Malachi Ohawume came off the bench to score a decisive goal as Rivers United held MFM FC to a 1-1 draw at the Soccer Temple, Agege, Lagos on Monday.
Sikiru Olatunbosun’s 17th minute strike gave the hosts a deserved 1-0 advantage at the break, before United replied in the second half via substitute Ohawume.
United missed the chance to go second, as they missed countless opportunities in a rejuvenated second half performance.
After a cagey start to the game, it finally opened up as Olatunbosun went close to an opener but his header was easily saved by Rotimi Sunday in goal for the away side.
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Moments later, however, MFM finally found a breakthrough, and it was that man, Olatunbosun, who latched on to a brilliant through pass from midfielder, Onuwa Chukwuka to put his side 1-0 ahead.
The home side came close to increasing the scoreline on a number of occasions through wide forward, Akinyemi Nojeem.
First, he finds himself free inside the United box, but shoots his effort way wide before trying again from range, with his shot stinging United goalkeeper, Rotimi, who had to settle for a corner.
With half time approaching, Nojeem, who was MFM’s most dangerous man, beat United captain, Gabriel Olalekan, but the defender quickly recovered to deny him with an excellent tackle in the box.
At the end, the host were well worthy of their lead at the break, leaving their visitors with a lot to think about.
It was a dull game after the break, and just after the hour mark, Stanley Eguma made a tactical change, as Ohawume replaces Obomate.
Ten minutes later, United were level and it was the substitute, Ohawume who struck a well taken shot past Folarin Abayomi in goal for MFM.
Following the equaliser, the away side looked a different team, playing with much confidence than they had managed all game.
Eguma’s side began to ask so many questions of their hosts, who had to withstand a barrage of attacks.
United came close to snatching a winner, via Malachi, Emeka Ogbugh and Oche Salefu, who failed to direct his shot on goal from six yards out.
MFM did have a chance of their own, coming close in added time, but Olatunbosun’s effort went over the bar.
They both settle for a point apiece, a result that sees United leapfrog Akwa United to fourth, while MFM moved four places to ninth on the league table.
Speaking after the match, United manager, Eguma rued his side’s missed chances but says he’s happy with a point.
“I’m not disappointed because it’s a game of football,” Eguma said of his side’s performance. “Those chances we missed would have sealed the game for us, but sometimes, it’s like that.
“It was unexpected, but I thank God we got a point,” he added.
Up next for these two, MFM travel to Port Harcourt to tackle Go Round, while Rivers United are also on the road, as they face Abia Warriors in Umuahia.