Stephen Alfred’s second half goal saved Kwara United the embarrassment of suffering a third home defeat in this season’s Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) as they held former champions Enyimba to a 1-1 draw on Thursday.
Seven-time Nigerian champions Enyimba began the rearranged fixture with a notable change in their startlist with Ghanaian goalkeeper Fatau Dauda dropping to the bench for Super Eagles stopper Ikechukwu Ezenwa. Midfielder Ikechukwu Ibenegbu also returned among the starters since the trip to Rangers.
Kwara United head coach Abubakar Bala was bold with his selection as he opted for a three-man forward of Alfred, Michael Ohanu and Kayode Agboola who got a rare start.
Paul Aigbogun’s men were off the blocks quicker and pegged back their hosts with their pressing play and even had a penalty appeal turned down with referee James Amadin waving play to ride on.
It did not take long before Amadin would award the Enyimba a spot kick after Ernest Governor was upended in the box and Ibenegbu had the honours of scoring from 12 yards on nine minutes.
However what looked like a commanding start for the two-time African champions soon turned awry as Aigbogun was forced to make two substitutions when strikers Ibrahim Mustapha and Stephen Chukwude took knocks that left them unable to continue.
Freedom Omofoman and Chinonso Okonkwo took their places in the space of three minutes.
Kwara United had their chances to draw level. First Ezenwa did well to stay alert to deny Alfred and Ohanu headed over at the back post. Ezenwa also had to tip away to safety Emeka Godwin’s attempt.
Six minutes into the business end of the contest, Ezenwa could not stop Alfred from levelling matters for Kwara United. Alfred and Ohanu combined and the former applied the finish expertly. It was Alfred’s seventh league goal of the season.
Enyimba then had to make a final substitution and forcefully so in goal when Ezenwa crocked up and Fatau took his place.
The People’s Elephant had late chances to wrap things up but Omofoman and Okonkwo could not find perfect finishes to opportunities as they shared the points with Kwara United.
Kwara United: Godwin Ayalogu, Kabiru Isiaka, Lookman Binuyo, Magaji Issa, Akeem Onigbari, Chinedu Sunday, Godwin Emeka (Yakub Aliyu 75′), Stephen Alfred, Michael Ohanu, Rabiu Mohammed, Agboola Kayode (Sunday Obudu 47′)
Unused subs: Jonah Usman, Cyril Oriaku, Joseph Eyimofe, Wilson Anthony, Adamu Tijani
Goal: Stephen Alfred 51′
Caution: Chinedu Sunday
Enyimba: Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Fatau Dauda 67′); Andrew Abalogu, Uche John, Ernest Governor, Nasiru Sani, Farouk Mohammed, Ikechukwu Ibenegbu, Austin Oladapo, Abdulrahman Bashir, Stephen Chukwude (Freedom Omofoman 27′), Ibrahim Mustapha (Chinonso Okonkwo 29′)
Unused subs: Dare Ojo, Joseph Osadiaye, Tofic Omar, Stanley Dimgba
Goal: Ikechukwu Ibenegbu 9′ (P)
Caution: Andrew Abalogu
© The Predictor NG