New signing, Oche Salefu, scored from the spot to produce the lone goal in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) game to earn Rivers United the maximum points over Go Round FC at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt on Sunday.
Go Round had held off strongly and were inching closer to earning their first away point until the 80th minute when Moses Awala was ruled to have hacked Samuel Akinbinu down in the box and the referee immediately pointed to the box.
Oche Salefu, signed by Rivers United from relegated Remo Stars, stepped forward and gave Stanley Nwabali no chance for a save as he blasted neatly home.
Rivers United had started stronger against the visitors but their offensive play was effectively defused by the defensive trio of Awala, Odinaka Onyirumba and Ebuka Akobundu for two successive corner kicks in the first two minutes.
Go Round quickly shook off their slow start to the game and could have opened scoring in the 18th minute but Akobundu’s strike was returned by the bar.
Further incursion by the visitors put Rivers United under intense pressure resulting in a collision between Samson Gbadebo and Ali Chiwendu for which Gbadebo got a bad knock and was stretchered out. He would return in the 34th minute to produce a crucial clearance from the six-yard box before advancing Okon Otop and Stanley Worlu could get on the end of a pass.
Coming into the second half on barren terms, Go Round’s confidence grew as they charged at their hosts but the closest they got was Chidi Nwachukwu’s drive in the 76th minute but he was well checked by Gbadebo.
Earlier into second half, Rivers United had their moments but Stanley Nwabili rose up to produce deft saves in the 43rd and 50th minutes.
However, Rivers United’s double substitution which saw Bernard Ovoke off for Daniel Israel and Guy Keumian out for Osita Chikwe, helped to peg Go Round in their half, and Akinbinu committed Awala in one-on-one situation inside the box to earn the penalty that gave them the winning goal.