Ogbugh, Koffi return to haunt old club in Rivers United’s win over Heartland
By Chibuogwu Nnadiegbulam
Emeka Ogbugh and Roland Koffi scored against their former club as Rivers United bounced back to winning ways – after a winless run in March – with a 2-0 home victory over Heartland in a Matchday 15 Nigeria Professional Football League fixture decided on Wednesday at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt.
The visitors also had hopes of banishing even more terrible March memories, having suffered four straight defeats before a bit of relief came in the shape of one dramatic win against Nasarawa United. But it was the home side that reigned supreme on their own turf with second half strikes from Ogbugh and substitute Koffi.
Fans were made to endure a sloppy start to the encounter as both teams barely threatened. However Heartland came close twice inside the first 15 minutes with Lucky Emariojake heading a freekick over the bar before miscuing a one-on-one chance that the Naze Millionaires created with a beautiful build-up.
Ogbugh fed Bakari Bamba nicely at the other end but Bamba failed to convert. Subsequently the home side continued to mount pressure on Heartland but the most they could get were corner kicks which they failed to utilize.
And even with four minutes added on, considering that Heartland’s goalkeeper Japhet Opubo needed medical attention at some point, the first half ended goalless.
Rivers United returned the hungrier of both sides and got their reward five minutes into the second half when Ogbugh broke the deadlock with a delightful shot from outside the box that caught the goalkeeper unawares.
Ogbugh did not celebrate the goal – which is his second of the season – as a mark of respect for a side he was committed to for five years.
Six minutes after Okoro Ndukwe came on for Heartland. He dared to equalize with an audacious strike from near the centre circle but Rivers United goalkeeper Emeka Nwabulu was alert.
Afterwards there was an injury-forced substitution for Rivers United as Gabriel Olalekan replaced Emeka Atuloma who was stretchered off the pitch.
Rivers United then extended their lead in the 68th minute thanks to substitute Koffi who got his first goal of the season five minutes after coming on. He also did not celebrate his goal as he also had spells with Heartland.
As the match wore on, Rivers United controlled proceedings and almost got a third goal when Ogbugh found Chikere Osita with his cross but Osita missed goal by inches.
The result means Rivers United have now climbed to 10th in the NPFL table while Heartland remain in the bottom-four.
RIVERS UNITED: 33. Emeka Nwabulu 30. Markson Ojobo 3. Ali Chiwendu 13. Emeka Atuloma (Gabriel Olalekan 60′) 19. Festus Austine 5. Samson Gbadebo 25. Malachi Ohawume 2. Osita Chikere 26. Emeka Ogbugh 20. Obomate Frederick (Roland Koffi 63′) 15. Bamba Bakari
UNUSED SUBS: 1. Robert Cole 14. Doumbia Zoumana 18. Balogun Akeem 27. Christian Weli 32. Elum Sochima
HEARTLAND: 2. Japhet Opubo 14. Kenneth Ikwugbado 11. Macmarcel Obioha 24. Uche Odeh 29. Adebayo Ayinde (Joseph Mbalewe 73′) 27. Nnamdi Egbujuo 15. Eze Sunday (Okoro Ndukwe 52′) 28. Odinaka Ahiaeke (Fuad Ekelojuoti 55′) 6. Jimoh Ismail 34. Thomson Abiodun 10. Lucky Emariojake
UNUSED SUBS: 30. Ikhana Azeez 13. Alexandre Kouakou 9. Moses Akinade 31. Onyebuchi Onyechefule
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