Anas Yusuf’s late equalizer for Nasarawa United denied Akwa United all three points and a chance to close the gap on Group A leaders Bendel Insurance to within two points as they shared the spoils in a thrilling 2-2 draw on Matchday 13 at the Nest of Champions.
The visitors took the lead in the 20th minute through defender Victor Collins whose powerful free kick beat the wall and flew into the back of Jean Efala’s net.
Akwa United responded a minute later through Cyril Olisema who sent a left-footed volley beyond Mohammed Galadima in Nasarawa United’s goal.
Both sides had the opportunity of extending their lead before half-time but they were denied by some resolute defending and some superb goalkeeping as they went into the break on level terms.
Few minutes after the restart, the Promise Keepers took the lead when Victor Collins in an attempt to clear out Ubong Friday’s low drive accidentally turned the ball into his own net.
Coach Ayodeji Ayeni’s team controlled the game and should have scored more but goalkeeper Mohammed Galadima made some outstanding saves to deny Uche Collins, Taiye Muritala, Ubong Friday, Liman Ahmadu and James Ajako deep in the second half.
With time running out, Akwa United thought they were on their way to recording their seventh victory of what has been an incredible season for them, but that hope was dashed when substitute Anas Yusuf dived low to head home the equalizer for Nasarawa United three minutes from time.
Efforts by the home side to retake the lead were unsuccessful as James Ajako’s free kick in stoppage time took a huge deflection and went out for a corner. The delivery from the set-piece was however cleared as both teams settled for a 2-2 draw.
Akwa United who recorded their first win of the season against Nasarawa United in Jos failed to do the double over a team they defeated 6-1 last season at the Nest of Champions.
Coach Ayodeji Ayeni in a post-match interview with the club’s website www.akwaunitedfc.com admitted that his team dropped two valuable points at home due to loss of concentration.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game against Nasarawa United considering their position on the log. We prepared well for this game, we had our game plan and we even came back from a goal down to lead 2-1 but I think at a very critical moment, that concentration was not there and the opponents capitalized on that to deny us all three points.
“It’s not the result we wanted but it’s one of those things in football. It’s a game we should have won comfortably but we missed some very good chances to bury the game.
“At some point in the match I noticed that some of my players had injuries and I decided to replace them, and I think it was the right thing to do. So, I take full responsibility for the outcome of this game. Now we have to go back and plan for the next game”.
With the result which is Akwa United’s first draw at home this season, the 2021 champions stay 2nd in Group A on 23 points from 13 games, four points behind leaders Bendel Insurance.
The Uyo based club will next travel to Jos to engage Plateau United this weekend.