Champions Kano Pillars were forced to a 1-1 draw by rear of the log Nembe City in a Match Day 17 encounter decided at the Krisdera Hotel Stadium, Omoku near Port Harcourt, Rivers state.
The Sai Masu Gida continued their resurgence after an indifferent start to this season's campaign with this well-earned point and would have bagged the maximum points but for the heroics of Nembe City's goalkeeper Eteka Edet.
Kano Pillars made three changes to the side that beat El-Kanemi on Sunday but had to make file out without influential captain and first choice goalkeeper Theophilus Afelokhai who suffered a knock in Sunday's win.
Coach Okey Emordi was however able to call on his in-form attacking trio of Rabiu Ali, Abdul Haruna and Adamu Hassan and it was Hassan who got a brace on Sunday that gave Pillars the kind of start they would love. After latching on to an Abdul Haruna through ball, Hassan rounded Ifeanyi Agu in goal for Nembe and was felled him in the process. The ensuing spot-kick was delayed for over seven minutes with Agu needing extensive treatment. He would subsequently be rushed to hospital for emergency treatment.
Nembe's reserve goalkeeper for the day Eteka Edet came on for Agu and his first task was to pick the ball out of the net after home-based Eagles star, Rabiu Ali converted from 12 yards in the 11th minute. Pillars almost doubled the advantage five minutes later when Shehu Abdullahi who was at the end of a sleek passing move saw his left-footed effort canon off the cross-bar.
When it seemed as though Pillars would cruise to a comfortable win, the hosts equalized against the run of play. Zuzu Benjamin who was making his first start since Nembe's first home match of the season embarked on a solo run past three Pillars defenders before releasing Emmanuel Egesi who from an acute angle squared for lanky striker Collins Koute to slide home.
Pillars were undaunted in their quest to record another away win but met a brick wall in Nembe's shot stopper Edet who at different instances in the second stanza of the game pulled off great saves to deny Promise James, Rabiu Ali and Azeez Shobowale.
The hosts struggled to create openings against their organized visitors and when Koute was put through by Nnana Agbakwara, the striker could not find enough power on his strike to trouble Pillars goalkeeper Joseph Onwuga.
In the final analysis, both teams settled for a score draw which put an end to Nembe's run of consecutive home victories while the champions extend their unbeaten run to seven matches. Pillars' last loss was a 2-0 defeat away to Lobi Stars on Match day 9. They have since gone on to draw four and win three matches.
NEMBE CITY.: Ifeanyi Agu (Eteka Edet 10'), Otene Johnson, Emmanuel Ejarome, Samson Gbadebo, Kola Awe, Nnana Agbakwara, Efebo Inabia (Joseph Essien 75'), Pere Anderson (Wisom Magbisa 63'), Zuzu Benjamin, Emmanuel Egesi, Collins Koute. Unused subs: Cyril Edum, Kagu Israel, Tolumoye Tonkmor, Sunny Abacha.
Booked: Nnana Agbakwara, Efebo Inabia. Goal: Collins Koute 18'.
KANO PILLARS: Joseph Onwuga, Promise James, Isaac Hele, Shehu Abdullahi, Umaru Zango (Henry Ezekiel 46'), Adamu Murtala, Azeez Shobowale (Philip Auta 69'), Adamu Hassan (Musa Mustapha 88'), Abdul Haruna, Rabiu Ali, Ezekiel Mbah.
Unused subs: Theophilus Afelokhai, Obi Eugene, Buhari Musa, Shagari Muhammed.
Goal: Rabiu Ali 11' (p).
Match stats. Nembe Pillars
Shots (On target): 7 (4) 8 (7)
Corners: 5 7
Fouls: 18 19
Bookings: 2 0
Offsides: 2 3