By TUNDE SHAMSUDEEN
FC Ifeanyi Ubah’s impressive clean sheet at home this season came to an abrupt end on Sunday after Nigeria’s 2016 Federation Cup winners, Abia Warriors, forced them to a 2-2 draw in yet another pulsating Oriental derby of the Nigeria Professiinal Football League (NPFL).
Four changes were made to the side that lost to Gombe United in midweek with Skipper Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Prince Aggreh, King Osanga and Tamen Medrano returning to the starting 11.
Just before kickoff a minute silence was held as the players, management and supporters paid their final tribute and respect for two of their own, an administrator and an ardent supporter, Chief Victoria Oguama (popularly known as Vic-Moore) and Tochukwu Okeke who passed on last week.
The game commenced in a typical frenetic manner as Abia Warriors got the game underway, and in the 8th minute, Sunday Adetunji failed to make the best of a real team opportunity after a through pass from Anthony Okemmiri in the midfield with defender Eze Stephen reacting swiftly with a tackle to clear the ball to safety.
The tall lanky striker some 10 minutes after that had his shot inside the area deflecting off defender Wilson Elu for a corner kick. Anthony Okemmiri was on hand to dispatch the corner which an unmarked Sunday Adetunji headed into the net for the game’s opener after a poor defensive show by the home team.
The Anambra Warriors came close to scoring in the 24th minute after what looked like a scramble in the 18-yard box but midfielder Patrick Ikeokwu couldn’t place the ball well for a finish with Goalkeeper Agbor Ekoi in no man’s land.
The much anticipated equalizer for the Anambra Warriors came in the 33rd minute as Prince Aggreh’s corner which flashed across the defence line of Abia Warriors was finished off by defender Eze Stephen.
In the second half, Goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa pulled off a magnificent save in the 57th minute as he parried a shot from substitute Shedrack Asiegbu for a corner kick after a fine build-up play between Kalu Nweke and Yakubu Hameed.
The Anambra Warriors took the lead in the 64th minute as substitute Yaya Kone who replaced Patrick Ikeokwu made a telling contribution with some good footwork as he won a freekick close to the area after being fouled by Yakubu Hameed who saw yellow for his reckless challenge. Prince Aggreh’s belter from a freekick was punched out by Agbor Ekoi with King Osanga finishing off from the ensuing rebound.
11 minutes from time Abia Warriors restored parity from a set piece play after another poor and comical defensive display from the home team as defender Ozor Chinedu who was totally unmarked ran about 14 yards into a good position heading the ball into the top right corner of the post from an Anthony Okemmiri’s corner.
The Anambra Warriors were almost made to pay for another poor defensive display as a goal bound ferocious shot from 25 yards by Nweke Kalu was saved by goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa.
The Warriors then came all out pushing for a winner but to no avail. Midfielder Yaya Kone in the 85th minute blasted a shot high and wide after he dribbled past two players and should have placed the ball across the path of Prince Aggreh or Godwin Obaje who were both well positioned.
FC IfeanyiUbah persistent search for the winner continued as Elu’s freekick from a good position in the aftermath of Yaya Kone being fouled again close to the box was headed away to safety. The last ditched effort in search of the winner came in the 4th minute of added time with an unmarked Kojo Baah chosing to go for power instead of precision with his header from Prince Aggreh’s corner sailing wide for the last action of the encounter.
FC IfeanyiUbah who are currently placed 18th on the log after this Oriental Derby clash will look to bounce back come Wednesday in a rescheduled Match Day 8 game at home against bottom placed team Remo Stars.