Rivers United Drown Lobi Stars In Port Harcourt In NPFL Matchday 15 Clash
Rivers United FC of Port Harcourt defeated league leaders Lobi Stars 2-1 in one of the matchday 15 fixtures of the 2019/20 Nigeria Professional Football League, NPFL played in Garden City, Wednesday, Bestchoicesports.com.ng can report.
Rivers United started the game off the foot of Fortune Omoniwar, the first attack of the host resulted in to a corner kick, a short corner was extended in to the edge of the goal area of Lobi Stars, a Rivers United forward player pushed Lobi Stars goalkeeper off balance for his team mate Esor Nelson who conspicuously punched the ball inside the net. The referee was close enough not to have missed or doubted the use of hand but chose to award a second minute goal for Rivers United. The protest action of the Lobi Stars players couldn’t change the referee’s unpopular and controversial decision.
7 minutes of play, Lobi Stars got a free kick, a quick start found Nzube Anaezemba whose shot at goal went harmlessly over the cross bar.
There was display of football artistry by Lobi Stars in the middle with occasional takeovers from Rivers United.
In the 18th minute, Abdulkareem pressurized a Rivers United defense man Kazie Enyinaya but the ball went out of touch for a throw-in in favour of Rivers United. The throw in resulted in an attack that went close to Lobi Stars goal, Omotayo Adebogun of Lobi Stars intercepted the ball and launched an attack releasing a quick pass to Chukwudi Nwaodu, Nwaodu saw a well taken overlapping run by John Lazarus and delivered a through pass behind the defence of Rivers United with precision, Lazarus pushed forward once and powered a grounder to the far post inside the net for an equalizer that was no doubt classical.
In the 24th minute an opportunity came the way of Rivers United when Nelson Esor set on Fortune Omoniwar who harmlessly missed his intended cross out of lack of creativity.
24th minute, the continuous pressure almost paid off when Abdulkareem Mumini exert pressure on the Rivers defense and a back passed to goal keeper by Temple Emekayi was defective but the goal keeper saw it and intervene to save the situation.
28th Minute, Sunday Adetunji contested the ball with defender Temple Emekayi and won without any serious body contact but the referee chose to blow against Lobi Stars and award direct free kick to the Rivers United.
31 minutes of play, Rivers United built up an attack but was poorly finished by Esor Nelson.
In 38th minute Lobi Stars through interconnectivity of Tayo Adebogun and Nzube Anaezemba for Ebube but his one time Cross unfortunately hit the foot of Kazie Eyinaya in to touch. 40 and 41 minutes, Rivers United got two successive opportunities but lost to the extra effort of Lobi Stars defense and the element of luck. 45+1: The referee signaled for halftime as score line remains 1-1.
Lobi Stars resumed the second smoking to shoot ahead, as Sunday Adetunji ventured a solo effort from the mid way line on the far right side of the field and kept the opponent chasing without displacing him of the ball till he ended up crossing off target in to goal kick advantage Rivers United.
48th minute free kick for Lobi Stars located Abdulkareem Mumini who managed in between two defenders to shoot at goal but the shot was not strong enough not to beat the goalkeeper.
Rivers United got a corner kick in the 52nd minute replayed by the scenario the referee ignored when the goalkeeper was pushed away in the 2nd minute, but this time the referee blew for a foul and award a free kick against Rivers United.
57 minute of play, Lobi Stars almost concede a second goal as a defensive mix up in front of Lobi’s goal area got the goalkeeper beaten but the ball bounced in front of goal and sailed over the cross bar.
Lobi Stars introduced Governor Ernest in place of Nzube Anaezemba to fortify the defense line in 53rd minute. Yellow card was issued to Lobi Stars’ Ebube Duru 58 minutes of play.
Fruitless efforts were been made by both sides to get a goal, the nearest was in the 66th minute when Abdulkareem Mumini received a pass from Ebube Duru, took on two defenders mesmerized them but his cross was deflected. John Lazarus of Lobi Stars got another yellow card.
Two minutes later Abdulkareem was on duty again as he swerved off Kazie Enyinaya and pushed in for goal but his cross went in to the waiting hands of goalkeeper Akande Abiodun.
In the 74th minute, the referee almost brought game in to disrepute as he did the unimaginable, when a goal mouth scramble ensued and there was nothing that looked like a goal but the referee sounded his whistle and pointed at the centre to the amazement of all, the immediate past NFF board member who lay siege on the match officials throughout the 90 minutes, pressurized the AR who had wanted to stand his ground against the goal he succumb to the referee’s decision after the centre referee consulted with him.
In the 78th minute, Samad Kadiri took over from Chukwudi Nwaodu to add bite to the attack for equaliser after the referee had jeorpadize Lobi Stars game plan by uttering the scoreline outside the law that define a goal.
Lobi Stars renewed pressure on Rivers United. Ossy martins replaced Stephen Gopey Michael in the 80th minute. Temple Emekayi was shown yellow card for unsporting behaviour while delaying unnecessarily.
All last minutes efforts to level up by Lobi Stars were cautiously checked by the referee where Rivers United fail, until the Referee called for the end of the game at 90+4 minutes.
However, Lobi Stars media officer, Austin Tyowua alleged referee’s bias as he ‘controversially’ allowed the two goals to stand.
“It was a show of shame at The Yakubu Gowon Stadium Port Harcourt as the centre referee Abubakar Zubeiru from Kaduna, aided by an immediate past board member of NFF from Rivers State deaden his conscience as he allow two controversial and shameful goals.
“The conduct of the former board member who has supposedly seen all in football would obviously have been better than that. He stood inside the perimeter fence all through the duration of the game exerting pressure on the match officials, Infantino (FIFA President) wouldn’t have found himself in that position if he wasn’t directly involved in the officiating of the match,” he said.
Despite the loss, Lobi Stars still maintain their top position despite the ochestrated defeat, with the victors of today’s game Rivers United closing in on Lobi Stars temporarily with 27 points, with Lobi Stars having a superior goal difference, while Plateau United slipped down the ladder by one place.