could only be met by a weak header from Damian. We also came close to opening the scoring through the White Lions No7 but he just couldn’t get his shot on target.
There were penalty appeals by the White Lions when Ogunsuyi appeared to be brought down in the box while attempting to latch on to a through ball from Omaka. The referee was unyielding that time. We continued to ask questions of their defence as Omoyele fashioned out some space on the right, beating his marker intelligently but his pin-point cross into the box was intercepted by some positioned defending. Ogunsuyi was once again at the end of another controversial call as he was allegedly stamped on the head in the box while trying to bring down a lovely cut back by Omoyele and the former was immediately on target with a well drilled grounder which had the keeper clawing back to make a save.
Akwa Starlets were limited to speculative efforts from range as we headed into the interval goalless.
The second half began with Coach Alabi’s men looking to take the game to the visitors once again. Ogunsuyi made a darting run down the left and squared for Omaka who checked onto his left and let out a rasping strike which was parried by the keeper on the stretch and the latter should have given us the advantage when he was brilliantly teed up by Damian after some charging run on the right but the midfielder could only watch along as his side-footed shot went inches of the far post. The visiting team almost made us pay as Ezeali’s poor clearance allowed them a chance at goal; however, Adiukwu was alert to the danger as he shielded the ball out of touch.
There were several opportunities to break the deadlock. Omoyele was sent through on goal with a perfectly-weighted pass but his early strike was gathered by the keeper on second attempt. Omaka was also left wondering how he hadn’t found the back of the net throughout a game in which he produced arguably his best performance all season long. Next was Omoyele’s time to miss from 6 yards after a poor clearance fell kindly to his path.
The opener finally arrived and no less than we deserved; it had to come from the boots of Omaka. A short cross sent in by Oronsaye broke nicely for the midfielder and he made no mistake, hammering home from three yards out.
Theophilus Atagana was introduced late on to help increase the advantage but Akwa Starlets would not let in any more goals as we settled for a one nil victory.
The White Lions are next in action this Saturday, 30th July with a trip to Abia Comets.
C.O.D United Starting XI: Paul Emenike, James Oronsaye, Obinna Adiukwu, Kenneth Joseph, Alaba Balogun, Kingsley Ezeali, Anthony Omaka, Nnamdi Damian, Odunayo Ogunsuyi, Chinedu Enuademu, Tosin Omoyele.
Subs: Kolawole Oladipo, Bankole Afeez, Sikiru Hammed, Anthony Nwoye, Evbuomwan Stone, Habib Husseini, Atagana Theophilus.
Akwa Starlets XI: Otobong Emmanuel, Wasiu Kadiri, Mmeyene Isang, Ejah Monday, James Micheal, David Obinna, Edjebarei Lucky, Babalola Azeez, Chukwudi Nwaodi, Okon Jacob, Inemesit Sunday.
Subs: Solomon Mmeyene, Ukoebe Ekemini, Joseph Bassey, Itiok Sylvester, Prince Wisdom, Irimoni Oke.