November 18, 2014 – After enjoying almost 20 years of top flight football in Nigeria, the Savannah Scorpions, Gombe United has been relegated to a lower division.
The team was relegated even after crushing visiting Abia Warriors Football Club of Umuahia 4 -1 in one of the week’s 38 matches of the 2013/2014 Glo Premier League.
Austin Ekpom and Azuka Ebinum scored a brace each for the Dankwambo boys at the Gombe Stadium in Pantami.
Enthusiastic fans were hopeful that Gombe Utd will avoid the drop with victory over the Ochendo Babes if other results go their way and it seemed their dreams will come true when in the 10th minute Ekpom’s free-kick from outside the area could not be handled by Chinedu Anozie in goal for the Warriors with fans still making their way into the arena.
“Awawa” as Anozie is popularly known, once again had to pick the ball from his net 21 minutes later, when the same Ekpoma converted a controversial penalty awarded his side when the referee insisted the ball had hit a Warrior’s defender inside the 16-metre box.
Then Ebinum took over as he scrambled a cross from the right side into an empty net with the Warriors defenders displaced in the injury time of the first half.
When play resumed, Abia Warriors Technical Adviser, Ladan Bosso introduced Daniel Jackson and former Gombe United hit-man, Onyeudo Bishop but that did not stop Ebinum from completing his brace as he nodded in a cross from Peter Iyamu to make it 4 – 0 in the 67th minute.
Ten minutes later, Ndifreke Effiong scored from his trade-mark free-kick to salvage some pride for the visitors.
Bishop, and Onyekachi Peter had other chances to reduce the scoreline further but Super Eagles’ goalkeeper, Chigozie Agbim denied them to end the game 4-1 in his side’s favour.
But the entire stadium went dead as fans, players and officials wore long and gloomy faces when news filtered in that Bayelsa United and FC Taraba all won away with Bayelsa beating Heartland 2-1 in Owerri while Taraba won 1-0 against sharks in Port Harcourt.
In his reaction, Abia Warriors Technical Adviser, Ladan Bosso said the desperation by the home team to win at all cost, forced the match officials to take some questionable decisions to favour the home team but said it was expected considering that Gombe needed to beat Abia Warriors to stand a chance of maintaining their top flight status.
He said Abia Warriors did well to finish seventh overall in their debut Premier League Season adding that the team will definitely perform better in subsequent campaigns as areas of weakness have been identified and will be corrected.
His Gombe Utd counterpart, Austin “Cerezo” Eguavoen who could hardly utter a word, lamented that his team went down despite putting up a good fight but promised that they will bounce back to the top flight soonest.