There was to be no ‘late break’ for Rivers United as Rivers United produced a gutsy albeit workmanlike performance in Sunday’s 0-0 draw against ABS FC as the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) enters match day 29.
Abiodun Akande was the star of the show, a force ofnature and the most outstanding Rivers United performer as the ‘Pride of Rivers’ held out for a share of the spoils at a charged Illorin Township Stadium.
The young goalkeeper produced a string of fine saves to keep Rivers United alive as the ‘Pride of Rivers’ claimed a share of the spoils in an intense and compelling battle at the Illorin Township Stadium.
ABS’ forwards also conspired to fritter away a plethora of chances as the Port Harcourt club rode their luck for most parts to claim an important point on the road.
Mohammed Mohammed was the first ABS forward to spurn a good opening in the sixth minute when his shot was expertly turned away from goal by the impressive Akande before Ossy Eugene headed over just seconds later.
Eguene looked inspired and had two cracks at the United goal in a space of a minute just before the quarter hour mark but on both occasions, Akande won the war of wits.
In the 26th minute, the hosts missed another chance to take what would have represented a deserved lead when Ossy shot into the side netting from a tight angle with just Akande at his mercy.
The pressure was mounting on the visitors’ goal and a few seconds after Ossy’s miss, Mohammed came face to face with Akande only to fire into Orbit with a gaping goal to aim at, much to the disbelief, chagrin and consternation of the watching home fans.
Three minutes later, Mohammed again unbelievably skied an effort over with the Akande the only obstacle in the United goal.
It was a surreal turn of events but the visitors continued to ride their luck and almost took the lead, against the run of play, three minutes before half time just moments after Adeshina Gata missed another good chance to put the hosts in front.
The United chance on that occasion, fell to Bolaji Sakin who struck his effort well enough only to be denied by a spectacular Abdullahi Boje save with the ball arrowing into the top corner.
If the first half was breathless, the second was a frenetic affair as the home side stepped on the accelerator in a bad to amass maximum point in front of a vociferous crowd.
They made a start of urgency and were almost rewarded in the 52nd minute following a lightening counter attack but Adeshina Gata side footed Mohammed’s cut back wide.
Two minutes later, United responded through the lively Sakin whose inch-perfect cross was headed marginally wide by Bernard Ovoke.
ABS continued to look menacing and dangerous and almost opened the scoring on the hour but Gata inexplicably shot wide from four yards with a gaping goal to aim at.
It was an extraordinary miss which left the home faithful stunned and wondering what their forwards needed to do to get the rub of the green.
United’s best chance arrived in the 71st minute and it fell to Ovoke who raced all of 20 metres before having his firmly-struck effort kept out impressively by Boje.
Six minutes later, ABS had another opening, this time Mohammed was the culprit as he curled over with only Akande in the United goal.
Muiz Adeoti had two late chances kept out by Akande, the second, in the sixth minute of second half added time, from point blank range as United held out for a fortuitous point.
Technical manager of the Rivers United, Stanley Eguma and assistant coach of ABS Moshood Adebayo both spoke to our official website, www.riversunitedfc.com.ng in separate interviews (audio files of the respective interviews have been attached) after the rip roaring contest.
Rivers United thus move up one place on the log to 13th with 37 points from 27 matches while ABS dropped one place to 18th as they have now amassed 36 points from 29 matches.