Imenger earns late winner for Lobi over gritty Rivers Utd

By Clement Nwankpa Jnr

Substitute Nanen Barnabas Imenger's late strike sufficed for Lobi Stars to subdue a stubborn Rivers United 1-0 at the Aper Aku Stadium, Makurdi in Friday's NPFL game.

A section of the vociferous home crowd was overheard screaming 'Like Father, like son' while the older Barnabas Imenger, Lobi team manager, watched in admiration.

Imenger Snr must be proud of his boy's performance on a day events pointed towards the home side dropping points in their quest for a continental slot. It was not just a goal. It was a classical predator's goal reminiscent of the older Imenger in his days with BCC Lions of Gboko.


He may have been unlucky to have played in the days of the great Rashidi Yekini but Imenger had such great days as his son replicated in this game.

After Femi Thomas saved Anthony Okpotu's spot kick in the 63rd minute, Imenger came on for Okpotu in the 74th minute.

All the while, Lobi struggled in the final third as Rivers United defended desperately to get an away result.

The visitors rarely troubled Lobi's defenders all evening but in a swift counter-attack, Bernard Ovoke teed up John Odumegwu, who pulled the trigger but was denied by onrushing Okiemute Odah's legs.

That was United's best chance in the game and against the run of play, the hosts, who had been on the front foot for the larger part almost trailed.

Seconds after Odah's save, Okpotu was set to hit target on the other end but was fouled.

Lobi have had difficulties scoring from the spot and again, they missed. Thomas went low, thrust out a strong hand to deny Okpotu.

Things didn't seem to be working for Lobi's talisman. In the 73rd minute, Sunday Akleche's corner gifted Okpotu a free header but he directed the ball off target.

At this point, Lobi was raiding United's box while the United defenders dug in to stay alive. In the 75th minute, Kingsley Eduwo did everything right, but Thomas proved hard to beat.

In the 81st minute, Eduwo was clear on goal but shot agonizingly wide.

The signs were ominous. It was looking like one of those days that a team would work so hard and not get due result till Imenger struck in the 86th minute.

He dived and nodded in a characteristic inch-perfect delivery by Solomon Kwambe.

Can a snake give birth to something short? He brought fond memories of his dad, a man renowned for breathtaking, match-winning strikes in his time.

Team Lists

Lobi Stars: Okiemute Odah, Kwambe Solomon, Ebube Duru, Joseph Nathaniel, Agbaji Anthony, Nya Dennis, Akleche Sunday (Uchenna Eze 89'), Okpotu Anthony (Nanen B. Imenger 73'), Eduwo Kingsley, David Tyavkase (Kadiri Samad 69'), Mbah Ezekiel

Rivers United: Femi Thomas, Nweke Ifeanyi, Wassa Gabriel, Markson Ojobo, Austine Festus (Ayobami Asekunowo 23'), Olalekan Gabriel, Obomate Frederick, Lukman Mohammed (Christian Weli 63'), John Odumegwu, Ayo Saka, Ovoke Bernard (Abdoulaye Kanoute 89')

Lobi 1-0 Rivers United
Corners 6-0
Fouls 8-13
Throws 23-16
Attempts 8-1
On target 2-0
Offside 2-8
Yellow card 1-1.

Yellow cards: Imenger (87'); Frederick Obomate (88')

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