Heartland FC put up a spirited performance at the Jos Road Stadium, Jos, the venue of their Nigeria Premier Football League Matchday Two tie with hosts, Plateau United but were undone by the Peace Boys’ early strike through Bernard Mundi for a 1-0 defeat.
The loss marked the end to a remarkable 17 matches unbeaten record that started last season in the Nigeria National League (NNL) that was preserved last weekend in the 2-2 draw at home to Lobi Stars after staging a comeback from two goals down.
Koffi Roland made his second debut for Heartland FC as he started alongside Chukwuma Nwankwo Clement Ogbobe and Ori Elvis in the middle of the pack.
The last time he played for Heartland was in 2016 in Jos in the ill-fated that ended in a 1-1 draw and also marked the Owerri side’s first demotion from the topflight. He left for Dolphins not too long later.
Former Enyimba man Umah Johnson joined the back four from the left back position while the hero of the home draw with Lobi Stars, Patrick Nwogbaga Started as a reward for his impactful substitute appearance in the last game. Onyekachi Okafor had to settle for a place on the bench among the substitutes.
Right from the start, Heartland FC showed they came for serious business and they were composed from the defence to the attack. They displayed from the beginning of hostilities that there won’t be a repeat of the drubbing they received in their last two visits to Jos.
But the Naze Millionaires still went behind as early as the 12th minute through the strike of Bernard Mundi after he capitalized on a momentary loss of concentration in the Heartland FC back line.
The coach Christian Obi led team came out forcefully in search of the equaliser and the crowning moment of the game was when the head coach brought on Ezekiel Bassey and Francis Erikan before the end of the first half to fill noticeable void.
The move yielded the beautiful moves from Heartland thereafter. It was from that good spell that Austin Osayande delivered an inch perfect pass to Nwogbaga who inexplicably missed from close range just moments before the end of the first half.
Heartland FC came back to the second half more refreshed and hungry for the equalising goal but the Peace Boys didn’t give them the breathing space.
Infact Plateau United almost doubled the advantage in the second half but Heartland FC kept it closely knit at the back and had to settle for a lone goal loss.
Heartland FC will return back to Owerri to begin the preparation for the next weekend fixture with Sunshine Stars in Akure.