The Saints soon responded with a chance of their own, crafted from a set piece. Ibaru floated a free kick to the far post and an onrushing team mate volleyed over. Soon after, it was that man Ibaru again with a volley from outside the box saved by Knights goal keeper, Olamide. The Knights had, perhaps, had the better of the early exchanges but the Saints were beginning to grow into the game.
The Knights had an effort from goal from the right side of the penalty area saved by Odemuyiwa in the 22nd minute. Just before half time, Japhet Ini-Obong got the crowd on the edge of their seats, as the Saints number seven executed a delightful drag back on the touch line before racing beyond his marker. His cross into the box found Eguae Eresuyi unmarked but the striker could only muster an air shot.
The second half opened with more good Saints play, Ibaru bringing the ball down expertly from a goal kick before performing a give-and-go with a team mate and then pulling his shot wide. Another passage of play saw Saints substitutes Nurudeen Olusesi and Essien Ime exchange passes down the left side. Olusesi ran out of room at the byline and his forced shot was wide into the side netting.
Both teams were compact and there was much less space to be found behind the centre backs than in the preceding game. Both teams continued to probe but it would not be until the forty-fifth minute that the Saints found the breakthrough, piercing through the Knights’ armour. Having made their way into the left channel of the opposition area, the Saints benefitted from finding Olamide stranded on the edge of the penalty area; Japhet calmly lifted the ball over his head and into the net for what would prove to be the winner.
The Knights, now without their star player, and with little time on the clock, sought to respond immediately. This left them open to the counter, and in the last meaningful action of the game, Saints number ten Abdulhakim picked the ball up in his own half and raced clear after a one-two with a team mate. His shot was saved but it mattered little as the final whistle went soon after. Despite having sixty percent of possession, the Knights found themselves on the losing side this time.
Written by Adebayo Fagbola (@fagboo)