Enyimba produced a consummate display to earn a point against MFM FC in Lagos on Sunday afternoon.
The People's Elephants had been unable to pick up any points on the road since the draw against Gombe United eight weeks ago. This run of defeats away from home stood at four games going into the Matchday 33 encounter at the Agege Stadium.
The seven-time champions had some injury concerns, notably to influential playmaker Ikechukwu Ibenegbu. Winger Stanley Dimgba, nursing a thigh strain, was also unavailable. This meant a first league start this season for Togo international Koffi Franco Atchou in midfield.
The hosts MFM set the early tempo, as they looked to get in front right off the bat. However, after a boisterous opening 20 minutes, the momentum began to shift perceptibly, perhaps as a consequence of the home side's inability to fashion an opener.
Chukwuka Onuwa saw his tame early effort easily gathered by Theophilus Afelokhai inside the opening two minutes, and the goalkeeper was again in the thick of the action in the 7th minute. Adekunle Adegboyega was played through on goal, and nicked the ball around Afelokhai, before going down over his outstretched leg. The referee, however, was unmoved.
Enyimba's first effort on target came from the boot of Ugochukwu Leonard, who spun in midfield and held off his marker impressively, before firing goalward. Ospino Egbe gathered, but it marked a sea change in the flow of the game, as the visitors began to assert themselves more on proceedings.
In the 38th minute, it indeed looked like the People's Elephants had taken the lead. Mfon Udoh made a weaving run, and spread the play out wide to the advancing Chima Akas outside the area. The left-back still had a lot to do from that distance, but saw his effort spin narrowly over the top, much to the relief of the teeming home support.
Enyimba began the second half as they had ended the first: in the ascendancy. Captain Udoh had the first of two great chances just four minutes after the restart, as he ran onto Dare Ojo's perfectly weighted through ball. His finish was tame, however, and Egbe got behind it to smother.
The second was in the 71st minute, as Ibrahim Mustapha turned and played him in in space. Having gone clear, Udoh then took too long to get his shot off, and was dispossessed.
At the end of the day, a goalless result seemed a fair enough outcome for a game high on drama and competitiveness, but low on clear goalscoring opportunities. The result sees Enyimba go level on points with third-place Akwa United, with five games to play in the season.
Enyimba 0-0 MFM FC
Enyimba Starting XI: Theophilus Afelokhai, Chima Akas, Ifeanyi Anaemena, Isiaka Oladuntoye, Goodluck Onamado, Dare Ojo, Kelly Kester (Stephen Chukwude), Ugochukwu Leonard (Maxwell Effiom), Mfon Udoh(c), Koffi Franco Atchou, Ibrahim Mustapha
Unused subs: Fatau Dauda, Uche John, Ikouwem Udoh, Olufemi Oladapo, Solomon Okpako
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