Nasarawa United, Kano Pillars in a thrilling goalless draw
By Clement Nwankpa Jr
It is not always that one sees so much entertainment packed into a goalless draw. The only thing Nasarawa United and Kano Pillars did not do in the Matchday 22 tie at the Lafia City Stadium was to score.
Both teams served a sumptuous dish of football to the fans. Little wonder at a point even the home fans applauded the visitors.
The applause was well deserved as the ‘Sai Masu Gida’ covered the arena with one-touch passes that at one instance, they put together 26.
Ironically, the game started in a very dour note with both teams having difficulties carving out goalscoring opportunities.
But from the 10th minute when Nasarawa bagged the game’s first corner to the 12th minute when Chris Madaki’s long range pass picked out Nyima Nwagua who shot tamely into Nasarawa keeper, Suraj Ayeleso’s hands, the game operated at an end-to-end tempo that would delight any neutral.
But it was Pillars who had the initiative in the earlier exchanges. In the 14th minute, a defensive blunder by Abdulbasit Shittu let Nwagua in. He had only the keeper to beat but missed target.
Pillars were dictating the pace with Ikenna Paul Hillary, Nzube Anaezemba and Rabiu Ali running the show in the middle of the park. Rabiu let fly a free-kick in the 18th minute which Ayeleso managed to get his hands on.
Not wanting to lie down there while their guests lorded it over them, Nasarawa came out of their shell.
Victor Okoro’s 20-yard effort missed target in the 19th minute. Nine minutes later, Emmanuel Makama hit a trademark free-kick into David Obiazo’s hands.
Then in the 31st minute, Kabir Balogun’s well-struck effort from the edge of the box was few inches wide.
Ikechukwu Nwani teed up Balogun in the 40th minute but his effort from inside the box wasn’t way off.
At the other end, Pillars responded. In the 43rd minute, Ifeanyi Nweke’s exquisite cross fell invitingly for Auwalu Ali who went for the spectacular but his bicycle kick went wide.
In the 47th minute, Kalu Orji was lucky not to have conceded an own goal. He tried to nod the ball back to Obiazo who was already off his line. The ball eluded the keeper and missed target by whiskers.
One highlight of the game was Pillars’ penchant to play out from the back and in the 49th minute, Obiazo was almost caught in possession.
The audacity of Pillars possession-based game showed disrespect to the opposition but it entertained the neutrals. The hosts would want to raise the tempo in search of the winner but the visitors calmed things down, never forcing issues.
In a bid to pick all three points, Nasarawa introduced debutant Zinte Udeh for Najeem Olukokun in the 67th minute.
Udeh made an instant impact. Three minutes after his introduction, he blitzed through Pillars defence and just as he was about pulling the trigger, Madaki threw in a leg. Very timely intervention.
Ultimately, the result was fair enough. Nasarawa did not do so much to deserve a win just as Pillars didn’t deserve to lose.
Nasarawa United: Suraj Ayeleso; Samuel Oyedeji, Emmanuel Makama, Ismaila Maiyaki, Abdulbasit Shittu, Seun Sogbeso, Kabir Bolagun (Michael Okoyoh, 82′), Najeem Olukokun (Zinte Udeh, 67′), Nwani Ikechuchwu, Victor Okoro, Jafar Buhari (Ishaya Anyu, 51′)
Kano Pillars: David Obiazo; Ifeanyi Nweke, Chris Madaki, Ikenna Paul Hillary, Orji Kalu, Joel Djondang, Nzube Anaezemba, Rabiu Ali (Kamal Sikiru, 68′), Auwalu Ali (Gambo Mohammed, 78′), Adamu Hassan (Mustapha Ibrahim, 90′), Nyima Nwagua
Nasarawa 0-0 Pillars
On target 2-4
Yellow cards 0-2