It was a Red Letter Day for SC Olhanense as they returned home to the Estádio José Arcanjo, but their opponents Olímpico do Montijo saw red of another kind, ending the game with just nine men!
After an absence of three months, the home fans were impressed to see the refurbished stadium in fine fettle and a vastly-improved playing surface. Only four of the team that last played at the stadium back in November were in the starting line-up – Lelo, Leleco, Caleb and Stevy Okitokandjo – which showed more attacking flair under new manager Vasco Faísca.
Centre-forward Reider Rodriguez led the front line with panache and skipper Leleco worked tirelessly in midfield. It was fitting that Leleco should give the home side the lead a minute before the break following a fine flowing move down the right.
Olhanense looked comfortable during the early stages of the second-half and, 10 minutes after the restart, Reider Rodriguez saw his shot cannon off the woodwork.
The visitors were reduced to 10 men on 70 minutes and it looked to be game over, but Olhanense were shaken out of their complacency when Targino levelled for Olímpico with a fine volley four minutes later.
Olhanense stepped up a gear and, 10 minutes from time, the industrious Rodriguez got the goal he deserved as he headed past Júnior Alves. With the clock running down, the visitors lost a second player, Pedro Batista, to an early bath as he up ended Fábio who was clear through on goal.
Leleco saw his penalty well saved, but Caleb was quickest to react and turned the rebound back across goal for substitute Hassan to blast into the roof of the net at the far post.
On Sunday, an away trip to the Azores to play league leaders Praiense will be a good benchmark as to whether this new-look Olhanense squad has the ability to challenge for a promotion play-off place.
On Sunday, March 3, SC Olhanense entertain Angrense (Azores) at the José Arcanjo with a morning kick-off at 11am.
By CHRIS WRIGHT