Bernard Ovoke's first half goal secured Rivers United a slim but comfortable 1-0 victory over basement side, Remo Stars on Wednesday.

Ovoke finished off a sweet team move in the 41st minute and none of the two sides really stepped it up in the second half of this rescheduled Matchday 14 encounter decided at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt.

Stanley Eguma's United went into the game on the back of successive defeats away at Kastsina United and Nasarawa United within the space of four days and were hoping to get a result to lift their spirits ahead of next week's CAF Confederation Cup game at Tunisian side Club Africain.

There were recalls for goalkeeper Abiodun Akande and attacking duo of Guy Keumian and Bernard Ovoke while Remo Stars continued with Tunde Adekunle in goal while top marksman Victor Mbaoma led the team from the front.

One of Eguma's changes to the team that lost in Lafia on Sunday, Christian Weli had United's first chance on seven minutes but he could not keep his header to Nzube Anaezemba's cross down.

The visitors spurned a golden opportunity to go in front on 21 minutes when full back Abiodun Awoyemi overlapped down the right and crossed for Ekene Awazie. The Number 9 inexplicably headed over from close range.

Remo Stars goalkeeper Adekunle was the busier of the two goalkeepers and a couple of saves from him including a smart one to turn away Ovoke's free kick midway through the first half led to a succession of corners for the hosts which ultimately yielded no result.

The breakthrough eventually came four minutes to the break when United who were playing with more urgency got behind the Remo Stars backline and Ovoke was left with a simple task of tapping into an empty net. Nzube Anaezemba started the move, freed Emeka Ogbugh down the flank who squared for Ovoke to tap home.

The hosts took the lead into the interval and never really looked like adding to the tally in the second half.

Malian full back Zoumana Doumbia volleyed over from 20 yards three minutes into the second half in United's closest sniff in front of goal in the second period.

The hosts were dealt a blow when midfielder Emeka Atuloma limped off late on due to a suspected ankle problem with his place taken by utility star Markson Ojobo.

Remo substitute Eric Dufegha attempted the audacious one just before the hour mark when he spotted United goalkeeper Akande off his line. His effort from 35 yards however lacked the proper execution.

Remo Stars were largely reduced to hopeless long range efforts which were well claimed by Akande as United held on for their three points.

Victory lifts Rivers United to 13th on the log, just two points clear of the relegation zone while Remo Stars remain at the foot of the table, three points from safety.

 

Line-ups

RIVERS UNITED: 23. Abiodun Akande 2. Ifeanyi Nweke 14. Zoumana Doumbia 13. Emeka Atuloma (Markson Ojobo 79') 6. Ayobami Asekunowo 19. Festus Austine 9. Guy Keumian 26. Emeka Ogbugh 4. Nzube Anaezemba (Frederick Obomate 62') 7. Bernard Ovoke (Israel Daniel 60') 27. Christian Weli

Unused Subs: 1. Olufemi Thomas 5. Joseph Douhadji 17. Godbless Asamoah 21. Yusuf Jayeola

BOOKED: Nzube Anaezemba 43'

GOAL: Bernard Ovoke 41'

REMO STARS: 1. Tunde Adekunle 11. Abiodun Awoyemi 13. Onuoha Chukwujekwu 2. Isaac Paul (Umar Murtaba 78') 4. Ekene Obi 5. Edozie Ewelike 10. Salefu Ochewechi 18. Seidu Mohammed 25. Victor Mbaoma (Eric Dufegha 57') 9. Ekene Awazie 26. Victor Chidume

Unused Subs: 23. David Walbe 33. Samuel Ganda 15. Shiju Oshobe 14. Jamilu Coker 17. David Onovo

BOOKED: Ewelike Edozie 12', Eric Dufegha 68'

GOAL: NIL

Daniel Etor struck in the 22nd minute to give Rangers the lead and what turned out to be the only goal of their game against Plateau United, a rescheduled Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) Matchday 14 fixture.

 

The win took Rangers to 22 points and 16th on the table from 19th where they languished before now.

 

Rangers started the game fast paced, immediately pegging back the league leaders but had profligacy to blame for not scoring when they should have.

 

In the 8th minute of the encounter, Rangers’ appeal for a penalty was turned down but seven minutes later they were awarded one after Chidera Eze was fouled in the box.

 

However, Chibuzor Madu’s tame effort was stopped by the legs of goalkeeper, Dele Ajiboye.

 

In spite of that mishap, Rangers continued to pile the pressure and Daniel Etor scored in the 22nd minute stretching his leg to connect a cross that beat the keeper.

 

Plateau United began to show more hunger after that goal attacking on the counter and causing tense moments for the home side and fans.

 

In the 26th minute Jimmy Ambrose found space and shot from distance but it was saved by Seidu Mutawakilu.

 

Plateau soon had another chance to equalise in the 31st minute when a trade mark long throw-in by Daniel Itodo lurked in the Rangers area.

 

Joshua Obaje’s header first ricocheted off the cross bar before Kabiru Umar blasted the rebound wide.

 

Three minutes later, it was Plateau United again on the prowl as Christian Madu mis-kicked a long ball, but Kabiru Umar who pounced on the loose ball did not get the right curve to trouble goalkeeper, Mutawakilu.

 

Just before half time, Rangers’ new boy, Ifeanyi George had an effort on target but it was tame and Dele Ajiboye saved it gratefully.

 

At the start of the second period, Plateau United continued to torment Rangers, especially through Daniel Itodo and his long throw-ins.

 

Just one minute after the restart, a throw-in by Itodo bounced off an attacker's head and had to be tipped over for a corner by Mutawakilu.

 

Ifeanyi George had a chance in the 57th minute but after beating onrushing Ajiboye, he shot wide.

 

In a quick counter, one minute later, Sunday Ingbede had a free header in the box but his effort went over the goalkeeper and off target.

 

Plateau United did not relent. Elisha Golbe had a pop at goal in the 63rd minute but his free kick went inches wide.

 

With a little more than an hour played in the game, Plateau United’s gaffer, Kennedy Boboye made two quick changes, taking off Kabiru Umar for Emeka Umeh in the 68th minute and Sunday Ingbede for John Kim in the 69th.

 

In the 73rd minute, John Kim escaped his marker shot at goal but it was saved by the Rangers goalkeeper, Seidu Mutawakilu.

 

As if a cue to make the final change, Boboye threw on Mafeng Pam for Emmanuel Olowo in the 75th minute and it continued to seem like the next goal would come from Plateau United.

 

With 12 minutes of regular time left on the clock, Rangers coach, Chukwuma Agbo replaced Chiamaka Madu with Godwin Aguda and four minutes later took out Daniel Etor for Obinna Nwobodo.

 

With time running down on the clock and tired legs falling all over, Chidera Eze found space behind his marker but shot wide.

 

A minute later in the 84th, it was Ifeanyi George joining the fray but his shot also went wide.

 

Agbo replaced Chidera Eze with home grown striker, Ebuka Okeke and with three minutes of added time shown, Emeka Umeh thought he saw enough space to try for an equalizer.

 

His shot from distance was easily saved by the goalkeeper.

 

Kennedy Boboye was not happy at the loss as he told npfl.ng.

 

“My boys did not do badly and we could have won if only we converted the chances we got in the game,” Boboye told NPFL.ng.

 

"We came here to win and we played well too but we lost this game by ourselves because Rangers were not better than us.

 

“We had a chance to equalise just after we conceded but we hit the crossbar. We will just go back to the drawing board,” Boboye said.

 

Rangers’ goalscorer, Daniel Etor told npfl.ng that it was a happy moment because of the tension in the team.

 

“It was a much needed three points and we are out of the relegation zone so it’s now time to continue winning matches to get our confidence back.

 

“With these three straight wins at home it is a warning to other clubs that they can no longer come here and pick points,” Etor said.

 

Teams

 

Plateau United: Ajiboye, James, Itodo, Junior, Olowo/Pam 75’, Ambrose, Elisha, Bitrus, Obaje, Ingbede/ Kim 69’, Umar/Umeh 68’

 

Subs not used: Gaadi, Johnson, Bala, Elijah

 

Rangers: Mutawakilu, Etim, Christian, Chiamaka/Aguda 78’, Chibuzor, Ousmane, Okoro, George, Etor/Nwobodo 83’, Eze/Ebuka 90+', Silas

 

Subs not used: Akpan, Odita, Osamudiamen, Amaefule

 

Match Statistics

Rangers 1-0 Plateau United

Shots at goal: 10:8

Shot on Target: 5:3

Fouls committed: 13:20

Corner kicks: 6:4

Offsides: 2:4

 

Man Of the match: Daniel Etor (Rangers)

Attendance: 3,892

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Salihu Abubakar, the Chief Operating Officer of the League Management Company (LMC) and Paul Bassey, Chairman of Akwa United are among leading football administrators in Africa that would meet at the instance of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) in Cairo for a two day workshop on Club Licensing.

It would be Abubakar's second high profile participation in CAF and FIFA organised conversations on club licensing which is being pushed through on the continent to ensure a more professional and business administration of club football on the continent.

Tagged, Club Licensing Instructors Seminar, the two day event will hold at the Fairmont Nile City Hotel in the Egyptian capital.

Bassey will be among the panel of discussants for Infrastructure Instructors that will feature a presentation by Khaled Lemkecher and moderated by  Khaled Nassar. The other panelists are Anthony Baffoe, Russel Paul and Ismail Locate.

Abubakar will be on the panels for Stakeholders discussion which will be moderated by Junior Binyam and will have as other panelists, Isha Johanssen (CAF), Edgar Watson (FUFA General Secretary), Benoit You (ASEC Mimosas) and Stephane Burchkhalter (FIFPro)

 

In 2016, the LMC COO made a presentation at the FIFA and CAF organised club licensing workshop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and was further invited for a follow-up seminar in Cairo.

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