Last weekend’s games were expected to be crucial for all participating teams in the SLN Challenge Cup. Clay FC topped the group with 4 points, followed by Tiki Taka FC with 3 points. In third place after 2 disappointing draws was Cullen FC. And then, there was last-placed Avengers FC who had only 1 point.
The first match of the day was between Avengers FC and Clay FC, and for obvious reasons, this was billed as a must-win game for Avengers. After losing to their local rivals (Tiki Taka FC), the entire Team faced some introspection as there were obvious signs of cracks in the wall, going by reports of unhappy players in the dressing room.
By kick-off time, one could tell the entire team had undergone a transformation as it was obvious they had left all grievances behind and were laser focused on getting a result.
The first half had a lot of good plays from both teams. Good ball passing, ball possession and shots on goal whenever the opportunity came up. Avengers posed the first threat on goal when a long ball was dropped by Clay’s keeper. This fell invitingly to Mathias “Abbey” Oyedepo who flicked the ball, which in turn rebounded off the woodwork. Clay FC also had a couple of decent chances in the first half, especially the goal attempt by Felix Nava when he rifled a powerful shot on goal, after a quick pass from the corner. Gideon Bisong was fortunate to see the fast-travelling ball and acrobatically palmed it above the post. There was another close call in the first half of play, when Osagie Otoikhine laid a beautiful through-ball for his striking partner, which resulted in a 1v1 situation with the keeper. The on-rushing Goal Keeper was able to snuff out the attack by quickly closing in on the ball.
Clay FC were left to rue their missed chances as Avengers’ dominance grew. A long pass by Jide Olagbegi, played from a deadball situation, was left to bounce beyond the defenders. Abbey, who timed his run perfectly, latched on to the ball and put it beyond the keeper. Similar to the 1st goal, the 2nd goal was almost identical. A long ball was played by Alphonse Mudoh, and Abbey was lurking to tap the ball in. However, the ball bounced right through the mix-up of players in the 6-yard box and went right in.
The second half was keenly contested between both teams, as Clay FC played very well with a couple of attempts on goal. However, Gideon Bisong was determined not to let any ball in as he dived and parried shot after shot throughout the game.
In the 73rd minute, a penalty was awarded for handball against Clay FC, when Abbey tried to flick the ball beyond a defender in the 18-yard box. Uche Ugwa subsequently stepped up and placed the ball to the keeper’s far right side, to notch his 2nd goal of the Tournament. The 4th goal came in the 85th minute when Stanley Odezulu crossed the ball from a corner kick. Abbey made a quick run into the box and rose above the crowd of players for a power-header to wrap up a convincing win for the Avengers.
The final results effectively ended Clay FC’s ambitions to reach the finals. Nevertheless, it’s been a fantastic campaign for the team, although the players were obviously disappointed with the result.
As a result of this goal haul, Avengers FC was able to climb above Clay FC based on goal difference to clinch a spot in the finals.