Atule’s solitary strike puts table-toppers Plateau United to the sword
By Kola Daniel
Katsina United defeated league leaders Plateau United courtesy of a 13th minute winner by Joseph Atule to salvage all three points for the ‘Changi Boys’ in an NPFL Matchday 13 fixture decided at the Muhammadu Dikko Stadium in Katsina.
Atule has now scored a goal each in his last two appearances for Katsina United in the NPFL.
The former Kebbi United star who was voted man of the match by the pressmen at the Muhammadu Dikko Stadium in Katsina said during the post match interview that scoring against Plateau United is a big deal for him and is happy his goal fetched his club the full points.
“Scoring against a fierce opponent like Plateau United always bring about good feelings.
“The goal came at the right time and we were just unlucky not to have doubled the lead before the end of first half.
“I am happy to score again today and I will continue to work hard in order to keep improving,” he said.
He also took time to credit his teammate Destiny Ashadi, who provided the assist that led to the goal.
“Playing alongside a player like Destiny Ashadi would always make your task easier. He is the best offensive midfielder in the NPFL as far as I am concerned. The quality of the assist he provided for me today says it all,” Atule said.
The Benue State-born striker concluded by dedicating the goal to his teammates.
The intensity of the game lived up to the pre-match build-up as both teams displayed good football artistry to the delight of the spectators at the 35,000 capacity Muhammadu Dikko Stadium.
The lively encounter between the two sides was full of talking points from the blasts of the first whistle as both goalkeepers were called into action several times.
Katsina United had their first shot at goal just five minutes into the proceeding after Lukman Muhammed dazzled past two defenders to set up Atule in the box but the former Kebbi United man could not settle down as he hit his effort off target.
Atule would later make up for the earlier wasteful effort in the 13th minute by poking home from close range after Ashadi dribbled past three defenders to set him up in the box to give Katsina United an early lead.
Plateau United almost restored parity five minutes later through Abba Umar but the former Wikki Tourists player could not bring his effort down after he had created a chance for himself just on the edge of Katsina United box.
Katsina United somehow escaped another danger on 26 minutes after the defenders failed to deal with a cross into the area by Gabriel Wassa. The ball bubbled in the box and missed everyone including Plateau United players before goalkeeper Mustapha Aliko calmly picked the ball.
‘The Changi Boys’ could have doubled their advantage on 33 minutes when Atule’s clever pass picked out Gambo Muhammad in the box but the former Pillars man’s first touch was poor as the ball slipped off the goal line.
With less down five minutes before half-time the league leaders poured forward in search of equalizer but nothing came out of their dying minutes attacking threat as Katsina United defence stood their ground to thwart their effort.
Katsina United headed to the break with a slender lead.
On resumption, Plateau United showed the stuff they were made of by knocking the ball around and creating scoring chances but could not put a goal past Katsina United goalie Aliko.
As the second half progressed, Katsina United came close again on 55 minutes through Lukman Muhammed who pounced on a dangerous cross by Tasiu Lawal into the area of Plateau United but his acrobatic effort narrowly missed the target.
Plateau United head coach Abdu Maikaba made a tactical substitution on 63 minutes by replacing Bashir Usman with Michael Ibe to fortify his attack line as they continued to search for the equalizer.
His counterpart, Henry Makinwa thought otherwise as he introduced a defensive midfielder in Dominic Abah for an attacking midfielder Lukman Muhammed on 82 minutes. Makinwa also made a like for like change with the club’s new signing Mannir Ubale coming on for Gambo Muhammad on 75 minutes.
Ashadi could have registered his name on the goalscorers sheet in additional time but his well struck freekick crashed against the crossbar.
The visitors poked and knocked several times but could not get the equalizer as the game ended 1-0 in favour of the ‘Changi Boys.’
Katsina United will next travel to Ilorin to keep a date with Kwara United, while Plateau United will return to Jos to host Akwa United.
Katsina United: Aliko Mustapha, Frank Kappe, Tsawanya Samuel, Habibu Yakubu, Ikechukwu Nwachukwu, Usman Barau, Lukman Muhammed (Dominic Abah 82′), Destiny Ashadi, Tasiu Lawal, Gambo Muhammed (Mannir Ubale 75′)
UNUSED SUBSTITUTES: Kassaly Daouda, Abubakar Abdullahi, Abdulkarim Ahmed, Adekunle Adeniyi, Yushau Garba
Plateau United: Anozie Chinedu, Ibrahim Abubakar, Gabriel Wassa, Isah Ndala, Ikefe Andrew, Buhari Ibrahim, Bashir Usman (Michael Ibe 66′), Charles Henlong, Mustapha Ibrahim (Muhammed Zulkifilu 81′), Abba Umar, Uche Onoasonya (Sunday Anthony 85′)
UNUSED SUBSTITUTES: Dele Ajiboye, Hamisu Sale, Oche Ochewechi, Salomon Junior,
CAUTIONS: Joseph Atule 53′, Usman Barau 73′