Abdullahi’s late strike helps Abia Warriors down Adamawa United
By Fisayo Dairo
Fatai Abdullahi’s stoppage time penalty gave Abia Warriors a come-from-behind 2-1 win over doomed Adamawa United in a Match Day 24 encounter decided at the Umuahia Township Stadium on Sunday.
The visitors took a shock lead on the dot of half time when John-Paul Chinedu fired home a 20 metres effort but Warriors equalised on resumption of play courtesy of Yakub Hammed’s header.
With hopes fading away for the hosts in the game played behind closed doors, Abdullahi converted from the spot six minutes into stoppage time to boost their hopes of escaping the dreaded drop.
Abdullahi was one of four changes made to the Warriors lineup by head coach Willy Udube after their loss to Sunshine Stars on Match Day 23. The midfielder was joined by wingers Anthony Okemmiri and Yakub Hammed as well as striker Tunde Atilola Abdulsalam who was making a rare start having slipped down the pecking order this season.
Adamawa United were without star midfielder and team’s topscorer Idris Abubakar who did not make the trip to Umuahia while goalkeeper Bulus Pwadadi was replaced by Victor Philemon.
A minute silence was observed at the start of the game in honour of the late Nasarawa United defender Chineme Martins who died on the pitch last Sunday and a minute applause was also held in the 20th minute to commemorate his jersey number for the Solid Miners.
In between those two occasions, hosts Warriors went close after ten minutes through their captain for the day Anthony Okemmiri. The pint-sized winger saw his effort beat Philemon but headed clear off the goal line by Daniel Nanushi, back to Okemmiri whose follow-up volley went wide.
Chances were really few and far between for both sides despite Warriors asking questions of their opponents. It was however against the run of play that United went in front.
Former CHAN Eagles midfielder Mohammed Jiya’s long searching ball was pursued by Chinedu who lashed home a volley over Warriors goalkeeper Uche Okafor who had needlessly advanced beyond his penalty box.
Two minutes later, Chinedu’s strike partner Agbanyi Vershima almost doubled Adamawa’s lead but his effort was kept out by Okafor before the former FC Ifeanyiubah forward hit the rebound wide.
Adamawa’s lead however lasted for just one official minute as the hosts restored parity immediately after the half time interval. Left winger Hammed was left unmarked inside the penalty box by the Adamawa defence, allowing him to head home Innocent Gabriel’s cross beyond Philemon who got a hand to it.
Warriors threw everything they had to their visitors including the kitchen sink and the water closet cover but they met stiff resistance in the Adamawa defence and especially goalkeeper Philemon.
The second choice shot stopper made good saves to deny Shedrack Asiegbu, Anthony Okemmiri and Jean-Parfait Ledoux in the second half before succumbing to a serious-looking injury six minutes from time. Former FC Taraba goalkeeper Ikechukwu Obilo took his place.
Obilo also made a couple of saves on his own, denying Hammed a brace late on but he could do nothing to prevent the winner after Paul Samson was upended inside the penalty box.
Abdullahi’s effort – the first time this season that Abia Warriors would convert from the penalty spot after five attempts – dragging United closer to relegation from the top flight.
Victory takes Abia Warriors two points above the relegation zone with 30 points while Adamawa United slipped six points adrift of safety with fourteen matches left.
Abia Warriors: 33. Uche Okafor 29. Innocent Gabriel 3. Ubong Williams 4. Fatai Abdullahi 6. Jean-Parfait Ledoux 15. Adekunle Adeleke 34. Anthony Okemmiri (Jimoh Oni) 7. Promise Ogu (Emmanuel Ugwuka) 12. Tunde Atilola (Paul Samson) 10. Shedrack Asiegbu 13. Yakub Hammed
Subs: 1. Edwin Nwakanma 20. Paul Samson 14. Emmanuel Ugwuka 26. Oghenetega Ebetomame 9. Jimoh Oni 5. Chinedu Ozor 22. Ugochukwu Anozie
Adamawa United: 16. Victor Philemon (Ikechukwu Obilo) 26. Aminu Mbai 3. Amos James 34. Mohammed Jiya 15. Emmanuel Ogbuagu (Dumama I. Abutu) 5. Daniel Nanushi 9. Haruna Sule (Eka Unegbe) 7. John-Paul Chinedu 17. Agbanyi Vershima 44. Adewale Ojebisi 10. Michael Burate
Subs: 40. Ikechukwu Obilo 42. James Atamba 14. Dumama Abutu 8. Adam Yakubu 2. Khalid Jalo 19. Felix Kenan 27. Eka Unegbe