Enyimba Football Club have moved within one point of the top of the Nigeria Professional Football League after sealing a 1-0 win over Rivers United in a drab fixture at the Enyimba Stadium this evening.
Victor Mbaoma fired in the only goal with a 24th minute freekick to lift the eight times champions above their neighbours.
Centreback Austin Opara was handed his Enyimba debut and youngster Orok Gabriel made his first league start as Usman Abd’Allah made seven changes to the team that started against San Pedro in the CAF Confederation Cup four days earlier.
Despite playing together for the first time, Orok and Mbaoma formed a sleek partnership to light up the opening stages, with the latter benefitting from the former’s tailored pass for the game’s first chance, pulling a save from Ospino Egbe.
Mboama was looking extremely dangerous in the early on and came close to opening the scoring in the 18th minute when he swiveled on a sixpence in the United box before shooting over.
Enyimba continued to step on the accelerator and consistent pressure saw them win a free kick at the edge of the United penalty area in the 21st minute.
Mboama stepped up nerveless but shot without any real conviction.
His effort was however on target and remarkably, it was fumbled by Ospino who looked on in shock as the hosts registered on the board in the 24th minute.
United improved afterwards, especially in the second half but failed to create too much to threaten Theophilus Afelokahai who really didn’t really have much to do all game long.
Enyimba coach, Usman Abd’Allah was happy with his team performance even though his side misses some key players due to injury and the club involvement in the CAF Confederation Cup during the weekend.
” Kudos to the boys, I think we should give credit to boys for stepping in, i believe and happy with their performance” Enyimba coach, Usman Abd’Allah
Technical Manager of Rivers United, Stanley Eguma cut a forlorn figure afterwards as he was left to ponder what might have been.
“I am not happy about the game because this is a game we were noit supposed to lose,” Eguma said after the game
“We missed a lot of scoring chances and we had converted them, the result would have been different,” Stanley Eguma.
Rivers United who currently occupy 11th spot on the standings will next meet Katsina United in Port Harcourt on Sunday while Enyimba will travel to Uyo to face Akwa United.