By Emmanuel Chinedu – Enugu
Rangers international of Enugu on Monday bounced back from their home defeat Rivers United last week Sunday as they held Joint table toppers Akwa united to a goalless draw in the Nigeria professional football league, NPFL matchday 22 encounter at the Nest Of Champions, Uyo.
It was an encounter that was hyped to be the biggest game of the matchday 22, both side came into the game in the back of their various matchday 21 results, Akwa united defeating their home rivals Dakkada FC 2-0 while Rangers lost 1-0 at home to Rivers united at the cathedral.
But, the Kennedy Boboye led side continued from where they stopped last weekend and nearly took the lead, in the opening two minutes of the game when mfom Udoh slipped through on goal but he could only got the slightest of touch as his strike was saved by Rangers’ GK seidu mutawakilu. It’s became a troublesome spell for Akwa united as they were forced to make an early substitution after Etim Mathew, who suffered a knock was replaced by Otobong Effiong in the ’26 minutes of the game.
It became an end to end stuff, both teams failed to create any meaningful chances as the half time ended in a deadlock.
Rangers international came into the second half with a more direct approach, and nearly took the lead when olawoyin Ibrahim slipped through on goal,before he was fouled outside the 18 yard box by Akwa united’s Ubong Friday to force a free-kick for Rangers in the ’55 minutes. Olawoyin then continued to press on from the left flank for Rangers as He draws another free kick off his marker and got a dead-ball situation in a good position for his team in the ’59 minutes,but it was a wasteful one to call.
Kennedy Boboye was forced to make a triple substitutions for the home side as He introduced wisdom Fernando, Abubakar Aliyu and Nasiru to replaced Ubong Friday, Ikechukwu Nwani and Mfom udoh in the ’65 minutes for Akwa united.
Within a minute of been introduced in the game, Abubakar Aliyu came so close to break the deadlock as he forces a save off Rangers’ GK Seidu Mutawakilu from 20 yards in the ’66 minutes.
The home side came close again in the ’72 minutes, when Dare Ojo took a strong swing at goal through a free kick in front of Rangers’box but his strike was saved again by GK seidu mutawakilu.
There was a call for penalty from the Rangers’bench, after Dare Ojo was thought to have fouled Olawoyin Ibrahim inside the Akwa united’s box, but a free kick was awarded to Rangers at the end in the ’77 minutes.
The visitors, Rangers were then reduced to 10-man after substitute Issif Traore was sent-off over his tackle on Abubakar Aliyu,who was through on goal before he was brought down by Traore in the ’90+3 minutes for Akwa united.
Rangers then with 10-man and defending throughout the final seconds of the game as they held on to earned a vital away point after they held Akwa united to a goalless draw at the Nest Of Champions.
It is the third time in a row that the flying Antelopes will be picking atleast a point in their three visit to Uyo against Akwa united in the league.
With the draw, Rangers international still remain in the 7th position on 34 points from 22 matches while Akwa united moved to the top of the log on 41 points from 22 games.
Salisu Yusuf will be hoping to see his side return to winning ways, when they play host to Jigawa Golden Stars in the Nigeria professional football league, NPFL, Matchday 23 Mid-week Encounter on Thursday at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu while Akwa united will be on the road to take on High-scoring Abia Warriors at the Okigwe Township stadium.
The Kennedy Boboye side, are still unbeaten in their 12 consecutive games in a row and the current longest run this season.