Kano Pillars striker Junior Lokosa scored his eighth goal of the season but it proved insufficient to help his team get the full points as they shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw with Enyimba in Sunday’s NPFL fixture at the Sani Abacha Stadium.
Seven-time league champions Enyimba were resolute and obdurate in the star game of Matchday 9.
Both teams came into the encounter in fine form, unbeaten in five games and in the upper reaches of the table. Form aside, this was also a meeting of two of the biggest sides in the league, and a mammoth crowd at the Sani Abacha Stadium bore testament to this.
Paul Aigbogun made two changes to the Enyimba side that won at home against Plateau United. Dare Ojo started at left-back, and there was also a place from the start for Austin Oladapo, his first league start for the People’s Elephant since joining in the off-season.
Kano Pillars head coach Ibrahim Musa named former Enyimba quartet of Chinedu Udoji, Emmanuel Anyanwu, Idris Aloma and Nzube Anaezemba in his startlist while a fifth ex-star of the Aba club Sikiru Kamal started from the bench.
The opening period was as expected cagey, and the tone of the game, especially in the first half, was frenetic. Amid the midfield battle, there were brief moments on quality, notably from former Enyimba midfielder Anaezemba.
After Rabiu Ali had blasted a presentable chance over the top, the hosts took the lead just after the half-hour mark. A quick free kick found Junior Lokosa on the far side, and he steadied himself before firing home low into the bottom corner.
The hosts could have gone two up a minute later when Alassan Ibrahim fired over the top from an identical position. Instead, they were pegged back three minutes after their opener. There looked to be no danger as Emmanuel Anyanwu played a pass back to his goalkeeper David Obiazo. Inexplicably though, the goalkeeper let the pass slip through his legs and all the way through for an equaliser.
Having been gifted a route back into the game, Enyimba clung on and refused to let go. Goalkeeper Fatau Dauda led the resistance, twice denying Anaezemba in the second period, and claiming cross after cross. When he was beaten, however, Victor Denis saw his mishit cross come back off the crossbar.
Enyimba then came close to snatching the win late on, after a sizzling pass from Chinedu Udeagha found Stanley Dimgba in space. However, the winger elected to shoot directly at goal rather than pass, dragging his shot and failing to trouble Obiazo.
The result extends both club’s run of games without defeat to six.