Akwa United’s pursuit of a top-three finish in the Nigeria Professional Football League received a boost, as Musa Newman’s first-half goal gave them a 1-0 win over visitors Enyimba on Sunday.

After some neat passes, Ibrahim Alhassan slid the ball to Ubong Friday, who sent a low ball across the face of goal and Newman applied the finishing touch. The striker was credited with the goal, though as it took a deflection off Chima Akas on its way into the back of the net, it might well have been an own goal.

Earlier, Abdu Maikaba’s side twice went close to scoring – Newman squandered an opportunity on 11 minutes, firing wide at the near post and, two minutes later, Alhassan saw his goal-bound shot blocked after sending two defenders sprawling with brilliant dummies.

On 24 minutes, Ifegwu Ojukwu brilliantly connected with Joseph Osadiaye’s freekick, but couldn’t get the ball on target.

The second-half looked more like a typical Akwa vs Enyimba encounter, with both sides fighting hard for the ball in midfield. The hosts, though, outposessed Gbenga Ogunbote’s side.

One of the talking points of the match was the referee’s decision to turn down Newman’s penalty appeal. The Blues were lucky to go unpunished after the Akwa no.9 appeared to be fouled after latching on to a through ball in Theophilus Afhelokha’s box.

Enyimba tried to penetrate the Akwa box – mostly through the wings – but a resolute backline comprising Otobong Effiong, Godspower Igudia, Emmanuel Ariwa and Kodjo Dadzie – limited them to a few half-chances, including Stephen Chukwude’s header, which sailed wide of the near post. 

The win helped Akwa, who before the game were trailing the two-time CAF Champions League winners by a point, to climb into third place – and reduce the gap between themselves and table-toppers Plateau United, who lost 1-0 at Elkanemi Warriors, to five points.

On Sunday, Akwa will square up against Plateau United in Jos, while Enyimba host Niger Tornadoes•


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