Katsina United had the woodwork and their goalkeeper to thank for leaving Okigwe unscathed.
The Naze Millionaires were slow and lethargic in the first half, lacking aggression and pace in the final third. It was very obvious something sinister was affecting the psyche and motivation of the group.
**OFF THE PITCH*
The build-up to the game was marred with so much negativity with rumours of a sudden change of guard at the helm of management affairs, two coup attempts and forceful take over that were unsuccessful in a matter of minutes right there at the Okigwe Township Stadium were ominous signs of danger. Then came the mother of all shenanigans. Desperadoes in their numbers stormed the Stadium with their thugs and some Security agents creating an atmosphere of fear and trepidation. The city of Okigwe was surely sitting on the keg of gun powder awaiting an enzyme to trigger an inferno with the intention of disrupting the positive energy and fresh atmosphere already exuded by the playing team. Thankfully the game ended without any catastrophic incident which in itself was a miracle.
The lads braced up to the challenge shrugging off the psychological burden emanating from the negative atmosphere caused by those who pretend to have the best interest of the club at heart.
Ilechukwu brought in Onoja and Eric Duffegha. The substitutes brought some urgency and directness. Samuel Nnoshiri came on later and added the much-needed spark. Heartland came with some ruthless vigour, with waves and torrents of attack, thrice hitting the woodwork, missing a sitter five yards out and the opposing goalkeeper making saves after save. These were all nail-biting indications that a draw was inevitable to the disappointment and frustration of the observance belonging to the Heartland persuasion.
The sound of the final whistle saw the visitors jubilate as if they had won the NPFL Title as the Naze Millionaires fumed with anger and sadness at the overall intrigues of the match including some penalty calls which the Referee blatantly ignored.
*EZEKWEM ONCE AGAIN*
The Chairman of the Club Chief Barr. Charles Ezekwem having an extensible understanding of what the players went against on the day quickly went to the locker room to see his wards. He praised their spartan Spirit and once again reinstated his resolve to stand by the players all the way.
*”you fought like gallant soldiers and I am impressed, “the Chairman said.
Despite the result, Ezekwem deemed it fit to pay the players ten thousand Naira each. It is pertinent to note that Players in the Nigerian league are not usually entitled to Match bonuses if they fail to win at home but Ezekwem, a non- conformist chose to reward the players regardless of the result in a rare show of fatherhood.
*THE FIGHT CONTINUES*
Heartland’s next date is a weekend fixture with Akwa United at the Nest of Champions. This NPFL season for Heartland has been one where the Spartan spirit has and will continue to Soar!
We live to die another day.