- Published on Sunday, 23 July 2017 19:47
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By Fisayo Dairo
Two goals either side of half time handed Akwa United a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Nasarawa United in a Matchday 31 encounter decided at the Nest of Champions in Uyo on Sunday.
The visitors deservedly went ahead on 38 minutes after Akwa goalkeeper spilled Manga Mohammed free kick into the path of Aminu Kadir who graciously bundled home the rebound. The hosts however replied three minutes later through Ubong Friday's header before Christian Pyagbara scored what turned out to be the winner three minutes after the restart.
Akwa United missed further chances to make the game safe early on but eventually saw off their opponents and moved up to second on the log pending MFM's result in Monday's game.
Akwa United went into the game without three of their regulars including team captain Otobong Effiong, inspirational playmaker Alhassan Ibrahim and Beach Eagles star Godspower Igudia but the Promise Keepers had more than enough in their arsenal to trouble the Solid Miners.
Nasarawa on their own made just two changes to the side that beat El-Kanemi on last midweek, Manga Mohammed replacing the suspended Abubakar Ahmed and Aminu Kadir replaced Buhari Jafar.
It was Kadir that served the hosts a warning as to the kind of game to expect when he fired wide from the edge of the box with just 40 seconds on the clock. It indeed heralded a half of dominance for Kabiru Dogo's men although Akwa also threatened every time they went forward.
Nasarawa goalkeeper was alert to turn away Christian Pyagbara's rebound after an Ifeanyi Ifeanyi free kick on 8 minutes while at the other end, Kadir shot wide from close range on the quarter hour mark.
Akwa United who missed a handful of good chances in their stalemate in Umuahia continued from there as their victory on Sunday was blighted by their profligacy in front of goal. Christian Pyagbara, once again the worst culprit spurned a chance for the game's opener when he shot over on the half hour mark with goalkeeper Ayeleso already displaced.
Ayeleso was once again Nasarawa's saviour when he kept out Musa Newman's near post effort five minutes later.
The visitors rightly punished Abdu Maikaba's men seven minutes before the break when Manga Mohammed's free kick was spilled by Akwa goalkeeper Olorunleke Ojo onto the path of Aminu Kadir who squeezed his rebound beyond Ojo and his despairing defender Ariwa.
Akwa however replied three minutes later when Ubong Friday powered home Ifeanyi Ifeanyi's corner. Full credit to Ayeleso though who got a strong hand to the ball but ultimately could not keep it out.
Buoyed by the equalizer, the hosts stepped it up in the second half and were in front within three minutes of the restart. Christian Pyagbara scored for a second successive home game when he tapped home a rebound after Ayeleso had brilliantly saved the impressive Olisema's effort.
Pyagbara however missed another great opportunity two minutes later when he blazed over from eight yards after another Ayeleso made another point blank save to deny Musa Newman.
The host were now in their free-flowing element and carved their opponents open at will. On 65 minutes, Musa Newman again tested Ayeleso with a curling effort from 20 yards and the former Kwara United stopper did well to palm it away.
Nasarawa's best and only meaningful chance of the half came 18 minutes from time when Abdulrahman Bashir jabbed substitute Buhari Jafar's searching ball on target but Akwa goalkeeper Ojo Olorunleke produced a fine reflex save to deny the striker.
Gabriel Okechukwu replaced Pyagbara for the hosts with about 20 minutes left and he provided the visitors with a different type of challenge with his aerial prowess. The big Number 25 almost got on the scoresheet himself 11 minutes from time but his calculated effort was gathered by Ayeleso.
The hosts were full value for their points in the end and will monitor events in Lagos on Monday morning closely as they embark on a journey of three consecutive away games, starting with their rescheduled tie at Rivers United on Wednesday in Port Harcourt.
AKWA UNITED: 30. Olorunleke Ojo 28. Ofem Inah 3. Chigozie Chilekwu 6. Aremu Afeez 15. Emmanuel Ariwachukwu 5. Counou Paterne 7. Friday Ubong 9. Musa Newman 10. Christian Pyagbara 24. Ifeanyi Ifeanyi 26. Cyril Olisema (Christopher Lolo 90')
Unused Subs: 22. Emmanuel Iwu 8. Hassan Babangida 13. Metteng Tchakounte 23. Michael Ibe Okoro 25. Gabriel Okechukwu 34. Ekemini Ukoebe
GOALS: Ubong Friday 41', Christian Pyagbara 48'
NASARAWA UNITED: 27. Suraj Ayeleso 2. Olayinka Onaolapo 35. Rabiu Shehu 16. Manga Mohammed 5. Seun Sogbeso 29. Jide Williams 7. Zenke Thomas 21. Douglas Achiv 11 Adamu Hassan (Antonin Oussou 82') 19 Abdulrahman Bashir 15 Aminu Kadir (Buhari Jafar 55' (Eugene Obi 87')
Unused Subs: 1 Mohammed Galadima 13 Eugene Obi 20. Antonin Oussou 24 Ismaila Suleiman 26 Gbenga Ajala 31 Abubakar Abdullahi
BOOKED: Rabiu Shehu 48' Olayinka Onaolapo 72'
GOAL: Aminu Kadir 38'
REFEREE: Obayemi Olatunbosun (Ogun)
Man of the Match: Cyril Olisema (Akwa United)
Akwa United 2-1 Nasarawa United
Shots (On target): 13(9)-6(3)
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