Israel Abia brace earns Rangers revenge over Dakkada
By Fisayo Dairo
League’s top scorer Israel Abia scored twice to lead Rangers to a 2-3 win away at Dakkada FC in a Match Day 25 game decided at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo on Wednesday.
Abia netted his 11th and 12th goal of the season in the encounter, sending him clear at the top of goalscorers’ chat, with the latter sealing all three points for his side in the five-goal thriller played behind closed doors and a worthy revenge for their home loss to Dakkada earlier in the season.
Ibrahim Olawoyin, arguably Rangers’ player of the season so far also scored once and provided an assist for the first of Abia’s goals as Salisu Yusuf’s men made it three wins in three games within the last seven days.
It was hosts Dakkada who drew the first blood in the game through team’s top striker Femi Ajayi who tapped home the first of his two goals in the sixth minute after Marcos Bassey slid Aniekan Ekpe’s free kick into his path.
Both teams then went close after the quarter hour mark with Rangers goalkeeper Nana Bonsu saving two headers in the space of 30 seconds from Moses Effiong and Eso Archibong. At the other end, Dakkada goalkeeper Vincent Edafe made himself big to deny Abia from point blank range after a sublime pass by Ugochukwu Ugwuoke.
Edafe could however do nothing to prevent Abia and Rangers from netting in the 21st minute after a flowing team move carved the hosts open with Olawoyin laying it on a plate for Abia to tap home.
Rangers thought they had scored their second of the day four minutes later but in-form attacker Chinonso Eziekwe saw his effort chalked off for offside.
Rangers however went in front for the first time in the game two minutes before the break courtesy of Olawoyin who rounded off another great team effort.
Abia’s superb diagonal pass was brilliantly brought down by Osas Okoro who then leaves a Dakkada defender sprawling on the ground before surrendering the ball to Olawoyin who hit home a fantastic effort on the turn.
The hosts, as expected came into the second half more purposefully and head coach Caleb Esu replaced winger Moses Effiong with Ibrahim Abiola shortly after the restart.
The Orange Boys were awarded a free kick in a good position ten minutes after the break but were unlucky as Eso Archibong’s effort came off the post before Anthony Shimaga cleared for Rangers.
Their equalising goal however came in the 62nd minute through Ajayi, who netted his seventh goal of the season after cushioning Aniekan Ekpe’s lofted pass with his chest before firing into the bottom corner, capitalising on Uche John’s hesitancy to clear.
Rangers coach, Yusuf sought for more assurance defensively after Dakkada’s equaliser, introducing Ivorian defender Issif Traore for midfielder Ugochukwu Ugwuoke, thereby reverting to a 352 formation.
That new setup would later be useful for the Flying Antelopes in the last 13 minutes after Tony Shimaga was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Shimaga’s sending off came seven minutes after he had provided assist for the match winning goal for Abia; his floated pass calmly slotted in between the legs of Edafe by Abia.
Rangers kept their discipline and compact shape thereafter and saw out a thrilling win which takes them to 4th position on the log with a game in hand.
Dakkada FC: 1. Vincent Edafe 25. Uwana Asuquo (Prince Wisdom 90+1′) 3. Imo Obot 4. Osimaga Duke 32. Francis Odinaka Onyirimba 28. Lateef Babalola 33. Spencer Marcos Bassey 8. Eso Archibong 35. Femi Ajayi 10. Aniekan Ekpe (c) (Godwin Inamoto 64′) 11. Moses Effiong (Ibrahim Abiola 49′)
Subs: 13. Thomas Omokhudu 17. Uchenna Odeh 20. Franklyn Ekong 18. Godwin Inamoto 27. David Enobong 14. Ibrahim Abiola 7. Prince Wisdom
BOOKED: Lateef Babalola 34′
GOALS: Femi Ajayi 6′ 62′
Rangers: 25. Nana Bonsu 34. Osas Okoro 7. Ifeanyi Nweke 4. 26. Anthony Shimaga Uche John 33. Franklin Anthony 10. Ugochukwu Ugwuoke (Issif Traore 66′) 30. Chiamaka E. Madu (c) 27. Israel Abia (Kenechukwu Agu 75′) 17. Ibrahim Olawoyin 14. Chinonso Eziekwe (Nnamdi Egbujuo 74′)
Subs: 1. Seidu Mutawakilu 6. Issif Traore 32. Emmanuel Nwokeji 22. Kehinde Adedipe 29. Kenechukwu Agu 23. Nnamdi Egbujuo 12. Sadiq Abass
BOOKED: Ugochukwu Ugwuoke 14′ Chiamaka Madu 66′ Anthony Shimaga 32′ 77′
DISMISSAL: Anthony Shimaga 77′
GOALS: Israel Abia 21, 70′ Ibrahim Olawoyin 43′
Referee: Hong Zubairu (Adamawa)