Osita strikes late to dismantle Kwara United
Osita Chikere produced a stunning header in the final minute of second half additional time to propel Rivers United to a 1-0 victory over Kwara United in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) on Sunday.
The big forward met a precise Malachy Ohawume cross with menace past a shell-shocked Eze Chidiebere in goal for Kwara United at the Kwara Stadium, Illorin.
It was a hard-fought win that saw Rivers United climb five places to fourth on the NPFL standings after all of the day’s action match day 10.
The Rivers United technical manager, Stanley Eguma made two changes to the side that defeated Niger Tornadoes 2-0 exactly seven days earlier with Markson Ojobo and Christian Weli replacing Samuel Ganda and Bernard Ovoke.
Ovoke’s exclusion from the match day squad raised more than a few eyebrows as the dashing winger had a hand in the two goals scored by United against Tornadoes on match day nine.
Rivers United slightly edged a largely-even first half and should have had their noses in front with a little bit more composure before the interval.
The best opportunity of the half fell to the visitors in the 34th minute as Emeka Ogbugh read Osita’s knock-down to perfection but fired a fearsome half volley just wide with Chidiebere beaten at his near post.
Kwara United also enjoyed positive moments in the first half with the best of their opportunities falling to Micahel Ohanu who somehow managed to fluff his lines from promising positions twice in a 30-second period in the 26th minute.
The hosts were largely dominant in the second half as they pressed with intent in an attempt to break the deadlock.
Exciting forward, Stephen Alfred who grabbed a brace against Nasarawa United on match day nine, was at the tip of the spear and had more than a couple of good opportunities to register on the board.
Alfred should have opened the scoring in the 6th minute when left unmarked in the Rivers United penalty area but the in-form attacker inexplicably headed wide from six yards.
It was a shocking miss which set the tone for several others of similar ilk from the home side with Ohanu heading straight at Rotimi from point blank range after the Rivers United defence against failed to deal with a cross in the 71st minute.
Rivers United however continued to look menacing with each counter attack launched as they looked to hit the hosts’ underbelly on the break with the game becoming increasingly stretched with the clock counting down.
The two sides continued to trade chances in the see-saw contest until second half substitute, Ohawume, recently called up to Nigeria’s U20 squad, teed up the impressive Chikere with an inch-perfect cross that the striker planted home with gusto to spark mass hysteria amongst members of the visitors’ bench.
Eguma shared his post-match thoughts with our official website, www.riversunitedfc.com.ng after the compelling contest.
“I want to congratulate my boys for the win but also credit must go to Kwara United because they also played very well, especially in the second half when they took the fight to us,” Eguma said.
“I decided to make a tactical switch late on by introducing Malachy because I knew we couldn’t just defend all through the second half and needed someone like him who could offer us a threat on the counter attack.
“In the end, it was the substitute (Malachy) who provided the assist for our winning goal,” he concluded.
The win, Rivers United’s first on the road this season, was enough to see them close the gap on the leaders, Kano Pillars to just one point.