Wikki Tourists pegged back twice courtesy of Stephen Gopey 33rd ans 70th minutes strikes to settle for a 2-draw with Akwa United in the Nigeria Professional Football League on Sunday evening.
The host broke the deadlock in the 33rd minutes at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Stadium with Stephen Gopey on target in either half to provide the foundation for a potential first win since resumption of the current season.
But a pair Salisu Saidu 34th minutes and 53rd minutes Charles Astchimene effort denied the yankari elephants men maximum points in the north east.
The first half…
Both sides were back on the pitch just seven days on from their previous Nigeria Professional Football League outing, but there was still a zip to the opening stages which included chances created by the host.
Promise Damala’s low drive from 20 yards was scooped up by Akwa United goalie Adewale Adeyinka – before the all time league scorer Mfon Udoh had efforts repelled by Wikki Tourists goalkeeper Pius Ibrahim.
Better saves were then required from the two goalkeepers, with Pius Ibrahim denying Akwa United Charles Okafor after sending a well-struck blast towards the bottom corner and Gopey subsequently seeing a curler clawed out at the last.
Gopey did break the deadlock on 33rd minutes, however.
Stephen Gopey met Damala rebound header through Jimmy Ambrose outswinging corner from the left with a harmless shot that became an assist when it bounced up for Gopey to intelligently loop a shot over Adewale Adeyimka on the firing line.
But the Promise keepers responded to the setback quickly capitalised when Wikki defenders tumbled in the area under pressure from Charles Okafor and Mfon Udoh offensive threat.
The decision frustrated Kennedy Boboye side and Adewale was fortunate to reach Jibrin’s precise conversion into the bottom left corner.
Wikki talisman Stephen Gopey might have irked the visitors further soon after, as he sped onto Idris Mayaki’s pass in behind – but Adewale Olayinka was out sharply to tip the ball from his foot and covered to block a follow up by Promise Damala.
Half-chances continued to come – with Wikki Tourists having 11 shots and 72 per cent of the possession before the interval – but the score remained 1-1 when the sides returned to their dressing rooms.
The second half…
Both coaches delivered their instructions to the lads, eight minutes into the second half Akwa United shocked the home crowd after Mfon Udoh won a freekick a few meters to the byline, Charles Astshimene stoled the ball and wiped it past Ibrahim Pius after Wikki Tourists failed clear the ball out their box.
Baba Jibrin’s charges continued to control the ball for long periods, though without finding a way through the Akwa United defence, at least until Promise Damala make way for Nazifi Yahaya clipped a superb delivery pass to Stephen Gopey as swiftly beat his marker and hammered a low grounder to the left side of the net.
The hosts reminded Akwa United of their own threat in attack moments later, but both Salisu Saidu and Mfon Udoh were crowded out as they shaped to shoot inside the box.
Intricate approach work on the right edge of the area by Idris Guda and new entrance Garba Manu freed the latter to try his luck from a narrow angle, with Nazifi Yahaya equal to the bobbling strike.
But when the corner was swept in, Mustapha Abdullahi’s attempt to clear diverted the ball straight to an unmarked Akwa United Ubong Friday at the back post – and the former Flying Eagles quickly gathered himself and rushed to dislodge the forward.
Kennedy Boboye’s side refused to give it up, however, and Nasiru Jibril was handed the chance to play against his former club replacing Mfon Udoh to successfully find the net from 12 yards when Olisa Ndah delivered a counter offensive onslaught from their half leaving both teams with a point each at the end highly tensed atmosphere.