A fifth minutes strike by diminutive winger, Bright Silas off an instinctive free kick by former Nigeria senior international, Felix Ogbuke, ensured Rangers International went home with the bragging rights as rampaging, ‘Peoples Elephant’ failed to find a way past the backline of the ‘Flying Antelopes’ in a match day 12 NPFL encounter, Sunday evening.
The former Plateau United winger was left unmarked as Ogbuke got set to take the free kick a few meters from the edge of the box and he made no mistake as he connected home to the bewilderment of the visitor’s backline in the ‘Oriental Derby’ that was watched by a large crowd of fans inside Nnamdi Azikiwe stadium, Enugu.
Enyimba got the game going after referee Promise Amadi signalled for the start of hostilities with Stanley Dimgba and Chinonso Okonkwo probing the rear of the host with little success.
A build up from the middle of the pack started by Ugonna Anyora quickly found Tope Olusesi whose surging run was stopped illegally by Andrew Abalogu and the resultant free kick was expertly curled in for Silas to nod home his second goal of the season for Rangers.
The visitors went in search for a quick reply with Dimgba, Okonkwo and Ibenegbu as chief orchestrators but former Enyimba safe hands, Femi Thomas was at his very best to tip over Ibenegbu’ well struck free kick from the edge of the box over the bar on 8 minutes and pulling a world class save to deny Dimgba’ ferocious shot inside the box from resting inside the net on 20 minutes before he was taken out injured at the half hour mark.
On resumption of play in the second stanza, Coach Paul Aigbogun made two quick substitutions that saw Abdulrahman Bashir and Freeborn Omofomwan come in for Chinedu Udeagha and Tofic Omar on 46 and 47 minutes and they helped in ensuring that Rangers was on the back foot for a length of time but could not break the resistance of the host’ backline.
A few minutes past the hour mark, Dimgba spurned an offside trap by Rangers and thought he had found the equalizer but substitute, Ghanaian shot stopper, Nana Bonsu, was calm enough to make a reactionary save with his chest.
Dare Ojo let fly a thunderous shot from over thirty yards that was headed for the top roof but Chibuzor Madu threw himself at the shot to spurn it out for a harmless corner kick with less than a quarter of an hour left on the clock.
On the flip side, substitute, Kelvin Itoya and Ifeanyi George were dealing some soccer lessons to the duo of Ifeanyi Anaemena and Nelson Ogbonnaya but their efforts failed to increase the tally.
Coach Ogunbote was delighted with the result as he said after the encounter, “It was a good game and I am delighted that we got all three points at stake. It would have been better but the forced early changes worked against our entire plan for the game. This match was beyond the two teams that fought on the pitch, it had much to do with the man Ogunbote who left Enyimba to join Rangers. We shall continue to work on our noticed shot comings till we get it right and achieve our aims for the season.”
CHAN Super Eagles defender, Ikouwem Udoh said after the encounter, “Rangers showed character and determination today and got their win. We did our best, created chances but could not score. Some days are like that and we go back to ensure we get back our grove against Go Round F.C.”