Legends on the prowl: Ifeanyi Aghenu (l), Sunday Ilevbare (m)
Stationery Stores slumped from a spectacular first half to a sloppy second, but still dug in to beat hard-fighting Ekiti United 3-2 at the Onikan waterfront on Sunday.
The Ekiti boys were still admiring the marvelous architecture of the Tafawa Balewa Square when Raphael Onwrebe and and Festus Ajah blasted in two goals to give Stores a comfortable lead in the first half. Then the referee awarded Ekiti a rather soft penalty completely against the run of play.
Stores however, could have been at least four goals up if they had taken the numerous opportunities they created in the first half. The second half surprisingly saw the Adebajo Babes in a completely different mood as they found it hard to recreate their usual smooth passing game.
The absence of skipper Ayo Filani was clearly felt as the usually compact coordination between the central defence and midfield was not there, thus allowing the Ekiti boys to pile up pressure on Stores defence from the middle. It was therefore only a matter of time before Ekiti scored to make life miserable for Stores. The chances that came Stores’ way in the second half were either blasted wide or saved by the agile Ekiti goalkeeper, Anthony Bello. Then, the flaming flamingoes found the net once more, only to have it dissallowed by the referee.
Buoyed by the unrelenting chants of the supporters, Stores continued to fight spiritedly on the field, and in one of their efforts, won a penalty which Raphael Onwrebe converted right at the very last minute of extra time.
STORES’ HIGHEST SCORERS THIS SEASON
1. Raphael Onwrebe 3 Goals
2. Festus Ajah 2 Goals
3. Musa Sadiq 1 Goal
4. Olaniyi Jelelola 1 Goal
Although striker Onwrebe netted two goals, it was left back Hassan that gave the fans some moments to remember with his composed performance spiced with intermittent shows of skill, thus earning our MVP award for this game.
GOALKEEPER: Oguntoye Adeniyi 6
. Was not adequately protected by his defence in this game.
RIGHT BACK: Hoseni Akeem 6
. Worked well on the right.
Left winger Oghenovo Uzezi gave Ekiti loads of trouble
LEFT BACK: Hassan Dimeji 7
. Motivated a lot of attacks from the left and gave the fans some moments to savour.
CENTRE BACK: Jimoh Olawale 5
. Usually reliable; today was not one of his best
CENTRE BACK: Femi Thomas 6
. Stood firm and composed as usual
DEFENSIVE MIDFIELDER: Ireti F 5
. Good potential, but should complain less with his teammates.
ATTACKING MIDFIELDER: Jelelola O. 6
ATTACKING MIDFIELDER: Nonso Nwaiwu 6
. Worked hard throughout the game.
ATTACKING MIDFIRLDER: Oghenovo Uzezi 6
. Was very lively on the left flank, but lacking the killer instinct
STRIKER: Festus Ajah 6
. Worked hard searching for the goals
STRIKER: Raphael Onwrebe 7
. Emerging as a goal scorer, but needs to polish his technical attributes.
MATCH WRAP UP
We learnt so many crucial lessons from this game. First, the team lacks a leader, a motivator on the field. There were too many heads dropped in the second half, which gave the visitors a very valuable psychological edge.
I observed far too many altercations between the defensive midfielders and the central defenders, and as professionals they should know they have to be 100% focused for 90 minutes. Now, it appears the maturity of team captain Ayo Filani is indispensable in that anchor area.
The good part was that despite losing their last game by a scandalous 4 goals, our boys came into this game with zest, banging in those two goals in the first half. What happened thereafter is something the coaches must sit and analyse very carefully.
Stores for life!
Midfield action with (l-r): Onwrebe, Ajah and Nonso Nwaiwu