Uche Oguchi’s penalty in first half stoppage time helped host Heartland FC to a 1-0 win over Akwa United in a pre-season friendly at the Dan Anyiam stadium in Owerri on Sunday.
Coach Rafael Everton selected 22 of his players for the game in Owerri which was his first match in-charge of Akwa United since joining the team early this month.
Coach Everton fielded two sets of eleven players in each half of the game. Heartland FC had a good first half and should have taken the lead inside the opening 15 minutes, but their front men were unable to convert their chances.
The Promise Keepers who rarely threaten their host, fell behind on the stroke of half time when goalkeeper Emmanuel Iwu misjudged a cross and dropped the ball in the box. His attempt to clear the danger resulted in a foul on Heartland’s Chukwudi Nwaodu and the referee rightly awarded a penalty to the host.
Uche Oguchi stepped up and scored from the spot as the host went into the break with a 1-0 lead.
Coach Everton replaced the entire first eleven in the second half and the game sparked into life. The brilliance of Ezekiel Bassey, Mfon Udoh, Ndifereke Effiong, Michael Ibe and Barnabas Imenger rattled Heartland’s defense but their efforts were not enough to change the scoreline as the host held on for a narrow victory.
Both teams used the friendly to test the fitness level of their players ahead of the new NPFL season scheduled to kickoff in December.
Speaking after the game, Coach Rafael Everton revealed that his team will soon be ready for the new NPFL season.