Heartland’s struggles continue after Oriental Derby draw with Enyimba
The Naze Millionaires knew that only a win would be adequate for their precarious position in the NPFL table having been beaten narrowly by Rangers last weekend and they threw everything to it in the first half with the hope of getting the curtain raiser but their lack of coordination in attack meant they fluffed all the chances created.
Just like it was in his first game for the Naze Millionaires against Go Round, Nigerien striker Zeidine Ahimeye was the bright spark but he was overpowered by Enyimba’s defenders who did everything possible to put him in check.
Heartland started the game brightly with Abiodun Thompson, Zeidine, Fortune Omoniwari and Uche Oguchi combining very well to peg their visitors back in the first half but they were unable to make their early dominance count because of their poor finish and lack of calmness in the final third.
Enyimba came with a formation to frustrate their hosts and they played the most part of the first half in their own half while they only relied on occasional half chances to have a go at Heartland. Their only real opportunity was in the 18th minute when Beninoise midfielder, jean-Marie Guiera fluffed a golden chance when he failed to bring his header down off a cross from the left flank with a gaping net.
Enyimba made a tactical substitution in the 65th minute with the introduction of Chinonso Okonkwo for Ibrahim Mustapha and this immediately revatilised Enyimba’s attack and they had two good opportunities to race into the lead from the trickery of the striker.
In the 80th minute he dribbled past two Heartland players but his shot was off target. Two minutes later he was back this time round working his way almost into the vital area of their hosts before crossing into the Heartland box. The cross was diverted to the woodwork by Joseph Osadiaye and it was his team’s last chance of the game.
Heartland made last ditch attempt to get the match winner but Theophilus Afelokhai who partly bailed his team out in the first half stood tall to ensure that his team remain unbeaten in their last three matches.
Enyimba are now fourth in the league table with 38 points from 24 matches while Heartland are still in bottom place with 20 points from the same number of games.
The People’s Elephant will next face Rivers United after the World Cup break while Heartland will have to negotiate a tough road duel against Yobe Desert Stars also on July 18.
Heartland: Japhet Opubo; Uche Oguchi, Chukwudi Oparaugo, Julius Ubido, Kenneth Ikwugbado, Emmanuel Olowo (Macmarcel Obioha 75′), Nnamdi Egbujor, Abiodun Thompson, Fortune Omoniwari ( Moses Akinade 90′), Zeidine Ahimeye, Francis Momoh( Fuad Ekelojouti 77′).
Unused substitutes: Itua Osayi; Onyebuchi Onyechefula, Amaechi Orji, Chimankpa Onwubuchi.
Yellow card: Chukwudi Oparaugo 17′, Fuad Ekelojouti 86′ (Heartland)
Enyimba: Theophilus Afelokhai; Andrew Abalogu, Ikouwem Utin, Ernest Governor, Isiaka Oladuntoye, Uche John, Abdulrahman Bashir, Jean-Marie Guiera, Mustapha Ibrahim (Chinonso Okonkwo 65′), Austin Oladapo, Joseph Osadiaye (Freedom Omofoman 90′)
Unused substitutes: Friday Achimugwu; Ifeanyi Anaemena, Maxwell Effiom, Mfon Udoh.
Yellow card: Andrew Abalogu (Enyimba)
Heartland 0-0 Enyimba
Shots on target: 10-4
Shots off target: 12-7
Yellow cards: 2-1