Rivers United sent a clear warning to their Nigeria Professional Football League rivals as they pipped Abia Warriors 1-0 at the Enyimba International Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The match winner came via the Golden legs of Fortune Omoniwari.
Stanley Eguma’s NPFL leaders – are yet to lose a league game this season and are now in a formidable position after round two.
The Umuahia Warriors dominated the early proceedings, but they are now pointless in their first two games of the 2020/21 season.
It was the Pride of Rivers who went in front after 20 minutes. Fortune Omoniwari scored his second goal of the season. He collected a fine pass and placed the ball into the bottom right corner beyond the outstretched hands of goalkeeper Ojo Olorunleke.
Two minutes later, Abia Warriors’ penalty appeal was turned down by the referee after Tekena Garando fell in Rivers United’s area.
There was a substitution on the half hour mark. Obioma Chukwuemeka replaced the ineffective Samuel Christian for the first change of the game.
In the 41st minute, Joseph Onoja, Stephen Gopey and Omoniwari interchanged passes before Onoja’s long range effort sailed over the bar.
First half ended in favour of Rivers United.
Abia Warriors started the second stanza with positivity. The almost levelled up in the 51st minute. Warriors trio of Nzube Anaezemba, Paul Samson and Garando combined to conjure up a chance but Samson’s attempt came off Rivers United’s upright and bounced back into field of play.
There was another chance for Warriors on the hour mark. Chukwuemeka Obioma failed to get on the end of Paul Samson’s pass and allowed goalkeeper Abiodun Akande to claim.
Rivers United were down to 10 men as Nelson Esor received a second yellow card for poorly-timed tackle in the 73rd minute.
A long pass by Adeleke Adekunle picked out Tekena who squared to Obioma whose cheeky backheel attempt at goal was pushed to safety by Akande.
Warriors hit the woodwork in the 89th minute. Obioma’s cross was directed on target by Adeleke Adekunle’s head. Akande tipped it onto the woodwork before it dropped for a corner.
There is a different feel to Rivers United’s latest victory. Their sensational form has placed them in the driving seat with Abia Warriors disappearing even further back into the rear-view mirror. An unbeaten Rivers United would need their belief and play to erode heavily, and it is just so difficult to see that happening.
For much of this contest Abia Warriors were the better team. But they must now dig deep – and quickly – to collect themselves for a testing campaign.
Imama Amapakabo’s side are back in action, with a visit to Akwa United next Sunday (4pm). Rivers United host Kwara United at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium in Port Harcourt.