Rovers are leaving no stone unturned in ensuring that they secure promotion to Nigeria’s elite football league, the NPFL by the end of the 2021 Nigeria National League season.
This is as the team pipped one of Nigeria’s oldest football clubs, the Stationery Stores of Lagos, in an exciting encounter that ended 1-0 at the U.J. Esuene Stadium, Calabar on Saturday.
The win is crucial because it has enable Rovers move to number two spot on the Southern Conference group B1 table, as the NNL goes into mid season break, commencing from April 13th to April 23rd, 2021.
The Saturday game brought out the eagerness in the two teams, as they tried to make the moment count to their advantage, but at the end of regulation time, only one side had a cause to celebrate. The slim scoreline is indicative of how competitive the match was, though the homers got several of their chances to widen the margin blown off. The first of such chances came early in the 4th minute, when Inyang Asuquo could not make a good contact with a fast pass put across to him right inside the opponent’s penalty area.
Before the frenzy generated by that goal attempt could cool off, Daniel Ilebvare, who was quite visible in the match, masterfully consummated a pass laid to him from the flank by Emmanuel Odafi to give Rovers an early lead in the 8th minute.
Another good chance for the ‘Ayade Boys’ came in the 30th minute, but Ndukwu Junior could not get the right shot at Stores’ Titioshe Idris, who made an easy save of the ball.
While Rovers had the game in the first half, Stores FC came all out in the second half to make a strong bargain for the ball, thus putting the flow in stalemate.
In another sudden push for goal, Samuel Okon’s 46th minute finishing from outside the penalty box was not clean enough to hit the right spot as it went just a little over the bar.
A chance was yet again missed in the 50th minute by substitute, Daniel Eni, who failed to convert a neatly delivered pass from Ndukwu Junior just in front of the visitors’ goal mouth.
Although the Flaming Flamingos had their own moments, they were not as much compared to Rovers’. This could be attributed to an almost impenetrable backline and the versatility of Rovers attacking squad.
As the game made for its dying minutes, Stores FC intensified their onslaught, but unfortunately they could not get pass the penalty area that was already sealed and locked by Rovers capable machines. This therefore forced the match to end 1-0 in favour of the home team.
Speaking shortly after the encounter, Stationery Stores head coach, Shakiru Lawal, said both teams put up a good fight, but that his lads lost the game due to inexperience.
“That costly mistake we made there in the defense. I have to talk about my deficiencies. We did our best but it was not enough. We will keep on working as we take up the challenge. We will go back home and assess our mistakes and make corrections.”
On the level of officiating, Lawal said “I don’t like talking about officiating. It’s their job. The referee assessor is there to assess them. My job is to see where my players did wrong and need corrections.”
On his part, Rovers Technical Adviser, Samson Unuanel, said it was important that his team won, however adding that he was not satisfied with the officiating.
He said “I face problem away and even in my home I am still facing problem. I cannot continue to accept this officiating in my home.”
Rovers would play against Stationery Stores FC at the Agege Township Stadium, Lagos, when the league returns from the mid season break on Saturday April 24 2021.
Meanwhile, Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC) of Ibadan top group B1 with 27 points as at Saturday April 10, while Rovers trailed behind with 17 points from 10 matches with one outstanding to play.