Sunshine Stars became the first side to win against Rivers United at the Yakubu Gowon stadium in Port Harcourt since they renamed from Dolphins FC thanks to Ezekiel Thompson’s second-half header.
Thompson silenced the home fans with his headed goal in the 68th minute to ensure his side do the double over the Pride of Rivers this season. The match was a matchday 30 Nigeria Professional Football League fixture.
Smarting from last weeekends away point in Ilorin, Rivers United went into the match in search of their first point over Sunshine in three meetings. They threatened first from a corner-kick through a Christian Weli headed effort which was blocked.
Otegbeye Ajiboye tried his luck from distance just at the half-hour mark but his shot narrowly went wide.
The hosts drew a double save out of Ayodele Henry. First he stopped Lukman Mohammed from 20-yards before he blocked Frederick Obomate’s rebound to keep the score level.
Sunshine Stars thought they had taken the lead when Sikiru Alimi converted a cross with his head in the 43rd minute. In no doubt of the linesman’s flag, Referee Patrick Nworie blew his whistle for offside much to the ire of spectators. The incident sent tongues wagging as both teams headed for the break with the game still goalless.
Lukman Mohammed’s shot at the beginning of the second-half was spectacularly saved by Henry. Ovoke’s rasping drive from distance failed to hit the target as the hosts upped the tempo in the second period.
Against the run of play, Sunshine Stars took the lead in the 68th minute. Thompson Ezekiel punished a static looking Rivers United defence when he ghosted in-between Douhadji and Olalekan to score.
Rivers United mounted a late fight back but found Henry in goal in fine form. The bulky goalkeeper stopped Atuloma and Ogbugh from close range to keep his side in the lead. Despite 5mins added by the referee, Sunhine Stars held on for the victory, their second away win of the season.
Rivers United XI: 23. Abiodun Akande, 2. Ifeanyi Nweke, 5. Joseph Douhadji, 12. Gabriel Olalekan, 14. Zoumana Doumbia, 13. Emeka Atuloma, 20. Frederick Obomate (Eguakun 58′), 27. Christian Weli, 11. Bolaji Sakin (Ogbugh 44′), 7. Bernard Ovoke, 15. Lukman Mohammed.
Subs: 1. Femi Thomas, 3. Ali Chiwendu, 31. Semiu Liadi, 21. Yusuf Jaiyeola, 16. Daniel Israel.
Lobi Stars XI: Ayodele, Abe, Adeniyi, Okoyoh, Ogagotewho, Nojeem, Ojo, Otegbeye, Thompson, Omaka, Alimi.
Subs: Akinroyejo, Ogoh, Hele Hele, Olulayo, Orelope, Adeshina, Joseph.
More to follow.