Katsina United pick vital point at Lobi Stars
Katsina United were forced by CAF Champions League campaigners Lobi Stars to a 1 – 1 draw in a crunch rescheduled NPFL game decided at the Aper Aku Stadium in Makurdi today.
This result means Katsina United have finally picked their first point on the road after what looked like abysmal performance in the last three games on the road.
It was an entertaining encounter full of talking points.
Katsina United looked determined from the blast of the whistle as they denied their opponents from enjoying the larger possession of the ball
The first chance of the game fell to home-based Super Eagles striker Samad Kadiri, who found space in the middle after dribbling past Usman Barau and unleashed a thunderous strike but his effort went miles away from the post just six minutes into the proceedings.
Martins Usule would then find the back of the net to give Katsina United the lead with a rebound after a horrendous mistake between Lobi Stars goalkeeper and his defender, who headed the ball towards his own goal.
The ball hit the crossbar and bounced into the path of Usule, who calmly lashed it to the back of the net on 12 minutes.
Combatant Usman Barau was replaced by new signing from Rivers United Balogun Akeem in the 17th minute after he was injured.
Dare Ojo could have brought the game back on level terms, but the Super Eagles goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa was on hand to pull off a world-class save.
Katsina United U23 invitee Joshua Agboola, Destiny Ashadi and Yushau Garba were delightful to watch in the middle of the park as they controlled and dictate the pace of the game.
Lobi Stars poured forward as they continue to search for the equalizer, but could not find the break through as the defence of Katsina United led by Timothy Danladi stood their ground to repel all that was thrown at them.
The hosts continued their dominance from the early minutes of the second half as they were desperate to get the equaliser.
Former Sunshine Stars striker Sikiru Alimi missed a golden opportunity that could have restored the parity for the hosts after he was set up byvKadiri, but his finish was wayward as he blasted his effort into the crowd with just three minutes into the second half.
On 68 minutes, Lobi Stars finally found the back of the net from the penalty spot after the referee had spotted an infringement on substitute Michael Stephen in the box and it was calmly converted by the Ivorian Yaya Kone to put the hosts back on level terms.
Ezenwa was called to action once again on 80 minutes to make another brilliant save from a close-range header by Sikiru Alimi to deny the hosts from taking the lead.
Both teams introduced fresh legs to energise their team but the changes could not affect the score line as the game ended 1 – 1
Super Eagles goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa was adjudged the man of the match by the pressmen that covered the game.
“It was a good game, we came here with a mission to pick our first point on the road and we achieved it.
“We could have taken the three points, but we were not allowed to play the way we played in the first half
“Yes, I am satisfied with the performance of my players because it’s not easy to play against a continental team. I must say kudos to my players because they gave it their all.
“Yes, our fans should be expecting another outstanding performance from us in our next game against Rivers United.
“In a game of football, three things happen, is either you lose, win or draw. I am happy we didn’t lose.
“When you begin to waste your chances, then anything can happen. We wasted a lot of scoring opportunities today.
“We still have a lot of outstanding games to play and on Sunday we are going to South Africa, but what happened today will not repeat itself in our subsequent games.
“When you are eager to score, the anxiety is always there, no matter the kind of instruction you pass to them, they will not listen.
Katsina United Team
Ikechukwu Ezenwa – Frank Kappe, Faisal Sani, Timothy Danladi, Ikechukwu Nwachukwu, Usman Barau (Akeem Balogun 17), Yushau Garba, Destiny Ashadi (Sherif Bashir 78), Joshua Agboola, Eric Gwammy (Isah Abdulrahaman 90+5′), Martins Usule
Akeem Balogun 55’, Destiny Ashadi 62’ Timothy Danladi 84’ Ikechukwu Ezenwa 95+5’