A predator’s goal late in the first half by Chidinma Anuruo and a sublime strike midway through the second half by Ifeoma Paulinus helped the C.O.D United Amazons to a comfortable win over Pelican Stars.
A dominant performance from the first whistle failed to yield the desired dividends until Anuruo reacted quickest to a square ball into the box and turned the ball in. Paulinus put the icing on the cake with a fortunate goal in the 65th minute as her effort, intended as a cross into the box went goal-wards and into the net. The win helped extend our unbeaten streak to six games and ensured we ended the first half of the Nigeria Women Football League (NWFL) in excellent fashion.
After an unfortunate exit from the Federation Cup to Bayelsa Queens on penalties, Coach Eucharia Uche made a few changes to the line-up. Oluchi Onah was given an unusual berth while Gloria Obillama was rewarded for her exploits in the cup game. Hannah Ikono was dropped to the bench after being a constant feature all through the season.
We got the first real attacking chance of the game as Gift Monday fashioned out some space on the left, beating her marker with some quick feet but her square ball into the box was too close to the keeper and she claimed quite easily. We continued to create half chances in the early exchanges with some neat build-up in the box but Paulinus’s drive from close range drifted inches off the target.
Pelican Stars’ attacking play in the first half were largely restricted to set-plays and it almost paid off as a harmless corner sent into our box wasn’t properly handled by Yese causing some panic moments, but our defence was alert to clear to safety on second attempt.
Monday and Paulinus threatened to get on the score sheet but it was left to Anuruo to break the deadlock just on the stroke on half-time with a quite brilliant goal. A square ball across the face of goal by Onah was difficult for the Pelican defenders to handle and Anuruo reacted quickest to tap the ball in. A predator’s goal and no less than the Amazons deserved.
Ikono replaced Obillama two minutes into the second half and we continued in much the same manner as the first with us being on the ascendancy. Monday’s free-kick on the edge of the box sailed narrowly over and Paulinus forced the keeper to a smart save from a lowly drilled free-kick minutes later.
We continued to dominate possession without finding too many opportunities to threaten the opponent’s goal, although one fierce strike by Monday had the keeper scrambling across goal to claw the ball behind for a corner. However, Pelican Stars came really close to an equaliser with a through ball but Yese was quickly off her line and got a good hand to it as we recovered to snuff out the danger.
In the 69th minute, our constant pressure paid off as Paulinus scored a beautiful goal from a strike which looked intended for a cross head directly on target and into the far corner, deceiving the keeper in the process.
Pelican Stars tried to respond late on with half chances but with no success as we settled for a 2-0 victory.
The NWFL goes on a two-week mid-season break and the Amazons return to action consequently for the second half of the season away to Pelican Stars.
C.O.D United Amazons Starting XI: Francisca Yese, Obioma Bella, Ifeoma Paulinus, Amaka Ezor, Mary Ibadin, Onah Oluchi, Gloria Obillama, Gift Monday, Chidinma Anuruo, Aweda Rofiat, Ayowunmi Omosuyi.
Subs: Ibeh Chinonye, Moka Sylvia, Ikono Hannah, Oshobukola Omowunmi, Benjamin Vera, Joseph Ogoma, Odelewhu Beauty.
Pelican Stars Starting XI : Akwasi Cynthia, Williams Hodo, Akaka Joy, Blessing Okon, Okwudili Anita, Alex Faith, Joshua Lydia, Racheal Okotete, Bato Moses, Honesty Essienanwan, Ekeng Efioanwan.
Subs: Adenaike Odunayo, Favour O., Unegbu Emmanuella, U. Maureen.