Bendel Insurance were seconds away from nicking the three points at stake against a resilient Ekiti United in the group B second match of the NNL Super 8 playoffs at the Nnamdi Azikwe stadium, Enugu, after Imade had scored in the 83rd minute for the Benin team but a last minute adjudged handball in the box of the Vipers gave Ekiti United the equalizing goal to leave Insurance in a very critical situation.
The Vipers went into the game with the mindset of getting a convincing victory over the side that suffered a three goals to nil defeat in the hands of Remo Stars, last Tuesday.
The Benin Arsenal started the game on a fast tempo launching series of attacks against a more conservative Ekiti United-who only attacked on rare occasions in the first half- but had all chances created in the first half fluffed to the amazement of spectators.
Bendel Insurance came to the second half on the back foot allowing Ekiti United to throw balls at their defense and rush them with loads of crosses and shots into their box and pegged them back for the first 10 minutes of the second half.
Kenneth Edozue and Imade Osarenkhoe were thrown into the frays of things to get the much needed goal for the team and the two players responded with bigger vibes as they changed the complexion of the game possing threats to the Ekiti United’s defense from both left and right flanks of the field.
Bright Osah had another glorious chance to lift his side on the 67th minute but his shot went begging once again to the disappointment of his technical bench.
As the time ticked, Insurance became hungrier to get a goal that would ensure their victory and give them hope to advance to the NPFL, next season.
Insurance’s hope received illumination on the 83rd minutes as substitute, Imade Osarenkhoe blasted a left side cross beyond the reach of Okoh, who had been like a police dog all through in the game against the Benin Vipers.
The tempo was raised, from the beats of the Insurance’s supporters club to the cheering fans and the field of play. Ekiti United relaunched like wounded lions to get back their own goal.
Two minutes additional time board was raised by the fourth official and Insurance were already celebrating their imminent victory when the center referee blew for a handball in the Insurance box. Odinaka Edeh was adjudged to have prevented a goal bound ball in his box with his raised hand, the defender and teammate surrounded the referee to change his mind from awarding the controversial penalty against them. Plead heard, but request not granted by the referee who insisted on his earlier decision.
Pius Chikodi picked up the ball, placed it calmly on the penalty mark as the heart of Insurance fans are heard beating and panting for a miracle to happen; no miracle happened as Pius sent Amass the wrong way to level things up.
The ugly scene will show it’s face afterwards as suspected angry Insurance fans pounced on the officials to beat them up for what they tagged unjust penalty. As this was happening, players of Insurance, coaches and officials present on the field were preventing the angry fans from touching the officials and ushered them to safety from the hands of the angry mob.
With this result, Bendel Insurance and Ekiti United will have to beat Remo Stars and Shooting Stars Sports Club respectively by a high margin score line on Saturday 11th, in the last games of group B at the ongoing NNL Super 8 in Enugu state.