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By: Ade Adeleke
Sunshine Stars strengthened their war against relegation yesterday on the NPFL table with a result on the road, as they earned a 1-1 draw against Rivers United in Port Harcourt on matchday 16.
Ajibola Otegbeye’s second half spot kick secured the vital away point for the Akure Landlords after the hosts have taken the lead courtesy of same set play.
Sunshine Stars and Rivers United went into the tie with goal difference separating them on the log and both just a point above the drop zone meaning only maximum points was required to lockdown safety for either sides.
After a cagey start, Sunshine Stars began to pull strings as Dayo Ojo and Chibundu Amah fired over before the half hour mark.
Jide Fatokun hit the side net from a corner kick rebound and the midfielder was on time at his own end of the field to make a decisive block to deny Rivers United a chance with a decisive interception at the stroke of halftime.
At the restart, Ayo Ojo was tested in the Sunshine Stars goal but the shot stopper stretched his length to keep his side in the game even as Amah fluffed his line to power what could have easily be the opener high from four yards out minutes later.
In the 69th minute, River United were awarded a penalty for a handball and Ossy Martins stepped up to put the home side in front.
The hosts were however reduced to ten men as Bright Onyedikachi was given the marching orders for a retaliatory assault on Fuad Ekelojuoti, before a goal-bound Dayo Ojo’s deflected effort is kept out by Biodun Akande in the 78th minute.
With five minutes left on the clock, second half substitute, Ajibola Otegbeye was impeded in the area and the striker rose to convert from the spot to extend the Owena Whales’ invisible run against the Pride of Rivers to eight matches.
The result keep the Kabiru Dogo charges two places above the drop zone with 20 points from 16 matches and next host Wikki Tourists in Akure on match day 17.
Sunshine XI: Ayo Ojo, Seun Olulayo, Alaba Adeniyi (Kolade Adeniji 75′), Kehinde Adeyemi, Olalekan Gabriel, Jide Fatokun, Anthony Omaka, Dayo Ojo, Fuad Ekelojuoti, Franklin Sasere (Tope Akande 90+5′), Chibundu Amah (Ajibola Otegbeye 74′)