Martins’ strike earns Rivers United point in Minna
Ossy Martins struck 20 minutes from time to earn Rivers United a hard-fought point in a riveting Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) clash against NigerTornadoes in Minna on Wednesday.
The game finished 1-1 at a charged Bako Kontagora Stadium.
The United technical manager, Azunda Stanley Eguma made nine changes from the club’s last competitive game, the dire AITEO Cup defeat to Abia Warriors, in Lagos in October, 2018.
Chigozie Ihunda and Weli Christian were the two survivors from the side that lost to the Warriors but new entrants like Drissa Bamba, Temple Emekayi, Konan Ruffin, Wasiu Jimoh and Martins earned their stripes on Wednesday with gutsy displays worthy of the storied badge!
An enthralling contest was to start slowly with Michael Otukeh firing a half hearted effort from range in the sixth minute which the flamboyant Bamba collected with nonchalance.
United tried to respond gamely in the ninth minute but Peter Ubakanma’s long range drive was hit with hope rather than expectation.
United got lucky a minute later when the lively Ahmadu Liman whipped in a brilliant low cross from the left, desirous of the faintest of touches to make the visitors’ net bulge.
The hosts continued to dictate the pace with consistent pressure forcing United’s Ubakanwa to mistime a tackle in his half shortly after the half hour.
The pacy Anthony Igoche pounced, honed in on goal but saw his incisive pass to Liman intercepted by Ihunda who produced an important block at the opportune moment to snuff out the danger.
The half petered to a close with clear cut opportunities few and far between late on.
The game exploded into life in the 67th minute with Eric Frimpong putting the hosts in front in deserved fashion.
The effort was a thing of beauty as the Ghanaian got on the end of a flowing team move, waltzed past the United back line before passing the ball gloriously into the top corner past a shocked Bamba who didn’t move a muscle.
United’s players surprisingly seemed buoyed by Tornadoes’ opener and were back level almost straight from the restart, buttressing the age old cliché, ‘you are most vulnerable immediately after you’ve just scored’.
Wasiu was the architect of the leveller as he raced down the bye line before delivering with inch perfect precision for Ossy Martins to stab home in cold-blooded fashion from point blank range.
He celebrated in Rashidi Yekini-esque (God bless his soul) fashion ala Bulgaria at the 1994/World Cup in the United States.
United had two quick chances to put the game to bed but Jimoh and Martins scuffed excellent openings in the 73rd and 75th minutes respectively.
The two sides traded chances in a frenetic final quarter hour but it was the visitors that almost snatched the win at the death.
Martins came face to face with the Tornadoes goalkeeper, Aliko Mustapha in the 95th minute but rather square to the unmarked Wasiu in the Tornadoes box, he chose to shoot from a tight angle.
It was the wrong option as the fiercely struck effort went out for a throw in.
In the end, a draw was just about the right result with the Tornadoes head coach, Bernard Ogbe told to ponder what might have been.eq”We drew the match but it was not what we expected,” Ogbe told the official Rivers United website, www.riversunitedfc.com.ng.
“We expected to win and I’ll attribute this result to desperation (on our part),” he said.
United’s Eguma also voiced his sentiments on the result of the game as he commended his charges for executing his game plan to perfection.
“I thank my players for putting up a good effort today.
” It was a good game but this is just the beginning.
“The two teams played good football. We expected a win but we got a draw,” he said.
Rivers United will next face Katsina United in Port Harcourt on Sunday while Tornadoes embark on the trip up North to Gombe where they are expected to go toe to toe with Wikki Tourists at the Pantami Stadium.
Niger Tornadoes: Aliko Mustapha, Mustapha Jubrin, Mohammed Aliyu, Ayo-Oluwa Adetola, Obinna Jacob, Onyema Emeka, Ahmadu Liman,
Ugwu Moses (Sarki Ismaila 47′), Isah Azado (Eric Frimpong 63′) Bashir, Otukeh Michael and Anthony Igoche (Christopher Chidera 89′)
Substitutes not used
Innocent Nden, Obinna Nwobodo, Atsen Emmanuel and Yusuf Olayinka
Rivers United: Bamba Drissa, Chigozie Ihunda (Kehinde Adedipe 77′), Konan Ruffin (Doumbia Zoumana 82′) Peter Ubakanma, Kunle Odunlami, Temple Emekayi, Wasiu Jimoh, Cletus Emotan, Ossy Martins, Ogar David and Weli Christian (Nafiu Kabuga 72′)
Substitutes not used
Akande Abiodun, Uchenna Martins, , Waheed Adebayo and Ugochukwu Leonard
Tornadoes:Isah Bashir 61′,
Rivers United; Wasiu Jimoh 21′, Drissa Bamba 90′
Red cards: Nil
Goals: Eric Frimpong 67′, Ossy Martins 70′