Bayelsa United and Glo Premier League champions, Kano Pillars, played out a 1-1 draw at the Oghara Township Stadium on Sunday.
John Paul gave the hosts, Bayelsa United, something to cheer on 26 minutes with his perfect strike that stunned Pillars goalkeeper Mohammed Yusif.
However, the advantage was short-lived as Bayelsa United’s plan to exploit the defensive weaknesses of the champions by going offensive was cut short with a gaffe barely four minutes after Paul’s goal.
Bayelsa United, who thought the match was under their control gave in to an escalated physical play with the Mohammed Baba Ganaru-tutored side and left the ball to slip away, allowing Muhammed Bala to equalize with a fantastic header off a crossed-ball by Edjomarigwe John.
The Restoration Boys and their August visitors from the north had faced some trial moments towards end of the first round of the current season, and were all out to make the best of their third game of the second stanza.
By the time the first half ended, the two teams had played to a one all draw in front of an average crowd in Oghara.
On resumption of play, the Bayelsa United re-launched their aggressive play with an intention to be separated from their visitors who resorted to defensive play, but their wishes went with the wind as Eric Frimpong, Osamudiame Idehen and Paul frittered away begging chances.
Bayelsa United virtually caged Pillars at a point in the tension-soaked encounter, slicing the ball through the natural turf of Oghara but they paid for their missed chances in the end.
Tactically, Bayelsa United coach Evans Ogenyi appeared to have instilled a positive attacking approach into the team, as they should rank amongst the league leaders in robust tip-tap play, but majority of their shots went wide.
Out of frustration, Bayelsa United changed to a playing style close to a physical one while trying to go offensive through quick movements, but such attempts earned Paul and substitute Ovoke Bernard yellow cards, while Pillars’ Adamu Mohammed was also booked for a hard tackle.
Towards the end of the match, the only noticeable actions were the frustrating moments with Bayelsa United and Pillars’ players grabbing shirts, bumping and bruising into each others’ way, and thus a match with series of protests ended with Pillars snatching away a valuable point on the road.
Kano Pillars coach, Baba Ganaru, told npfl.ng after the match: “The match was very explosive and I believe the points were equally shared because both clubs played their hearts out. I salute my players for coming back to draw this game, and I think Pillars are coming back gradually to where they belong. The team is known for their passing game, which has been lost for some time, but since I came back, things are fast changing and they exhibited that against Bayelsa United. The result will motivate us ahead of our next match.”
Bayelsa United coach Evans Ogenyi on rescue mission at the club: “Our team started the match well and scored a good goal in the first half. But, my team paid dearly for their lack of concentration and allowed Kano Pillars to equalize, that’s where the tide of the match changed. We have seen the lapses and will work on the players before our next match against Enyimba here in Oghara. Of course, that’s another top match to contend with. However, I don’t like complaining about officiating but the referees of the match made some questionable calls. Generally, it was not a bad match.”