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.
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'
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