Uche Collins’ 8th minute header off James Ajako’s delightful cross was enough for the 2021 NPFL Champions, Akwa United to record their 4th win of the 2022-23 Nigeria Premier Football League season beating Gombe United 1-0 on matchday 8 at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium.
It was the striker’s second goal in two successive home matches that secured the three points for coach Ayodeji Ayeni’s side as they moved up to 4th position on the log with 14 points from 8 games as they improve their head-to-head record over Gombe United to seven wins, three draws and three losses in 13 meetings in the top flight.
Coach Ayeni made just one change to the team that started in Maiduguri; Emmanuel Uguwka was listed in the starting line-up for the first time since joining from Abia Warriors at the beginning of the season, while captain Ubong Friday started from the bench.
The Promise Keepers made an attacking start to the game, creating some good scoring chances. Striker Uche Collins got his shot on target but his effort went straight into the hands of goalkeeper George Albine in the 5th minute.
Moment later, the striker calmed the nerves of the fans when he positioned himself at the right place at the right time to direct James Ajako’s cross into the net, in what was his second goal in three start.
Akwa United put up a brilliant display and came close to increasing their lead but Cyril Olisema, Emmanuel Ugwuka, Moses Effiong and Uche Collins all saw their attempts being unsuccessful.
The visitors stepped up their game in the second half and created some goal scoring opportunities but they were unable to go past a defense-line manned by Taiye Muritala, Anthony Anioke, Boluwaji Sholumade and James Ajako who provided good cover for goalkeeper Jean Efala.
In a tactical switch towards the end of the game, coach Ayeni introduced speedster Wisdom Fernando, Leonard Ugochukwu, Liman Ahmadu. Onyekachi Nwaiwu and Paschal Onueze into the game. Although they were unable to add to their team’s advantage, they were able to hold on to their lead and secure the maximum points.
In a post match briefing coach Ayeni praised his players for their determination and fighting spirit. “I really want to commend my players for today’s victory. Their determination and never say die spirit gave us this victory.
‘I’m excited that we were able to score and defend till the end. We always go with the aim of scoring many goals but where we can’t score, we don’t have to concede. We created lots of chances especially in the first-half but we could not convert them. Obviously, we have to continue improving on all observe lapses to ensure we achieve our aim this season’’