Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) top scorer Mfon Udoh scored his 6th goal of the season in a 1-0 win over FC IfeanyiUbah, as his team Akwa United move to third position on the Group B table and extend their unbeaten run to five games.
Udoh’s 40th minute strike was his fourth goal in four successive games and his 6th in nine matches. The win moved the Promise Keepers to 3rd on the Group B log with 15 points, albeit with a healthy goal difference and they trail leaders FC IfeanyiUbah by three points.
Shortly before kickoff, top striker Mfon Udoh was presented with a cheque of Two Hundred Thousand Naira after he was voted Akwa United Player of the Month for January. The player of the Month Award is sponsored by Dana Airlines who are official partners of Akwa United Football Club.
Coach Rafael Everton made three changes to the team that drew against Abia Warriors in their last match. Juwon Oshaniwa, Wilson Elu and Ndifreke Effiong all returned to the starting line up in place of Kodjovi Dadzie, Adou Blaise and Etboy Akpan against a relatively unknown yet determined FC IfeanyiUbah side.
Both teams engaged each other in what was an explosive opening to the game in which two good scoring chances; one for each team were created but both sides could only hit the post inside the opening two minutes of the game.
The Promise Keepers hit the ground running and should have been in front as early as the second minute but Mfon Udoh’s low drive hit the woodwork after the goalkeeper Chinedu Anozie had been beaten.
The home side continued to heap pressure on the visitors in the early moments of the game but they were kept at bay by the brilliance of Anozie in IfeanyiUbah’s goal.
The visitors from Nnewi surged forward for the opener but goalkeeper Jean Efala stuck out his left leg to make a fantastic save to deny Nnaji Christian from close range.
The Promise keepers gradually took control of the game and in the 23rd minute, Ndifreke Effiong found space just outside the visitors box but his shot sailed over the bar. And in the 36th minute, Cyril Olisema freed Ubong Friday on the right and the winger comfortably displaced his marker, made his way into the vital area but his well struck effort came off Okafor Charles and landed on the cross bar and went out for a corner.
United got the crucial opener five minutes before half time. A swift counter attack saw Cyril Olisema combine neatly with Ubong Friday on the right flank. The winger locate Mfon Udoh with a low cross and the striker calmly controlled the ball inside the box and slot it through the legs of Gbadamosi Jimoh, beyond the goalkeeper and into the back of the net.
The visitors from Nnewi were the first to threaten in the second stanza and their attempt forced a double save from goalkeeper Jean Efala.
The Promise Keepers’ attacking move orchestrated by Ubong Friday and Cyril Olisema was handled by Ikenna Cooper just outside the box but Mfon Udoh’s curling freekick narrowly missed the target.
Coach Everton made two tactical substitutions; Markson Ojobo and Chigozie Chilekwu replaced Christopher Lolo and Ubong Friday respectively.
In the 70th minute, Ihuarulam Uche got the ball into the back of the net but his effort was ruled out because he was in an offside position.
United missed a plethora of chances to double their advantage. Mfon Udoh, Ndifreke Effiong, Alberico Da Silva and Cyril Olisema all saw their attempts comfortably kept out by Anozie.
A late substitution by coach Everton saw Wisdom Fernando replace Alberico Da Silva but the winger who came off the bench to score in the last home match against Kada City was unable to add to his team advantage but still played a role in helping his team to hold onto their fourth win of the season in nine games.
The Promise Keepers who had a disastrous start to the season have now gone five matches without defeat and have scored ten goals in their last five games.