- Published on Wednesday, 15 March 2017 21:04
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By China Acheru
Enyimba FC shook off the lethargy of their last five games to win 2-0 against FC Ifeanyiubah in a rescheduled Matchday 9 game in the Nigeria Professional Football League played in Calabar on Wednesday with their captain Mfon Udoh leading by example.
Joseph Osadiaye put the homers ahead in the 32nd minute and then Mfon Udoh made it 2-0 with just two minutes left on the clock to give a much needed victory to Enyimba FC.
Enyimba coach, Gbenga Ogunbote told NPFL.ng after the game that a 2-0 result was not one he should be proud of but will take it, considering their recent poor form.
“We played well in games but failed to score, which has been our problem since the season started.
“Everyone is aware that we need to step up our game and if you look at the game today, we could have scored four goals and still go home thinking it is not enough,” Ogunbote said.
If Ogunbote thought he should have won by 4-0, then he wasn’t over ambitious because his players did enough to score that many goals.
Mfon Udoh could have put Enyimba ahead as early as the second minute but his effort went wide after Ismaila Gata set him free.
Two minutes later, Joseph Osadiaye found space in the box but his shot was blocked for a corner.
After a quarter of an hour, Joseph Osadiaye freed Mfon Udoh in the box. The captain tried to chip the onrushing FC Ifeanyiubah goalkeeper Bamba Drissa but his outstretched leg saved a near certain goal.
On 23 minutes, Isiaka Oladuntoye made an attempt from distance and after a deflection, Bamba Drissa recovered on time to save on the goal line.
Mfon Udoh again was on to score in the 26th minute when in a classy move he tried a bicycle kick in the six-yard box from a Mustapha Ibrahim cross, but Bamba Drissa was at the right place to parry the ball to safety.
It was Ismaila Gata’s turn in the 31st minute during a goal mouth melee but his effort was cleared off the line by a block of FC Ifeanyiubah defenders as the away side continued to hold on.
Breaking the deadlock
When the opening goal eventually came in the 32nd minute from Osadiaye, it was the mass of bodies in the box that probably blocked the sight line of the goalkeeper.
From a corner kick, Mfon Udoh crossed into the box and Osadiaye curled the ball in from the periphery of the 18-yard box to score.
FC Ifeanyiubah coach, Yaw Preko thought his players played well but conceded two goals that could have been avoided.
“It was unfortunate to have conceded two avoidable goals. Our spirits were high for this game and it was unfortunate we failed to get a result here,” Preko told npfl.ng.
“The boys gave their best. We will go back to the drawing board. We are playing home so we will make sure we take our maximum three points there. It has been tough for us away but we are working towards getting these results away from home,” Preko said.
But FC Ifeanyiubah did little on the pitch to show they wanted to score in the game.
All game long they had just five shots at goal and none on target though two were blocked shots on the goalline.
But the closest the away side had to scoring a goal was in the 16th minute when Dare Ojo saved off the line in a goalmouth melee.
After that it was all Enyimba while FC Ifeanyiubah attacked in fits and spurts.
Godwin Obaje was kept quiet for most of the game but in the 33rd minute he went past his marker, Samson Gbadebo easily but his low cross was cuddled gratefully by Theophilus Afelokhai.
In the second half, with FC Ifeanyiubah seeming like they wanted to get an equaliser they took off Tamen Medranno for Ifeanyi Onuigbo and seven minutes later he had his first chance to score but he shot wide from a distance.
Wasiu Jimoh also replaced Wisdom Magbisa in the 47th minute.
Enyimba, desperate to get a second goal threw on Stephen Chukwude for Ismaila Gata in the 50th minute and then Olufemi Oladapo for Ikechukwu Ibenegbu in the 67th minute.
With a second goal seeming evasive, Gbenga Ogunbote removed Joseph Osadiaye in the 78th minute and replaced him with Stanley Dimgba but FC Ifeanyiubah held on.
Preko said he threw on Onuigbo because he needed a fighter in the team.
“There were a lot of high balls and I needed someone who could challenge and fight the defenders and Onuigbo did a good job at that," Preko said.
Onuigbo’s presence in the team meant little or no rest for the Enyimba defenders but when he had a clear chance at goal, he did not turn up.
In the 84th minute, Godwin Obaje who was in constant battle with Samson Gbadebo and Isiaka Oladuntoye continued to fight and his persistence paid off with a corner kick.
From the corner kick taken, the ball fell to Ifeanyi Onuigbo, what should have been a free header but it seemed like he ducked rather than make an attempt to score.
With the body language of the players seeming like they had settled for a 1-0 score line, Ibrahim Mustapha got an innocuous ball and easily went past his marker to face goalkeeper Bamba.
He sidefooted Bamba and passed to Mfon Udoh who scored from close range. That was in the 88th minute.
The game was effectively over but Onuigbo had a late chance to reduce the tally one minute later but his shot from distance took a slight deflection from the goalkeeper and sailed a few inches off target for a corner kick.
Enyimba won 2-0 but it could have been by a higher margin if not for profligacy on the part of their players.
Enyimba: Afelokhai, Akas, Gbadebo, Oladuntoye, Ojo, Kester, Osadiaye/ Dimgba 78’, Ibenegbu/ Oladapo 67’, Udoh, Gata/ Chukwude 50’, Mustapha
Subs not used: Fatau Dauda, Ifeanyi Anaemena, Solomon Okpako, Chinedu Ohanachom
FC Ifeanyiubah: Drissa, Baah, Mgbechimereze/ Ajunwa 84’, Olamilekan, Nwabili, Medrano/ Onuigbo 46’, Luamba, Ikenna, Alberico, Magbisa/ Wasiu 47’, Obaje
Subs not used: Okafor, Elu, Msonter, Osanga
Enyimba 2-0 FC Ifeanyiubah
Shots at goal: 11-5
Shots on Target: 6-0
Blocked shots: 2-2
Fouls committed: 9-12
Corner kicks: 11-2
Man of the Match: Mfon Udoh
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