Friday seals slim victory for Akwa United over gritty Wikki
By Sanipe Damiete
Ubong Friday’s goal in the 30th minute was all it took Akwa United to continue their rich vein of form as they beat hard fighting Wikki Tourists 1-0 in a Nigeria Professional Football League encounter at the Godswill Akpabio stadium, Uyo on Wednesday.
A cagey encounter with no goalscoring opportunities created in the opening quarter came alive in the 30th minute as Etboy Akpan’s cross into the box was initially miscued by Akarandut Orok but fell nicely for Ubong Friday. The winger beat his marker before picking his spot to shoot the ball to the far post beyond the reach of the goalkeeper for the opener.
Akwa United head coach, Kennedy Boboye made only one change to the team that beat Jigawa Golden Stars 1-0 on Matchday 12in Kano. Paul Obata took the place of Aniekeme Asuquo in the starting 11.
His counterpart Garba Ibrahim also made a change to his starting 11 that played out a 1-1 draw at home to Katsina United in the last matchday as Ajala Olushola got a starting place ahead Saidu Abdullahi who started the game on the bench.
After the opening 15 minutes Akwa took control of the game but met a resolute Wikki Tourists side that were very determined and organised at the back as they blocked every attack by Akwa.
In the 19th minute, a good team build up by the promise keepers found Orok and Ndifreke with sight at goal but their attempts were blocked. Two minutes later, Ubong Friday’s decision to shoot was the wrong choice as two players were well positioned that would have scored.
Akarandut should have made it five goals in five consecutive games in the 33rd minute but he ballooned his effort over the bar when an inch perfect cross from Etboy found him unmarked in the box.
Obata also came close in the closing moments of the first half when he connected well with his head but his attempt was weak and bounced off a Wikki player. He fumbled with the rebound as he was easily dispossessed.
The promise keepers went into the break their their one goal advantage.
Akwa continued where they left peppering their opponents and almost doubled their lead in the 51st minute when Ubong wasted a very good opportunity as he controls the ball well with his first touch from a cross into box but his left foot effort lets him down as it goes wide of its target.
With only a win in their last seven games and six points out of a possible 21 points, Wikki could see the game dragging away from them. coach Ibrahim made changes to his playing personnel and they pushed forward in search of something positive.
On the hour mark Manu Garba forced Akwa goalkeeper Jean Efala to a point plank save after a brilliant team move. The rebound fell to Williams Ukeme but he fired over when it was easier to score.
It was wave of attacks from Wikki and they ought to have equalised in the closing moments especially in the 87th minute when Adamu Mohammed was put through on goal and he came one on one with goalkeeper Jean Efala who was gunning for his fourth clean sheet in a row in the box but the onrushing goalkeeper pulled a brave save to keep scores in favour of his team.
Wikki fought hard but Akwa held on to take all three points on offer and climb up the league table to fourth spot with a five match winning streak.
Akwa United: Jean Efala, Etboy Akpan(Otobong Effiong 82′), Philip David, Morice Chukwu, Denis Nya, Wilson Elu, Ubong Friday(Dare Ojo 71′), Ndifreke Effiong, Akarandut Orok, Ifeanyi Ifeanyi, Paul Obata(Wisdom Fernando 62′)
Unused Subs: Bassey Akpan, Godspower Igudia, Marshal Johnson, Wisdom Fernando, Ocheme Edoh
Coach: Kennedy Boboye
Goal: Ubong Friday 30′
Yellow cards: Philip David 56′, Wilson Elu 85′
Wikki Tourists: Abubakar Adamu, Hassan Musa, Christopher Waziri, Mansoor Sale Aliyu(Saidu Abdullahi 56′), Peter Ambrose, Franklin Anthony, Idris Mohammed Guda(Manji Williams 69′), Williams Ukeme, Ajala Olushola, Adamu Mohammed, Manu Garba(Mubarak Umar 65)
Unused Subs: Ibrahim Pius, Hassan Abubakar, Hassan Hussain, Promise Damala
Coach: Garba Ibrahim
Yellow cards: Christopher Waziri 43′, Ajala Olushola 68′, Peter Ambrose 73′
Akwa United 1-0 Wikki Tourists
On target: 1-4
Man of the Match: Jean Efala