Nasarawa United FC continued with their impressive home record since the beginning of the second stanza of the current campaign of the Nigeria Professional Football League with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over visiting Rivers United of Port-Harcourt at the Lafia City Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The Solid Miners went into the game with one thing in mind which was to avenge their 0-2 loss to the Pride of Rivers in the reversed fixture in Port-Harcourt.
The home side began an onslaught against their guests with the game still at infancy with the trio of Silas Nwankwo, Chinedu Ohanachom and Aliyu Abdullahi all coming close to scoring the opener.
At 22 minutes of the first half, Rivers conceded a freekick and mercurial midfielder, Haggai Katoh would lay it for in-form right full-back, Chigozie Obasi, who rocketed it past the goalkeeper, Darlington Ovunda, to register United’s first goal of the afternoon, and his second goal since joining the Lafia-based team during the second phase of this campaign.
Rivers United weathered the storm, turning defence to attack, but for the swift intervention of reliable defender, Emeka Onyema, as the hosts went into the break leading 1-nil.
Nasarawa United resumed the second half with further threats on the Rivers’ goal area, Michael Tochukwu having his shot blocked, and that was immediately followed up with a thunderous strike from Rivers United’s Shedrack Oghali that clattered against the woodwork.
Consistent pressure from the home side later proved vital as Haggai Katoh released Michael Tochukwu inside the area in the 60th minute and the teenager beautifully struck the ball beyond the reach of the goalkeeper, his first goal in United’s colours since joining the team in April this year.
Eight minutes later, Rivers United would be awarded a penalty after the referee adjudged that the ball had been handled by a United player off a corner kick.
Godwin Aguda stepped up to take the eventual spot kick, placing the goalkeeper, Mohammed Galadima, the wrong way to reduce the deficit to 2-1.
Defender, Ebuka Anaekwe, thought he had scored United’s third goal of the afternoon only for his left-footed shot to be parried away by the Rivers’ goalkeeper, Darlington.
2-1 was the final scoreline as Nasarawa United picked their own pound of flesh from the Port-Harcourt-based side, while Chigozie Obasi was voted Man-of-the-match after another stellar performance.
It’s the third Man-of-the-match award for the former Nigerian junior international following previous ones won against Enyimba in Aba and Kwara United in Lafia respectively.
He has also assisted three goals since he joined the Solid Miners in April this year.
The energetic and experienced defender was presented with the Infinix Mobile Phone Package as winner of the Man-of-the-match award by the organisation’s Lafia representative, Zachariah Audu, making the player the first recipient of such gesture after the agreement reached between Nasarawa United and world renowned mobile phone giants, Infinix Mobiles, two weeks ago.
2nd placed Nasarawa United will face a trip to Uyo, Akwa-Ibom State for a date with table-topping Akwa United on Thursday, 1st July, 2021.
POST- MATCH REACTIONS:
Bala Nikyu(NAS): “It was a good game. At this critical time, everyone is willing to pick his maximum points.
“And we are happy to pick our three points today. This will further spur us ahead of Akwa United in our next game.
“Rivers United were triggered by some unbelievable things, not that they were better per se, but they were just like feeling we can do it.
“Aside from that, the game was like they were too physical, maybe because of the intention they came with. But if they had played the ball on the ground, they would have conceded more goals than they got.”
Coach Ndubuisi Nduka(RIV): “It was a good match, and if you consider the run of the league, Nasarawa United have been one of the tough teams so far this season.
“I acknowledge their strength and which was why they won today.
“My strikers weren’t taking advantage of the opportunities they had. They were just dribbling inside the box forgetting it’s an away game.
“Remember when they were shooting, we got some rebounds, and should they have kept that, we would have chipped in more goals than the consolation we had.
“However, it wasn’t a bad game at all.”
Chigozie Obasi(NAS/MVP Winner): “I feel great. I thank God for everything he has been doing for me.
“I don’t have much to say, but I must thank my teammates and coaches for the collective efforts. We have been working for this for long.
“It’s our prayer that what we are looking for, God will grant it to us and give us a continental ticket.”