Wikki 1-0 Enyimba: Yet again unable to cross the finish line

We mumbled and jumbled it a little bit here on the blog yesterday. I didn’t realize it was a MatchDay and rather than put a preview, I wrote about Dare Ojo. Not a bad post by any standard but we were denied a Match Preview. I’m sorry guys. The thoughts in this head daily, they are no child’s play. 

We faced Wikki in Bauchi and despite holding them off for 87 minutes, we did succumb to a late goal that left us empty handed from Bauchi for a second year in a row. Once again, I have the official match report below for you but isn’t it deeply saddening that a good percentage of points dropped on away grounds came in the closing stages? 

Think about it- Pillars away, Lobi away, ABS away, Wikki away, El-Kanemi Warriors away. Somehow we are unable to just hang in and cross the finish line. We can’t eliminate the pressure we face on hostile grounds but we do see teams do it week in week out in some of these places. MFM got a draw off Wikki in this same ground. I bet things would have been different if Mfon’s strike few minutes earlier had gone in and wasn’t blocked.

Enyimba is looking like “nearly men” on foreign turf. Whatever be the challenge, we have to find a way to fix it. Here’s your match report below. 

The arid city of Bauchi was the scene of late drama as hosts Wikki Tourist ran out 1-0 winners over Enyimba International on Wednesday.

Enyimba came into the game on the back of a four-game unbeaten sequence, but were always likely to struggle due to some injury-enforced absences. Winger Joseph Osadiaye and full-back Chima Akas were both carrying knocks, and did not make the trip, necessitating a whole new left-sided pairing of Ikouwem Udoh and Stanley Dimgba.

Goalkeeper Fatau Dauda also came into the starting line-up in place of Theophilus Afelokhai.

A slow opening period saw both sides struggle to create meaningful openings, until right around the half-hour mark when an underhit by Dare Ojo let in Wikki forward Chinedu Onyenolu. His shot was however well wide.

The best chance of the opening period fell to Victor Yakubu just four minutes before the break, after a cross from the right flank found him unmarked at the back post. He elected to go for the spectacular, but his volley was wild and no trouble at all for Dauda.

The hosts could have gone into the half-time break a man light. Solomon Okpako, himself a substitute for the injured Kelly Kester, was on the end of a reckless tackle by Idris Guda Muhammed, who went in with both feet and studs showing. The referee however opted for leniency and meted out no punishment for the tackle.

The second period saw the hosts up the ante, but it was Enyimba who almost took the lead on the hour mark. A knock-down by Ismaila Gata was taken on by Mfon Udoh, who dribbled through. He however failed to keep the ball under his control after going past the final challenge, and Emeka Nwabulu was quickly out to defuse the situation.

Wikki then won two free kicks in quick succession, but both were well defended: first by goalkeeper Dauda, and then by the wall.

Substitute Samuel Chukwudi was presented with a huge opportunity to open the scoring. A chipped ball behind the defence saw him run onto it, but just as shaped to pull the trigger, Ikouwem took it off his toes at the last second.

The breakthrough came eventually for the hosts almost at the death. First, a low cross to the near post was flicked on by Abubakar Lawal, with Dauda making a world-class save to divert it behind for a corner. The resulting delivery though was headed in by Victor Alegbe, with just two minutes left to play of the regulation 90. 

Enyimba XI: Dauda; Ikouwem, Oladuntoye, Gbadebo, Ojo; Kester (Okpako 31’); Dimgba (Ohanachom 69’), Ibenegbu, Udoh; Mustapha (Oladapo 50’), Gata.

Back tomorrow. 



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