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BY: OLATOYE OLAWALE

Second half subtitute, Ogbonna Onuoha struck late on to condemn FC Ifeanyiuba (FCIU) to a 1-0 defeat to Rivers United in a well-fought Nigeria Professional Football League game decided in Port Harcourt on Sunday.

The forward timed his run to perfection and headed headed home Lookman Binuyor’s free kick with venom past the FCIU goalkeeper, Smart Uzoigwe who was outstanding for large spells at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium.

Plateau United’s win in Bauchi against Wikki Tourists means Rivers United stay in second place, just a point adrift of the Jos club.

It was a first half of very few goal scoring opportunities but United dominated without really hurting the underbelly of the opposition.

Malachi Ohawume who scored a brace in the club’s previous game against Heartland in Okigwe was full of running but failed to deliver any end product.

Ishaq Rafiu had the best chance for the hosts, three minutes before the break as he unleashed a 16 yard rocket which the FCIU goalkeeper, Sharp Uzoigwe did well to push away for a corner with the effort arrowing into the top corner.

The visitors also had their moments but they were few and far between, Christian Molokwu came close to opening the scoring for Anambra Warriors in the 23rd minute but saw his effort expertly saved by the Rivers United goalkeeper, Drissa Bamba.

After the break, the pattern of the game continued with United enjoying the Lion share of possession while the visitors seemed content to soak up the pressure and hit menacingly on the break.

That tactic almost reaped rich dividends with Abdullahi Aliyu firing a rasping drive straight at Bamba from close range in the 62nd minute in their most promising move of the half.

United were however clearly the superior of the two sides and substitute, Fortune Omoniwari was denied at point blank range, in the 74th minute by Uzoigwe, who was having the game of his life.


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Wave after wave of United pressure was however going to have an inevitable outcome and so it proved as Onuoha powered home an unstoppable header from six yards following an expertly-delivered Binuyor free kick.

Omoniwari and left back, Konan Ruffin both came close to adding gloss to the score line for United but some stout defending saved the day for the FCIU club.

Technical manager of Rivers United, Stanley Eguma discussed the win with the media after blast of final whistle,

“It wasn’t an easy game and I expected a difficult game after our last game against Heartland,” he said.

“It was good for us and I thank my players for the spirited effort which culminated in the win and keeps us in contention for the (race for the title),” he said.

Rivers United currently occupies second position on the NPFL log with 42 points from 23 matches.

The Port Harcourt club will next visit Enugu where they face Enugu Rangers in their next league game on Sunday.


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