Insurance of Benin remain in the bottom-four of Group A in the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) after settling for a point in a cagey goalless clash with Enyimba at the University of Benin (UNIBEN) Sports Complex on Sunday.
— League Management NG (@LMCNPFL) March 3, 2019
The first period was a fractured affair, as the Benin Arsenal were forced into using one of their substitutes. Nelson Ogbonna went down with an injury, prompting the introduction of Valentine Ozornwafor just before the half-hour mark.
Enyimba failed to find their rhythm in a goalless opening half, but Insurance had a couple of half-chances – with Adimoramah Ezeh firing a shot into the waiting hands of Nwabali.
Kingsley Onovo was next to threaten, but Nwabali was up to the task.
As the interval drew near, Insurance moved up a gear, putting together the contest’s best move.
Junior Osaghae headed against the bar before Nwabali gathered the ball from a resultant goal-mouth scramble involving Arinze Okolie and Onovo.
The interval offered both sides something of a reset, and it was Enyimba who adjusted best.
Mustapha troubled the hosts with his runs and later forced Amas Obasogie into making a brilliant save.
Still though, the quality was lacking, with Enyimba sloppy in possession and Insurance lacking a focal point without Charles Omokaro, who was later introduced from the bench.
Enyimba’s injury concerns worsened in the 78th minute when Thomas Zenke was replaced by Abdulrahman Bashir.
Meanwhile, the People’s Elephants thought they had won it late on when Ibrahim Mustapha put the ball in the net, only to see the flag raised for offside.
Positives and negatives from the game
Insurance’s performance, especially in the final minutes showed little intent of retaining their status in the NPFL after 11 years in the lower league. This rescheduled game against Enyimba featured an under-par performance that coach Monday Odigie would not be really elated about, although the point only keeps the Benin-based club within touching distance of safety.
The draw, however, suits Enyimba far better and given how coach Usman Abd’allah’s XI was hindered by two injury-enforced substitutions – one before half-time, the result is particularly a morale-booster.
What the result means for the two sides
Insurance remain in relegation places, while second-placed Enyimba go three points clear of third-placed Sunshine Stars and cut MFM FC’s lead at the top to three points.
Insurance host MFM at the University of Benin Sports Complex on the next matchday, while Enyimba will be up against Sunshine Stars in Aba.