Heartland 3-1 Sporting Lagos : The Naze Millionaires silence the Noisy Lagosians

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Heartland FC returned to winning ways on Sunday at the Enyimba International Stadium, Aba following a 3-1 home victory over Sporting Lagos in a Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) Matchday 29 tie.

Two goals from Stephen Chukwude, one in each half and another from Chukwudi Esobe led the Naze Millionaires to victory while Junior Lokosa got the Noisy Lagosians’ consolation strike.

Heartland FC Head coach, Christian Obi retained Darlintin Ovunda in goal after an excellent performance in Yenagoa against Bayelsa United while Andrew Abalogu returned to the fold after serving his three game ban for a straight card he got against Abia Warriors with Divine Ukadike, Peters Afolayan and Chinedu Ozor in defence.

Barnabas Ingya, Austin Osayande, and Ugochukwu Leonard were the midfielders while Christian Weli, Stephen Chukwude and Chukwudi Esobe were the attackers.

Heartland FC dominated the early exchanges but were not clinical in front of goal with Esobe missing a golden opportunity in the 31st minute when he applied too much force to his shot instead of a gentle tap after he had meandered his way into Sporting Lagos’ 18 yard box.

The goal eventually came six minutes before halftime. Chukwude received a pass and hit a half volley that flew past Goalkeeper, Christian Nwoke who got his hand to it but couldn’t stop it from resting at the back of the net for the game’s opening goal. The Owerri side led 1-0 at half time.

At the start of the second half, Chijioke Opara replaced Peters Afolayan who sustained a head injury in the 15th minute and had to play through the pain barrier until halftime with bandaged head.

The second half was barely four minutes old when Barnabas Ingya made a mistake in his attempt to position himself for a pass. Sporting Lagos player made the most of the chance for his side counterattack as he gave the pass to Junior Lokosa who placed the ball beyond Ovunda despite his valiant effort to stop him. The game was 1-1 at the time.

It became a ding dong affair afterwards but it didn’t take long before Heartland FC regained the lead. The chance came in the 72nd minute when Esobe, the unarguably game’s Man of the Match was fouled in the 18 yards box after he tried to dribble two Sporting Lagos defenders. Chukwude converted the resultant penalty kick in the 75th minute.

Three minutes later it was the turn of Esobe to riggle his way through the Sporting Lagos defence before he riffled his shot into the roof of the net for the Naze Millionaires’ third goal. It was how the game ended.

Speaking with journalists after the game, the chief coach of Heartland FC, Toyin Ayinla who deputised for Head coach, Christian Obi praised the efforts of the players and the concerted team work of the technical crew for the victory.

He said the players were motivated to give their best and that Heartland FC will begin preparation for the Oriental derby with Enyimba in Aba almost immediately.

“It was a tough game but the players gave their very best to ensure the team returned to winning ways. We are all happy with this feat,” Ayinla disclosed.

“The technical crew and everyone in the club also worked tirelessly to ensure we got the win. We are grateful for that.

“We know we shall be up against Enyimba next and we shall prepare adequately for the game.”

Heartland FC improved to 26 points from 29 games as a result of the win and will face Enyimba next in another Oriental derby this weekend in Aba.

Heartland FC X1 vs Sporting Lagos:

Darlintin Ovunda, Andrew Abalogu, Divine Ukadike, Barnabas Ingya, Peters Afolayan (Chijioke Opara 46′), ⁠Chinedu Ozor, Ugochukwu Leonard, Austin Osayande, Christian Weli, Stephen Chukwude, Chukwudi Esobe (Chukwuebuka Ogbonna 83′)

UNUSED SUBSTITUTES:

Paul Godwin, Nnaemeka Anyanwu,
Ikechukwu Mgbemena, Eyigege Pius David, Moses Igwe Ugwu, Kenneth Ache, Malachy Ohawume

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