- Published on Saturday, 11 March 2017 19:44
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By Fisayo Dairo
Ibrahim Mustapha scored late in the game to rescue former NPFL champions Enyimba from the jaws of defeat in a 1-1 draw over MFM FC of Lagos.
League topscorer Stephen Odey had given the visitors a 24th minute lead in Calabar with an exquisite finish from the edge of the box but after defending resolutely for most parts of the second half, the Church boys caved in with five minutes left as former El-Kanemi attacker, Mustapha levelled scores with an acrobatic finish from six yards.
Enyimba came into the game in search for a first league win after four unsuccessful attempts and coach Gbenga Ogunbote made three changes to the team that lost at Kano Pillars last Matchday. His opposing number, Fidelis Ilechukwu is however masterminding another brilliant start to the season and he stuck to the same set of players that had secured a narrow win over Remo Stars last weekend.
The hosts huffed and puffed with many a tentative attempts in the opening stages but were reminded of how dangerous MFM could be in the 22nd minute when Stephen Odey headed into the hands of Enyimba's Ghanaian goalkeeper Fatau Dauda after a beautiful passage of play by the Lagosians.
Two minutes later, they got their goal. MFM's pint sized playmaker Chukwuka Onuwa deflected an Isiaka Oladuntoye harsh clearance onto the path of Odey who took a touch and volley on the turn with the second into the bottom right corner of Dauda's post. That was his eighth goal of the campaign, more than the total he scored on his debut season in the top flight last term.
Odey's goal defined the first half wherein MFM controlled their penalty area with distinction, leaving Ogunbote's men with muddled shirts and faces at the interval.
Enyimba quite expectedly upped the ante in the second half and launched series of attacks which met capable resistance from the MFM defence marshaled by captain Austine Opara.
Ibrahim Mustapha had always been the likeliest Enyimba star to score and almost did just seven minutes after the restart when he met Mfon Udoh's cross with a header which MFM goalkeeper Egbe Ospino comfortably tipped over the bar.
Enyimba poured forward in their numbers but were reminded of their defensive responsibilities fourteen minutes from time when MFM broke through Onuwa but Enyimba defender Dare Ojo raced past substitute Ifeanyi Abara to save his team another embarrassing moment.
With the hosts frustration and anxiety rising, they got the equalizer on 85minutes through Mustapha. Midfielder Kelly Kester's incisive long ball was flicked by substitute Ismaila Gata and the Borno-born Mustapha controlled with his chest before hitting an overhead kick that went beyond Ospino.
It was Mustapha's 3rd goal of the season for Enyimba but the People's Elephant could not add another to end their run of 5-game winless streak, a result which means all three top flight fixtures involving both sides have now ended in stalemate.
ENYIMBA: 32. Fatau Dauda 16. Dare Ojo 27. Chima Akas 12. Kelly Kester 14. Isiaka Oladuntoye 26. Samson Gbadebo 10. Mfon Udoh 19. Ibrahim Mustapha 9. Stephen Chukwude (Ismaila Gata 69') 15. Ikechukwu Ibenegbu (Olufemi Oladapo 79') 20. Joseph Osadiaye (Chinedu Ohanachom 90')
Unused Subs: 1. Theophilus Afelokhai 5. Ifeanyi Anaemena 13. Stanley Dimgba 4. Solomon Okpako
GOAL: Ibrahim Mustapha 85'
MFM FC: 33. Egbe Ospino 28. Stanley Okorom 20. Julius Oriyomi 18. Bashiru Monsuru 30. Austine Opara 4. Shola Brossa 6. Tchatcho Grischard 10. Chukwuka Onuwa (Agbane Candy 90') 2. Sikiru Olatunbosun 29. Washed Adebayo (Ifeanyi Abara 75') 31. Stephen Odey ( Adegboyega Adekunle 90')
Unused Subs: 1. Folarin Abayomi 5. Abisoye Olawale 3. Chuka Uwaga 38. Akanni Elijah
BOOKED: Bashiru Monsuru 8', Sikiru Olatunbosun 29', Chukwuka Onuwa 38' Egbe Ospino 78'
GOAL: Stephen Odey 24'
Enyimba 1-1 MFM #ENYMFM
Shots (On target): 13(7)-4(3)
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