Abia Warriors’ early blitz blows away Plateau United

By Clement Nwankpa Jr

Samson Obi’s second minute strike was all Abia Warriors needed to beat NPFL champions Plateau United 1-0 in a Matchday 3 tie in Umuahia on Sunday.

Warriors made their intentions known from the blast of the whistle when Chinedu Ozor’s burst down the right created panic in the visitors’ box within seconds of kickoff. The next minute, Ozor found his way to the byline and delivered an exquisite cross that was jabbed in by Obi.

At that point, it was Warriors all the way pegging the defending champions back in their own half. Warriors bagged their first corner in the sixth minute and would amass 11 in the first half against the visitors’ zero, a clear indication of the tide.

Those early moments, the hosts would have taken the game far beyond Plateau United but failed to make the dominance count on the scoreboard.

In the seventh minute, Emeka Isaac’s shot was parried into corner by Okiemute Odah. Five minutes later, Isaac’s quick feet set him clear but his effort went narrowly wide.

Then in the 19th minute, Odah made a pointblank save to stop Chinedu Efugh’s goal-bound effort from close range.

It looked only a matter of time before Warriors increased their lead, but that was before United’s attacking duo of Emeka Umeh and Tosin Omoyele began to wield influence in the game. By the time, the duo got into their stride, Umeh’s aerial presence and Omoyele’s pace proved a handful for Emmanuel Deutsche’s wards.

In the 25th minute, Itodo Akor had to go down to parry Umeh’s 20-yard cannon. Three minutes later, Umeh’s flick set Omoyele through at goal but just as he was about pulling the trigger, the linesman’s flag went up.

United’s tactic was paying off. That lob into the Warriors goal and Umeh’s aerial attack on the first ball freeing Omoyele. The real danger was that Umeh won all the aerial contests giving Warriors central defence pair of Chinedu Efugh and Abiodun Adebayo so much to worry about.

The tide had swung and Warriors almost rued their failure to score more goals when they had the momentum. With the introduction of Fortune Omoniwari in the second half, Kennedy Boboye had a three-man attack as he pushed for the equaliser. The hosts just had to hang in there.

There were tense moments in the dying seconds when Plateau won a free-kick in Elisha Golbe’s favourite position but the effort was uncharacteristically tame to the relief of the hosts.

Ultimately, centre referee Dominic Ibhagbemen’s final whistle came to the rescue of Warriors. That early blitz proved decisive.

TEAMS

Abia Warriors: Agbor Ekoi; Chinedu Ozor, William Ubong, Goodluck Ozioma, Abiodun Adebayo, Chinedu Efugh, Emeka Isaac, Shedrack Asiegbu (Ifeanyi Onyeali, 37′), Anthony Okemmiri (Atu Irumekhai, 78′), Ndifreke Effiong, Samson Obi (Uduak Idemokon, 88′)

Unused subs: Joshua Enaholo, Mohammed Garba, Sheriff Bashir, Kola Raimi

Plateau United: Okiemute Odah; Amaefule Chizoba, Hamisu Sale, Jimmy Ambrose, Golbe Elisha, Wash Bitrus, Joshua Obaje (Abdulwaheed Afolabi, 78′), Emeka Umeh, Tosin Omoyele, Benjamin Turba (Raphael Ayagwa, 77′), Ibeh Johnson (Fortune Omoniwari, 64′)

Unused subs: John Gaadi, Ibrahim Akide, Ogene Elisha, Emmanuel Odafe

Stats
Abia Warriors 1-0 Plateau United
Corners: 13-1
Throws: 25-21
Fouls: 10-16
Attempts: 7-4
On target: 4-1
Offside: 4-8
Yellow card: 1-1

Cautions: Elisha Golbe (United) (58′); Emeka Isaac (Warriors) (63′)