NPFL: OROK, GBADEBO LIFT AKWA UTD OVER RIVERS IN UYO
Defender Sampson Gbadebo scored an Injury-time goal to help Akwa United record their second win of the 2019/2020 Nigeria Professional Football League season over a hard fighting Rivers United in a thrilling matchday 9 contest in Uyo.
One-time league top scorer Akarandut Orok had given the Promise Keepers the lead early on when slot home Ndifreke Effiong’s flick on to score in the 10th minute. But a 34th minute goal by N’gouan Konan leveled things up for Rivers United at the break but former Rivers United defender Sampson Gbadebo’s last-gasp strike secure the maximum points for the Promise Keepers.
Akwa United went into the game on the back of one win in eight matches and needed a win to boosts their morale as they hope to get their season on track. The technical crew made five changes to the team that lost to MFM in Lagos last weekend. Cameroonian goalkeeper Jean Efala, Etim Mathew, Samuel Mathias, Ubong Friday and Akarandut Orok were preferred to Itodo Akor, Etboy Akpan, Ifeanyi Ifeanyi, Paul Obata and Mfon Udoh.
The boys announced their intentions early into the game and on the 10th minute, Akarandut Orok directed Ndifreke Effiong’s flick on beyond goalkeeper Egbe to give his team the lead with his first goal of the season. The game sparked into life after the early goal as both teams showed great determination and courage to dominate each other.
The Promise Keepers had a great opportunity to extend their advantage in the 22nd minute when
Ndifreke Effiong headed down Aniekeme Asuquo’s brilliant delivery from a corner kick but Sampson Gbadebo’s shot from inside the box went agonisingly wide. Moments later, Ndifreke Effiong released Ubong Friday with a long pass, the winger’s attempt was pushed out for a corner kick by Ospina Egbe.
The Pride of Rivers got their equalizer in the 34th against the run of play. N’gouan Konan fired a superb shot beyond Efala and into the net.
Shortly after the restart, Aniekeme Asuquo charged forward and tried to locate Akarandut Orok but the striker couldn’t reach the ball and it was calmly collected by substitute goalkeeper Darlington.
The Promise Keepers missed three golden opportunities to go in front. In the 61st minute, Orok Akarandut directed Ifeanyi Ifeanyi’s delightful free-kick towards goal with a glancing header but his effort lacked power to trouble Darlington in Rivers United’s goal. Moments later, Ubong Friday freed Ndifreke Effiong but the striker outran his final touch as the ball rolled out of play.
Substitute Mfon Udoh who replaced goal scorer Akarandut Orok, was fouled on the right flank. Udoh picked himself up and delivered a superb ball into the box which was met by Ubong Friday whose header was heading into the top right corner before it was parried out for a corner kick by Darlington.
The pressure by the home side almost paid off in the 90th minute when David Philip picked out Mfon Udoh with a clever pass. The striker with a one-on-one situation with the goalkeeper over-hit his final touch and goalkeeper Darlington cleared it out for a corner kick.
Deep into stoppage time, former Rivers United defender Sampson Gbadebo latched onto a lose ball after Rivers United defense failed to properly clear Mfon Udoh’s curling delivery from a corner kick.
The victory is Akwa United’s second this season and they now have 10 points from 9 NPFL matches and occupied 15th position on the log. The Promise Keepers will next face Dakkada FC on matchday 10 at the Godswill Akpabio international stadium on Sunday 22nd December, 2019.