Wasiu Jimoh converted a penalty five minutes before half time to condemn 10-man Rivers United to a 0-1 defeat to Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC) in a closely-fought Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) contest in Ibadan on Saturday.
United were reduced to 10 men after Ofem Inah, who was making his season’s debut in the absence of suspended Ayobami Asekunowo received a straight red card for upending Nojeem Olukokun in the box.
He was the last man and had to go.
United should have been at least two goals up before Jimoh scored in the 40th minute as Chukwunonso Okonkwo and Guy Kuemian wasted excellent chances inside the opening quarter hour at a frenzied Lekan Salami Stadium.
Okonkwo, a live wire all evening, was extremely unfortunate not to open scoring in the 19th minute as he watched a swerving low drive canon off the post with the Shooting Stars goalkeeper, Emmanuel Fabiyi, beaten.
The hosts’ only real chance of the half (before they eventually took the lead), arrived on the half hour when Sunday Rotimi easily saved Bright Babatunde’s long range effort.
Real clear cut opportunities were few and far between after the break with Yusuf Jaiyeola wasting the visitors’ best chance to level matters with a header which he planted wide in the 73rd minute following an exemplary delivery by substitute, Daniel Israel.
3SC head coach, Kadiri Ikhana, was full of charitable words for his vanquished opponents describing them as a ‘great force’.
“No doubt about it. Rivers United is a good team. If you combine Sharks and Dolphins FC (both clubs were merged to form Rivers United), you will have a great force.
“By the time the team blends, they will play better than this; I have no doubts about it,” Ikhana said after the game.
Coach Eguma also attempted to pick positives from the defeat, singling out the penalty conceded just before half time as the only blot on his side’s report sheet.
“If you exclude the infringement that led to the penalty to 3SC, I think my players lived up to expectations.
“We failed to convert the chances that came our way.
“My players performed above average but we failed to take our chances.
“We have been scoring in previous matches and it’s just unfortunate that we could not score today.
“It’s one of those things in football,” he said.
The win lifts 3SC up to 8th place on the NPFL standings with nine points from five matches while United dropped to 9th with nine points from seven matches.