NPFL Invitational:Late penalty saves Plateau against Enyimba - FCNaija

NPFL By: Ayodeji Tunde | 12/12/2017

A stoppage-time penalty denied Enyimba victory in the opening game of the 2017 NPFL Invitational in Kano on Monday.

The seven-time league champions came up against reigning league champions Plateau United at the Sani Abacha Stadium, in a keenly-contested battle.

 The tide of the game swung in one direction almost immediately, thanks to an early red card shown to stand-in Enyimba captain Uche John.

The burly defender was first into the book, and on 18 minutes got a second yellow for swinging an elbow at Kabir Umar.

 Following that expulsion, the pattern of the game was set: Plateau pouring forward to press home their numerical advantage, and the People’s Elephants seeking to soak up the pressure.

That dynamic was however turned on its head when Enyimba won a penalty in the 22nd minute: Chinonso Okonkwo showed good strength to hold off his marker and tee up Chinedu Udeagha inside the box, before the former Rangers man got cleaned out.

 Okonkwo himself stepped up, but after a cool run-up, saw his kick saved by Okiemute Odah.

 Eventually, though, Enyimba would break the deadlock all the same. Centre-back Isiaka Oladuntoye was the catalyst, starting off the move with a loopy run down the right.

His through ball cut through the Plateau defence, setting Wasiu Alalade on his way.

The forward's low centre across the box was turned in by Chinedu Udeagha, who had the time to take two nibbles at it before hitting the back of the net.

 By half time, it was Enyimba who had come closest to scoring again.

 Kennedy Boboye's side were only ever going to find an equalizer thanks to a mistake, and they got one when Omofoman handled the ball inside the area.

Omoyele kept his cool twice, after being instructed to re-take, to rescue a point at the death for Plateau United.

 Enyimba face the CHAN Eagles team on Friday in the second and final tie of Group A.