Hosts Kwara United Football Club survived an early scare to beat league leaders Rivers United FC of Port Harcourt 2-1, yesterday in Ilorin.
The 2021/2022 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) Match Day 26 encounter was played at the Kwara State Stadium Complex.
Nelson Esor surprised the home fans by putting his visiting side in the lead in the third minute.
This seemed to have brought out the very best out of Kwara United who responded immediately.
But they could not score from the many goalscoring chances created in the first half.
Kwara United brought in midfielder Ayobami Junior for Stephen Jude, and the former Shooting Stars player raised their game to increase their attacking options.
They went on to introduce Samad Kadri early in the second half, with the substitute drawing them level in the 57th minute of play.
The introduction of Akinade Moses and Issa Gata, in place of Junior Lokosa and Alao Danbani respectively, helped to confine Rivers United to their own half.
Kwara United then had the leeway needed to get the winning goal in the 75th minute, through Jide Fatokun, who nodded home a well-taken free-kick from Afeez Nosiru.
Speaking with journalists after the match, a Kwara United defender, Deji Bamidele, saluted the courage and determination of his teammates in spite of conceding an early goal.
“We know the history between the two clubs, and we were determined to give everything because we know what was at stake for us.
“We unfortunately conceded the goal early in the game, but that was like the motivation that propelled us to give our very best. I give kudos to my teammates for their efforts.
“I also want to thank our fans and supporters, and also want to charge them to continue to support us till the end of the season, because we have a target which we need to meet.
“We still have 12 matches to go. We hope to continue to break record, make history, and that’s part of football. For us, we will continue to give our best, “ he added.
Kwara United lost 0-3 to Rivers United in the first round of the league at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium in Port Harcourt.