A swift build up from the middle of the pack started by substitute, Ugonna Anyora, whose telling pass found Godwin Aguda to release on-rushing Kelvin Itoya to blast home from a very tight angle past impressive, veteran goalkeeper, Sunday Rotimi, at the hour mark, was the ‘Flying Antelopes’ needed to secure maximum point in a Match Day 6 NPFL encounter against Rivers United.
Coach Olugbenga Ogunbote wards endured a first half that saw the ‘Pride of Rivers’ players covering every blade of grass at the ‘Cathedral’ to frustrate and deny the host a clear sniff at goal by the the quartet of Kelvin Itoya, Abu Azeez, Chiamaka Madu and Godwin Aguda.
The Coal city landlords kept faith with the starting squad of match Day 5 that questionably lost to Nasarawa United, save for Ugonna Anyora, who made way for Chiamaka Madu and tried as they could to settle into their fluid, systematic build up from the back as the rock solid defence of the visitors shielded by an equally enterprising midfield gave no room for such after allowing goal scorer enough room inside the first minute of play to connect a Bright Silas’ inviting cross but Rotimi Sunday was alert to clutch the ball.
For their dominance in the first stanza, the visitors could not find a way past the Okey Odita led Rangers defence line as goalkeeper Femi Thomas, who crossed over to Rangers this term from the Port-Harcourt side, had little work to do.
Coach Ogunbote had to substitute injured Chiamaka Madu late in the first stanza with Anyora and it was an impactful action as the midfield was reclaimed from the visitors just as the coming in of lanky attacker, Yusuf Ibrahim before the hour mark, turned the game around for the host as his massy runs and dribbles was a handful for the backline of the visitors.
With the victory, the former NPFL champions, Rangers, are now 8th on the twenty team log with nine points from a possible eighteen while the visitors dropped to 16th position.
Rangers gaffer, Ogunbote said after the match, “It was a good match. I am happy that we are getting it right. Rivers United is not a small team any day and they showed why they are where they were last season. The goals may not be coming in the desired numbers for now but I assure our teaming fans, supporters and sponsors that we shall make them proud at the end of the season.”
His counterpart, Azunda Stanley Eguma said, “It was a good first half we had but the second half let us down. It was a good game and Rangers has never been an easy customer any day. I am not disappointed with the result as they took their chance while we did not take ours.”
Captain of the Enugu side, Okechukwu Odita said, “We thank God for this victory and hope to continue this way in future matches. Rivers United gave us a good match but we were determined not to concede any point.”
ENUGU RANGERS TEAM: Femi Thomas, Camara Aziz, Adun Osamudiamwen, Christian Madu, Okechukwu Odita, Liadi Semiu, Bright Silas (Yusuf Ibrahim -54th Min.), Abu Azeez, Kelvin Itoya (Richard Jonathan -76th min.), Chiamaka Madu (Ugonna Anyora -41st min.), Godwin Aguda. SUBS NOT USED: Nana Bonsu, Chibuzor Madu, Felix Ogbuke, Ifeanyi George.
GOAL: Kelvin Itoya – 60th minute.
CAUTION: Godwin Aguda – 27th minute.
RIVERS UNITED TEAM: Sunday Ritimi, Markson Ojobo, Ali Chiwendu (Zoumana Doumbia – 79th min.), Obinze Godwin, Samson Gbadebo, Austin Festus, Daniel Isreal (Kuemien Venance – 65th min.), Oche Salefu, Samuel Akinbinu, Sunday Afolabi (Bernard Ovoke – 65th min.), Bamba Bakary. SUBS NOT USED: Robert Cole, Ikeleji Bello, Gabriel Olalekan, Christian Weli.