Chairman, Peoples Democratic Party, Akwa Ibom State Chapter, Obong Paul Ekpo, was among a number of special guests at the Ikot Ekpene Stadium, as second-half goals by Ekerete Udom and Sampson Hussaini gave the Lions a perfect home debut, and move them to fifth in group B2.
The newly-founded club were originally due to play their first Nigeria National League home game of the season against Jossy United on November 24, but the match was postponed indefinitely after the Owerri club failed to complete their registration with the league body. Consequently, Rafael Everton’s side were made to wait until Sunday before making their home debut.
Aiming to impress on his home debut as Vandrezzer FC boss, Everton made two changes to the team that lost 1-0 at J. Atete — with Gerald Akakem and Samuel Edoho taking the places of Pederson Ajong and Benjamin Victor.
Cheered on by a near-capacity crowd, the home side produced dazzling attacking displays to inflict a second defeat of the season on Dipreye Teibowei’s side.
Despite controlling possession and creating chances after chances in the opening 45 minutes, the Lions were unable to find the back of the net until the 65th minute.
Everton’s men were in command from the first whistle and they could have taken the lead as early as the third minute after Daniel Victor sent the ball into the visitors’ box. A perfectly-timed block prevented the ball from going in. Victor also broke free down the right flank to send Udom clear, but the striker fired wide from close range.
Shuaibu John was at his best, particularly in the first half, denying the hosts on many occasions. The former Plateau United goalkeeper produced a fine save to keep out Udom’s brilliant header in the seventh minute, tipping over the crossbar after the forward connected with Christopher Lolo’s cross.
Udom, who played in defence during the pre-season build-up matches, was also denied by a last-ditch headed clearance just before half-time.
At the other end, Okekem Anderson stopped Mutiu Ogundinmu’s header after the forward was found by Bernard Okorowanta.
The home team came out of the break with renewed vigor, and they nearly broke the deadlock on 47 minutes. Victor was fouled near the visitors’ box. The signing from Akwa United dusted himself off and sent the resulting freekick towards the top corner. John made a stunning save to deny the winger.
Bayelsa United then made an attempt of their own. It was Ransome Onukwe who tried his luck from distance. His effort, though, was easily gathered by Anderson.
Two minutes before the hour mark, John once again frustrated the hosts — this time making a double save. The goalie first parried Lawrence Effiong’s shot and then denied Kolawole, who latched onto the loose ball.
Few minutes after those breathtaking saves, the moment the home supporters were waiting for arrived. Udom drilled home an unstoppable shot after receiving a pass from Christopher Lolo, sparking wild celebrations.
And eight minutes later, Sampson Hussaini doubled the lead with a close-range finish. The substitute nodded home Godwin Ekpo’s headed assist following Daniel Victor’s freekick.
The away side were presented with a chance to pull one back three minutes from time when Josiah Daniel had only Anderson to beat. The goalkeeper spread himself well to spectacularly deny the forward — and the Lions comfortably saw out the final minutes of the game to secure victory.
The result will boost the Ibiono Ibom side ahead of Saturday’s trip to Calabar Rovers.
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