It was a change in fortunes for Plateau United as it secured the first win in the 2020/21 NPFL season with an emphatic 3-0 defeat of struggling Heartland at the New Jos Stadium.
After a four-match goal drought in as many matches played so far both in the continental and league fixtures, Muhammadu Zulkifilu registered Plateau first goal of the season in the 19th minute with a header from Amos Gyang lob to put smiles on the tensed Plateau side.
The goal was a big relief to the Highlanders as they gained confidence firing from all fronts with Amos Gyang, Muhammadu Zulkifilu and Akila Jesse running rings round the Heartland defence where Chijioke Ejiogwu made some daring saves.
Plateau continue to exploit the weakness in the Heartland defence with sporadic attacks from the flanks and one of such forays resulted in the penalty awarded Plateau in the 52nd minute when Francis Beiyam fouled an advancing Amos Gyang in the box. Gyang stepped up to convert the kick after the Owerri team protested the penalty call by referee Tolulope Akinfemisaye.
Akila Jesse put the icing on the cake for Plateau with the third goal of the day in the 60th minute to secure the team’s first victory.
The victory no doubt is a big relief to the former league champions as expressed by Coach Abdu Maikaba who has been under pressure in recent times.
“This victory has relieved us from the pressure which engulfed the team. Though we approached the match with caution by creating chances as the boys were able to convert the chances.”
He also attributed the lacklustre performances to the absence of some key players who are down with various injuries and ailment.
With a third loss in a row, stand-in coach Christian Obi is optimistic that though Heartland are walking on a tight rope, he believes that things will get better in the coming days especially with the financial backing coming from the club financers.
Heartland will have to contend with Enyimba in their next game while Plateau will be visiting Pillars in Kano.