Nnamdi Egbujuo scored the only goal as an impressive Sunshine Stars fell 1-0 to Enugu Rangers in a closely fought rescheduled NPFL week one fixture at the Cathedral.
Another good display was not enough to prevent the Owena Whales from recording their first loss of the season in a disappointing Thursday’s afternoon at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu.
Coach Kabiru Dogo made four changes to the makeshift side that drew with Warri Wolves on Sunday as four new signins: Jamiu Alimi, Bright Akpojubweuvwo, Jonathan Zikiye and Sadiq Rilwan were handed their debut in the Orange and Blue jersey.
The quartet replaced Kehinde Adeyemi, Tope Akande, Alaba Adeniyi and Seun Olulayo in the first XI and their inclusion to have given the side instant synergy as Sunshine Stars dominated territory and possesions from the kick off.
During the dominance spell for the Owena Whales, midfield dynamo, Anthony Omaka had a glancing header saved by Seidu Mutawakilu inside the opening 10 minutes before drawing yet another impressive save from the goalkeeper in the 15′.
The best of the chances fell to Israel Abia who brilliantly outwit and paced out his marker to a pass in the area, but could not manage to put a tamed jab pass on-rushing Mutawakilu in the 35′.
Shortly after, it was time for the hosts to threaten, the former champions surged forward and knitted a few a passes together to create chance for Dauda Alkali who dragged his left-footed effort wide five minutes from the break.
Eight minutes after the restart Saliu Suleiman pulled a decisive goal line save to deny Rangers during a corner kick scuffle.
Nevertheless, the Flying Antelopes broke the deadlock in the 55′ through Egbujuo who was on hand to finish off a well crafted out chance by Ugochukwu Ugweke from the byline.
Sunshine Stars continued to probe after going down and were close to restoring parity when Rilwan beat his marker and an unleashed from the edge but his low drive, heading for the bottom left was kept out by Mutawakilu in the 73′.
With hitman, Abia injured and substituted in the closing stages Sunshine Stars looked to have lost some of it fear factors as Rangers closed out the game with little trouble for their first win of the season.
The Akure Landlords will next make a short trip across the East from the Coal City to Umuahia for a match day three contest with Abia Warriors on Sunday.
Dogo’s Post Match Quotes
_”One will wonder why my team could not get something from this game with the way the boys played. Though I know we need to work more on the attack, I am confident we will get it right._
_”Today four of the new players were able to play for for us and I have no doubts things will improve by the time we have all the new players available.”_
Sunsbine XI | Suleiman; Abe, Zikiye, Akpojubweuvwo, Alimi; Fatokun, Omaka, Rilwan; Ekelojuoti; Otegbeye (Adejubu 63′), Abia (Adeyemi 79′)
Unsed Subs | Ariyo; Obasi, Olulayo, Akande, Obanigba
Cautions | Abe 19′, Fatokun 62′