A late equalizer by Lekan Abdulsalam ensured VFC took a point away from their Nigeria National League Matchday Eleven fixture against hosts Giant Brillars, at the UNEC Stadium, Enugu on Saturday evening.
How It Happened
The Lions showed intent to continue their head to head dominance over Giants Brillars, with multiple incursions into the opposition area in the first thirty minutes of the encounter, but were either halted by the linesman’s flag or by the Brillars defence. Kabiru Poopola had a glaring opportunity in the 27th minute, but was flagged offside, minutes after Oloye Felix swung in a free kick with his left foot, but it went inches offside. Isaac Saviour was also magnificent in the middle, and eventually also earned a free kick in 35th, which he took, but hit the bottom of the Brillars defense wall.
After ignoring occasional rash tackles by the home side, centre referee Kingsley Osawe would eventually show his first caution to VFC defender Abraham Opara after a tackle on a Brillars player in the 43rd minute.
Giant Brillars also kept our defenders at serious work in the first half especially from the left side, where the defence trio of Samuel Edoho, Opara Abraham and Ibrahim Owolabi ensured they kept the likes Reinhard Young and Tinishe Onabitu at bay.
After a scoreless but entertaining first half, the second half got underway with coach Henry Makinwa bringing on Etiti Solomon for Elisha Jonah. The game got more interesting with both sides engrossed in a battle for possession - the Lions winning that of the midfield as Saviour was in control to deliver pass after pass which Uwem Charles was blocked from getting, while Lekan Abdulsalam who also almost always had at least two men on him, managed to get a shot just before the hour mark.
And then, the home side finally struck in the 61st minute after Young sent a pass to Tunishe whose shot hit the left upright and rushed in, before goalkeeper Akuchie could react.
Drama ensued about five minutes later inside the VFC penalty area where Owolabi collided with Brillars captain Olokotintin during an aerial ball contest, with the latter getting up to challenge Owolabi after they both fell to the ground. Fellow defender Opara rushed on to prevent the fracas which ensued, only to be cited as an instigator and issued a second yellow, which saw his sending off, alongside the Brillars captain Olokotintin.
Five minutes later, Coach Henry Makinwa made a double substitution with Anas Hassan and Uwem Charles coming off for Fawaz Otun and Kingsley Akpan respectively. As both sides continued with ten men each, the intensity did not wane and by the 80th minute, captain Samuel Edoho connected with Lekan Abdulsalam who struck to the far left of the Brillars goal, for his 4th goal of the season and 8th in the VFC colours since joining in December 2021.
Two minutes later, Etiti would try to get a winner for the Lions after he was one on one with the Brillars goalie, but he was flagged offside.
The Lions held on despite desperation of the home side, with goalkeeper Akuchie responding positively after being called to action a couple of times.
At the blast of the final whistle, VFC thus maintained the record of never being defeated in Enugu, amassing their 7th point against Giant Brillars in all three meetings.
“I’m very proud of the boys, they gave a good fight to eventually see we get at least a point. I’m happy to see Lekan achieve record as the club’s top scorer, it must be a great moment for him as well. It was unfortunate Opara got sent off but we made up for it. We however still need some work on the team and this transfer break will afford us the opportunity to make those adjustments.” - *Henry Makinwa, VFC Head Coach.*
The Lagos Champions proceed on a one week break before regrouping to host the return leg of this fixture on Friday April 29, 2022 in the first match of the season’s second half.
Vandrezzer FC...Victorious Together