Nasarawa United’s quest to extend their unbeaten streak to four since the start of the second round of the 2020/21 Nigeria Professional Football League suffered a setback on Wednesday afternoon as they narrowly lost 1-0 to fellow northern side, Kano Pillars, at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Kaduna.
In a clash that saw both sides sizing each other up for supremacy, Anas Yusuf drew the first blood with a left-footed shot from range but was dealt with by Ayeleso Suraj in goal for Kano Pillars in the 12th minute.
United kept pressuring the host team up until the 20th minute, with Silas Nwankwo the danger man upfront.
Kano Pillars turned the tide almost immediately. Super Eagles’ Captain, Ahmed Musa, masterminded some counter-attacking moves that saw goalkeeper, Mohammed Galadima called into several forced saves to the applause of the fans at the Stadium.
The pressure from the home side paid off minutes later as Malam Auwalu Ali struck from inside the box to put the Sai Masu Gida 1-0 ahead.
A moment of drama then ensued in the 31st minute when a blistering freekick by Dauda Maigishiri was thought to have been palmed out from behind the goal-line by goalkeeper Ayeleso but for the referee to wave “play-on”.
Despite many missed goalscoring chances, both sides went into the break with score at 1-0 in favour of the home team.
Shortly after the break, Adamu Hassan was brought on and the former Kano Pillars’ attacker almost put the ball inside the net but his close range header was parried over the bar by former Nasarawa United’s employee, Suraj Ayeleso for a corner kick.
Substitute, Michael Tochukwu, also nearly got his name on the scoresheet only for his thunderous shot to go inches above the woodwork.
The duo of Ahmed Musa and Rabiu Ali combined well to wreak some havoc but for the brilliance of goalkeeper, Mohammed Galadima.
1-0 the entertaining encounter ended as United lost their first points in the second stanza of the campaign.
The Solid Miners remain 5th on the league table with 39 points, five points behind table-topping Kano Pillars, and will now return to Lafia where they will square up against visiting Adamawa United in the matchday 24 tie on Sunday, 30th May, 2021.
*Coach Bala Nikyu(NAS)*: “This is football. Whenever you are not lucky, you will miss a lot of chances which are supposed to be utilized.
“No team is a push-over in the league today. I expected the game to be this tough and it was so.
“We will return to our base and prepare for the next game.”
*Coach Ibrahim Musa(PIL)*: “It’s very important for us to win this match.
“Nasarawa United are a good side and doing well in the league.
“In fact, they are one of the best teams in Nigeria today. After the Katsina United match, I told my boys never to take the Nasarawa United match for granted because it’s another tough northern derby.
“We needed the three points and we thank God that our prayer was answered. However, we will go back and make amendments to some of our mistakes.
“We will plan ahead of Plateau United during the weekend and we hope to extend our nine match unbeaten run.”
Nyima Nwagua(PIL) 27′
Ebuka Anaekwe(NAS) 35′
Malam Auwalu Ali(PIL) 50′
*NASARAWA UNITED LINE-UP*: Galadima Mohammed, Chigozie Obasi, Tebo Franklin, Martins Owolijah, Ebuka Anaekwe, Anas Yusuf(Adamu Hassan 53′), Sadiq Abdulrazaq(Tochukwu Michael 53′), Dauda Maigishiri,Aliyu Abdullahi, Chinedu Ohanachom(Chidi Solomon 72′), Silas Nwankwo
*UNUSED SUBSTITUTES*: Danlami Umar(Gk), Ameh Godwin(Gk), Abubakar Abdullahi, Sinbad Peter, Chigozie Austin, Barnabas Imienger Jnr.