There was late drama at the Mohammed Dikko Stadium as hosts Katsina United came from behind to defeat Enyimba 2-1 in a pulsating Matchday 18 encounter. The encounter was however marred by unseemly violence at the end, as fans of the home side pelted the Enyimba team bus with rocks, leading to physical injury and serious vehicular damage.
The game was however contested amicably for the most part, with Katsina United making the early running against a depleted Enyimba side. There were five changes from the team that won in such exhilarating fashion, following a raft of injuries to key players. Captain and top scorer Mfon Udoh was unavailable, same as first-choice goalkeeper Theophilus Afelokhai, Ikechukwu Ibenegbu and Mustapha Ibrahim.
Vice-captain and forward Andrew Abalogu was pressed into service at right-back, and there was a first start of the season for Ibrahim Salawu in midfield.
When Chinedu Ohanachom headed Enyimba into the lead in the 21st minute, it was somewhat against the run of play. The hosts had had more of the ball, and looked marginally more threatening, with the twinkle-toed Destiny Ashadi and forward Obinna Eleje causing the People’s Elephant some concern in defence. However, Isiaka Oladuntoye had time and space to measure a sweeping ball out to the left for the advancing Ikouwem Udoh. His pinpoint cross was met at the near post by former El Kanemi man Ohanachom for his first Enyimba goal.
The hosts upped the tempo after falling behind, winning a succession of free kicks around the box, all to little effect. It was the seven-time champions though who came close to doubling their lead, with Gata’s shot deflected wide following a flowing team move.
On the stroke of half time, the hosts got their equalizer. That man Eleje was finally rewarded for his persistence, swivelling in the box and scuffing a shot past Fatau Dauda in the Enyimba goal to bring the scores level going into the second period.
The second period began breathlessly, with Isiaka Oladuntoye producing a brilliant tackle in his own box to repel the hosts, before Osadiaye’s curling free kick was palmed over the top by former Enyimba man Dami Paul.
By this time, the gruelling yards and some fierce tackles from the home side were beginning to take a toll. Both the goalscorer Ohanachom and Abalogu were taken off through injury, before Paul was again called into action by an effort from nigh-on 40 yards by Salawu.
The hosts eventually found a winner, and predictably it was Ashadi at the heart of it. His mazy run into the box drew a couple of markers, and he poked through to substitute Chinedu Udechukwu, who lashed the ball high into the top corner seven minutes from time.
In spite of the victory, there were ugly scenes at the end of the game, with Enyimba players and officials having to flee for their safety, but not before seeing their team bus wrecked by a savage ambush from the home fans.
Katsina United 2 (Eleje 45+1’, Udechukwu 83’) – Enyimba 1 (Ohanachom 21’)
Enyimba XI: Fatau Dauda; Ikouwem Udoh, Isiaka Oladuntoye, Samson Gbadebo, Andrew Abalogu (Chima Akas 70’); Solomon Okpako, Ibrahim Salawu; Joseph Osadiaye, Olufemi Oladapo; Chinedu Ohanachom (Stephen Chukwude 57’), Ismaila Gata (Eric Frimpong 85’).
Referee: Sani Ibrahim