Sunday Adetunji scored a late winner to hand Rivers United a 1-0 win against Enyimba at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium on Sunday.
The game appeared to be heading to a scoreless end until the forward headed from close range to ensure a match-winning contribution on his full debut.
Only one point separated the teams before the rescheduled fixture and the importance of its outcome was showcased in the energy employed by both sides from the start.
Eight fouls in the opening seven minutes set the tone for a highly physical duel as Fatai Osho’s men resorted to an alternative style on the undulating surface at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium.
The chances eventually arrived thereafter, Ifeanyi Anaemena side-netting from close range before John Noble showed class to deny the hosts with a double save.
Anayo Iwuala got to the end of Stanley Okorom’s freekick to trouble Theophilus Afelokhai with a low header, but the teams remained far from their bests as the half flew by.
United attacked with greater numbers at the restart and created more openings as a result. Anaemena headed over from close range while Adetunji failed to keep his effort on target after a twist and turn in the box.
Anthony Omaka and Philip Ozor came on in the closing stages as Enyimba looked to see off the game, but the decisive goal came five minutes to the end when Adetunji rose to drop Kazie Enyinnanya’s cross into the near post.
The result has seen the People’s Elephant drop two places on the standings, but Osho’s men can recover lost ground with the remaining three outstanding fixtures, beginning with the visit of FC Ifeanyi Uba on Wednesday.
FATAI OSHO’S POST MATCH COMMENTS
“They (the players) did a lot of work, we can’t take that away from them – a lot of hard-work. The surface never allowed us to play. We couldn’t really get into our own true element, we couldn’t flow the way we would have loved to play, but then the game came the painful way. The loss of concentration, we could have been a bit tidy with that particular cross coming in after working that hard, but unfortunately we allowed it and the match has been won and lost.”