Enyimba climb to third after Rangers draw

by Solace Chukwu on Mon 4 September, 2017

Enyimba produced a committed, gutsy display to earn a share of the spoils in Enugu and move into third place on the league table.

In a fiercely-contested encounter, it was a tale of two penalties in the end, with Ikechukwu Ibenegbu's strike midway through the first half being cancelled out by Chibuzor Madu with two minutes to go.

Coming into the game, Enyimba were without titan midfielder Kelly Kester through suspension, and the likes of Mfon Udoh, Nelson Ogbonnaya and Ibrahim Mustapha were unavailable due to injury. Gbenga Ogunbote made five changes to the side that won so impressively last week against Wikki Tourist.

The People's Elephants began brightly, with Stanley Dimgba almost punishing defensive hesitation from the hosts, and Stephen Chukwude turning and firing wide inside the opening 10 minutes, but thereafter the hosts settled into a rhythm, and began to dominate possession. There was, however, nothing doing in terms of goalmouth action, with goalkeeper Fatau Dauda rarely pressed into service.

Somewhat against the run of play, Enyimba went ahead. A Rangers corner was easily gathered by Dauda, who distributed quickly to Chukwude on halfway out on the left. A drop of the shoulder freed him of his marker, and he raced into the hosts' half, before slipping in the advancing Ibenegbu. Rangers goalie Seidu Mutawakilu upended the maestro, and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

Ibenegbu dusted himself off, and coolly slotted it into the corner, the opening goal of the game and his seventh of the league season.

Five minutes later, he almost turned provider, laying the ball off to Chukwude after finding himself free of the Rangers defence. The striker volleyed narrowly wide.

The Flying Antelopes continued to dominate the ball, but just before the break, could have gone two goals down. This time, Chinonso Okonkwo found himself in the clear, but was tugged down inside the box as he shot, skewing his effort high and wide.

Needing to get themselves back in the game, Rangers upped the ante in the second period, and attacked in swarms, but without any real bite. Cross after cross was cleared or claimed by Dauda. It was not until Tope Olusesi dribbled to the edge of the box, dummied his marker and sent a deflected shot crashing against the crossbar that it looked like the scoreline was in any serious danger, and that was in the 80th minute!

However, all that territory told, with the hosts awarded a penalty, presumably for a tangle of bodies in the box, following an Osas Okoro free kick. Madu stepped up, and though Dauda went the right way, the spot kick was far enough in the corner to bring the scores, and the game, level.

The result sees Enyimba take third spot on the log, one point ahead of Akwa United with one more game to play this season.

Enugu Rangers 1 (Chibuzor Madu 88') - Enyimba 1 (Ikechukwu Ibenegbu 23')

Enyimba Starting XI: Fatau Dauda, Andrew Abalogu(c), Ifeanyi Anaemena, Uche John, Chima Akas, Dare Ojo, Solomon Okpako, Stanley Dimgba, Ikechukwu Ibenegbu (Olufemi Oladapo 82'), Chinonso Okonkwo (Chinedu Ohanachom 63'), Stephen Chukwude (Maxwell Effiom 74').

Unused subs: Njoku Izundu, Samson Gbadebo, Goodluck Onamado, Eric Frimpong