After his players dug deep to snatch an unlikely draw away to Katsina United, a mightily relieved coach Henry Makinwa was in the clouds and made no secret of his joy at avoiding another beating on the road.
It was a hugely desired result, not that Makinwa would have minded a win for the Abubakar Bukola Saraki (ABS) FC, but chasing the game at 2-1 down in the second half meant he would find consolation with returning to Ilorin with a point which improved their standing from 18th to 17th on the log.
To some extent, it was an evenly balanced exchange with both sides exploring openings for the lead until Destiny Ashadi struck on 34 minutes, from 18 yards out, after collecting a through ball from Suleiman Ibrahim, to send the about 1,500 fans into roaring cheers.
While there were more efforts at goal on both sides and with Ashadi coming close to a brace, it was Martin Ossy that benefited from his teammate, Chinedu Ajanah’s mistimed kick to calmly bring ABS back into the game at 1-1 inside the Muhammadu Dikko Stadium in Katsina.
Ashadi in the 57th minute turned the provider when he teed up Joseph Adah to beat Nuru Mudashir in goal for the Ilorin side for the home team to go in front a second time in the fixture.
But it was a near quick fire response from the visitors and it had the imprimatur of Abubakar Chindo who outfoxed two defenders to lay the ball for Akinbo Oluwasegun for the equalizer.
A downcast Baldwin Bazuaye in the dug-out for Katsina United lamented the inability of his players to stay focused for the match duration but Makinwa on the other side sipped in the rescue, praising the lads for their enduring resistance.
Makinwa said to npfl.ng that he expects the draw to be one of the high points of the results for Matchday 32, though it turned out not to be with MFM stealing the show in 1-0 defeat of Remo Stars in Sagamu.
“I am glad that my team will be one of the few, if not the only one to record an away draw,” he began.
“I am glad the team showed gamesmanship and came from behind twice to show what they can do.
“The result could have been better, as we wasted some chances, but given the way they came at us, I am glad we got to share the points, though they would be wondering how we did that. We can only wish to make something better out of the season, as it draws to an end.”
Turning to their relegation worries, Makinwa waxed philosophical, saying: “No side wants to be relegated and, though we lie in 17th place, we can still beat the drop.
All I can say is that we will see how our next game goes. We are still a side that is evolving and being built, so we cannot go ahead of ourselves.”
By By Kanayo Jubal for lmcnpfl