Reuben Nicodemus was the hero as Nasarawa United beat Wikki Tourists 2-1 in a season opener at the Lafia City Stadium.
The left-back, just back from the U-20 nations team camp, scored a brace to hand Bala Nikyu’s wards maximum points.
With Chinedu Ohanocham leading the line for the Solid Miners, Nicodemus’ offensive disposition from deep caught the eyes. He was the team’s biggest threat in the final third linking up well with Aliyu Abdulahi Adamu on the left.
When he wasn’t delivering incisive crosses into the opposition’s box, he was unleashing canons at goal.
It, however, seemed the hosts were in for a shock when Promise Damala guided in Manu Garba’s cut-back in the 5th minute. But their lead lasted just two minutes as Nicodemus squeezed the ball past Stanley Nwabali from a very acute angle.
The keeper expected across from the tight angle but Nicodemus rather aimed at goal catching the goalkeeper off-guard.
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The well-groomed visitors who had started the game on a front foot were not pegged back by the goal.
With Chinedu Udeagha pulling the strings in the middle of the park, Idriss Guda, Manu Garba and Damala ensured the Solid Miners defenders never had a respite.
In the 10th minute, Guda tested Nasarawa goalkeeper Danlami Umar with a header off Garba’s cross.
Six minutes later, Umar kicked the ball straight at Udeagha. The playmaker attempted a lob which went narrowly wide.
In the 23rd minute, Udeagha put the ball on a plate for Guda who shot agonizingly wide when a little composure would have helped his cause.
Guda was regularly making those runs behind Nasarawa defence and was enjoying quality service from Garba and Udeagha.
In the 30th minute, Guda was picked out again. Tebo Franklin sensed danger and just as the striker applied the first touch that should take him away from the defender and set him free at goal, he was bundled down. It was a huge respite for Danlami, who had already run out to save the situation just as Franklin was lucky to avoid a booking.
Nasarawa fought back in the 43rd minute when Haggai Katoh’s delivery from a freekick was met by Uzochukwu Chigozie but the header came off the bar. The rebound fell for Ohanocham who shot wide.
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The hosts came out smoking in the second half. A minute after the restart, Nicodemus met a loose ball around the ‘D’ but his volley narrowly missed the target.
In the 52nd minute, the lively left-back turned away in the box and shot past Nwabali. A goal that any striker will envy.
Nasarawa sustained the tempo and in the 60th minute, Ohanocham flicked on for Adamu Abdulahi who hit the ball one-time but Semiu Liadi blocked into a corner.
The introduction of former junior International, King Osanga added more firepower to the hosts. In the 80th minute, Osanga put Silas Nwankwo face-to-face with Nwabali. Nwankwo’s effort was on target but Nwabali made himself big and kicked into the corner.
Two minutes later, Osanga met Abubakar Abdulahi’s cut-back at the edge of the box and his curler wasn’t so far off-target.
While the visitors, now powered by substitute Kingsley Edwin pushed for the leveller, the hosts looked threatening on the counter with the vastly experienced Osanga always looking to tee-up his teammates.
Vanguard News Nigeria
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