Plateau United extended their unbeaten run in the Nigeria Professional Football League to four games after goalkeeper Chinedu Anozie produced a number of superb saves to help them earn a goalless draw at Dakkada on Saturday.
In a thrilling end-to-end encounter at the Nest of Champions, the former FC Ifeanyi Ubah shot-stopper kept out a penalty and denied Imo Obot from point-blank range, as the hosts missed the chance to move within one point of the leaders.
But before those stunning saves, Anozie could have conceded after Spencer Bassey sprinted away from Daniel Itodo and sent a left-footed effort from 25 yards towards goal. The goalkeeper was well beaten, but the crossbar came to the rescue of the visitors.
Both sides had the ball in the net, but the goals were ruled out for different reasons — and rightly so. The game had barely begun when Moses Effiong tucked home from close range after being found by Spencer Bassey’s square pass, but was denied by the offside flag. And eight minutes after the break, Ibrahim Mustapha scored a Maradona-esque handball goal, but referee Jelili Ogunmuyiwa chalked it off and booked the forward.
After being denied by the offside flag and the crossbar, the hosts had a chance to hit the back of the net when a defensive mixup presented Effiong with a chance. Anozie did well to race off his goal line to gather the loose ball before the winger could make contact.
Imo Obot then saw his effort deflected behind for a corner, before the away side went close through Tosin Omoyele after Ochei Ochowechi launched a counterattack.
Plateau United showed confidence as the game approached half-time. The Jos side dictated the pace of the game with some beautiful exchanges in the middle and brilliant attacking moves involving Bernard Ovoke, Tosin Omoyele and Ibrahim Mustapha — with no real chances created though.
The atmosphere became ferocious with horrendous tackles from both sides. Daniel Itodo went down after being on the receiving end of Effiong’s tackle from behind.
Plateau’s dominance nearly paid off in the 35th minute when Mustapha beat the offside trap to latch onto a pass. The hosts were lucky, though, as the CHAN Eagles star could not quite executive the finish he had in mind.
After the interval, Dakkada showed some great attacking intent — and Effiong found himself with an opportunity to put his side in front. The skilful winger squandered what was a glorious chance after Isaac George’s shot was filtered by the visitors’ defence. Despite having only Anozie to beat from six yards out, Effiong fired wide of the far post.
Bassey also failed to convert few minutes later, heading Obot’s perfectly-weighted cross over the bar.
Obot then had a chance of his own after being sent clear, but Anozie produced a wonderful save to deny the left-back.
And with 11 minutes left to play, the referee pointed to the spot after Obot was fouled in the area. Receiving a short corner, the defender tried to create space for a shot after surging into the penalty area. Ogunmuyiwa, after adjuging that Obot’s left foot was clipped, gave the home side a penalty. However, Anozie dived to stop Eso Archibong’s spot-kick — and Plateau United saw off the remaining minutes to ensure a share of the spoils.
The result helped Maikaba’s side move a point clear of second-placed Lobi Stars, who could overtake the Jos club if they beat Wikki later on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Dakkada remain fourth with 29 points, though level on points with Rivers United, who play Kwara United on Sunday.
Next weekend, Dakkada will travel to Jos for the reverse.
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