Akwa Starlets edge FC Ifeanyiubah to earn first NPFL win
By Promise Etim
Newly-promoted Akwa Starlets earned their first win in the top flight, courtesy of a lone goal scored by Isaac George, to see off visiting FC Ifeanyiubah, in a Matchday 4 fixture decided at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium, Uyo on Thursday.
Akwa Starlets who were yet to win or lose a game after three matchdays, were faced with some pressure going into the fixture, following the inability of their more illustrious city rivals, Akwa United, to win in two successive games played at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium.
FC Ifeanyiubah knew a win would take them level on points with leaders Plateau United. The Nnewi side were brimming with confidence having amassed seven points from a possible nine.
It was the first time both sides met in the tip flight, as their rivalry dates back to the Nigerian National League (NNL).
The home team got the game to a flying start on 22 minutes, when Isaac George’s curler forced the visiting goalkeeper, Sharp Uzoigwe, to stretch at full length, to deny Caleb Esu’s side. Uzoigwe was called to action again in the 34th minute, as he sprung to cleverly keep out Imo Obot’s 25-yard free kick.
The visitors frustrated every move by the Uyo-based side, but were less fierce going forward, throughout the first half.
Similar strategy was adopted in the early stages of the second half, but this time with renewed vigour, as they threatened the hosts on two occasions.
Akwa Starlets would stay calm and resolute till the 65th minute for a breakthrough. A corner from Moses Effiong, was headed to safety, but Isaac George was at the right spot to jab into an empty net, for what proved to be the decider.
The visitors had Uzoigwe to thank as he denied substitute Arit Archibong in the 77th and 80th minute, to keep the scoreline from going beyond 1-0.
At the other end, Akwa Starlets had Harisson Ibukun to thank for ensuring they got the full points. Jimoh Gbadamosi rose highest to meet Eric Oguocha’s corner. With the goalkeeper beaten, an equalizer was imminent, but Ibukun cleared off the line to ensure his team garnered all three points.
The win takes Caleb Esu’s men into the top-half of the table in 9th place, while FC Ifeanyiubah keep their place on the log (seventh).
Akwa Starlets will travel to Enugu for a date with Rangers on Matchday 5, while FC Ifeanyiubah welcome Lobi Stars in Nnewi.
Akwa Starlets: Edafe; Asuquo, Obot, Duke, Ibokun, Umoh, Effiong, Ifeagwu, Ekpe, Isaac, Femi
FC Ifeanyiubah: Uzoigwe; Okafor, Tochukwu, Gbadamosi, Eric, Chigozie, Ikenna, Kalu, Sabastine, Nnaji, Ezeh
Akwa Starlets 1-0 FC Ifeanyiubah
On Target 4-2