Vandrezzer FC held on in ten minutes of shocking added time by referee Jacob Emmanuel, to see out a 3-2 win over hosts Giant Brillars of Enugu, on Matchday 16 of the 2020-21 Nigeria National League (NNL) season.
It was the Lions' first away win of the season and second straight victory for the Tony Bolus' tutored team after last weekend's 2-1 win over visiting Go Round FC in Lagos.
Only two players were left out of the starting XI that defeated Go Round FC at the Agege Stadium on Matchday 15. Segun Alabi kept his place in goal, while the side was captained by Godwin Ekpo who returned to the backline after two games out due to injury. Coach Bolus started with a three-man central defence pairing that had Ekpo, Okpara Abraham, and Daniel Segun. Samuel Edoho and David Mark manned the wings, Anietie Uko, Saviour Isaac, and Akere Samuel in the midfield; while Daniel Kolawole and Babatunde Sikiru headed the attack.
The early exchanges saw the home side having slight advantage is possession, but VFC were able to steal some runs like one in the 9th minute when Sikiru almost got control of the ball in a crucial area but for the clearance of the Brillars goalkeeper. The pressure from the home side eventually paid off when they won a corner kick that was connected by forward Muritala Mohammed, who headed passed an exposed VFC goalkeeper Alabi in the 12th minute.
The Lions did a lot to get back in the game with Kolawole and Sikiru being stopped on occasions by the Brillars defence. VFC were dealt a further blow when Sikiru copped a groin injury in the 19th minute, forcing coach Bolus to take him off and introduce attacking midfielder Saheed Obisesan, leaving Kolawole as the only point man up front.
It didn't take long for Kolawole to prove he was up to the task. Receiving a defence splitting pass from midfielder Saviour, _Da Bull_ first shrugged off two defenders before slotting nicely past the opponents' goalkeeper in the 31st minute.
Another further injury blow struck for VFC - goalkeeper Alabi was taken off in the 37th minute following a rib strain from an earlier save. Substitute Paul Emenike stepped in and held his own in goal, starting with a 45th minute point blank save, before Ekpo cleared to safety for the last action of the first half.
At the turn of the second half, VFC charged up the pitch with fantastic runs coupled with sleek passes, leaving the hosts dazed. The fantastic runs finally paid off in the 65th minute when Anietie Uko intercepted a poorly controlled ball by the hosts to slot it to Akere Samuel who was almost brought down at the edge of the box but instead showed doggedness to beat his man and fire past the Brillars goalie for VFC's 2nd, and Akere's first goal in a VFC shirt.
Two minutes later, it was the turn of Savior Isaac to score his first goal for VFC and the team's third on the day, after getting on the end of a lovely cross by Kolawole.
With scores at 3-1, the Lions still yearned for more, forcing Brillars to put up a good fight defensively, and the referee subjecting the visitors to some questionable bookings. Wingers David Mark and Samuel Edoho took turns to make lovely runs that further threatened the hosts who were lucky not to concede a fourth. Coach Bolus had also thrown in Amos Okoro and John Ejoor to replace goalscorers Kolawole & Akere in the 74th minute. Okoro was able to earn the Lions a few freekicks after being brought down a number of times following his dazzling runs.
VFC later switched to defensive mode with less than ten minutes left, but the match was far from done. Five minutes from full time, Brillars were at the receiving end of a questionable penalty call by the referee Jacob Emmanuel who insisted goalkeeper Emenike brought down substitute Chinemerem in the box, when video replays showed the attacker kicked Emenike's outstretched hands and simulated. The kick was quickly taken and scored, to stretch the scoreline to 2-3.
Four minutes of added time by the fourth official turned to nine minutes, giving the hosts time to plough back an equalizer. The referee paid deaf ears to screams from the VFC technical bench and kept ordering play to continue. All through the period, the Lions played with bravery and tenacity until the referee finally called the game to a close in the 99th minute.
The hard-fought and much deserved and win came with a number of celebrations - the team's first away win in the league, back to back wins, and coach Bolus' birthday.
The win also saw VFC climb out of the red zone to sit 9th on group B1 with 20 points.
VFC will look to make it a third consecutive win when Rovers FC come calling at the Soccer Temple on Wednesday June 2 in Matchday 17.
Vandrezzer FC...Won't Walk That Road Without You!