Akwa United produce gritty display to beat Yobe Stars 1-0 in Damaturu
By Joshua Tekidek
Michael Ibe scored in the 76th minute to give 10-man Akwa United an important away win over Yobe Desert Stars in a rearranged NPFL Matchday 23 game played in Damaturu on Sunday afternoon.
The win was Akwa United’s second away victory this season having won 2-1 at Niger Tornadoes earlier in the campaign. For Yobe Stars it was their first home loss of the season.
Akwa United had a poor and tensed first half, aside failing to record any shot on target, they were forced to make a substitution in the 39th minute when Ubong Friday replaced Ezekiel Bassey and the worst came in the 45th minute when Ayobami Asekunowo who was making his debut was red carded after two bookable offence.
The home side started high and should have scored after few seconds. After getting the game started, they quickly advanced and got into the Akwa box but goalkeeper Olorunleke Ojo was the quickest to react as he denied Paul Funom space and time to strike.
Yobe Stars then continued to dominate possession, winning free kicks at promising areas but failed to make anything out of it, one of which was in the 23rd minute when Funom hit the crossbar.
At the other end, the duo of Paul Obata and Victor Mbaoma combined every other time but failed to make it beyond the watertight Yobe defence.
However, it was Yobe who should have ended the first half on a high. On the stroke of half-time, Philip Asuquo fired over the bar after being set up by Chinedu Ohanachom.
With his side down by one man, Akwa United head coach Abdu Maikaba started the second half on the defensive. Only Mbaoma was left upfront, that made life difficult for the home side who enjoyed larger share of the possession but failed to break the crowded backline of Akwa.
Both sides had the ball at the back of the net but were ruled off for offside. First, Funom in the 49th minute, later Ubong in the 56th minute.
United continued to defend and hoping for the counter and they made something out of it in the 76th minute when Ibe tapped in from Etim Mathew’s cross off from a counter-attack. Mbaoma almost got the visitors the second goal two minutes later but was denied by goalkeeper Itodo Akor.
Substitute Chidiebere Ajoku should have levelled in the 79th minute when unmarked in the box instead he shot over the bar.
The home side failed to give up as they continued to pressure but Olorunleke made super saves and two occasions denied Musa Mustapha and Nnaemeka Anyanwu.
Akwa United soaked the pressure and held on till the final whistle.
The league will now go on world cup break after Enyimba play Heartland in midweek, and will resume on July 18.
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