Sikiru Alimi scored the decisive goal with a stunning header as Sunshine Stars edged Yobe Desert Stars 2-1 in a match day 13 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) tie at the Ondo State Sports Complex, Akure Sunday.
The win moved Sunshine Stars from the bottom four to 14th on the log and eased early relegation worries for the Akure Landlords.
Coach Henry Abiodun recalled Ekundayo Ojo back to the matchday roster. The midfield maestro was deployed to play behind Franklin Sasere and Yahuza Bala in a 4-4-2 diamond formation.
With Ojo play-making actively from the start, Sunshine Stars successfully carved openings in the Desert Stars back line
inside the first two minutes of the game but Sasere could not just pull the trigger before going down right in front goal when sent through with a pass.
In the 10th minute
Kehinde Adedipe dances into the area and had a tame effort stopped by Paul Godwin, six minutes before Babatunde Salamon drew the first blood for the visitors through a header from goalkeeper Henry Ayodele's initial save rebound.
Sunshine Stars turned up the heat and four minutes after going down Sasere was at the end of a pass again in the area, this time he controls and dribbled past the goalkeeper in a tight space but failed to gain his balance before the ball rolled out of play from the byline.
Bala restored parity from the spot in the 29th minute; Ojo who was a real thorn on the visitors' flesh was hacked down in the area in one of his brilliant moves and Bala stepped up to put it away calmly for the hosts, 1-1, game on!
Sunshine Stars continued to press after the equaliser and were close to taking the lead through Bala in the 33' 35' and Ojo at the stroke of half time
but a second goal was not meant to be before the break.
Just after the restart coach Abiodun threw Alimi into the fray in place of Bala, moments after Godwin denied Sunshine Stars through Ojo's fierce low drive from a free kick, the second half substitute met an incisive Abiodun Joseph's cross with a flying header for the winner.
Alimi's beautiful team goal, his third of the season 28 minutes from time was enough to seal maximum points for the Akure Landlords in Abiodun's second debut as Sunshine Stars coach.
Coach Abiodun faced the media after the game alongside Sunshine Stars captain Sunday Abe and both men appeared just satisfied with the three points secured off Yobe Desert Stars.