By Ademola Olajire
Remo Stars gave themselves a shot in the arm in this campaign with a well â€“deserved 2-0 defeat of Gombe United at the Gateway International Stadium, Sagamu. In the event, the Sky Blue Stars picked their first points in six matches, brought back celebrations to the stands at the Gateway Stadium and to player, Oche Salefu, hope that the team can still beat the drop.
Both teams, two of the four teams promoted to the top flight at the beginning of the season (the others being ABS FC and Katsina United), needed a win to calm the nerves of exasperated Management teams.
The big news ahead of the clash was Remo Starsâ€™ attacking midfielder Benjamin Felix telling all who cared to listen that the Sky Blues Stars were now ready to start winning games as they have become eager than ever to reduce the burden of being bottom team of the elite cadre.
Salefu was to be voted man-of-the-match and he said the victory was sweet to the extent that it was their first after many matches.
â€œThis was a very sweet victory for us, because we had not won a match for some time now. I said before the game that I would score, and I am very happy that I did. My bigger joy is that we won in the end. Now, we have to maintain this spirit and keep winning our matches, whether at home or away. I donâ€™t want my team to go on relegationâ€, Salefu toldwww.npfl.ng
Coach Fatai Osho was impressed by the contributions of the players, praising them for going the extra mile to deliver all they could for victory.
Osho said after the match, â€œOf course, I am very happy. I am not going to say we won simply because we got two early goals. My players gave their all throughout the match and deserved the three points.
â€œWe have been playing well but just unlucky to lose some of our matches. We will work very hard and try to achieve results in the coming weeks, so that we can get out of the bottom position in the Leagueâ€, the Coach concluded on a note of optimisim.
True to his words, the wards of Fatai Osho had shown brisk business-like approach from the beginning of attrition on the turf of the Gateway International Stadium. And their macho bearing was given a huge boost on the 10th minute as star â€“man Oche Salefu slammed in a beauty of a goal from a free kick 22 yards away.
Before the goal, Gombe Unitedâ€™s Afolabi Abdulwaheed, Abdulrahaman Kelebe and Idris Bakare (who got their only goal in the defeat of Katsina United in Gombe the previous weekend) combined to cause some anxieties in the home teamâ€™s rear, but could not get any good sight on goal.
When on the quarter hour, Ekene Awazie met Salefuâ€™s in-swinging corner kick with a powerful header that flew past goalkeeper Joseph Onwuga, the home faithful truly looked forward to a rewarding evening.
The Savannah Scorpions did not sit down to sulk. Kelebe, Abdulwaheed, Bakare and Austin Oladapo mounted wave after wave of onslaughts, but they always found Remo Starsâ€™ rearguard of Edozie Ewelike, Ekene Obi, Osas Okunoghae and Saheed Lasisi impregnable.
On the 35th minute, Kelebe completely miscued his shot when presented with an opportunity, and two minutes later, Bakare lifted the ball too high. Just before the break, Eric Dufegha had the ball in the net after the irrepressible Salefu got past the visitorsâ€™ defence, but it was correctly ruled out for offside.
In the second half, the home boys dug their feet into the ground at the rear and even launched a number of onslaughts. However, Gombe United thought they had reduced the tally when Idris Bakare connected as the ball rebounded off the upright from a fierce free kick by Austin Oladapo. But he was also correctly ruled out for offside positioning, and got booked for questioning the refereeâ€™s decision.
Substitute Joseph Onoja tried to add some urgency to the Savannah Scorpionsâ€™ attack, but the homers stood their ground and ran away with the three points.
NPFL MATCH-DAY 23
Shooting vs Kano Pillars
Lobi Stars vs MFM FC
IfeanyiUbah vs ABS FC
Tornadoes vs Rivers Utd
Akwa United vs Wikki
El-Kanemi vs Rangers
Nasarawa vs Katsina Utd
Abia Warriors vs Remo Stars
Gombe Utd vs Enyimba
Sunshine vs Plateau Utd