Nnewi - Rivers United continued their impressive start to
the 2016/17 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season with a hard-fought
0-0 draw with FC IfeanyiUbah in Nnewi on Wednesday.
United’s technical manager, Stanley Eguma made wholesale
changes to the side that beat Niger Tornadoes 1-0 on Sunday and his alterations
proved a master stroke as the Pride of Rivers claimed an important point at the
FC IfeanyiUbah Stadium.
Femi Thomas started in goal ahead of experienced stalwart,
Sunday Rotimi and it turned out to be an inspired decision as the former
Enyimba man, who on more than one occasion, kept his side in the contest with
outrageous saves and bold decisions.
Nzube Anaezemba was also rested while Togolese international
defender, Yaovi Douhadji was included in a Rivers United match day squad for
the first time this season.
The hosts dominated the game and should have won but missed
several wonderful opportunities while the visitors, who produced a defensive
masterclass, seemed extremely ecstatic with the point in the end.
Prince Aggreh missed a sitter from close range in the
seventh minute after he was set up on a plate by King Osanga whose pinpoint
cross from the left completely opened up the Rivers United defence.
The home side continued to enjoy the better openings and
almost made their advantage count in the 23rd minute when Stephen Eze planted a
free header wide from close range off a corner.
Six minutes later, the hosts came even closer to taking the
lead through Jimoh Oni who headed inches wide off another excellent delivery
from the flanks, this time from former Warri Wolves captain, Goodluck Onamado.
Also read: NPFL preview: FC IfeanyiUbah vs Rivers United
United offered little goal threat as they were restricted to
long range attempts.
Emeka Atuloma and Esosa Igbinoba produced two of such
efforts in the 31st and 38th minutes but the FCIU captain and goalkeeper,
Ikechukwu Ezenwa mopped up with minimal fuss.
Just before the break, a shocking error by the United
captain, Festus Austin almost opened the door for the hosts but Aggreh was
denied by a Gabriel Olalekan goal line clearance.
A few seconds before that incident, United had almost
snatched an unlikely lead at the other end when Atuloma headed tamely at Ezenwa
after Ovoke’s delivery off a corner caused commotion in the FCIU box.
FCIU eventually had the ball in the back of the United net
in the 52d minute but Kone Yaya’s effort was correctly chalked off for offside.
The hosts were signaling their intent to take the game by the scruff of the
neck and continued to ask attacking questions.
Substitute, Ifeanyi Onuigbo struck a free kick narrowly over
the bar from 25 yards in the 73rd minute as the Anambra Warriors turned the
Wave after wave of FCIU attack was repelled by a dogged
Rivers United rear guard with Valentine Nwabili’s goal-bound free kick beaten
out at the death by the irrepressible Thomas.
Rivers United have now moved up to second on the NPFL
standings with eight points from four matches while FCIU slip to 14th on the
log with four points from four matches.
FC Ifeanyiubah: Ezenwa Ikechukwu, Nwabili Valentine, Onamado
Goodluck, Akakem Onyekachi, Eze Stephen, Medrano Tamen, Kone Yaya (Seka Pascal
62’), Luamba Ngoma, Osanga King
(Alberico Da Silva 55’ ), Aggreh Prince (and Onuigbo Ifeanyi 70’) and Oni
Substitutes not used:
Okafor Uche, Kojo Baah, Ikenna Hillary and Ikeokwu Patrick
Rivers United: Femi Thomas, Ojobo Markson, Zoumana Doumbia,
Emeka Atuloma, Olalekan Gabriel, Festus Austine, Ovoke Bernard (Bolaji Sakin
67’), Lukman Mohammed (Aliassou Sanou 90’) Emeka Ogbugh (Maduabuchi Okereke
76’), Esosa Igbinoba and Weli Christian.
Substitutes not used: Sunday Rotimi, Douhadji Joseph, Guy
Kuemian Venance and Wassa Gabriel.
Rivers United: Femi Thomas (17’), Esosa Igbinoba (21’),
FC Ifeanyiubah: Medrano Tamen (60’).
Red cards: Nil
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- News24 Nigeria