It was an electrifying performance by Warri Wolves with Lordson Ichull, the standout player, scoring a decisive equalizer to earn his side a deserved 1-1 draw after they went down to Dare Ojo’s first half goal in Wednesday’s Glo Premier League rescheduled match against Kwara United at the Kwara Stadium, Ilorin.
Ichull’s phenomenal strike on 59 minutes was one of few positives for the visiting team from the oil-rich town of Warri as they braced the odds to snatch a point in a match they started on a wrong footing in the first half.
Ojo put the hosts ahead barely 9 minutes on the clock when he pounced on a pass from about 25 metres before sending a shot, which caught Wolves’ goalkeeper, Okiemute Odah, off-guard.
Super Eagles defender, Azubuike Egwuekwe, put in a below par display in Wolves’ defence, as his sluggish performance would have cost his team the game.
Kwara United would have benefited from the visitors’ lackadaisical approach to the encounter throughout the first half, but the hosts frittered away scoring chances.
Wolves also had their opportunities but were not convincing in front of goal, as Onyekachi Okafor single-handedly wasted close to four goalscoring opportunities.
Goalkeeper of Kwara United, Kazeem Yekeen, made some crucial saves including long range shots from Okafor and Abu Azeez.
In the heat of consistent pressure from Wolves’ attack, Kwara United conceded four corner kicks within 10 minutes but the Paul Aigbogun-led squad lacked the ability to convert from the set pieces.
Ismaila Gata had a clear chance to double United’s lead when he received a through-pass inside the box, after dribbling Oke Ogagotewho, he needed to place the ball but opted to shoot over the bar.
Wolves winger, Stanley Dimgba, also shot the ball beyond Yekeen but the woodwork denied Wolves an equalizer before both teams went on break.
On resumption of play, Wolves stepped up their game with Azeez taking the initiative but his lofty ideas and passes could not be converted into goals by Okafor and other strikers.
Coach Aigbogun changed the rhythm of the game to favour his side when he pulled out Okafor and Michael Egbeta and sent in Gbolahan Salami and Ikechukwu Ibenegbu. Their inclusions were timely and crucial as both players brought some incentives to impress with their deft touches.
Salami was not allowed to penetrate United’s defence but his killer passes came as big boost for the visitors who pilled pressure on their hosts until Ichull’s equaliser restored parity about 14 minutes into the restart.
What could have been the winner for Wolves came when Sikiru Alimi’s shot beat Yekeen before hitting inside of the upright and bounced off the touchline, but Yekeen was quick to save the ball.
The exciting encounter recorded six yellow cards in the second half, with Azeez, Ogagotewho, Salami and Ibenegbu bagging one each for Warri Wolves, while Ojo and Akeem Onigbari Akeem of Kwara United were also booked.
Apart from Ojo’s strike, there was not really much in the way of attacking pedigree for United, who remained in the 15th position on the log with the result, while Wolves moved to third place having garnered 33 points behind Sunshine Stars and Enyimba who are first and second respectively with 36 points apiece but Sunshine Stars lead with superior goal difference.
Both teams performed well based on the reactions of Warri Wolves coach, Paul Aigbogun and his Kwara United counterpart, Tunde Sanni.
“I’m okay with the result, our players were poor in the first half but they rose to the occasion and salvaged a draw in the second half,” Aigbogun told npfl.ng in a post-match conference.
Sanni said: “We played a good match and gave the highly rated Warri Wolves a run for their money, but our defenders were not careful and allowed Wolves to bounce back with an equalizer. It was a good game though.”