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A stoppage time penalty converted by Ernest Governor gave a 10 man Kogi United hard earned 2-1 win over FC Yarmalight in the Week 13 of the Nigeria National League, NNL on Saturday.
The dramatic encounter that was played at the Confluence Stadium Lokoja, had both sides put up a great fight as victory for either side would ensure a confirmation of lives the NNL next season.
Kogi United started the game with high pressing and impressed with good control of proceedings as the combination of returning John Jerome from suspension and Micheal Bolaji in the attack with a perfect midfield support from Ashadi Destiny was too much to handle for the Yarmalight players.
But the home side couldn’t convert their numerous scoring opportunities due to anxiety and eagerness to break the deadlock.
Bolaji and Destiny missed United’s best chances in the first and Governor’s threatening long throws was well dealt with by Yarmalight’s defenders and goalkeeper.
The resumption into the second stanza saw the visitors taken the game to United and they almost took the lead in the 52nd minutes when they gained a counter but match captain Abubakar Tenimu for United thwarted their effort.
Kogi United Head Coach, Ishaya Jatau who had earlier substituted Babangida Chindo for Eghe Osas at the tail end of the first half would later brought in Samson Pius early in the resumption to bring more bite to United’s attack and that almost paid off as Pius dribbled his way past his marker on the left side of attack, he released powerful cross into Yarmalight’s goal area but on-rushing Bolaji couldn’t reach with his diving header as the ball went past the phase of goal.
The resulting counter gave the Gombe-based Yarmalight a chance to surge forward on a counter and got the shocking lead as Umar Aburrah got a good through pass from Abubakar Musa before volleyed over out-rushing Salisu Ogbe.
That goal silenced the home team who were playing without their fans as they served their last punishment of playing behind closed doors.
The celebration for Yarmalight did not last as United level under a minute of conceding the goal.
Iwuji was teed on the left flank by Governor and the energetic left back dribbled his way into Yarmalight’s box, even though he was brought down before making a final pass to Pius, that wouldn’t matter as the latter finally buried the ball past Yarmalight’s keeper.
The quick response equalizer brought life into the game as United gained a total control and their visitors would have to rely on a few counter to initiate their own attack.
The pressure on Yarmalight’s defense paid off in the 66th minutes when Osas found Jerome on the right flank, the club’s top scorer was about to aim a shot at goal inside the box before he was tripped by Amaechi and referee Julius Okeke from FCT pointed to spot for penalty.
After Yarmalight had staged a walk to the sideline and delayed the restart of the game for four minutes, Tenimu would step forward to take the spot kick but he was denied from converting it by the crossbar after the keeper had dived the other way.
This miss put United under intense pressure as a victory would ensure they would compete in the second tier division next season and anything short of that wouldn’t speak well for the Jatau led boys.
Yarmalight decided to sit back and absorbing all pressure from their hosts.
But that did not earned them the needed result as they conceded another penalty with just a minute to end the game. This time it was an aerial contest between Osas and Yusuf Musa.
The former was about to flick the ball from Destiny before he pushed and ref signaled for penalty for Kogi United.
Osas protested for a card to be issued to Yarmalight’s defender, but it was the United midfielder that got sent off for altercation with the referee.
It was not Tenimu that would take the spot kick this time but his defensive partner, Ernest Governor. And the giant defender wouldn’t missed as he sent the keeper to wrong to earned the victory for Kogi United.
The win has however gave the Confluence state club 18 points and another season to try a push for a Premier League status next season and the loss has brought Yarmalight on the brink of relegation to amateur division after just a season in the second tier division in the country.
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