David Ariyo’s heroics and Sadeeq Yusuf’s effort not enough for Sunshine Stars to stop Akwa United from snatching all points in an exhilarating NPFL encounter at the Nest of Champions in Uyo.
Yusuf cancelled out Charles Atsimene’s opener for the hosts with a compose finish 10 minutes from the break, however it was Seth Mayi that had the final say as he struck 20 minutes from time off a goal mouth scramble to deny the visitors a share of the spoils.
Coach Gbenga Ogunbote recalled Fuad Ekelojuoti into the starting XI after being laid off for weeks with an hamstring injury. Kehinde Adedipe and Jamiu Alimi were given the chance to make their second bow and Ifegwu was handed his debut in the orange and blue jersey.
Nonetheless, it was another injury returnee, goalkeeper Ariyo that was kept busy in the opening 15 minutes of Sunday’s contest; making eye-catching saves in the sixth and seventh minute to deny the Promise Keepers.
United broke the deadlock after 20 minutes of play as Atsimene bundled home from goal mouth off Mfon Udoh’s square ball, and the only thing that stood between them and a second moment later was Ariyo’s brilliant save.
Sunshine Stars responded to going down with some attacking display and were rewarded with an equalizer in the 35th minute through Yusuf who made the most Ebuka Akobundu’s in-swinger to guide into an empty net.
Ariyo stood firm at the stroke of halftime with a decisive intervention to ensure the Owena Whales did not trail at the interval.
The goalkeeper picked it up from where he left it with yet another save; tipping over a dangerous effort from the edge as the Promise Keepers started the second half on the front foot.
With the game approaching its home stretch, Mayi pounced for the hosts after Sunshine Stars failed to clear their line during a goalmouth melee.
The visitors could have drawn level once again through winger, Waheed Adebayo who drilled just wide from a good run four minutes before the contest was brought to an end.
The Akure landlords next host Jigawa Golden Stars on match day 21.