NPFL: Lobi Stars miss top-spot chance, hold Rangers in Makurdi

Lobi Stars forced Rangers International to a 1-1 draw in a pulsating rescheduled NPFL matchday 6 decided at the Aper Aku Stadium in Makurdi on Wednesday.

The game started on a very good note as both teams exhibited some flashes of good football. It was an action-packed encounter full of talking points and great intensity as the two teams showcased good football artistry to the delight of the scanty spectators at the stadium.

The first clear cut chance of the game rested on Samad Kadiri of Lobi whose greatest undoing was indecision as Rangers goalie Nana Bonsu came out to pick the loose ball with just 13 minutes into the proceedings. Abdulkadir Mumini of Lobi Stars was another culprit in the 25th minute as his glancing header from John Lazarus’ cross crashed against the crossbar. Israel Abia would then open scoring for Rangers International on 43 minutes to take his goal tally for the season to eight. Rangers’ celebration was cut short two minutes later when Samuel Mathias headed home from a goalmouth scramble after the visitors could not clear their line to restore parity and the first half ended 1-1. It was a ding-dong affair in the second half as both teams threw more men forward in search of the winning goal. Nigeria U23 star, John Lazarus burst forward on the right and created a shooting space for himself but his long-range effort went just wide on 52 minutes.

Ibrahim Olawoyin could have put the visitors ahead after dribbling past two Lobi Stars defenders but his thunderous volley was parried to safety by Lobi’s goalkeeper Faith James. Rangers was dealt a big blow after injured Nana Bonsu was substituted for Japhet Opubo following a collision with Lordson Ichull on 60 minutes. Lobi came close to stealing the show once more on 62 minutes. This time, Utibe Arit’s close-range header agonizingly missed the target. Both teams introduced fresh legs in a bid to add bite and energy to the game. However, it was Lobi’s substitution that almost paid off as Sunday Adetunji came close to claiming maximum points for the hosts but he couldn’t hold his own and his effort went wide on 72 minutes. A horrendous blunder from Faith James on 77 minutes that would have caused Lobi Stars an upset following a wrong timing of the ball was cleared by Ernest Governor. Both teams looked desperate at the dying minutes of the game but nothing to show for their efforts as the game ended 1-1. Samuel Mathias of Lobi Stars was voted most valuable player by the pressmen at the stadium.

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