Goals from Emeka Ogbugh and Malachy Ohawume, either side of half time proved decisive as Rivers United overcame Akwa United 2-0 in a rescheduled Nigeria Professional League contest in Port Harcourt on Thursday.
Rivers United took the lead just after the half hour when it was adjudged that Ogbugh had been impeded in the visitors’ box by Etim Matthew.
Ogbugh picked himself up and converted in nerveless fashion from 11 metres, calmly sending the Akwa United goalkeeper, Ismaila Shagari the wrong way.
It was the forward’s fourth goal of the season and he could have easily notched up a hattrick on the day but for some uncharacteristic displays of profligacy.
He missed a glorious chance to double his tally for the afternoon when he hit a first time shot into orbit after he was set up on a player by the impressive Osita Chikere in the 59th minute.
Six minutes later, Ogbugh was on the end of and aesthetic team move of deft quick passing and intelligent interchange of positions that involved four players which completely carved the Akwa United rear guard open.
The Rivers United top scorer hit well enough this time but Shagari produced a brilliant save to push the goal-bound effort away for a corner.
It wasn’t all about Ogbugh though as left back, Chiwendu Ali almost drew first blood on 21 minutes.
His swerving, dipping free kick was however beaten out by Shagari who temporarily got injured in the process.
Bakary Bamba also came close to scoring his second goal of the season with a well-struck volley in the 66th minute but the attempt grazed the base of Shagari’s right hand post.
Ohawume rounded up the scoring for the ‘Pride of Rivers’ with a close range header after the Akwa United defence failed to deal with Osita’s initial attempt.
Akwa United, for large periods, were a shadow of the aesthetic football juggernaut admired around the division but they did look menacing in spurts and bursts.
Friday Ubong’s free kick which flew inches wide five minutes after the break represented their best chance to get on the board.
Rivers United thus stay unbeaten in their last five games against the ‘Promise Keepers’.
Head coach of Akwa United, Abdul Maikaba addressed the media after the contest and explained that his charges were never at the races in Port Harcourt.
“This was my worst match as Akwa United coach,” Maikaba said.
“We did not have the strength. We lost all duels and were always late for fifty-fifty balls and it is difficult if you play football like that.
“I believe we need rest and we know how to manage it before Wednesday (when Akwa United will face Sudanese club, Al Hilal in the CAF Confederation Cup),” he said.
Technical Manager of Rivers United, Stanley Eguma also voiced his sentiments on the game decided at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium, in an exclusive chat with our official website, www.riversunitedfc.com.ng.
“It was a good game. We scored two goals and won the match.
“It is no mean feat as the fixtures have been so tight for us this time around as we have played four matches in just over a week.
“I commend the players’ efforts and I feel there is improvement in the team especially in the area of goal scoring,” he said.
Rivers United climbed to sixth on the log with the win as they have now amassed 23 points from 16 matches. Akwa now drop to fourth on the standings as they have amassed 23 points from 14 matches.