Heartland FC, found themselves two goals behind against the Solid Miners on two separate occasions at the Dan Anyiam Stadium, Owerri, Imo State, on Sunday evening, however, it ended all square in one of the matches of the opening day of the new league season.
The visitors got the match underway in Owerri, and made early movements, starting from the blast of the whistle.
United continued their positive start over ten minutes, as they were evidently more confident on the attack against their hosts, and they had the opportunity to break the deadlock on the 13th minute when right-back, Abubakar Abdullahi, was brought down by goalkeeper, Chijioke Ejiogu, with the referee pointing to the spot.
New acquisition, Otegbeye Ajibola, stepped up to convert the spot-kick in the 15th minute as the visitors went ahead against the expectations of the home fans.
But the home side drew level in a similar fashion via Ikenna Stephen after Chinedu Ohanachom’s header caught the trailing arm of central defender, Victor Collins in the 41st minute.
However, Otegbeye struck again to restore United’s lead before the half-time whistle in a build-up that started with last Season’s highest goalscorer, Silas Nwankwo through Dauda Maigishiri.
It was game on, three minutes into the restart, as Chukwudi Nwaodu scored off a poor clearance.
Heartland went ahead for the first time in the game when former United player, Chinedu Ohanachom, shot in from a rebound off the goalkeeper, Ameh Godwin, in the 67th minute.
Not deterred by the development, left-back, Paul Odeh, delivered a dangerous freekick into the area and his right-back counterpart, Abubakar Abdullahi rose highest to nod home to bring score to all square in the 76th minute.
Paul Odeh, however, couldn’t end the game as he was shown a straight red card for a strong challenge on a Heartland’s player in the 82nd minute, reducing the Lafia-based side to ten men.
Three minutes of stoppage time were indicated by the fourth official, however, it seemed as if it was too little too late for the home side as the entertaining match was brought to an end with both sides sharing the points.
Nasarawa United will return home to confront visiting Gombe United in the NPFL matchday two on Boxing Day.
Coach Bala Nikyu(NAS): “It’s a good result because it’s one of those things you get in a match.
“We got three points here last season and this season, we shared the spoils. This gives us some form of stabilization and focus.
“Every team in the league is playing to win and I think our team also have the same mentality.
“Heartland gave a fight back in the second half after trailing in the first half.
“The surface made play difficult as well.
“Hopefully, we will play our home matches at our home ground in Lafia.”
Otegbeye Ajibola(NAS): “Glory be to God. I feel excited for scoring a brace for Nasarawa United which helped us earn a point here.
“We actually came here with the intention to pick up the maximum points, but we are not returning home empty-handed either.
“I am grateful for the support from my teammates, and by the grace of God, I will keep scoring for the team.”
(Yellow Card 🟨):
(Red Card 🟥)
NASARAWA UNITED FC LINE-UP: Godwin Ameh, Abubakar Abdullahi, Udom Ekerette, Victor Collins, Paul Odeh, Michael Tochukwu(Moyi Hassan 73′), Ifeanyi Ejeh(Paul Funom 54’/Osas Okoro 90′), Dauda Maigishiri, Aliyu Abdullahi(Kenneth Amia 90′), Otegbeye Ajibola(Alaekwe Chijioke 74′), Silas Nwankwo.
UNUSED SUBS: Danlami Umar, Ugochukwu Gabriel, Ini Edem, Shammasu Mohammed