Second-half substitute Okere Daniel scored within 53 seconds to help Abia Comets FC secure a vital away point after they held the Lagos-based club Smart City FC to a 1-1 draw on Saturday.
The encounter, a Matchday 8 clash of the 2023/24 Nigeria National League (NNL) Southern Conference Group A, took place at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena in Lagos.
The hosts took an early lead inside five minutes through Ahmed Adepoju, who headed home past Comets' goalkeeper Chibueze Lambert despite his attempt to save it from going into the back of the net.
In the 35th minute, Comets' forward Jonah James came very close to leveling it 1-1, but his close-range strike could not beat Smart City FC goalkeeper Semi Adebayo.
A few minutes later, John Otomewo and Okechukwu Chukwu had brilliant opportunities to restore parity, but their long-range efforts were saved by the goalkeeper.
In the second half, it was a different Abia Comets side that came alive in the game when they brought in the likes of Maduka Emeka and Okere Daniel to replace Prince Nwachukwu and Jonah James.
However, the substitutions changed the narrative of the game when Okere made a great run inside the box to slot home a delightful through pass by Chinedu Nwankpa for the equalizer in the 47th minute, scoring his second goal of the season.
Emeka (Ogbunma) made a great impact when he entered the game and nearly helped Comets secure the maximum points when he went on a solid individual run to dribble past two Smart City defenders, but Otomewo was unable to finish it.
The Umuahia-based side held on to secure a vital away point and also extended its unbeaten run to three games.
The draw moves Abia Comets FC up the standings in the Southern Conference Group A, with 10 points from eight games.
Comets will play at home in the next league fixture against Uyo-based club Dakkada FC in a Matchday 9 encounter on January 20th, 2024, at the Umuahia Township Stadium.