Rivers United had gone ahead through a penalty converted by Godwin Aguda in the 18th minute. Pascal Eze had handled the ball two minutes earlier and the referee ordered a spot kick which saw Aguda sending goalkeeper, Ikechukwu Ezenwa the wrong way.
Heartland picked up late in the first half but efforts by Samuel Nnochiri and Shadrack Oghali yielded no fruit.
In the 65th minute, Kazie Enyinanya beat the offside trap from Heartland to go through on goal. He watched Ezenwa and blasted to the top side of the net to put the home side 2-0 up.
Just when it seemed like it was cruise control for Rivers United, Samuel Nnochiri worked his magic once more and freed Oghali.
Oghali controlled the ball well and placed it beyond the reach of goalkeeper Akande Abiodun to pull one back for Heartland.
It was looking like it would be an edgy last few minutes until Malachy Ohawume struck in the 86th minute
“They are rivals. We expected a tough game and we got it. I thank my players for the effort they put in and my management for the support,” Stanley Eguma said after the game.
Christian Obi of heartland was philosophical in his reading of the match outcome.
“Our position now does not deter us. Look at the EPL. Manchester United used to be very low on the table. Look at them now. We will rise again,” Obi promised.