Cyril Olisema came off the bench to score a 64th minute penalty and help Akwa United to a slim 1-0 victory over Heartland Football Club as the Promise Keepers zoom to top of the NPFL Group B table with 22 points from 12 games.
The Matchday 12 victory was United’s second win over Heartland FC within a week after a 2-1 away win last weekend in Okigwe. With the result, Akwa United have extended their unbeaten run in the league to eight matches(six wins and two draws)
The match which was decided at the Godswill Akpabio International stadium in Uyo on Sunday saw league leading scorer Mfon Udoh stretchered off in the 63rd minute following an injury and he was replaced by Cyril Olisema who scored the decisive goal (his first goal of the season) few minutes after his introduction to secure all three points for his side.
Coach Rafael Everton made three changes to the team that defeated Heartland in Okigwe; two mid-season signings Aniefiok Godspower and Marshal Johnson were handed a place in the starting line up while youngster Wisdom Fernando partnered Mfon Udoh in the attack in place of Ndifreke Effiong who is in the Super Eagles camp in Asaba.
The game sparked into life from the blast of the referee’s whistle. Denis Nya released Etim Mathew on the right inside in the opening seconds of the game but the defender took too much time to sort himself out and the visitors recovered well to clear the danger.
The visitors had their first real chance in the 19th minute when Chidebere Ajoku delivered a cross into the vital area but Nnamdi Egbujor who was clearly in an offside position couldn’t connect with the ball.
In the 28th minute, wisdom Fernando was put through but the winger chose to lay for Mfon Udoh instead of shooting at goal and Heartland backline recovered well to clear the ball out for a corner. Godwin Ameh made two superb saves from the resulting corner kicks.
Shortly after the restart, top striker Mfon Udoh sustained an injury and was replaced by Cyril Olisema. The midfielder made an instant impact after his introduction. He linked up nicely with Emmanuel Charles and freed Aniefiok Godspower who calmly rounded Godwin Ameh before he was brought down in the box in the 62nd minute and the referee rightly pointed to the spot.
Cyril Olisema took up the responsibility and dispatched it splendidly to give his team the lead with his first goal of the season.
In a tactical switch, coach Everton threw Daniel Ekpo and Chigozie Chilekwu into the fray but it was Olisema who had the best chance to double his team’s advantage towards the closing stages of the game but his effort went straight into the waiting hands of Ameh as the Promise keepers extend their impressive unbeaten run to eight matches.
With the win, coach Everton’s side sit on top of the NPFL Group B table with 22 points from 12 games albeit on superior goal difference over El Kanemi Warriors whom they will face next in Maiduguri on Matchday 13 this weekend.