Saturday, December 11, 2010

Dolphins end Warri Wolves’ unbeaten start

Warri Wolves’ five-match unbeaten start to the season finally came to a halt on Saturday in the hands of former Nigeria Premier League (NPL) champions, Dolphins Football Club, at the Liberation Stadium in Port Harcourt.
It was substitute Captain Ejindu that grabbed the match-winner for Dolphins 10 minutes from time.
With hard-tackling Bright Akpojuvwevo taking up the place Emmanuel Omodiagbe, who has been excused on personal grounds, in the middle of the pack for Wolves, the game sure took a scrappy dimension.
Wolves’ coach, Paul Aigbogun, also opted to start striker Tochukwu Mbachu ahead of Ehiosun Ekigho, who just recovered from malaria.
Dolphins’ manager, Stanley Eguma, decided to hand fringe goalkeeper, Afeso Attah, his start of the season after Sunday Rotimi was hit by a missile last weekend at Niger Tornadoes.
It was Dolphins that fashioned out the early openings with Victor Michael being the target in a one-man attacking formation with Abduljeleel Ajagun and Chidi Osuchukwu providing width from the wings.
The pace of Ajagun and Osuchukwu caused Wolves problems on the flanks with captain Goodluck Onamado even getting booked for upending Ajagun on 21 minutes.
Osuchukwu’s threat to Wolves lasted just 42 minutes and Eguma was forced to make an early change by sending on Emem Edouk into the fray to replace the injured player.
On 44 minutes, Dolphins were close to taking the lead with successive shots on target from Owusu Addae, Sunday Mbah and Michael, but Wolves’ goalie, Chigozie Agbim, kept them at bay.
Dolphins’ Ghanaian midfielder, Addae, known for his creative style of play was largely anonymous due to being often shackled in the middle by Efe Yarhere and Akpojuvwevo.
Aigbogun’s tactical switch in bringing on Ifeanyi Okoye for Onyekachi Nelson appeared to have added zest into Wolves’ attacking forays in the second half.
Mbachu became a handful for Dolphins with his runs at their defence and on 60 minutes he took one of such runs and shot straight at Attah in goal, who had no problem in handling his effort.
Three minutes later Edouk’s flying effort whistled past Agbim’s left side of goal after great work from the former Akwa United winger to keep the ball off Onamado.
On 70 minutes, Aigbogun threw in Ekigho for Mbachu and the striker nearly caught Dolphins’ defence unaware with his sleek move but that was the only time Wolves’ top scorer last season was seen in the game.
But it was substitute Ejindu, Dolphins’ top scorer last term, that flicked a header from an unmarked position to send his side top of the table till Sunday when six games take place across the country.
With five minutes left to play, Ebuka Okafor made way for Gift Atulewa, as Wolves went in search of an equaliser to avoid a first loss of the season.
The game ended with a late drama as Wolves’ centre-back, ThankGod Ike, was flashed a straight red card by referee M. Nwabueze from Abia State for shoving Edouk after a scramble for the ball.
Ike’s unsporting attitude continued into the stands where he engaged a fan of Dolphins in a war of words by pulling off his jersey in the process before policemen attached to the venue restrained him.

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