BY CHRIS OKUNNUWA
Timileyin ‘Omo Jesu’ Ogunniyi and Fuad Ekelojuoti scored the goals as Sunshine Stars hanged on to secure a 2-1 win over Plateau United in Wednesday’s exhilarating match at the Ondo State Sports Complex, Akure.
The victory moved the Kabiru Dogo tinkered side to joint third on the Nigeria Professional Football League table with 25 points from 15 matches.
Seconds into the game, Sunshine Stars’ Sulieman Mohammed broke through into the visitors area from a quick team play, however the bulish striker’s effort was easily collected by United’s goalkeeper, Chinedu Anozie.
And four minutes in, Anthony Omaka fired just wide fiercely from the edge as Sunshine Stars continue to lay early siege to the former champions’ area.
The Akure landlords should have taken the lead from a big chance in the fifth minute, but Chinedu made himself too big for Omaka to slot past from six yards out following a defence-splitting move.
The opening goal was in the offing though, and it arrived in the 11′ through dazzling midfielder, Omo Jesu who showed great skill and calmness to chip past Chinedu astonishingly from goal mouth.
Stand-in captain, Seun Olulayo provided decisive cover for goalkeeper Olorunleke Ojo and helped stopped a goal-bound United’s lob in the 21′.
Then Ekelojuoti doubled the lead for Sunshine Stars by bundling home from the rebound of Jide Fatokun’s low drive in the 33′.
The hosts had the chance to go 3-0 up just before the end of the first half, but Mohammed could not keep his volley down after connecting a teasing Omaka’s header inside the area.
Dogo’s boys picked it up from where they left it before the break and could have pulled away further five minutes after the restart, however Omaka had another effort clattered off Chinedu in one-on-one face off with the goalkeeper.
In the 52′ Omo Jesu raced in barely early enough and get to the end of Mohammed’s square ball, but his efforts from an acute angle is kept out by Anozie, before Wasiu Jimoh pulled yet another save from the goalkeeper with a trademark drive a minute later.
Despite Sunshine Stars dominance in the opening minutes of the second period, it was Plateau United who profited from a sloppy defending and lapse in concentration to pulled one back through Uche Onoasonya in the 57′.
The goal brought the Tin city outfit back into the game and it took a brave goalkeeping act from Ojo to thwart the coach Abdul Maikaba’s side chance at an equaliser in the 70′. The goalkeeper was right on call again to deny United in a similar fashion 12 minutes from time.
The pressure was relentless in the closing stages but the Akure landlords held on to pick up another huge three points, ahead of Sunday’s match day 15 date with Kwara United in Ilorin.