A goal from winger, Bernard Ovoke four minutes before half time against Remo Stars at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium in Port Harcourt saw Rivers United halt a run of two league defeats in the Nigeria Professional Football League to pull two points clear above the relegation zone while ensuring Remo Stars remain bottom of the league after the first half of the season.
Still reeling from back-to-back defeats suffered on the road to Katsina United and Nasarawa United in a matter of days last week, it was the pride of Rivers who took control of the game and duly went ahead in the 41st minute when Emeka Ogbugh exchanged passes with Nzube Anaezemba before Ogbugh treaded a nice looking pass across goal for Ovoke who looked to be in an offside position, to tap the ball into an empty net.
Technical Adviser of Rivers United, Stanley Eguma opted to start Christian Weli in the starting lineup in one of 5 changes made to the side who lost against Nasarawa United and it was Weli who missed the games first chance with the midfielder heading Nzube’s cross over.
Remo Stars could have taken the lead only if Awazie Ekene had kept his composure in front of goal as he somehow failed to convert Awoyemi Abiodun’s cross.
Goalkeeper Adekunle Tunde of Remo Stars was soon called into action twice as he first saved a shot from Bernard Ovoke’s curling freekick and then producing a quick reaction to deny Kuemian from point blank range.
Just when it looked like both teams will head into the break all square, Rivers United broke the deadlock. One-two passing between Emeka Ogbugh and Nzube Anaezemba saw the former square the ball to Ovoke to tap home only his second league goal of the season and put his side ahead at the break.
Both teams struggled to create any meaningful chances in the second half.
Substitute Eric Dufegha who came on for the ineffective Victor Mbaoma tried t outsmart Rivers United goalkeeper, Abiodun Akande but his shot from near the halfway line missed the target.
Chidume Victor’s 72nd minute shot from a free-kick was dealt with an easy save from Abiodun Akande in go for Rivers United.
With the lead, Rivers United were comfortable with the away side bossing possession of the ball and gave Remo Stars attackers little joy upfront with the Sky Blues opting to try their luck from distance.
In the end, Remo Stars found no luck while Rivers United marched on to their 27th consecutive league game at home without defeat.
A sixth league win for Rivers United sees them climb to 13th position on the table with 24 points while Remo Stars remain bottom with 19 points from 19 matches.
Having lost the match, Technical Adviser of Remo Stars, Fatai Osho expressed his disappointment after seeing his team suffer their tenth league defeat of the season.
“It’s a sad one for us, we fought so hard because we came into the game with a lot of expectations and for us to have lost the match is not really good for us.”
RIVERS UNITED: 23. Abiodun Akande 2. Ifeanyi Nweke 14. Zoumana Doumbia 13. Emeka Atuloma (Markson Ojobo 79′) 6. Ayobami Asekunowo 19. Festus Austine 9. Guy Keumian 26. Emeka Ogbugh 4. Nzube Anaezemba (Frederick Obomate 62′) 7. Bernard Ovoke (Israel Daniel 60′) 27. Christian Weli
Unused Subs: 1. Olufemi Thomas 5. Joseph Douhadji 17. Godbless Asamoah 21. Yusuf Jayeola
BOOKED: Nzube Anaezemba 43′
GOAL: Bernard Ovoke 41′
REMO STARS: 1. Tunde Adekunle 11. Abiodun Awoyemi 13. Onuoha Chukwujekwu 2. Isaac Paul (Umar Murtaba 78′) 4. Ekene Obi 5. Edozie Ewelike 10. Salefu Ochewechi 18. Seidu Mohammed 25. Victor Mbaoma (Eric Dufegha 57′) 9. Ekene Awazie 26. Victor Chidume
Unused Subs: 23. David Walbe 33. Samuel Ganda 15. Shiju Oshobe 14. Jamilu Coker 17. David Onovo
BOOKED: Ewelike Edozie 12′, Eric Dufegha 68′
Photo Credit: LMC