CLUB NEWS

Wikki Tourists delay Plateau Utd's party, hope for survival

By Yemi Kosoko

For the second game in two straight matchdays, Plateau United blew their chance to be crowned champions before the conclusion of the season, going down 1-0 to relegation-threatened Wikki Tourists in Bauchi.

The Plateau side, on the verge of winning a historic title, lost the first opportunity to retain a firm grip on the trophy on Matchday 36 in front of their fans at the Rwang Pam Stadium in Jos, where they scored with a last gasp effort to draw 1-1 with Rivers United.

 

Needing just a win to make the last fixture of the season inconsequential, Plateau United were undone by a Chinedu Onyelonu penalty in the match that was played bereft of fans following sanctions on their hosts for a past crowd incident. The penalty was a lifeline for Wikki Tourists as they still perch on the relegation precipice with 50 points and in 17th position. They will need to win the last game of the season and hope that Shooting Stars will lose.

Very conscious of their precarious position, Wikki started out the more enterprising and forced two quick corner kicks, but fluffed all the opportunities.

The squandering of chances continued for Wikki and it was Victor Alegbe who in the 24th minute failed to properly connect a low cross from Idris Sabo even with the Plateau United goalkeeper John Gaadi at his mercy.

Then the rattled league leaders seemed to have realized that the job for the season has not been completed to come forcefully into the game, adopting counter-attacking options which always caught the Wikki backline in nerves. They particularly had difficulty dealing with the strength and fast pace of Umar Kabir and Peter Eneji respectively.

Then came the 62nd minute when the deadlock was breached as Elisha Golbe tripped Richard Jonathan inside the box. For that, the Plateau United skipper got into the referee’s book with a caution while Chinedu Onyelonu stepped forward to convert for the very valuable goal for his side.

As much as the win has provided a flicker of respite for Wikki Tourists’ relegation worries, coach Bala Nikyu waxed confidently in insisting that the battle is still open until the last game.

"There are other matches involving other teams in a similar situation with us, this result though good for us but we still need to secure a point in our last game before we can be sure of playing in the elite league next season,” declared Nikyu during the post-match chat with the media.

Plateau United’s Kennedy Boboye on the other hand praised his players for maintaining a level head in the face of what he termed “process of provocation by the opposing players.” Boboye then said the team will now shift attention to the last game.

"Our focus is the last game we are playing against Rangers, no doubt it will be tough but we have to gather our strength and put the loss against Wikki behind us. We must remain focused and positive to achieve the feat before us," said Boboye.

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