Abia Warriors kept a clean sheet in Port Harcourt to halt what was looking to become a winning streak for Rivers United after their brace of wins at home to Rangers and away to Warri Wolves.
After their only loss in the 2019/2020 season to FC Ifeanyiubah in Nnewi, the Pride of Rivers hit top gear as they beat continental campaigners, Rangers 2-1 before getting a hard fought 1-0 victory over new comers, Warri Wolves.
A victory here would have been three on the bounce but they met a resolute Abia Warriors side.
Rivers United were the first out of the wood as they controlled the opening moments of the very tactical game creating half chances but failing to hit the target.
In the seventh minute, a lofted set piece was floated into Abia’s box, Ossy Martins headed the ball down to Stephen Michael but the later with his back at goal could not connect his half volley well as his attempt flew over the bar.
In the 22nd minute, a well worked ball down the right flank by Ifeanyi Onyeali and Cletus Emotan presented Martins and Micheal opportunities but the goalkeeper blocked the first attempt on the goal line before the second attempt struck the top of the woodwork.
The rebound still fell to Martins but his attempt was blocked again on the line by an Abia defender and the ball cleared out of danger.
Six minutes later, Michael Enaruna’s curly freekick from about 25 yards forced Abia’s goalkeeper Godsgift Elkanah to a good save to keep his team in the game while Onyeali missed from close range moments later. The first half ended goalless.
The second half saw United all over the Warriors and would be blaming themselves for not taking their chances in the first five minutes of second half as they fluffed most of the chances they created.
Kunle Odunlami ought to have scored when he found himself unmarked in the box when a freekick fell to him but he headed his effort directly for Elkanah to make a comfortable save with the goal wide at his mercy.
Coach Stanley Eguma of Rivers made attacking changes as he brought on Esor Nelson, Malachi Ohawume and Bright Onyedikachi to add bite to his attack but chances became fewer as Abia’s centre defence pair of Austin Obaroakpo and Perfait Jean were very solid on the day.