Plateau United earned what could be a precious point in their fight against relegation with a 1-1 draw at fellow battlers Go Round FC in Omoku on Thursday.
Striker Kabiru Umar¡¯s 71st minute effort for Abdu Maikaba¡¯s men cancelled out Chiebonam Nwogbaga¡¯s 41st minute header for the hosts who are now winless in their last four matches.
Go Round went into the game having lost their last two matches and head coach Willy Udube dropped centre back Adekunle Adeleke for Odinaka Onyirimba while winger Joshua Osem was handed a starting berth.
Plateau meanwhile welcomed centre back Elijah Ogene after a long time out while Daniel Itodo was preferred to Gabriel Wassa at left back role.
It was the visitors that started the game on the front foot and they could easily have scored in the 7th minute had Itodo done better with Amos Gyang¡¯s corner with the goalkeeper Godwin Dede already displaced.
Former Remo Stars midfielder Ochowechi Salefu Odoba went close twice with long range efforts for the visitors in the opening quarter of an hour before a major talking point in the game came up.
A corner kick by Plateau¡¯s right back Chizoba Amaefule was defended by Nwogbaga and Akaba Otega with the ball ricocheting off the chest of the former into touch. Referee Olayinka Olajide quite bizarrely pointed to the spot for a penalty but after serious protests by players and coaches of the home team, the centre referee then twice consulted with his Assistant Referee Aminu Usman.
First, Olajide reiterated his penalty decision by pointing to the spot again but after another round of consultation with Aminu, he then rescinds the decision to give a goal kick.
That decision seemed to be the needed spark to bring the hosts¡¯ wary plugs into life as they took charge of proceedings from thence. Creative midfielder Ololade Sadiq brought the best out of Plateau goalkeeper Dele Ajiboye in the 28th minute. The Nigerian international palming away his 25-yard volley.
Two minutes later, Go Round missed what should have been the curtain raiser when Osem hit his effort from just inside the box over after Ajiboye had tipped Philip David¡¯s low cross into his path. Ajiboye would then deny David at his near post in the 34th minute.
That was David¡¯s last contribution of the game as he succumbed to an ankle injury with Vincent George replacing him in the 40th minute. While David¡¯s loss was a devastating blow for Udube¡¯s side, they went in front with virtually George¡¯s first contribution of the game.
The left back found space and time to pick out two of his teammates inside the box and it was Nwogbaga who had the last touch in the mould of a flick, leaving Ajiboye rooted to one spot.
The visitors came out more purposeful in the second half, starting the half the way they did the first. With three minutes in, they troubled Go Round¡¯s defence with a trademark long throw from Daniel Itodo but Amos Gyang¡¯s volley from the rebound went disappointingly over the bar.
In a move to have more aerial strength in the opposition box, Plateau coach Maikaba sent on Godwin Obaje for Jesse Akila in the 63rd minute. However, the striker need not touch the ball before the equaliser arrived. Umar emphatically scoring with his left foot after Go Round goalkeeper Dede parried Chizoba Amaefule¡¯s low cross into an inviting position from him.
With about thirty more minutes to be played in the game, Umar¡¯s goal signaled the last notable action in the game, save for perhaps moments of inconclusive attacks by the hosts.
Aftermath of the result, Go Round remain in the relegation zone along with Plateau United after Heartland¡¯s win at FC Ifeanyiubah.