Enugu Rangers 1-1 Lobi Stars: Solomon Kwambe late goal denies Flying Antelopes victory

The Flying Antelopes gaffer is grateful for the ‘helping hand’ from his former club
The Flying Antelopes gaffer is grateful for the ‘helping hand’ from his former club

Enugu Rangers once again failed to beat Lobi Stars in a league tie as they were held to a 1-1 draw in their rescheduled game played at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium on Wednesday.

The Flying Antelopes had shot into the lead in the 62nd minute through Godwin Aguda who scored from the penalty spot.

However, the Pride of Benue earned a share of the spoils when Solomon Kwambe scored in stoppage time with a well-taken freekick to end the fixture all-squared.

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Enugu Rangers got back-to-back away wins in Sagamu and Akure, so they were hoping to consolidate on top position in Group A of the Nigeria Professional Football League with another win, this time at home against the reigning league champions.

Coach Gbenga Ogunbote made his intention well-known with his attack-minded formation which saw the quartet of Michael Uchebo, Chiamaka Madu, Ajani Ibrahim, and Godwin Aguda all getting starts.

Coach Solomon Ogbeide was fresh from getting a point off MFM in Lagos, so he named an equally strong team that had the usual suspects; Kelly Kester, Dare Ojo, Samad Kadiri and Kwambe all starting.

It was Rangers that came out attacking in the early exchanges and they could have gone ahead inside the first 15 minutes but Uchebo fluffed a golden opportunity to the surprise of many.

Ivorian star Seka Pascal, who ensured that Rangers got their results in their previous three games, had a chance just after the half-hour mark but failed to convert this time.

Then it was the turn of Ugwu Uwadiegwu who agonizingly watched his free kick in the 40th-minute sail over the crossbar.

Hard as Rangers pressed for the opener, they just could not find the back of the net as Lobi Stars put up a stout defensive display.

On resumption for the second half, coach Ogunbote pulled out Uchebo and brought in Ifeanyi Egwim.

It was Egwim’s first appearance at the Cathedral since October 2, 2016, when he got injured.

Unlike the first half, it was the visitors that had the first clear chance after the restart of the game but Dare Ojo’s effort was inches off target.

There was a reprieve for Rangers in the 62nd minute when the referee pointed to the spot after Kelly Kester's challenge on his former Sharks teammate Ibrahim Ajani was adjudged as a penalty kick and Aguda calmly slotted it in.

As the time ticked away, Lobi Stars battled hard for an equaliser but Rangers were also keen to double their lead.

While it looked like all hope was lost for the Pride of Benue, they were overjoyed when Kwambe curled home a peach of a free kick from 25 yards to deny the hosts all three points.

With Wednesday’s result, Rangers are still top with 28 points from 13 games while Lobi Stars are occupying fourth position with 22 points from 15 games.

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