Just four days after beating Dakadda 3-0 in Uyo, Nasarawa United fell 1-2 to Warri Wolves at the Lafia City Stadium in a Matchday 16 tie thanks to a brace by Charles Atsimene.
Ironically, Wolves had lost 1-2 to Rangers in midweek. So in what buttresses the unpredictability of NPFL fixtures this season, both teams swapped fortunes on Matchday 16.
Nasarawa’s victory over Dakadda was not just the biggest margin in four away victories witnessed on Matchday 15, it was the least expected. The Solid Miners had struggled for form all season and had languished in the drop zone right from Matchday 1.
The away victory thrust the club up the ladder, just a spot from safety but that was their best ever position in the current season. They had even struggled more at home having lost twice and winning by the odd goal on two occasions making this tie a tricky one.
Up against Warri Wolves, who were in dire need of redemption after the home loss to Rangers, it was always going to be a tough task for the hosts. If Nasarawa had to exchange positions with one of the safe clubs, the likeliest was Wolves. Against a direct competitor for survival, this was therefore one match the visitors virtually vowed not to drop all points.
This was very evident from the blast of the whistle as the visitors had a game plan that stiffened their hosts while looking very threatening on the break..
In the 13th minute, Anas Yusuf’s canon was spilled by Wolves keeper, Godwin Ameh. Esosa Igbinoba, however, hit the rebound wide. Atsimene gave Wolves the lead in the 26th minute. Danlami had parried Dikoo’s shot the way of Atsimene, who finished off. The visitors weren’t just ahead.
They even looked the likeliest to score the next goal as the hosts completely switched off. Left-back, Oluwasegun Olalere was making dangerous incursions from the left. In the 36th minute, his delivery evaded Manga Mohammed and Danlami but Atsimene failed to get to the end of the cross as the ball strayed across goal.
Meanwhile, box-to-box midfielder, Dikoo was having a game of his life. In the 40th minute, he burst forward, met Mark’s cutback but shot wide. Wolves sustained the pressure in the second half. But in the 59th minute, Atsimene had a contender for miss of the season. Teed-up by Williams Sunday, the Wolves number 11 rounded Danlami and instead of tapping into an empty net, he shot wide.
Nasarawa pushed forward and in the 64th minute, midfielder Victor Okoro’s curler from the left flank, headed for the top corner was tipped over by Ameh. The hosts earned a penalty in the 70th minute when Olalere handled the ball in the box. Abubakar Lawal sent Ameh the wrong way from the spot.
Game on! Wolves were however undeterred by the leveler as they pressed on for the winner. In the 84th minute, the impressive Dikoo met Ridwan Agbabiaka’s cross but volleyed wide. Their lead was restored in the 90th minute when Atsimene nodded in Dikoo’s cross.
The result ensured Wolves moved further away from the drop zone while Nasarawa missed an opportunity to escape from the dreaded territory for the first time since Matchday 1