Nasarawa United beat Enyimba in seven-goal thriller
By Clement Nwankpa Jr
Nasarawa United survived an early blitz by Enyimba to win 4-3 in a Matchday 24 tie at the Lafia City Stadium on Sunday.
From the first minute when Nasarawa United goalkeeper Suraj Ayeleso came off his line to deny Maxwell Effiom to the second minute when an Enyimba surge led to the game’s first corner down to the last minutes when the People’s Elephant pushed for the equaliser with Nasarawa struggling to hold on, the visitors ended the match at the same frantic pace they started.
At the sound of the referee’s final whistle, it was a huge sigh of relief across the arena as the visitors’ response kept home fans on the edge of their seats.
Ultimately, both teams served up a thriller. One couldn’t keep his eyes off the pitch.
A spectator sitting near this writer looked down and never knew when Enyimba scored a third. He was still counting 4-2.
Things happened so fast that if you looked away for a second, you would struggle to catch up with proceedings.
Enyimba was on a mission and Nasarawa’s fortunes were much down to Thomas Zenke’s form. In the absence of Kabir Balogun, he became the assist king on the day, with a hat-trick of assists. He was behind most of the hosts’ positive moves.
Abdulrahman Bashir gave Enyimba the lead in the 26th minute. At this point, the hosts were all over the place and another Enyimba raid the next minute resulted in a corner.
Nasarawa skipper Emmanuel Makama revealed that they had talked about Enyimba all week and these early proceedings almost justified their fears.
But the hosts responded immediately from the spot after Zenke was upended in Enyimba box. Theophilus Afelokhai parried Makama’s penalty but the Nasarawa skipper tapped in the rebound.
Najeem Olukokun, who was presented his VAT Wonder Goal cheque before kickoff, scored Nasarawa’s second in the 36th minute feasting on Zenke’s assist.
In the 44th minute, Zenke cut in from the left and teed up Zinte Udeh who finished with aplomb.
It was looking good for the hosts but they were jolted soon after restart. In the 49th minute, Chinedu Udeagha scored a wonder goal contender running all of 20 yards before blasting past a motionless Ayeleso. Game on!
In the 77th minute, a hand ball was spotted in Enyimba box. Two minutes later, Makama sent Afelokhai the wrong way to extend Nasarawa’s lead.
The celebration had hardly died down before Freedom Omofoman reduced the tally from a goalmouth scramble in the 80th minute.
Nasarawa endured a nervous end. Propelled by Wasiu Alalade, Omofoman and Chinonso Okonkwo, Enyimba went all out for the equaliser but the hosts held on.
Nasarawa United 4-3 Enyimba
On target 7-3
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