Warri Wolves suffer first defeat, lose at home to Rivers United
By Blessing Fowowe
Warri Wolves slumped to their first defeat of the 2019/20 NPFL season after suffering a one-nil loss at the hands of Rivers United in the south-south derby at the Warri Township Stadium on Sunday.
The Seasiders who came into the game unbeaten in the division following a win and three draws from their opening four games of the campaign, had no answers to Stephen Gopey’s 37th minute strike.
Hosts Warri Wolves got the first chance of the day from a corner kick, just few minutes into the game with Michael Egbeta’s cross into the box deflected for a corner. The Seasiders could not make the most of the chance.
In the 15th minute, Wolves came close again with Efe Yarhere in the box, but the Rivers United defence reacted well to block Yarhere’s shot. At the other end, United got a chance to go ahead when Stephen Gopey was fouled at the edge of the box, but Bamba Bakary would hit the resulting free kick over the bar.
Rivers United grew confident and began taking the game to their hosts. A chance came in the 23rd minute after Sunday Williams was ruled to have handled the ball, but Fortune Omoniwari’s freekick would sting the palms of the goalkeeper who almost spilled the shot but recovered quickly to gather.
Rivers United were duly rewarded for their persistence with a goal just 14 minutes later. Cletus Emotan sent a cross in from a freekick, right unto the path of unmarked Stephen Gopey who headed into the net.
The first half was all Rivers United.
Warri Wolves resumed the second half with more urgency, creating chances from the blast of the whistle. Three minutes into the restart of the game, Wolves won a free kick but Egbe was calm enough to gather the ball.
Festus Austin’s produced a stunning block with his body to deny Yarhere in the 55th minute. A minute later, Wolves’ Williams Sunday was presented with a chance to bring the home side level in the game but he missed his header much to the relief of the United bench. From that moment onward, it was Warri Wolves pouring forward with so much energy.
Moses Omoduemeke who replaced striker Victory Omodiagbe in the 50th minute was the next Wolves’ to be presented with a chance at goal but he dragged his shot just wide off the face of goal.
The Seasiders kept Rivers United defence busy for most part of the second half, with United goalkeeper Ospino Egbe called to action yet again, making double saves in as many minutes.
While Wolves attacked, they were cautious of not leaving the back open and unprotected even with Rivers United stealing away on counter attacks a few times but the defence was alert to snuff out the challenge.
In the other end, Rivers United produced resolute defending to take all three points back to Port Harcourt.
Warri Wolves 0-1 Rivers United
Shots (off target) 7-6
Shots (on target) 7-3
Free kick 14-10
Yellow Cards 1-2
Red Cards 0-0