Abia Warriors on Tuesday stumbled for the first time this season in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) when they suffered a 0-1 defeat to Warri Wolves.
The Umuahia club had gone 10 games unbeaten until former Nigeria Under-17 winger King Osanga scored the goal that ended that run.
Wolves gaffer, Ard Sluis, gave starts to the former FC Taraba centre-back duo of Kelvin Njoku and Obinna Nwokolo, who were the tallest pairing in the heart of defence in the Nigerian top-flight last term.
Interestingly, Abia Warriors Head Coach Kennedy Boboye put out a defensive-looking side with the attacking trio of Chisom Chikatara, Bolaji Sakin and former Under-17 star Stanley Okoro all starting from the bench.
Twenty-three seconds into the game, Wolves should have scored but Efe Yarhere instead smashed the ball straight at Chinedu Anozie in Abia Warriors’ goal.
It was a performance of the goalkeepers. Wolves’ stopper, Dele Ajiboye was forced into a double save midway into the first half.
Just before the break, Anozie saved a Wolves’ spot kick from Uzezi Oghenewo as it appeared Abia Warriors would keep their unbeaten streak running.
Two minutes after Boboye decided to send on Chikatara in place of Kabiru Ayinde, Wolves scored the goal that turned out to be the winner. On 53 minutes, Osanga met Solomon Okpako’s sweetly delivered pass to score past Anozie.
Shedrack Asiegbu and Okoro were thrown into the fray to replace Essien Joseph and Godwin Effiong respectively by the Warriors trainer. Though the latter produced a glimpse of his mazy runs as an under-17, it proved too insufficient to knock off Wolves from their perch.
Despite the loss, Abia Warriors remain in second place with 20 points, one behind table-topping Enugu Rangers while Wolves move into the top-half and with four points less.