NPFL Matchday 21: Rangers Leave It Late Against Rivers United In Enugu
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It was another late strike from the wards of coach Olugbenga Ogunbote as the ‘Flying Antelopes’ earned a hard fought victory over visiting Rivers United with Chidera Ezeh stabbing in the back breaking goal on 85 minutes off a beautiful cut-back from FIFA World cup star, Michael Uchebo.
The injury plagued host had started the match day 21 NPFL 2018/2019 fixture more purposeful with little pressure owing to the fact that they have already picked a ticket to the end of season ‘Super-Six’ with Uchebo combining well with Godwin Aguda, Ugochukwu Ugwuoke and Chidera Ezeh but were unlucky not to have been ahead in the first quarter of the encounter watched by a very appreciative crowd of spectators inside Nnamdi Azikiwe stadium.
Isaac Loute watched in awe as his freekick from the edge of the box crashed against the cross bar and went out on 7 minutes while Uchebo and the spectators were bemused on 12 minutes when they thought that Festus Austin clipped the feet of the attacking sensation inside the box after he was free on goal by Aguda by the referee thought otherwise.
Drissa Bamba, in goal for the visitors produced a world class save on 24 minutes to deny Chidera Ezeh’ effort after Ugochukwu had set him up while Rangers’ Japhet Opubo had to be at his best on the stroke of half time to beat out a Bamba Bakary’ disguised shot from over twenty-five yards.
When both sides came back from the break, it was the turn of the host’ backline to work extra hard to contain the coach Stanley Eguma wards as Isiaka Oladuntoye, Akpos Adubi, Isaac Loute and Tony Shimaga did well to stop Bright Onyedikachi, Wasiu Jimoh and Cletus Emotan from causing any havoc.
With the match seemingly headed for a draw after Bright Onyedikachi saw his well struck free kick on 76 minutes from over twenty-five meters crashed onto the cross bar while Wasiu Jimoh could not explain his missed effort on 80 minutes with only the goalkeeper at his mercy, substitute, Felix Ogbuke collected a loss ball from the center circle, floated it to Chiamaka Madu who found Uchebo inside the vital area who danced past two markers to place an inch perfect pass for onrushing Chidera Ezeh to drill in the only goal of the encounter that was greeted with wild jubilation by the fans.
With two minutes into added time, the visitors had an opportunity to pull the chest nut out of the burning fire as Emotan Cletus failed to make hay while the sun shine as he watched agonizingly his shot creep over the face of the goal for a harmless goal kick.
Coach Ogunbote after the encounter said, “It was great game we had today considering the injury worries in the team. We played a much relaxed game with the team we presented and I thank God for His favors in the encounter. I was not worried at any time in the game as we were creating the chances but not taking them. Even if the game ended with just one goal, the three points matters a lot considering insinuations in various quarters before the game. We now prepare harder for the end of the season’ championship as coming tops of our group is just the first step to our target for the season.”
He further said, “I must not fail to thank our numerous fans and supporters for standing behind us all through the regular season and call for more as we go for the super six. That was why we did a lap of honor for them at the end of the match.”
Godwin Aguda who captained the side on the day said, “We give God all the glory for this win. It was a very important victory considering the fact that we got our biggest loss this season in the hands of Rivers United. This was in not revenge as we just wanted to play for our pride and I believe we have done that in some way. The super six is our next target and we hope to do better and return to Enugu as league champions.”
With the win, Rangers maintain its stay at the top of group A log of the abridged NPFL 2018/2019 season with 40 points from 21 matches closely followed by Lobi Stars who are on 34 points and Enyimba who occupy the third spot with 33 points going into the last match of the season fixed for Sunday, May 26, 2019 in various venues.