- Published on Sunday, 30 July 2017 21:19
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By Clement Nwankpa Jr
A goal in each half by Emmanuel Odafe and Ibeh Johnson were all Plateau United needed to beat Shooting Stars 2-0 at the Rwang Pam Stadium, Jos on Sunday.
This was a match where maximum points meant everything to both teams. Plateau United are eyeing a historic first title while Shooting Stars need an escape from the relegation waters.
The scenario was well set for a feisty outing but a combination of a heavy rainfall and Kennedy Boboye's inclination for the long throw-ins robbed the game of finesse.
Plateau United were heavily reliant on Daniel Itodo's long throw-ins that the technical abilities of the players is largely subdued.
From the first minute when Plateau United won a throw-in and the fans screamed; 'Itodo...Itodo.' It pointed to one of those days. That throw led to two corner kicks in quick succession.
Subsequently, the game turned into an Itodo throw-in exhibition, a situation many are now used to when Plateau United play. For Shooting Stars, the larger part of the game was dedicated to warding off Itodo's throw-ins.
Ironically, the goals didn't come from the throws but free kicks.
First, Salomon Junior's sublime delivery off a free kick was nodded in by Odafe in the 16th minute.
That goal could have vindicated Boboye's late change to his starting 11. Lazarus Fan earlier listed to start, was dropped for Odafe.
After this goal, Shooting Stars almost clawed back into the game but for Emmanuel James and keeper Dele Ajiboye.
In the 18th minute, Tayo Adebogun's speculative 25-yard effort went narrowly wide.
Two minutes later, Abu Azeez was clear on goal but just when he was about pulling the trigger, a last ditch interception by James put the ball into corner.
Then in the 24th minute, James' poorly timed back pass to Ajiboye caused problems in Plateau United's half but the keeper came out early enough before Azeez could wreak havoc.
While Itodo's throws dominated the game, there were a few moments of brilliance from the home team. In the 30th minute, Peter Eneji's curler rattled Shooting keeper, Tambe Charles.
But if Shooting ever stood a chance, it was always going to come from Azeez. In the 51st minute, his goal-bound effort was smothered away by Ajiboye.
Fatai Amao had set up his wards to soak up Plateau's pressure and hit on the counter through Azeez. They looked threatening a few of the moments Azeez brought the spark but their fight was extinguished in the 78th minute when Johnson tapped in the ball after a goalmouth scramble ensued from a free kick.
At this point, the rains were washing away whatever beauty the game had and the home team comfortably took the game to the finishing line.
It was a gritty performance bereft of flair but what matters to Plateau at this point are the maximum points and not finesse.
Plateau United: Dele Ajiboye, Emma James (Elisha Golbe, 83'), Daniel Itodo, Jimmy Ambrose Ogene Elijah, Salomon Junior, Peter Eneji Jr (Sunday Ingbede, 73'), Emmanuel Odafe, Kabiru Umar, Ibeh Johnson, Benjamin Turba (Hamzat Owolabi, 61')
Shooting Stars: Tambe Charrles, Seun Akinyemi, Omololu Waheed, Modes James, Samuelson Owono, Osawa Alaba, Tayo Adebogun (Junior Merenini,67'), Nonso Mbakwe (Wasiu Jinoh,64'), Najeem Olukokun, Abu Azeez, Adebayo Abayomi
Plateau United 2-0 Shooting Stars
Shots on target: 6-3
Yellow cards: 0-2
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