- Published on Sunday, 10 September 2017 01:14
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By Janefrances Nweze
Ndifreke Effiong scored twice in Abia Warriors' 4-1 steam-rolling of Rivers United in one of 10 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) final day fixtures on Saturday.
Abia Warriors coach, Abdullahi Biffo came into the game with the fear of going down if they lose to their visitors having picked 50 points all season to be one of the teams on the red line.
He fielded a decent side with captain Austin Obaroakpo leading the defence, while also deploying Amanfor Chimezie to the wings. Ndifreke Effiong and Moses Omoduemuke pairing in the attack and Shedrack Asiegbu in the midfield.
Rivers United on the other hand, safe from relegation had nothing at stake, but also fielded a strong squad comprising of Sunday Rotimi starting in goal and Benard Ovoke, Guy Keumian, Abdoulaye Kanoute, while Emeka Ogbugh their most deadly goal poacher started from the bench.
The home side dominated the early exchangings and came close severally but failed to convert the chance.
It continued to be an all Warriors affair as they kept pressing for an opener with Ozioma Goodluck's shot deflected, but Rotimi parried it into corner. Subsequently Yakub Hammed's cross made no impact.
Then Rivers United could have taken the lead earlier than they did when Christian Weli fouled Abia Warriors goalkeeper, Chinedu Anozie who stopped Ayobami Asekunowo's shot before scoring.
Twenty four minutes into the game, Kanoute picked out Guy Keumian who held off pressure from Abia Warriors defence before slotting the ball into the net, handing his side the lead.
Going behind, Abia Warriors pressed for an equaliser with the eventual man of the match, Moses Omoduemuke running into the box and laying a cross for Ndifreke who played a weak shot into Rotimi's hands.
Recovering from that miss, Ndifreke fired a surprise shot from 32 metress and his attempt nestled in the net beyond Rotimi to level the scores at 1-1.
First half ended with both teams on 1-1.
Just at the beginning of second half, Abia Warriors won a corner and Ifeanyi Nweke handled the ball in the box from the corner. Ndifreke converted the resultant penalty to extend his and Abia Warriors goal tally to two on the day.
Omoduemuke caused Rivers United's defence trouble, beat Rotimi but his shot was too weak and needed a further nudge but Nweke recovered early enough to save the day, while Chimezie Amanfor was too slow to take the chance.
As Eguma tried to rejig his team, he pulled out Bernard Ovoke who had a poor on the day for Bolaji Sakin.
Omoduemuke who fought doggedly for his team, had a goal opportunity cancelled after the centre referee blew for a foul in the box before he had struck.
Seemingly not comfortable with the score line at 2-1, Abia Warriors' coach, Biffo made a substitution, taking out Amanfor for Nwuju Stanley. Nwuju barely settled in the game before slotting home to extend the score line to 3-1 with an assist from Arinze Nwangwu.
However, Stanley Eguma determined to take the battle to the final whistle subbed Christian Weli for Ifeanyi Okoye before bringing in Chinwendu Ali for Emeka Atuloma.
In additional minutes, Ndifreke made way for Abubakar Umar.
However Abia Warriors who have gained their confidence after finding the net thrice went on to score a fourth goal through their hungry attacker, Moses.
Rivers United who entered the match more relaxed left the stadium conceding four goals and scoring just one.
Speaking after the match, Abia Warriors coach Biffo said he was happy with his team's overall performance.
"It was a very close call. We conceded a cheap goal in the first half and we had to score a quick equaliser and that was what gave us the morale boost to recover quickly and score another one in the second half," said Biffo.
Also, man of the match, Omoduemuke said he is happy with his performance in the game, adding that the feeling is unexplainable.
With the score line, Abia Warriors survived the drop leaving the likes of Shooting Stars, ABS, Gombe United and Remo Stars relegated.
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