It was a come-from-behind win for the ‘Flying Antelopes’, Rangers International F.C over visiting Bayelsa United with a 2-1 win as the second round of 2022/2023 NPFL Abridge season, Group B matches began at the weekend.
Playing at their adopted, Awka City Stadium, coach Abdul Maikaba made only two changes to the starting team that narrowly lost to reigning league champions, Rivers United, mid-week in a rescheduled fixture as Chidera Ezeh and Chidiebere Nwobodo made the cut ahead of Innocent Gabriel and Hadi Mohammed but it was the visitors that quickly settled into their game plan in the match day 10 encounter.
To their credit, the coach Dipreye Teibowei tutored side did not come to Awka to seat back and defend as most clubs do but the home side soaked all the pressure that was thrown at them with the captain of the side doing a yeoman’s job just as Emeka Nwabulu was good between the sticks.
The leading scorer for the Enugu side, Godwin Obaje had chances at the other end after being served some sumptuous passes by lively, Chidiebere Nwobodo, who was in his element in this fixture, but goalkeeper, Osagie Onisodumaye, twice denied the bulky striker on 22 and 33 minutes.
On 34 minutes, a quick interchange of passes that involved the trio of Robert Mizo, Oyowah Alex, and Alex Jerry cut through the home side’s back line like a hot knife on butter as Nwabulu was exposed for Alex Jerry to stab home the opening goal of the fixture to the delight of the Yenagoa based team’s traveling bench.
At the start of the second stanza, coach Abdul Maikaba introduced the duo of Leonard Ugochukwu and Innocent Gabriel for Saidu Adamu and Shedrack Asiegbu which helped in pushing the visitors into their defensive shells and in one of his massy runs at the defense, goal-bound Chidiebere Nwobodo was brought down inside the box and the referee wasted no time in awarding a penalty kick that was expertly dispatched by Godwin Obaje on 48 minutes.
The quartet of Austin Onyemaechi, Chidiebere Nwobodo, Leonard Ugochukwu, and Kenneth Igboke continued to probe for more openings at the opponent’s back which came but could not be utilized as Osagie was at his best to deny Obaje’ connecting header on 51 minutes as well as an Onyemaechi’ well struck freekick that threatened to go in on 67th minute.
Late substitute, Kingsley Maduforo, was upended in the box 87 minutes after he was released by a Leonard Ugochukwu defense-splitting pass and the arbiter wasted no time in making the penalty call that was converted by Chidera Ezeh on 89 minutes to hand the Coal City landlords a good start in the second round.
Chief Coach, Mbwas Mangut, in a post-match chat, said, “It was a difficult match with due respect to the opponents after the first encounter in Yenagoa ended in a draw. We created a lot of scoring chances but failed to convert until they got the lead but we came back stronger in the second half and got our deserved result with the penalty calls from the referee as our opponent continued committing fouls in and around the box. We shall keep the momentum going into our next match and hope that we get our target as we chase a top-three finish.”
Rangers will next take on Abia Warriors F.C in an ‘Oriental Derby’, mid-week, March 29, 2023, in Umuahia in a match day 11 fixture.
RANGERS TEAM: Emeka Nwabulu, Chidera Eze, Kenneth Igboke, Uche John, Olawale Doyeni, Chinemerem Ugwueze (Austin Osayande -66 mins.), Saidu Adamu (Innocent Gabriel -46 Mins.), Shedrack Asiegbu (Leonard Ugochukwu -46 Mins.), Godwin Obaje (Hadi Mohammed -66 Mins.), Austin Onyemaechi (Kingsley Maduforo -83 Mins.), Chidiebere Nwobodo. UNUSED SUBS: Chizoba Okoh, Ebuka Anthony, Esor Achibong, Philip Clement.
GOALS: Rangers- Godwin Obaje – 48th Minute (Pen), Chidera Ezeh -89th Minute (Pen).
Bayelsa United – Alex Jerry -34th Minute.
Rangers International F.C, Enugu.
Facebook Page: Rangers International F.C of Enugu