The ‘Flying Antelopes’, Rangers International F.C mid-week got its first victory on the road in the 2019/2020 NPFL season with a very hard fought 2-1 win over host’ Warri Wolves F.C inside the Warri City stadium.
Coach Salisu Yusuf made two changes to the squad that picked a draw at the weekend in a CAF Confederation cup encounter and his wards were quickly off the block in the match day 15 encounter as they raced to a two-goal lead inside the first eight minutes of the encounter handled by Oladapo Olaniyi and his assistants.
‘Home Boy’, Kelvin Itoya drew the first blood in the second minute of play after reacting the quickest inside the box to blast into the next as Richard Ochayi fumbled an Ifeanyi George’ cross while Kenechukwu Agu made it two on eight minutes with a sublime freekick from the edge of the box after Ibrahim Olawoyin was upended by two Wolves defenders.
To their credit, the host’ front men took the game to Rangers with Efe Yarhere, Mark Daniel, Amadi Samuel and Charles Atshimene asking vital questions which the visitors’ backline provided all answers.
Ghanaian shot-stopper, Nana Bonsu was at his imperious best as he parried, blocked and did well to deny Yarhere on 16 minutes and Charles on 22 minutes as the coach Evans Ogenyi tutored side looked to have woken from slumber.
On 33 minutes, the visitors thought they have increased their lead further as Kenechukwu Agu’ well-delivered freekick from over twenty-six meters seemed to have crossed the line before Ochayi beat it out to keep the score at 2-0.
Injury to Uche John at the hour mark saw the introduction of Isiaka Oladuntoye who was still settling down to the flow of the game but in a moment of loss of concentration gifted Charles Atshimene an opportunity which he grabbed with both hands to give the host a lifeline on 40 minutes.
In the second half, the host were more pushful in the third half of the pitch and could have equalized after five minutes of resumption but Amadi Samuel only watched in awe as he shot wide off the post with an empty net at his mercy.
With half an hour left on the clock, Rangers’ playing strength was reduced as Kenechukwu picked his second booking of the evening and sent for early showers but to their credit, there was no pressing the panic button for the coach as his wards saw out the remainder of the game with one man down and still created three great chances they could not be converted while been articulate at the back.
Coach Salisu Yusuf said after the encounter, “It was a good game not because we won but we did most of what we have been practising in training sessions well today. It shows that future matches will continue to get better for us. Also, the red card to one of us was a challenge but we did well to contain them and even venture forward to have a sniff at goal. No doubt, Warri Wolves gave us a good match but they came out late which affected them.”
Captain of the Enugu side, Tope Olusesi said after the win, “It was a good match with the result we wanted. It can only get better and we hope to continue with the character displayed today against Warri Wolves especially in our home games. It was a difficult game but the mindset of the players, coaches, management and supporters saw us through this one even what we were a man down.”
Kelvin Itoya on his own said, “Before the game, I tweeted that it was going to be an emotional game and it was so which made me not to celebrate when I scored the first goal. I thank my supporters for all they did today. We continue to push for a good finish in the league as we know that it is not over for us to be crowned champions of the league again.”
With the win, Rangers now have twelve points from eleven matches with four games in hand and will be trying Abia Warriors for size in another ‘Oriental Derby’ at the weekend in Enugu.
RANGERS TEAM: Nana Bonsu, Tope Olusesi, Emmanuel Nwokeji, Tony Shimaga, Issif Traore (Kehinde Adedipe – 68th Min.), Uche John (Isiaka Oladuntoye -30th Min.), Kenechukwu Agu, Ibrahim Olawoyin, Ifeanyi George (Seka Pascal -76th Min.), Kelvin Itoya, Chiamaka Madu. SUBS NOT USED: Seidu Mutawakilu, Dauda Madaki, Osas Okoro, Chinonso Eziekwe.
GOALS: Kelvin Itoya -2nd Minute, Kenechukwu Agu -8th Minute
Referee: Oladapo Olaniyi – Ondo State.