In front of their impassioned all-singing, all-standing fans, Pelican Stars simply failed to kill Osun Babes off with various chances in the beginning of first half .
The visitors looked unsettled and frustrated in the early stages of the first half, but came stronger later on to pull some strings. New signing Damilola Koku had an early opportunity in front of goal to make it count, but her effort went a bit wide.
From thereon, Pelican Stars dominated, winning multiple free-kicks in threatening positions, Regina Otu, Helen Utah and Ukwuoma Ogechi all dazzled, but their effort upfront didn’t yield any goal in the first half.
Liadi Bashir hard-working side, boasting such an obdurate record against their distinguished hosts never gave up, especially the defence line as Iloduba, Elijah, Aluba, Akpojotor kept keeping their team safe.
The second half began with the 7 time champions coming out more inspired. Regina Out again had a glorious chance early on, after beating off Rachael Akpojotor, but her effort was so weak and Jiwuaku caught easily.
Then finally, the goal came in for the home side in the 55th minute, when they got a free-kick just from 30yards. Williams Hodo’s effort hit the wood bar and Moses Pato wasted no time in slotting the ball in coolly.
Three inspired substitutions in the second half for the Omoluabi Queens gave them an extra impetus, the fresh legs of Kekeke Joyce, Agams Nkechi and Yetunde Fajobi gave the away side some glimpse of hope.
In the 78th minute, Osun Babes got another chance, when Ruth Sunday handled a back pass inside the box. An indirect free-kick was awarded and Ayomide Ojo took the onus, but ball went a bit wide.
With just two minutes remaining before injury time, Udeme Joy had an opportunity in the other half to seal her side’s victory but squandered the chance, passing to Helen Utah. It was a move that she will surely now regret as at the other end, new entrant Yetunde Fajobi took advantage of Pato’s slack and claimed the goal that fell off Pelican Stars. Fajobi went past Alex Faith, put the ball passed Ruth Sunday’s fingertips and swooped down over her head into the goal. Fajobi runs straight towards the her coach and gets mobbed by the Osun Babes bench and chasing team-mates.
The game ended 1-1 with the referee signalling the end of the game few minutes after the equaliser. Osun Babes kept their unbeaten record in Calabar safe and went home with a point.
Liadi Bashir, meanwhile, praised his players for their resilience and patience, taking yet more points off Pelican Stars. He said ” it was a very difficult game and am happy my girls fought well and got a point. Pelican Stars are a very good side and did so well today. We look forward to get a positive result in our next game in Umuahia.
Also speaking the Technical Adviser of Pelican Stars, Adat Egan said he was a bIt disappointed with his side conceding a very late goal and also praised the away team for living up.
“We did well, but conceded when we weren’t suppose to concede. We gave our all and lost two points at the end. Our next game is in Lafia and we need to get ourselves back as soon as possible. He concluded.