So we lost the second Oriental Derby of the weekend after a penalty which Bright Ejike converted deep into stoppage time on a wet soggy Dan Anyiam yesterday afternoon.
This perhaps is one of the most difficult blogs to scribble. Not because we lost a football game but because of the manner of the defeat. And although it’s not a defeat that means the end of the world for us, we threw away an opportunity for at least a point.
The team list was quite surprising. ‘Ifeanyis’ Onuigbo and George led the line with Nzube and Kester behind. Dare Ojo continued at Right Back with Akas at the opposite end. Udoji had Thankgod Ike for company while Andrew and Osadiaye manned the flanks while Ocheje got the nod in goal.
But the best news of the afternoon was Christian Obiozor in the matchday squad. Just seeing him warm up was enough delight to me and on social media, fans both Enyimba’s and of other clubs did not hide their delight at his return. He eventually wasn’t part of the action but like we celebrated early in the week on the blog, it’s a delight to have him back.
Heartland knew how much rested on the game and that meant they had the initiative from the start. Obioha hit the upright in the second minute as a signal of their intentions. We played with no pressure but in the first half, we offered very little in their half except Andrew Abalogu’s header which Ebele Obi claimed gracefully. I saw Thankgod Ike closely yesterday and I think he like Emmanuel Anyanwu has calmer ball winning skills.
Heartland continued to create chances after the interval. We would just hang in there at the back trying albeit so desperately to clear whatever they threw at us. They had a goal disallowed and Ocheje pulled up a couple of decent saves. For us, going forward, we barely did anything of worth. Did we even win a corner kick yesterday? I’m trying hard to remember. But we did give away freekicks with ease all across the front of our area.
With them unable to make a breakthrough, It looked like we were going to do it, I mean escape Owerri with a point but we opened the backdoor for them. A poorly timely lunge in the area and a dive made it easy for the referee to point to the spot. Two things. It was a dive but we made the decision for the referee. If you as a defender are going down for the ball in your area, you must be sure you’re getting the ball otherwise stay on your feet.
We can accuse Heartland all we want but that lunge was way too risky a decision and if you’re in Heartland’s shoes, in relegation places and you have that opportunity to save your lives, you’ll do whatever you can to get a penalty or whatever that gets you all three points. So you can blame the referee or the player for going down in their area but don’t fail to blame our own contribution in the decision.
What followed immediately was bringing on Ibenegbu, an action that probably ought to have been done earlier to run down the clock. And Bassey’s attempt to win a spot kick the other end was even more comical. There’s no way in heaven and earth we would get that decision. Forget it.
Well, to Heartland, you wouldn’t say we didn’t offer you a way out. Sort yourselves and get out of this relegation mess. Positives? First of course our fine looking new Umbro Jersey. It does look beautiful. Add the Obiozor return and you have something nice to think of inspite of the disappointing result.
So we take this result, suck up the lessons learned and hurl it in that sack where we store up disappointing results and performances. The sad thing is that the sack is filled up to the brim already.
What a season it’s been.