Enyimba Football Club have opened their defence of the Nigeria Professional Football League with a 1-1 draw against Katsina United at the Muhammadu Dikko Stadium this evening.
Martins Usule scored in the last minute of the first half to strike out Tasiu Lawal’s early penalty goal and split the points in a truly enthralling affair in northern Nigeria.
Enyimba were made to chase the first game of their title defence from the offset when Tasiu Lawal was awarded a penalty inside the opening forty-five seconds following a collision with Abiodun Adebayo.
Lawal stepped up to convert from twelve yards, firing straight into the roof of Theophilus Afelokhai’s goal.
The fiery start paved way for an eventful half, with the visitors holding little back in their search for an equaliser.
Martins Usule found the net in the eleventh minute but his effort was rightfully rule out for offside, before Mustapha Aliko saved Reuben Bala’s long range freekick.
The hosts were anything but quiet at the other end, with Lawal and Destiny Ashadi causing scares.
Ashadi’s strike from outside the box, seven minutes before the break, deflected dangerously on Adebayo and caught Afelokhai on the wrong foot, but narrowly sailed above target.
Enyimba eventually found their equaliser in the last minute of the half when an interplay in midfield released Usule, who held strong against his marker to chip above Aliko into the net.
United had a chance to regain their lead upon the restart but Usman Bara’u could only direct his close range effort wide after a goalmouth melee.
Dare Olatunji came close to grabbing a late winner for Enyimba but the substitute failed to make good contact after Aliko misjudged Austin Oladapo’s corner kick.
Ifeanyi Anaemena was sent off in the final minutes of the contest, but it counted for little as Enyimba held on for a their first NPFL point in Katsina.