Dimgba the hero as Enyimba go five-match unbeaten
By Fisayo Dairo
Stanley Dimgba was the match winner once again for Enyimba after his first half penalty handed the former champions a 1-0 win over reigning champions Plateau United in a rescheduled Matchday 8 game decided on Wednesday in Calabar.
Dimgba who scored the winner in his team’s last home game against Abia Warriors once again converted from the spot on ten minutes after Emmanuel James had handled inside the box.
The visitors thought they had equalised early in the second half but Sunday Ingbede’s glancing header was chalked off before captain Salomon Junior was sent off in stoppage time for an off-the-ball incident with his Enyimba contemporary, Ifeanyi Anaemena.
Both teams have not been in league action since February 4 due to Plateau United’s CAF Champions League game with Eding Sport last Sunday.
Enyimba’s last league game; a draw at El-Kanemi came with its own cost with a couple of stars picking up injuries. This prompted team coach Paul Aigbogun to make five changes to his set-up with CHAN Super Eagles star Austin Oladapo named among the substitutes.
United on their own made just two changes to the team that trounced Sunshine Stars ten days ago with striker Tosin Omoyele rested, but still named among the substitutes, as also Peter Eneji; Nigeria’s villain at Morocco 2018.
Enyimba went for a quick start and could have gone in front after just four minutes but Plateau United goalkeeper Okiemute Odah denied his former teammate at Warri Wolves, Freedom Omofoman.
The People’s Elephant were however handed a chance to go in front on ten minutes after the ball bounced onto the arm of acting left-back Emmanuel Igho James inside the area, leaving the referee; Wale Adeniyi to point to the spot.
It was another of Odah’s former Wolves teammates, Dimgba who stepped up and assuredly converted, sending Odah the wrong way.
The visitors never really got going in the opening half and their only attempt on target was a speculative effort by Raphael Ayagwa which Enyimba goalkeeper Fatau Dauda did well to palm away.
Kennedy Boboye’s men however did enough to ruffle Enyimba’s right back Uche John who was replaced three minutes to half time after running the risk of a possible dismissal. Dare Ojo took his place.
Odah made further saves from Chinonso Okonkwo and Dimgba to keep the scoreline at 1-0 going into the break.
The champions came back into the second half with some real attacking intent and Joshua Obaje almost levelled after a swift counterattacking play by the visitors. His swivelled volley flying over after he was teed up by the towering Chukwuemeka Umeh.
They stepped it up a little more and thought they had equalised on 54 minutes when Ingbede headed home Jimmy Ambrose’s free kick but assistant referee Cletus Adewebi had his flag up for offside.
Boboye sent on his prized asset Omoyele for the final half an hour before Eneji joined action on 71 minutes.
In all, the hosts created the better scoring chances but the game did not end without some dramatic moments in the four minutes of added time.
First, a ball boy was stretchered away after an altercation with Eneji who was displeased by his time-wasting antics. The winger somehow avoided any sanction from the referee.
The final act of the game was in third minute of stoppage time when a coming together between the two captains Anaemena and Salomon ended with a punch aimed by the latter, prompting the referee to issue a straight dismissal.
It changed nothing on the final outcome though as United suffered their third defeat of the season though they remain second on the log, a point adrift of leaders Akwa United.
Enyimba meanwhile climbed to fifth position and extend their unbeaten run to five matches although they are still a further two points behind United on the log.
Enyimba: 12. Fatau Dauda 25. Uche John (Dare Ojo 42′) 3. Benjamin Francis 17. Farouk Mohammed 5. Ifeanyi Anaemena 24. Nelson Ogbonnaya 7. Freedom Omofoman (Austine Oladapo 59′) 29. Wasiu Alalade 23. Chinonso Okonkwo 30. Franco Atchou (Abdulrahman Bashir 81′) 13. Stanley Dimgba
Unused subs: 35. Friday Achimugwu 6. Ernest Governor 9. Stephen Chukwude 22. Chinedu Udeagha
BOOKED: Uche John 26′, Wasiu Alalade 55′
GOAL: Stanley Dimgba 11′ (p)
Plateau United: 22. Okiemute Odah 31. Hamisu Saleh 18. Emma James 5. Jimmy Ambrose 29. Salomon Junior 12. Ogene Elijah 25. Joshua Obaje (Tosin Omoyele 61′) 34. Bitrus Wash 14. Emeka Umeh 13. Raphael Ayagwa (Mafeng Pam 70′) 26. Sunday Ngbede (Peter Eneji 72′)
Unused subs: 1. John Gaadi 2. Chizoba Amaefule 6. Elisha Golbe 11. Amos Gyang
BOOKED: Joshua Obaje 27′, Emeka Umeh 60′
DISMISSAL: Salomon Junior 90′