Rivers United overcame Nasarawa United 1-0 in a Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) game decided on Saturday at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt.
Ayo Saka scored the winner, an enthralling team goal that left the Nasarawa United goalkeeper, Suraj Ayeleso floundering.
Saka, making only his second start for the club after his mid-season switch from Sunshine Stars but made the decisive contribution in the match day 20 clash at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium.
The midfielder latched onto a superb pass from John Odumegwu who had been slipped through by a deft bit skill by Obomate Frederick before firing past the Nasarawa United goalkeeper, Suraj Ayeleso in the 38th minute.
Five minutes earlier, Rivers United had been reduced to ten men after captain, Festus Austine was sent off for a second bookable offence for handling the ball.
Rather than let their heads drop, the hosts stepped on the accelerator and deservedly took the lead through Saka’s supreme finish.
Odumegwu should have doubled their advantage shortly before half time but shot straight at Ayeleso from point blank range.
The second half failed to match the first in terms of entertainment value as United held out for three vital points.
After the game, technical manager of Rivers United, Stanley Eguma and head coach of Nasarawa United, Kabir Dogo both addressed the media in a joint press conference covered by our official website, www.riversunitedfc.com.ng. (audio files have been attached).
Rivers United moved up two place on the log as a result of the win and now occupy 11th place on the log with 27 points from 20 matches while Nasarawa United remain in ninth place with 27 points from 20 matches.
Rivers United: Sunday Rotimi, Ifeanyi Nweke, Zoumana Doumbia, Emeka Atuloma, Festus Austine, Ayobami Asekunuwo, Obomate Frederick, (Onoriode Odah 80'), Emeka Ogbugh, Guy Kuemian (Markson Ojobo 60'), Ayo Saka, John Odumegwu (Ifeanyi Okoye 86').
Substitutes not Used: Femi Thomas, Chiwendu Ali, Israel Daniel and Yusuf Jaiyeola.
Nasarawa United: Suraj Ayeleso, Yinka Onaolapo (Abubakar Abdullahi 78’), Emmanuel Makama, Eugene Obi, Seun Sogbeso, Jide Williams, Abdulrahman Bashir (Fabiyi Tayo 75'), Ishaya Anyu, Ocheme Edoh (Philip Auta 57’), Douglas Achiv and Adamu Hassan.
Substitutes not Used: Danlami Umar, Manga Mohammed, Abu Ahmed and Aminu Kadiri.
Yellow cards: Abdulrahman Bashir 49', Sunday Rotimi 25', Festus Austine 25' and 31'.
Red card: Festus Austine: 33’
Goal: Ayo Saka 38'