Substitute John John came off the bench to score an 88th minute’s free kick to give a deserved 1-0 win for Kogi United over FC Abuja in the Matchday 15 of Bet9ja Nigeria National League, NNL encounter on Wednesday in Lokoja.
The near dominance performance for Kogi United could have earned them more goals but the boys from the seat of power had their goalkeeper Ifeanyi Nwobi to thank for his numerous goal bound saves.
The match played at the Confluence Stadium, Lokoja saw the hosts in early control with strings of passes initiated by Eghe Osas and Idris Muye, but new signing Ibrahim Mustapha, Thomas Acheneje and John Jerome weren’t clinical with their final touches.
Osas danced forward to joined the attack in the 15th minutes when he capitalized of spaces in front of him, he did a quick one-one with Jerome before taking aim at goal but was unlucky as Nwobi gathered twice before catching the ball.
After much of play in midfield, United would missed what looked their best chance of the half when Idris Muye skied a well timed cross from John Jerome.
There were other scoring chances created by Kogi United in the dying stages of first half but weren’t lucky to convert with few of them thwarted by Nwobi.
United resumed the second stanza with more purpose and vigor and almost take the lead with just two minutes into restart but Nwobi was on hand again to parry Acheneje’s close range effort to corner.
Coach Tunde Abdulrahman brought freshness into his side’s attack with introduction of combative Micheal Bolaji who replaced Osas and that added to Kogi United’s bite in attack.
There were appeal for penalty by Kogi United when Idris Muye was through on ball in FC Abuja’s box before being upended by Amos James but Center Referee Ejim Tony from Plateau overlooked it.
Ibrahim Mustapha and Muye would later combined well to initiate another attack for the hosts but the former was not lucky as his effort went inches wide from target.
FC Abuja got their first and only real chance of the game at the stroke of an hour mark when they gained a lose ball in the middle and Ayamkyegh Gary moved forward with Oti-Agba Samson before laying Arigo Obus whose goal bound shot was parried to corner by Salisu Ogbe.
It became a warning for the hosts who had to remain conscious with their build ups and resort to slow attack but with positive purpose.
Kogi United make another changes with 20 minutes to end the game as John John came in for Mustapha and it was all about the hosts till the end as they created numerous scoring opportunities to get in front.
John had earlier had his first free kick ricocheted off the cross bar in the 78th minute after Nwobi earlier parried his shot wide from a nice build up from the hosts.
And the winning goal would come for Kogi United with two minutes to end the game and this time, John John get his tactics right as his set piece from outside the box sailed in and sent the stadium into wild jubilation.
Head Coach of Kogi United, Tunde Abdulrahman who expressed delight at his boys’ performance disclosed that he remained optimistic that the goal would come even with few minutes to end the game just as he appealed for calm from fans.
“I must be sincere, we didn’t lose hope, as you can see we were pressing them from beginning of the game till the time we scored, it was a better performance and I’m really happy with the way the boys played.
“We will continue to build on this and take advantage of the break (Kogi United will draw bye in next Matchday) to prepare well for the next challenge, I want to appeal for our fans to keep calm and keep believing in the team,” he said.