Plateau United 2-1 Nasarawa United: Six things we learnt

By Clement Nwankpa Jr

Plateau United beat 10-man Nasarawa United 2-1 in a fiercely contested tie at the Ultra Modern Sports Complex, Zaria Road Jos on Sunday. Bature Yaro opened scoring from the spot in the 11th minute before Najeem Olukokun leveled up for Nasarawa in the 50th minute. Reuben Bala scored the match winner in the 71st minute. We learnt six things…

(1) Olukokun is undisputed ‘Air Commander’

When Nasarawa tried to fight back, Kabiru Dogo fell back on the aerial prowess of Olukokun. He was such an aerial threat in the Plateau box. One sure way a team that is one man down can fight back is to launch the ball in the direction of a target man. The crosses were raining in the Plateau box and most occasions, Olukokun’s head touched the ball. It wasn’t surprising he nodded in Samuel Oyedeji’s free-kick. That was his sixth goal of the season and fourth with his head.

(2) Nasarawa put up one of the most disciplined 10-man performances this season

When Douglas Achiv was sent off in the 34th minute with Plateau leading, all pointed in the direction of a massacre of the Solid Miners. But kudos to Kabiru Dogo. He neutralised the effect of Tosin Omoyele while playing to the team’s strength (Olukokun). They contained the hosts for the larger duration and at some point, it was difficult telling which team had more men on the pitch.

(3)…And Boboye dug deep

While kudos must go the Dogo for putting up a disciplined performance with 10 men, his opposite number, Kennedy Boboye deserves commendation for snatching all three points. Yes, he snatched it. At some point, it seemed an unlikely result was in the offing. Dogo was soaking up whatever was thrown at him and launching counterattacks with the predatory Olukokun. But Boboye had to throw more at him. He went all-out attack throwing in the likes of Jesse Akila, Benjamin Turba and Emmanuel Odafe. The pressure was too much. It was only a matter of time.

(4) Ayeleso’s world class save

We see David De Gea do this regularly for Manchester United. But this wasn’t De Gea. This was Suraj Ayeleso and he pulled a save worthy of mention at any level in world football. He was in inspired form all evening but in one instance in the 69th minute, Bala nodded the ball down for Akila, who had Ayeleso at his mercy. Akila hit the ball well but Ayeleso made himself big and the ball was in his hands, he didn’t parry it. How did Akila not score from there? How did Ayeleso save that? Were the questions on everybody’s mind. Those are saves that highlight a keeper’s class. He made most clean sheets last season. He just showed it wasn’t a fluke.

(5) In Mayi, a star is born

His name is Seth Mayi. He got a starting shirt in this grudge game. The name will not ring a bell but you may have read about him for the first time here. Just recruited from an academy in Jos in this window, he was the joker Boboye unleashed on Nasarawa. He is a bundle of energy and his runs behind the defenders and deliveries posed a lot of problems for the visitors. This team already has Omoyele. Having Mayi as a sidekick isn’t good news for oppositions.

(6) Yaro’s ‘no celebration posture’

Bature Yaro refused to celebrate against his former employers after converting a penalty for Plateau’s first goal even as teammates swarmed around him. But he was such a torn in the flesh of the Solid Miners and always cut the picture of a player on a mission. He was the box-to-box midfielder deployed by Boboye and when he wasn’t shooting from long range, he was popping up in the box. When he refused to celebrate the goal, someone asked: “So why have you been punishing them?” He was only substituted when Boboye went for the all-out offensive.