Enyimba triumphant again after 2-0 Dolphins win
Enyimba were triumphant again for the first time in four weeks after a comfortable 2-0 win over Dolphins FC on Matchday 9 of the Nigeria Professional Football League.
This may be their third league win of the season but it is their most crucial and one with the potential to change the course of their campaign. The club had not tasted victory since their 2-0 win over El Kanemi on March 24 and pressure on the team had become overwhelming.
So on the day, there could be only two outcomes for Enyimba. Choke or rise to the occasion. They chose the latter, thanks to Ifeanyi Ede and Ugo Nwachukwu who scored on either side of half-time to sink Dolphins.
Salisu Yusuf featured a midfield that included Andrew Abalogu, Chimezie Amanfor and Ugo Nwachukwu, with Ifeanyi Ede the tip of the spear in attack. From the start, it was apparent Dolphins were going to struggle to deal with the dangerous pace of these players and after just eight minutes, that worry proved well founded.
Abalogu's pass to Ifeanyi Ede was inch perfect and the forward raced into the box, clear on goal. Dolphins' Chidiebere Okolie, desperate to avert danger, brought down Ede from behind and the referee wasted no time in pointing to the spot.
Ede himself stepped forward to take the spot-kick and he did so excellently, calmly sending goalkeeper Austine Brown the wrong way and give Enyimba their first goal in five games. A critical goal for a club at a critical moment.
While it seemed that a rout was going to be in the offing, the first half produced no further goals. Instead, Uwadiegwu Ugwu made a goal line clearance to deny Dolphins a great chance to draw level in the 15th minute and goalscorer Ifeanyi Ede was replaced on the half-hour mark by Uche Agbo.
Substitute Uche Agbo could have written his name in gold when, eight minutes after joining the action he got to the end of Chimezie Amanfor's corner kick but his header went inches off Brown's left post.
Enyimba started the second half as strongly as the first and six minutes in, they doubled their lead. Austine Brown who had appeared shaky in goal throughout for Dolphins feebly punched out Uwadiegwu's free-kick into the path of Chinonso Okonkwo who in his eagerness, mis-hit the ball but Ugo Nwachukwu was alert to the opportunity and pounced, firing Enyimba into a comfortable lead.
Nollywood star Osita Iheme who was present in the stands for Enyimba cheered the goal excitedly.
Nwachukwu's goal had come moments after Emem Edwok had forced a save out of Paul Godwin. The midfielder's failure to take full advantage and draw his side level proved costly. Dolphins Head Coach Stanley Eguma had declared before the game that his side will score a goal but in the end, they were left desperately trying to prevent conceding third.
Enyimba were buoyed by their second goal and moved to kill the tie off but they could only pile the pressure for a short while as they were depleted by injury. Ugwu Uwadiegwu whose performance on the afternoon had been solid limped off in the 72nd with a sprained ankle and his substitute Nura Mohammed sustained a cut above his right eye. Even the ferocious captain Chinedu Udoji appeared in pain and was seeing clutching his knee after a tackle. Ugo Nwachukwu also needed treatment after being stretchered off.
Dolphins did try to take advantage of the weakened Enyimba but the closest they came to scoring was a shot from the edge of the box by Chidi Osuchukwu which went straight at Paul Godwin in stoppage time.
In the end, it proved to be a deserved win for an Enyimba side clearly in need of a boost. Certainly the three points earned will lift them off 15th place on the log but most significantly, what this victory will do for the team is raise their confidence as they attempt to mount a resurgence.