21st February, 2011
An accomplished performance by Nigeria Premier League (NPL) leaders, Dolphin, condemned high flying new boys, Bukola Babes, to their first league defeat in eight games.
However, Coach of Bukola, Festus Allen, was proud in defeat. â€œIt is not easy to go eight matches unbeaten in the NPL, so I praise my boys for their performance. There is no shame in losing to a crack side like Dolphin because we gave a good account of ourselves,â€ he told SuperSport.com.
Dolphinsâ€™ Stanley â€œHarry Redknappâ€ Eguma preferred to look at the bigger picture.
â€œWe are making a bold statement. We are a serious side with great aspirations. A continent place (at the end of the season) is our target,â€ he said.
Sunday Rotimiâ€™s absence meant a rare start for Udoo Ochiogu, while Captain Emma Godwin started his first home game in four weeks.
Match winner from the previous week, Derek Amadi, kept his place as did other regulars Johnson Olewezi, Kennedy Chinwo, Osita Echendu, Uche Oguchi and Daddy Maurice.
The away side looked solid with Suraj Ayelesoh, Promise James Yusuf Abubakar and Seun Sogbeso providing the steel at the back.
Set piece expert, Kadir Aminu, also kept his place in the starting line-up and there was a surprise place in the first eleven for danger man, Bassey Effiom, who had been previously ruled out by Coach Festus Allen on the grounds of illness.
Riding on the crest of a wave, it was the ultra confident visitors who launched the first attack but Bashi Abdulrahmanâ€™s doggedness came to nothing.
The home side responded shortly after, and it was with deadly efficiency.Daddy Maurice, impressive in recent weeks, created space for himself in midfield before playing a deft through ball that set Derek Amadi free on the right.
The striker kept his cool and fired a low angled drive that nestled in the bottom corner, beyond the reach of a despairing Suraj Ayelesoh.
Amadiâ€™s strike on 3 minutes represented his second goal in as many matches.
With his game plan of stifling the homers early on badly unsettled, Coach Festus Allen juggled his peck and his players responded brilliantly.
Kadiri Aminu and Akeem Audu all came close but failed to break the well-organised backline of the home side.
Aminu had with two brilliant opportunities via set pieces while Audu shot straight at Ochiogu from inside the penalty area as Bukola searched for a rapid response.
Dolphin then took over and almost made it 2-0 midway into the first half in spectacular fashion.
Uche Oguchiâ€™s cross from the right was met by a well struck volley by Amadi who was denied his second goal of the afternoon as the shot cannoned off the post.
The half ended with Dolphin holding on to their slim advantage.
Upon resumption, Dolphin took total control, attacking with purpose and urgency.
They almost got their reward on 50 minutes but Victor Michaelâ€™s unbelievable miss from six yards meant the scoreline was still 1-0 to the homers.
The leaders continued to press and came close 12 minutes later but Amadiâ€™s goal bound shot was blocked on the line by his teammate, Captain Ejindu.
It looked as though the home side would rue their missed chances as the visitors got their best chance of the game soon after.
Substitute, Azeez Sobowale, found himself face to face with goalkeeper, Ochiogu, and he shot well enough only to see his effort stopped brilliantly by the impressive goalie. Bukola attacked again but Sobowale was halted in his tracks this time by man of the match, Olewezi.
The see-saw contest took a dramatic twist seconds later as Dolphin broke immediately and won a penalty after Bukolaâ€™s captain, Yusuf Abubakar, was adjudged to have handled the ball in the penalty area.