By Ubong Bassey
Pelican Stars’ Ugah Helen scored the only goal in her side’s 1-0 win over newly promoted, Sa’adatu Amazons in a Nigeria Women Premier League Matchday one fixture on Wednesday 29th March, 2017.
It was all fireworks at the U.J. Esuene stadium in Calabar as the six-time Champions of the NWPL, Pelican Stars of Calabar were evenly matched with Sa’adatu Amazons of Minna.
The Coach Adat Egan led Stars enjoyed the first real chance in the early stages of the first half when Pato Moses’ quick foot beat Sa’adatu Amazons duo of Esther Fubara and Folashade Adeleke but her shot was collected like a pack of biscuits by Sa’adatu Amazons, goal keeper Chioma Okoye.
Pelicans Stars remained dominant as the half unfolded while the visitors were struggling to contain the offensive attacking play of trio, Pato Moses, Unegbu Emmauella and Chika Edeh. In the 24th minute, Pelican Stars Chika Edeh had a chance at goal with a powerful header from Chisom Henry’s left wing cross but the ever alert Sa’adatu Amazons goalie, Chioma parried the ball for a corner kick.
Four minutes later, Pelicans Stars Chika Edeh’s lobbed ball to Pato Moses was cut off at the nick of time by Sa’adatu defender Stella Anthony to still keep the scores unchanged. The first real chance for Sa’adatu Amazons came in the 29th minute when Doris Akachukwu pounced on a defensive mix up in the penalty area of Pelican Stars but the goal bound ball was inches off the goal post.
In the 35th minute, Sa’adatu Amazons’ Janet Anthony’s pile driver shot from 22 yards out was punched away by Pelican Stars’ goalkeeper, Chioma Okoye for a corner kick.
Pelican Stars were on the offensive again as Obianuju Ezechukwu who was the commander in chief of the midfield was fouled by Sa’adatu Amazons defender, Chinenye Okafor for the first yellow card issued by the centre referee in the 31st minute.
The visitors were resurgent in the second half with an entailing team move which involved Chinonso Ezechukwu, Stella Anthony and Chiwendu Ufomba. Chinonso’s well struck shot from the edge of the box was met by a timely stop from Pelican Stars goalie, Adenaike Odunayo.
Chinenye Okafor almost scored for Sa’adatu Amazons in the 55th minute as she met a Stella Anthony corner with a fierce header which was denied yet against by the cross bar. In quick succession, Pelican Stars were on a counter but the finishing by Alex Faith was smothered by Sa’adatu Amazons goalie, Chioma Okoye.
Both teams made their first substitution with Sa’adatu Amazons Mbosowo Emmauella brought in for Obianuju Nnaji and Pelican Stars Long Tina replaced with Blessing Okon in the 59th and 61st minute respectively.
Sa’adatu Amazons’ Chinonso Ezechukwu was like a house on fire as she was a constant threat to the Pelican Stars’ defense as they struggled to contain her. A clumsy tackle by Pelican Stars Blessing Edoho on Sa’adatu Amazons Chinonso earned her a yellow card in the 68th minute.
The deadlock was broken in the 81st minute when Pelican Stars’ Ugeh Helen half volleyed the ball with her inside right foot from 18 yards out with Sa’adatu Amazon goalie, Okoye rooted at a spot and ball watching as the shot was in the back of the net.
PELICAN STARS: Adenaike Odunayo, Chisom Etenru, Blessing Edoho, Ugah Helen, Okwudili Anita, Alex Faith, Long John Tina (Blessing Okon 61’), Chika Edeh (Williams Itodo 75’), Pato Moses, Unegbu Emmauella and Tawakalitu
Substitutes not used: Anderline M., Honesty E. and Opeyemi A.
SA’ADATU AMAZON: Chioma Okoye, Stella Anthony, Esther Fubara, AfolashadeAnjorin, Folashade Adeleke, Janeth Obobio, Chinenye Okafor, Obianuju Nnaji (Mbosowo Emmanuel 59’), Chinonso Ezechukwu, Doris Akachukwu and Chiwendu Ufomba (Alvine Nahz 87’)
Substitutes not used: Hajaba Suleiman, Martha Matthew, Fatima Daniya, Chinyere Ekwe and Abibat Abiade.
Pelican Stars: Blessing Edoho (68’)
Sa’adatu Amazon: Chinenye Okafor (31’)
Red Cards: Nil
Goal(s): Ugeh Helen (81’)