Muhammad Lukman scored in the 83rd minute to cancel out Ndifreke Effiong’s 8th minute opener at the Muhammed Dikko stadium to help Katsina United to a 1-1 draw against a determined Akwa United side on match day 24 of the Nigeria Professional Football League on Sunday.
The Promise Keepers announced their intentions from the kick-off and took the game to their hosts with great determination and courage. Their early pressure earned them the first corner-kick of the game inside the opening five minutes.
Coach Kennedy Boboye’s men thought they were in front after Sampson Gbadebo’s header from Morice Chukwu’s superb delivery from a corner-kick found the back of the net, but referee Iranloye Shina adjudged the ball had gone out of play much to the surprise of the players, officials and fans.
Three minutes later, Ukeme Williams freed Ndifreke Effiong with a perfectly timed through ball. The striker slipped through a crowded defense before slotting it beyond the onrushing Kassaly Daouda to give his team the lead with his 11th goal of the season.
The Promise Keepers who were in cruise control of the game in the first half had at least three more chances to kill off the game but however failed to make the best of their chances.
In the 22nd minute, Salisu Saidu controlled a good pass and released Ndifreke down the right but the striker’s shot went straight into the waiting hands of Daouda. Moments later, Ukeme Williams and Salisu Saidu interchanged beautifully but William’s final effort was saved by goalkeeper Daouda.
With a minute before half time, David Philip’s long throw-in was recieved by Saidu just outside Katsina United’s box. The striker made his way into the box and released a low drive but his attempt ran across the face of goal and went wide, as Akwa United went into the break with a deserved lead.
The hosts resumed the second half on the front foot and were awarded a controversial free-kick few seconds after the restart on the edge of Akwa United’s box but Tasiu Lawal blasted it off target.
Goalkeeper Jean Efala who had a quiet first half was quickly called into action in the 50th minute and he produced a brilliant point-blank save to deny Joseph Atule from close range.
Coach Kennedy Boboye made two early substitutions in the second half, sending in Akarandut Orok and Dare Ojo to replace Saidu Salisu and Wilson Elu.
The Promise Keepers back-line led by Olisa Ndah, Sampson Gbadebo, Etboy Akpan and David Philip were resolute, as they repelled every attempt by their hosts to get back on level terms.
In a tactical switch, Coach Boboye introduced Denis Nya in place of Ukeme Williams. With seven minutes before the end of the match, Lukman Muhammed leveled the scores for his side to ensure they have a share of the spoils. Both teams played out a goalless draw in Uyo in the reverse fixture.
Despite the one point earned in Katsina, Akwa United slipped from 6th to 7th on the log with 34 points from 23 games but with a game in hand. They will next engage Nasarawa United in mid-week in Lafia on Match-day 25.