Lobi Stars marked their return to the Aper Aku Stadium with a 2-1 win over Rivers United in a rescheduled Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) clash on Wednesday.
It’s the Pride of Benue first game after their CAF Champions League elimination at the weekend and the team did enough to banish the disappointment of not lifting the CAF elite competition for the first time in their history.
The Solomon Ogbeide boys raced into a two-goal lead with goals thanks to Star striker Sikiru Alimi and Michael Stephen before Cletus Emotan scored late on to bring the game to an interesting ending.
Centre referee Imam Malik from Kano had a lot to do, as he dished out four yellow cards to players of Rivers United (Peter Ubakanma, Ossy Martins, Chinda Chizi and Ebenezer Odunlami) on different occasions as both team tried to stamps physical authority on the pitch.
Lobi settled into the game quickly, as Kelly Kester could have given them the lead but headed wide Ezekiel Mbah’s delivery from corner.
Another chance fell to Samuel Mathias who created space for himself three minutes afterward but failed to add more of power than accuracy to his shot.
Rivers United would also had their moment through Chinda Chizi who combined with Kehinde Adedipe to unlock Lobi’s defence but the curling effort went too wide from goal.
David Ogar and Konan Ruffin initiated another attack for the visitors towards the end of the first half but Konan’s cross was cleared to safety before Ossy could get to it.
However, Lobi took the lead in the added minutes of the first half through Sikiru Alimi from a pass from former Akwa United man Kelly Kester.
The hosts began the second half with more steam and could have got their second goal earlier but Drissa Bamba parried Dare Ojo’s volley to safety.
The hosts added the second from the corner when Michael Stephen headed past Bamba from Bunde’s cross.
Rivers United rallied back into the game and was rewarded when Emotan curled a free kick beyond the stretching hands of Olufemi Kayode to reduce the deficit.
The hosts then had to face a nervy end to the match following Emotan’s goal for Rivers United.
The result moves Lobi Stars to third position on NPFL Group B log, they have 14 points from seven games, Rivers United dropped to sixth as a result of the defeat.