Plateau Utd beat MFM, inch closer to trophy

Plateau United beat closest chasers MFM 1-0 in a top-of-the-table clash at the Rwang Pam Stadium in Jos on Sunday on Matchday 34 of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).
It was the star match of the day and the stakes were made higher because a victory for Plateau would open up a six-point lead, so MFM were expected to put up strong resistance according to an LMC report.
Heavy rainfall that started just before kickoff, and this rubbed the game of the much-needed allure. As the rain increased in intensity, the pitch became more unplayable. At a point, the centre referee stopped play, consulted the fourth official and then waved play on. Quite a few were optimistic the game would be concluded considering the waterlogged nature of the pitch around the 30th minute.
The referee obviously wanted to tarry a while before rescheduling the game but soon, the rain subsided having done enough to make the pitch difficult for the players to display their artistry for the remaining duration of the game.
Consequently, the players that got the biggest applauses were those who could masterfully raise the ball up and shoot as far as possible in ‘kick-and-follow’ style.
Plateau, very adept at picking points in the most difficult playing situations, had got the job done as early as the third minute when man of the match, Anayo Ogbonna teed up Ibeh Johnson, who finished with aplomb.
Save for occasional flashes of brilliance from Ogbonna, the larger part of the game was spent by both teams battling the challenges provided by the rain.
It became an end-to-end show as none of the teams bothered to settle down and string passes in the middle of the park.
In the 10th minute, Plateau’s Kabiru Umar had keeper Folarin Abayomi at his mercy but Abayomi did enough to thwart the goal-bound effort.
On the other end, in the 36th minute, Plateau keeper, John Gaadi punched clear an MFM raid.
In the 43rd minute, Ogbonna blasted the ball wide when it fell for him after a goalmouth scramble that ensued from Daniel Itodo’s throw-in.
Five minutes later, another Itodo throw-in caused pandemonium in the visitors’ box but Ogbonna’s bicycle kick hit the woodwork. Then in the 57th minute, MFM’s Austin Ogunye failed to tap into an unguarded net after Waheed Adebayo had weathered all storms to set him up.
Notable moments came from long range efforts by Plateau substitute, Joshua Obaje. His 20-yard screamer was gathered by substitute keeper Nassamu Emmanuel in the 60th minute while four minutes later, his 25-yard effort was inches wide.
It was scrappy but the three points takes Plateau United closer to a first ever Nigerian top flight title leaving MFM with a big mountain to climb, with four matches to wrap up the season.
Plateau United: John Gaadi, Emma James, Daniel Itodo, Jimmy Ambrose, Ogene Elijah, Salomon Junior, Peter Eneji Jr (Joshua Obaje, 52′), Anayo Ogbonna, Kabiru Umar, Benjamin Turba, Ibeh Johnson
MFM: Folarin Abayomi (Nasamu Emmanuel, 45′), Zikiye Jonathan, Monsuru Bashiru, Abisoye Olawale, Okorom Stanley, Shola Brossa, Tchato Giscard, Akuneto Chijioke, Adebayo Waheed, Ogunye Austine (Nojeem Akinyemi, 80′), Adekunle Adegboyega (Atu Irumekhai Paul, 83′)
Cautions: MFM: Zikiye (72′), Tchato Giscard (89′)