Silas header ends Enyimba’s unbeaten streak in Enugu
By Fisayo Dairo
Hosts Enugu Rangers edged an Oriental Derby of recent NPFL champions against Enyimba in a feisty contest at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, now nicknamed Cathedral, on Sunday.
Winger Bright Silas headed home the game’s only goal on five minutes to give Gbenga Ogunbote’s men a long-sought victory after three games without a win.
Rangers made two changes to the side which drew 1-1 at Sunshine Stars last time out. Experienced duo Felix Ogbuke and Ugonna Anyaora were handed starting berths in place of Chiamaka Madu and Ajani Ibrahim. Former Enyimba stars Olufemi Thomas, Chibuzor Madu and Ifeanyi George all start against their former clubs.
For Enyimba, Nigeria Young Player of the Year Ikouwem Udoh made his first appearance for Enyimba in 2018 while former Rangers midfielder Chinedu Udeagha also started for Paul Aigbogun’s men.
Rangers took an early lead in the fifth minute when Bright Silas – arguably the shortest man on the pitch – punished the 2015 champions for failing to defend Ogbuke’s inswinging free kick.
Enyimba swiftly swung into action and almost replied with a free kick of their own but Ikechukwu Ibenegbu’s effort was palmed over by goalkeeper Olufemi Thomas.
Thomas once again denied his former teammates in the 23rd minute. He was well positioned to save Stanley Dimgba’s well-struck effort after a flowing team move.
Rangers then threatened briefly through Godwin Aguda but his effort was weak to trouble Enyimba’s goalkeeper Fatau Dauda.
Rangers then suffered a set-back when Thomas went off injured on the half hour mark but his replacement Nana Bonsu was up to the task anyway.
The second half was a stark opposite of the first as aggressiveness from players of both teams resulted in a stop-start, injury ravaged contest.
Bonsu was however still able to preserve his side’s lead when he denied Enyimba substitute Abdulrahman Bashir from point blank range.
Rangers held on for their victory to end Enyimba’s seven-game unbeaten sequence.
Rangers: 16. Olufemi Thomas (Nana Bonsu 31′) 20. Tope Olusesi 31. Isaac Loute 13. Christian Madu 4. Okey Odita 12. Chibuzor Madu 17. Bright Silas 2. Godwin Aguda (Chidera Eze 75′) 33. Ifeanyi George 10. Ugonna Anyaora 14. Felix Ogbuke (Kelvin Itoya 48′)
Unused Subs: 5. Pape Ousmane 22. Solomon Okpako 23. Abu Azeez 30. Chiamaka Madu
Enyimba: 12 Fatau Dauda 16 Dare Ojo 28 Ikouwem Udoh 27 Tofic Omar (Freedom Omofoman 48′) 24 Nelson Ogbonnaya 5 Ifeanyi Anaemena (Isiaka Oladuntoye 69′) 11 Andrew Abalogu 22 Chinedu Udeagha (Abdulrahman Bashir 46′) 23 Chinonso Okonkwo 15 Ikechukwu Ibenegbu 13 Stanley Dimgba
Unused Subs: 1 Theophilus Afelokhai 6 Ernest Governor 9 Stephen Chukwude 26 Austin Oladapo
Referee: Promise Amadi
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