A goal in each half by Sunday Okereke and Chinedu Ohanachom were all Nasarawa United needed to win the battle of the North-Central in the matchday 27 of the Nigeria Professional Football League Season decided at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Stadium, Bauchi, on Sunday evening.
The Solid Miners being the hosts opened scoring as early as in the 4th minute courtesy of high-flying attacker, Sunday Okereke following a pass from former Nigerian junior international, King Osanga.
Plateau United nearly equalised immediately but their effort went across the face of the goal for a goalkick.
Things degenerated for the away side as they were forced to replace their reliable left full-back and matchday captain, Daniel Itodo with former Nasarawa United player, Reuben Nicodemus, after picking up an injury twenty minutes into the first-half.
Okereke came closest to scoring his second shortly after the half-hour mark but got denied by the woodwork.
Aliyu Abdullahi also breached the defence of Plateau only for his effort to go off target.
Nonetheless, the Peace Boys drew level through some fantastic inter-play – A build-up that began with Akila Jesse saw Mohammed Zulkifilu freeing up Izuchukwu Chimezie before the latter buried the ball past goalkeeper, Ameh Godwin, as the first-half ended 1-1 apiece.
Four minutes into the restart, Chinedu Ohanachom deflected Sunday Okereke’s drive into the back of the net after a beautiful long range cross from Abubakar Abdullahi, to put the Lafia side back in the driver’s seat.
Like the previous time, the Peace Boys made efforts to cancel the scoreline but the United’s defence comprising Manga Mohammed, Ugochukwu Gabriel, Ini Edem and Abubakar Abdullahi frustrated all their plans.
Enjoying more fluidity of play, Sunday Okereke would go on to strike the frame of the post after overpowering Andrew Ikefe in the Plateau defence before substitute, Shammasu Mohammed, got denied by the woodwork in the dying moments of the game.
Despite some flashy moves by the Peace Boys in added time, the physical, tensed and entertaining game would end in favour of the Governor Abdullahi Sule’s Boys, moving them to 12th position on the league table with 35 points.
They will next face Katsina United at the Muhammad Dikko Stadium, Katsina, in a week’s time.
*Coach Bala Nikyu(NAS)*: “We knew it was going to be a difficult match but we are happy to achieve our target at the end of ninety minutes.
“Before the game, I had told my players that we should approach the game with a positive mindset knowing what was at stake.”
*Coach Fidelis Ilechukwu(NAS)*: “It’s a great game. We had lots of chances but could not utilise them, and unfortunately, we couldn’t get the result we wanted.
“Whatever happened in today’s game has come and gone, what awaits us now is to turn our focus to the games ahead, using today’s game as a lesson.
“Nasarawa United are a good side, they are a big team and equally had a great game today.”
*Goalkeeper Ameh Godwin(NAS/Man-of-the-Match)*: “I am so happy for being picked as the Man-of-the-Match today, I give God all the glory.
“I had been down with ailment and had missed some couple of games and returning from my injury to win this award feels great for me.
“We are not in the best position on the league table, but I will continue to give my best for the success of my team.”
(Yellow 🟨 Card):
Ikenna Offor (NAS)90+1′
*NASARAWA UNITED LINE-UP*: Ameh Godwin, Abubakar Abdullahi, Ugochukwu Gabriel, Manga Mohammed, Ini Edem, Chidera Nduka, Aliyu Abdullahi(Shammasu Mohammed 78′), Michael Tochukwu(Ikenna Offor 78′), King Osanga (Dauda Maigishiri 64′), Sunday Okereke(Bello Abdullahi 90+2′), Chinedu Ohanachom(Ifeanyi Benjamin 65′).
*UNUSED SUBS*: Mustapha Danjuma, Afeez Bankole, Moyi Hassan, Charles Eguavon.