By Simeon OSAJIE
Bendel Insurance FC of Benin returned to winning ways in the week 15 of the Nigeria Premier Football League ( NPFL) after a remarkable 2-1 victory over El-Kanemi Warriors of Maiduguri at the Samuel Ogbemudia stadium, Benin on Saturday,April 22,2023.
Second half goals from the Benin Arsenals second striker Sarki Ismael and highly experienced Austin Ogunye changed the complexion of the game to give both the proprietors and the home fans of the hosts something good to take home as sallah gift.
Ismail Sarki gave Bendel Insurance fans Eid-el-Fitri gift with his fifth goal of the season in the 55 minutes of the game before substitute Austine Ogunye added the second four minutes later to return the Benin Arsenals to winning ways with a 2-1 win over El-Kanemi Warriors of Maiduguri who managed to reduce the deficit via a penalty kick brilliantly taken by Mohammed in the 67 minute of play.
The Benin Arsenals went into the game on the bounce of five straight draws since the beginning of the second stanza of the season. And,no doubt they were eager from the blast of the whistle to outwit their relegation threatened visitors But all efforts to get the matter settled in the first half proved abortive as the group A table toppers could not get the finishing touches around the opponents’ goal before the sound of half time break.
Monday Odigie made two quick changes in the second half when he sent in Saturday Meelubari in the place of Osas Okoro and Austine Ogunye in for Imade Osarenkhoe in the 46th minutes,to strengthen his attack.
The substitutes made quick impact on the game with promising attacks and breathtaking furray which enabled Sarki Ismael beat Hassan Abubakar to an aerial contest to head home the deadlock breaker following Efe Enabulele’s banana cross in the 54th minute.
Four minutes later, Deputy Echeta paced down the left flank as he cut back a pass for a well-positioned Austine Ogunye who hit home the second for his team.
The visiting Elkanemi Warriors,in the 68th minute of play,sent fears down the spines of Bendel Insurance faithful as they pulled one goal back through Muhammed Hussaini from the spot kick after Austine Ogunye had been penalized for climbing over an Elkanemi Warriors player in the box.
Insurance went on to search for more goals, but star Midfielder Divine Nwachukwu’s late low drive from Sarki’s assist went an inch away from the goal mouth.
With the 2-1 home win, Bendel Insurance remain top of group A with 31 points from 15 games and remains the only team with an undented record in the season.
The team will next face Abubakar Bukola Saraki FC on Wednesday in the round of 64 of the Federation Cup in Lagos before heading to Gombe to play Gombe United on matchday 16 of the season.
Meanwhile,the second round first maximum three points for Bendel Insurance against El-Kanemi Warriors,no doubt was a blessing for the early bird fans of the Benin Arsenals as the sports loving deputy Governor of Edo state Rt Hon Comrade Philip Shaibu who watched the entire game with some top government officials,in his usual magnanimity ordered free Insurance jersey gifts for the first fifty fans as their take home benefits for keeping faith with the club.