…after 1-1 draw at Nasarawa Utd as regular season ends
Ben Peters, Abuja
Bendel Insurance Football Club of Benin,were on Sunday forced to a 1-1 draw by already relegated Nasarawa Utd of Lafia at the New Jos Stadium, Plateau state to end the Nigeria Premier Football League regular season unbeaten.
Deputy Echeta scored a beautiful goal in the 28 minutes of play for the Benin Arsenals after picking up a beautiful pass from their hardworking star Midfielder Divine Nwachukwu.
The Insurance lead was however cancelled by Nasarawa Utd’s most experienced striker Chinedu Ohanachom in the 51st minute of play to restore parity. Both sides laboured under the rain in the remaining part of the game but could not find the net till the final whistle.
Chinedu Ohanachom’s equalizer against Bendel Insurance in the 51st minute of play came with a fine header following a well taken corner kick by Aliyu Abdullahi to raise the hope of Nasarawa United’s plan to end Insurance FC unbeaten record.
The equalizing goal by Ohanachom could not change the situation of things for the Solid Miners who were already relegated from the Nigeria Professional Football League after they suffered a 1-0 defeat to Kwara United two weeks ago in Akure.That defeat ended the Lafia club’s 10 years stay in the Nigerian top flight.
The coach Monday Odigie led Benin Arsenals have proven to be a hard nut to crack in the 2023 Nigeria Premier Football League ( NPFL) as they have made history, equalling Akwa Utd’s record of 18 matches unbeaten in 2020/2021 league season and as well finished as group A leaders ahead of Remo Stars and Enyimba FC who picked super six tickets on the last day with 33 and 32 points respectively.
Insurance,on the road to picking the Super Six slot ahead of others, won 8 matches,drew 10 to finish as group A leaders of the abridged league with 34 points.
It is however a remarkable feat and enviable height for Insurance FC who gained promotion from the second tier league NNL to the premier league this season and are immediately contending for the 2023 Nigeria Premier Football League title at the Super Six playoffs, scheduled to kick off in Lagos on June 3rd at the Mobolaji Johnson Stadium.
The Benin Arsenals began their return to the topflight league with a shocking 2-0 win over former champions Akwa Utd in the league opener away from home. They returned to Benin the following week to beat another former champions Plateau Utd 2-1 at the Samuel Ogbemudia stadium, Benin and went on to beat Kwara Utd 1-0 in Ibadan,Remo Stars 3-0 in Benin and pipped El-Kanemi Warriors 1-0 in Maiduguri.
The Benin Arsenals returned from Maiduguri to record first home draw with a barren draw with Gombe Utd. They recorded their second draw in Ibadan after pulling a 2-2 draw with archrivals Shooting Stars.
Insurance FC returned to Benin after Ibadan trip to get a 1-0 win over Nasarawa Utd before another 1-0 victory over former league and CAF champions Enyimba FC to end the first round as leaders.
On resumption of the second round at Enyimba FC, Insurance FC ran away with 1-1 draw at the Enyimba International stadium to continue with their unbeaten run and later settled for a 1-1 draw at home with Kwara Utd before going to Remo Stars to grind out another 1-1 draw to maintain their lead in group A.
Insurance FC recorded their 8th win of the season with a 2-1 victory over El-Kanemi Warriors in Benin in a revised fixture. They travelled to Gombe and returned with 0-0 draw before a 1-1 draw with Shooting Stars in Benin the following week.