Bright Ejike’s 40th minute penalty was enough to give Heartland all three points against visiting Akwa United at the Dan Anyiam Stadium in Owerri on Wednesday. The visitors who not only lost all three points but also lost their talisman Namso Edo to a muscle injury will feel they deserved something from the game.
Heartland left out injured duo of Ebele Obi and Saibou Badarou and while they didn’t miss the former, they surely missed the giant striker as the visiting defense headed clear all balls sent into the box.
Roland Koffi should have given the hosts a lead after a cagey 10 minutes but Akwa United goalkeeper Kayode Olufemi parried it to safety. The winger had yet another chance from a Julius Ubido pass but again the finish was wanting.
A well taken penalty kick from Bright Ejike and after a long wait too, eventually put Heartland ahead on the 40th minute; the Uyo side had failed to deal with a ball in the box and Kayode rushed out to bring down Emeka Ogbugh in the area.
Having gone a goal down, Akwa United upped their efforts. Dead ball specialist Namso Edo sent in a number of dangerous balls into the box but a combination of last ditch clearances and bodies standing in the way ensured the lead was well guarded.
The visitors battled in the second period and could have equalized in the dying minutes of the game when substitute Enize Emmanuel who was on for the injured Ubong Ekpai struck a lovely volley that looked destined for the net but an alert Emmanuel Iwu went full stretch to tip over the bar.
Heartland: Iwu, Ajaero, Doumbia, Hassan (Ebue), Orji, Efugh, Ogbugh, Ejike (Okuoka), Ubido, Koffi, Aggreh (Osas)
Akwa United: Kayode, Edo (Keke), Effiong, Aguda (Alieme), Igudia, Ariwa, Ekpai (Enize), Akpan, Ebong, Aniefiok, Bassey.
Stats: Heartland Akwa
Shots on target 4 4
Shots off target 5 6
Corner kicks 4 6
Offsides 3 0
Freekicks 17 15
Yellow Card 1(Orji) 2 (Igudia, Kayode)
Red Card 0 0