Rivers United dispatch Akwa 2-0 with ease in Port Harcourt
By Fisayo Dairo
A goal in each half by Emeka Ogbugh and substitute Malachy Ohawume gave Rivers United a comfortable 2-0 win over Akwa United in a rescheduled Matchday 13 encounter on Thursday.
Ogbugh picked himself up to convert a penalty after the half hour mark to set the hosts en route to what would turn out to be an easy win before substitute Malachy Ohawume headed home from close range eight minutes from time to inflict back-to-back losses on the Promise Keepers.
Both teams made wholesale changes to their starting line-ups last time out in the league, respective defeats at Katsina United. Rivers made seven changes to their lineup: retaining only the trio of Samson Gbadebo, Bakary Bamba and Ogbugh.
Akwa United, just back from a trip to Sudan in the CAF Confederation Cup also made seven changes, electing to leave ever-present stars Kelly Kester and goalkeeper Olorunleke Ojo on the bench.
The opening quarter of an hour produced an uninspiring spectacle, both set of players dragging their feet on a casual Yakubu Gowon Stadium surface in Port Harcourt with Ali Chiwendu’s free kick the only attempt on target in the opening half an hour.
Akwa received a blow in the 28th minute when attacker Aminu Nuhu was stretchered off after sustaining an awkward-looking injury. Their woes became compounded barely a minute after Nuhu was replaced when Etim Mathew was penalised for upending Emeka Ogbugh in the box.
Ogbugh converted the spot kick and the Pride of Rivers never looked back from then although aided by their opponents’ poor performance.
Rivers coach Stanley Eguma made a change at half time, replacing Sochima Elum with Ohawume and it proved to be an inspired one after the youngster’s effective display in this second period.
Ohawume almost doubled United’s lead after the hour mark during a goalmouth melee but Akwa goalkeeper Ismaila Shagari reacted quickly to avert danger.
The hosts poured forward in torrents as they sought for an insurance goal and Ivorian left winger Bakary Bamba almost scored in the 66th minute when he flicked Frederick Obomate’s free kick at the first post. His attempt marginally went wide.
Three minutes later, striker Osita Chikere broke through the right and brilliantly set up Ogbugh but the former Heartland winger shockingly blazed his effort over from just 14 yards.
Shagari was again on hand to deny Ogbugh 15 minutes from time after a good move orchestrated by an interchange of passes between Chiwendu and Bamba. While Shagari got the plaudits for that, he was culpable for Rivers’ second.
The former Wikki Tourists goalkeeper misjudged the flight of a free kick from the right by Markson Ojobo, allowing Osita Chikere to head goalwards before Ohawume completed the easiest of tasks by heading into an unguarded post from two yards.
The visitors hardly threatened all day. Their two major attempts on goal coming from Gabriel Okechukwu’s free kicks – the second one, a last gasp attempt flying inches wide of Sunday Rotimi’s right hand post at the nick of time.
Rivers United by the virtue of their points climbed to seventh on the log, a six-place improvement while Akwa United are now joint third with Katsina United with the same number of points and identical goals difference.
Rivers United: 22. Sunday Rotimi 30. Markson Ojobo 3. Chiwendu Ali 13. Emeka Atuloma 19. Festus Austine 5. Samson Gbadebo 20. Fredrick Obomate 32. Sochima Elum 2. Osita Chikere 15. Bakary Bamba 26. Emeka Ogbugh
Subs: 33. Emeka Nwabulu 11. Abdoulaye Kanoute 12. Gabriel Olalekan 14. Zoumana Doumbia 25. Malachi Ohawume 27. Christian Weli 28. Godwin Obinze
Akwa United: 18. Ismaila Shagari 4. Etim Mathew 31. Kodjovi Dadzie 24. Ifeanyi Ifeanyi 6. Dennis Nya 15. Emmanuel Ariwachukwu 33. Aniekeme Asuquo 5. Haggai Katoh 35. Gabriel Okechukwu 21. Aminu Nuhu 7. Ubong Friday
Subs: 30. Olorunleke Ojo 9. Musa Newman 22. Kelly Kester 13. Adesina Gata 20. Gabriel Wassa 23. Michael Ibe 35. Godspower Igudia