Salami Lifts Wolves Above Sunshine

Super Eagles striker, Gbolahan Salami, was the match winner as Warri Wolves battled past Sunshine Stars of Akure in a GLO Premier League, NPL, Matchday 26 encounter decided at the Warri City Stadium on Wednesday.
Salami, who only returned to training with his teammates last weekend, having been part of the Super Eagles side that prosecuted two Nations Cup qualifiers last week, pounced on a loose ball inside the six yard box to head home the game’s lone goal in the 20th minute.
Wolves were able to call on the national team duo of Salami and Azubuike Egwuekwe for the clash with Sunshine Stars.
Coach Paul Aigbogun also handed a first start to mid-season acquisition, Ifeanyi Ede, who played upfront with Salami. Ede’s fellow former Enyimba star, Josiah Maduabuchi also made a rare start for the Wolves.
A minute silence was observed at the start of the game in honour of the late Albert Onyeanwuna. Sunshine Stars were led to Warri by their new Technical Adviser, Erasmus Onuh, with Kayode Julius returning to his role as Onuh’s deputy. Much of the team’s play as usual would depend on Cameroonian import, Tamen Medrano, who later became the toast of the home fans.
It was the visitors who settled quickly under sweltering conditions in Warri with their easy on the eye, sleek passing and free-flowing movement on the ball.
The boys in orange confined their hosts to their own half for the first quarter of the half, dominating possession with panache.
It was no surprise when the first real chance of the game fell to Tamen Medrano in the seventh minute but the pint-sized midfielder’s shot from 20 yards went inches over the bar with Wolves goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi in no man’s land.
The hosts shook off their lethargy though and started to ask questions of their own. Kola Anubi and Joseph Osadiaye both had long range efforts comfortably gathered by Ikechukwu Ezenwa but the breakthrough came in the 20th minute.
Former Flying Eagles goalkeeper, Ezenwa, had denied Ichull Lordson with a superb save but less than a minute later and with the pressure still sustained, the goal came and it was “Made in Eagles Camp.”
Wolves captain, Egwuekwe delivered a long throw-in which was misjudged by Ezenwa (who can also blame either the sun or his teammates) allowing the ball to fall kindly for Salami who headed unmarked into an unguarded net.
Another home-based Super Eagles star, Ifeanyi Ede came close to doubling Wolves’ lead but scuffed his volley wide when he was on the receiving end of a poor defensive header.
That was all Wolves had for the half as Sunshine held them spell-bound with eye-catching midfield display.
Obviously not pleased with his wards’ output despite a goal cushion at the interval, Warri Wolves’ Technical Adviser, Paul Aigbogun made a double change after the restart with Ewenike Achibi and Michael Egbeta replacing Josiah Maduabuchi and the already cautioned Kolawole Anubi respectively.
The switch marked some improvements in the hosts’ general play and after a period of sustained pressure, Joseph Osadiaye headed a corner at the near post to the side-netting with anxious fans already screaming ‘GOOOOALLL!’
Sunshine Stars stuck to their playing philosophy and would soon become the toast of the Warri populace who cheered their visitors’ simple passing display with fond admiration of Medrano’s touches.
With the clock ticking fast, coach Onuh introduced Dele Olorundare to add more impetus to the attack and there was one last chance for them when Dele was hacked down at the edge of the box with less than ten minutes remaining.
From the ensuing free-kick, Daniel Akpeyi produced a stunning save to deny Kwambe Solomon whose effort was aiming for the top right hand corner of the post.
That was just about all the game had to offer as Wolves held on for all three points that saw them climb six spots to fifth on the log.

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