Dolphins and Kwara United played out a stalemate in the opening game of the 2014-15 Glo Premier League on Saturday.
The Afonja Warriors, back from a season-long absence from top-flight football, posed enough trouble for their Port-Harcourt hosts in the first half but Gata Adeshina’s and Ahmed Jimoh’s efforts ended at the mercy of home goalkeeper Sunday Rotimi.
Coach Tunde Abdulrahaman’s team were reduced to ten men two minutes from time as goalkeeper Suraju Ayeleso received a straight red card for a foul on Chigozie Ihunda outside of the goal area.
Dolphins- having lost last season’s top marksman Emem Eduok to Esperance of Tunisia and with replacement signing Christian Pyagbara away with the Under-20 at the African Youth Championship in Senegal- could not find precision in the attacking-third, despite some few attempts by Omoh Johnson and Chigozie Ihunda, who came in for the injured Ifeanyi Egwim in the 20th minute.
Coach Stanley Eguma handed a starting role to new signings Kingsley Ashu and Cyril Oriakhu. The visitors were not short of debutantes of their own, with ex-ABS player Abdulai Ibrahim and former Enyimba ace Evans Iyoro taking their bow at the Liberty Stadium.
The three-time champions have never dropped points at home to Kwara United in their previous 18 meetings in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) only for Rotimi’s quick reflex; Gata almost upset the hosts after 3 minutes of play with his low shot.
Egwim flashed his speculative effort wide in the 10th minute before paving way for Ihunda after picking up an injury.
Gata slipped Jimoh through on goal on 37 minutes but the forward spurned a glorious chance as both side went into the break without a goal.
After a nervy start to the second half, Dolphins gathered momentum on the hour mark, but Akim Onigbari smartly blocked Johnson’s shot. Ihunda headed straight at Ayeleso as the host sought to pull ahead.
United were pegged into their half for much of the second half, however, they succeeded in frustrating their hosts despite playing with ten men in the closing six minutes of the game