Ovoke, Sakin score as Rivers Utd send Gombe Utd to second tier

By Tola Badekale

A brace from Bernard Ovoke and another goal by Bolaji Sakin for Rivers United ensured that the Rivers club romp to a three-nil over Gombe United at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt and effectively brought to an end their opponents' time in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).

The drizzles that welcomed the players to the Yakubu Gowon Stadium pitch made for cool conditions, however the match was anything but Gombe United flattered at times but Rivers United were good value for their win.


An opening half that saw no goals was followed by three in the second half as Rivers United closed a tupsy-turvy campaign on a high in their final home game of the season.

Ovoke scored from the spot after referee ruled Christian Weli was tripped in the box and Rivers United were rewarded by the referee with a penalty. Ali Chiwendu stepped up to take it, but left it for Bernard Ovoke who dispatched with ease just two minutes after the restart.

That 47th minute goal was preceded by a comical protest by the entire cast of Gombe Utd who strolled to their bench for consultation with their coach, Manu Garba before getting back to play.

With 65 minutes played it was deja vu. Another penalty was awarded by the referee but it looked much less controversial as it was a clear handball in the box. However, it took more than four minutes before the spot kick could be taken as Gombe players repeated their protest that preceded the first goal.

Up stepped Ovoke again, sending goalkeeper Danjuma Hussaini the wrong way for his brace.

The match did not see another goal until the 90th minute and it was well worth the wait. Substitute Sakin took a pass just outside the Gombe box and let go a pile driver. It hit the net with such strength even the posts shook. Tongues wagged around the stadium that it must be a VAT Wonder Goal of the matchday contender.

Sakin got a yellow card for pulling off his shirt in celebrating the goal but he would not care so much with the potential benefits ahead.

Rivers United eased to a three-nil lead to close a campaign that promised so much but delivered nothing. At least they are safe in the hope that next season could be better, with the win confirming their place in the NPFL.

For Gombe United it is the end of their campaign in the top division after making a return at the outset of this season.

RESULT: Rivers Utd 3-0 Gombe Utd
RED: 0-0

Photo Gallery : Football Action