FC Ifeanyiubah blew a two-goal lead against Gombe United at their Nnewi ground to see their Matchday 31 fixture in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) end up in a 2-2 draw on Sunday.
Austine Oladapo heartily celebrated his equalizer for Gombe United as it ensured that his former team, FC Ifeanyiubah dropped two points at home in this crucial stage of the NPFL season.
The feisty Matchday 31 enounter which was decided on Sunday at the FC Ifeanyiubah International Stadium saw the hosts surrender a 2-0 half-time lead to share the spoils at 2-2 with visiting Gombe United. If only the match had stretched a minute longer, Yaw Preko’s charges would have found themselves at the losing end.
Godwin Obaje was conspicuously missing from Preko’s matchday squad in which the Ghanaian coach made two changes to the side that lost to Plateau United in midweek with Prince Aggreh and Jimoh Oni making the starting lineup. Then there was Samuel Ayorinde from the FC Ifeanyiubah Feeders’ team who was given a chance to start from the bench.
Two superb free kicks in a space of nine minutes by Isaac Loute meant the Anambra Warriors walked out at the break with their heads held high.
But Gombe United had other plans for the second half and they were duly rewarded with goals from Sani Abbani and Austine Oladapo.
With both teams testing their each other’s goalkeeper in the opening two minutes, it was an immediate testament to a prospective end to end action. However the better chances fell in the way of the hosts and they also had the luxury of free kicks.
Jimoh Oni, John Huan and Chijioke Alaekwe had their opportunities to put FC Ifeanyiubah in front while Sani Abbani and Austine Oladapo combined at the business end of Gombe United.
In the 36th minute, however, a goal came for FC Ifeanyiubah when Isaac Loute curled in a stunning free kick from the right which beat everyone in the Gombe United box and found a suitable resting place in Danjuma Hussaini’s goal.
It was from the same angle he extended the Anambra Warriors’ lead on the stroke of half time to a rousing applause from the fans at the stadium.
FC Ifeanyiubah were the quicker side off the blocks in the second half as Alaekwe fluffed a chance in front of an unguarded net in the 47th minute. Three minutes later his bicycle kick off a cross from John Huan turned out fruitless as well.
At the other end, Gombe United were awarded a free kick after Olamilekan Adeleye Aniyikaye brought down Sani Abbani – whom he tried to keep in check all game long – but the setpiece yielded nothing.
Abbani eventually pulled one back for the visitors off an Austine Oladapo free kick in the 61st minute. Seven minutes later, a quick counterattack saw Oladapo, who was one-on-one with FC Ifeanyiubah goalkeeper, Ikechukwu Ezenwa, bury his side’s equalizer off an Abbani assist.
The hosts began to show desperation as the match approached the final whistle and Luamba Ngoma’s header in the 75th minute hit the woodwork.
A calm Gombe United side tried to take advantage of counterattacks as they now looked to inflict defeat on their hosts.
The match became even more intense inside the five minutes of added time, but in the end both teams had to settle for a draw.
By Chibuogwu Nnadiegbulam for lmcnpfl
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