A spirited first half display from Rivers United spurred them to a 2-1 victory over Enyimba in a Nigeria Professional Football League matchday 35 encounter played at the Yakubu Gowon stadium.
Goals from Bernard Ovoke and Malian forward Abdoulaye Kanoute ensured the Pride of Rivers secure all three points despite Koffi Atchou pulling one back for the visitors.
Determined from the off, Rivers United took the lead via sweetly struck free kick from Ovoke, his second from a dead ball situation in as many games. Kanoute capitalised on a loose ball by Enyimba before he struck sweetly into Fatau Dauda’s net with the Ghanaian goalkeeper well beaten.
Minutes after the half hour mark, Enyimba scored from Ikechukwu Ibenegbu’s nicely weighted corner kick. Koffi rose highest to head home with Rivers United goalkeeper Femi Thomas caught in no man’s land.
The game threatened to boil over in several occasions especially in the first half with the away side seemingly not happy with the refereeing decisions.
With all three goals scored in the first half, the second half saw chances at a premium.
Kanoute almost out the wind out of Enyimba’s sails with an effort late in the game, but his looping header came off the cross bar with Dauda rooted to the spot.
Despite so many fouls, four substitutions and player treatments witnessed in the game, referee Salihu Tatabu blew his whistle on the dot of the ninety with no added time much to the fury of the Enyimba bench and players.
As for Rivers United, the sound of the referee’s whistle confirmed their second consecutive league win which ensured they move into 11th position on the log, two points above the relegation zone. They travel to Jos to play Plateau United in matchday 36 in their next match.
Defeat dents Enyimba’s chances of catching up with the top two with three matches left until the end of the season. They remain in 4th with 54 points, five points adrift of MFM in second place. Wikki Tourists will be guests to Enyimba at the UJ Esuene stadium in matchday 36.