Champions Enyimba twice came from behind but failed to amass any points as they lost 2-3 to Ikorodu United in an exciting rescheduled Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) game decided wednesday.
The hosts enjoyed the first goalscoring opening at the MKO Abiola Stadium in Abeokuta in the 19th minute when Chinedu Onyelonu headed a corner just wide with the Enyimba goalkeeper, Theophilus Joel Afelokhai, in no man’s land.
Enyimba, however, hit back and almost took the lead two minutes later through last season’s NPFL top scorer, Mfon Udoh, whose effort hit the side netting.
The game continued to ebb and flow with a goal needed at that point to see it burst into life.
The breakthrough arrived just before the half hour through Fatai Abdullahi following impressive work by the impressive Onyelonu.
One of football’s most hackneyed maxims, ‘you are most vulnerable just after you have scored’ was ruthlessly exploited by Enyimba who were back on level terms just seconds after the hosts took the lead.
Musa Najare was fouled in the Ikorodu United box and referee Ferdinand Udoh promptly pointed to the spot before Udoh dispatched unerringly from 11 metres.
Enyimba could smell blood and mercilessly honed in for the kill with Osadiaye Joseph almost getting the visitors’ second in the 39th minute only to be denied by last-ditch defending by the Oga Boys.
A frantic first half came to an end with the scores still tied at 1-1 but more of the drama was to unfold in the second half.
Seven minutes after the restart, Ikorodu United retook the lead through Balogun Abdullahi’s stunning strike which left the stranded Afelokhai shell-shocked.
Enyimba would however not go away and were back on level terms eight minutes later.
Najare was the man on the money this time round as he applied the finish in expert fashion to set up a grand stand finish.
Michael Okoyoh scored the game’s winner in the 68th minute and Ikorodu United continued to make a fight of ostensibly their final games in the top division for at least a solitary season.
The defeat leaves Enyimba in seventh place on the log with 49 points from 33 matches while Ikorodu United are on 32 points from 33 matches, just seven points away from safety.