By Esther Egbe
Substitute Kolawole Olaniran scored an 84th minute header to salvage a point for Shooting Stars in a fruitful return against Katsina United after 19 years.
The week Nine NPFL game has started on a fast note as the visitors’ took kick off at the Mohammad Dikko Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Both teams were sizing themselves up with the attacking trio of Sunday Adeleye, Apena Jide and Abayomi Adebayo having easy runs at Katsina defence with goalkeeper Paul Dami always responding.
But, the hosts later settled in and built up from the midfield with string of accurate passes and deft moves.
One of these counter moves resulted in a corner which was weakly cleared out of danger only to result in another foray in the box before Ibrahim Babalola clumsy foul on Obinna Eleje. The resultant penalty was converted by Nasiru Sanni on 27th minute.
Shooting Stars responded well just immediately after the restart but the joint efforts of Ayobami Junior, Tolu Olaifa and Sunday Adeleye was played over the bar by impressive Apena Jide.
The next couple of minutes saw Shooting Stars still in charge but it was Katsina United that would have doubled their lead after a dangerous counter move.
Udechukwu had combined well with Asadi Destiny and Kape Frank to beat Shooting Stars offside trap and Adamu had to put his body on the way to save a low shot on 42 minutes.
But minutes after, the young goalkeeper nearly paid for leaving his line to chase a ball in throw-in and a quick restart by Katsina United smartly beaded out by Seun Akinyemi before the referee signalled the end of the first half.
On resumption, the Oluyole Warriors upped the ante with more attacking forays and compact midfield domineering plays but not without occasional responses from the home side.
This forced a change in Katsina line up having Usman Bello coming in for Obinna Eleje to fortify their attack line in 54′ and seven minutes later Shooting Stars changed tired Ayobami Junior for Wasiu Rafiu.
This added more pep for the Fatai Amoo side who seemed to be firmly in control with obvious constant bombardments of Katsina United defence line.
As such, in quick successions, both Wasiu Rafiu and Sunday were badly fouled in the box on 70 and 71 minutes but the Centre Ref looked the other way despite penalty appeals even to the consternation of the home fans.
Similarly, another goal move was stopped right in the box of Katsina United when the ref blew to attend to two injured Katsina players in our goal area.
By this, Kolawole Olaniran came to replace defensive midfielder Tolu Olaifa, an obvious attempt to sustain our attacking instincts.
It, then paid off few minutes later when Kolawole Olaniran headed in a long throw from Sodiq Suraj on 84′ minute to silence the once vociferous home fans at the near capacity Mohammad Dikko Stadium.
Expectedly, Katsina United responded quickly but goalkeeper Adamu Mohammed was there to save the situation and injured in the process before he was treated and game resumed.
In order to secure the point firmly, Alaba Osawe came in for Sunday Faleye and the score line remained till the end of the pulsating game with the home fans leaving in disappointment at the result! By implications.