- Published on Sunday, 02 April 2017 21:45
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A 58th minute penalty converted by Reuben Bala was enough for Plateau United to shoot to the top of the Nigeria Professional Football League table after leaders MFM FC stumbled in Lafia.
Before the match, the ‘Peace Boys’ were second on the log with 29 points from 16 matches, one behind MFM FC. Wikki Tourists were 16th on the log with only 18 points from 15 matches.
Victory saw Plateau United leap top with 32 points, as MFM were pole-axed 4-0 by Nasarawa United in Lafia.
In the not–too–distant past, a Plateau United/Wikki Tourists fixture would ignite either Jos or Bauchi beyond the imagination of many. But Wikki are going through a rough patch, with the ‘MA Boys’ stoking management anger following shock elimination in the first round of the CAF Confederation Cup by a Sierra Leonean clubside.
However, in more ways than one, the encounter still delighted. Plateau came into the match on the back of a 4-1 bashing of ABS FC and a credible 0-0 draw against Rivers United in Port Harcourt, while Wikki were on the bounce after edging two–time African champions Enyimba FC in their previous game.
A full house at the Rwang Pam Stadium cheered lustily as Philip Azango, Reuben Bala, Joshua Obaje and Ibeh Johnson went at the visitors’ jugular early on, propelled most of the time by the long throw-ins of Daniel Itodo. But Wikki goalkeeper Emmanuel Nwabulu, who received medical attention on two occasions during the first half, as well as a stubborn rearguard of Festus Umanah, Waziri Christopher and Abdullahi Musa kept matters scoreless at half time.
However, the cards were coming out hard and fast from the pocket of referee Patrick Ishaya as the Tourists became more desperate in their approach to stop the hosts. Four yellow cards went the way of the visitors: Peter Ambrose, Chukwudi Samuel, Ahmed Usman and Victor Alegbe.
Shortly before the hour mark, an otherwise impressive Chinelo Onyelonu handled the ball in the box, under pressure from the slippery Azango. Reuben Bala, who netted a hat-trick against ABS in Plateau's last home match, converted to hand all three points to the homers.
The Bauchi boys picked up the courage to go on the offensive this time, but Idris Guda Mohammed’s shot sailed over the bar.
Azango rocked the bar later on and Itodo’s long throw-ins created panic in the Wikki rearguard severally, but it ended 1-0 under the scorching sun of Jos.
Audi Pele (Assistant Coach, Plateau United): "We are very happy with this result, especially in front of our own fans who thronged the stadium to support us. We love the three points and we will continue in this spirit all the way in the campaign."
Man Of The Match: Reuben Bala (Plateau United)
Plateau United 1-0 Wikki Tourisys
Free Kicks: 9-6
Corner Kicks: 2-0
Yellow Cards: Peter Ambrose 45’, Victor Alegbe 51’, Chukwudi Samuel 56’, Ahmed Usman 63’ (Wikki Tourists); Dele Ajiboye 90’ (Plateau United)
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