Enugu Rangers 2-1 Lobi Stars: Aguda and Madu score as Flying Antelopes bounce back

The league organisers have settled for the Centre Excellence to host the season-ending play-offs that would produce the league champions
The league organisers have settled for the Centre Excellence to host the season-ending play-offs that would produce the league champions

Enugu Rangers have shot themselves back into contention in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) Super Six after they recorded a 2-1 win over Lobi Stars on Thursday at the Agege Stadium in Lagos.

First-half goals from Godwin Aguda and Chiamaka Madu gave the Flying Antelopes the perfect start they wanted and even though Sikiru Alimi pulled one back in the second half for the Pride of Benue, it was not enough to deny coach Gbenga Ogunbote's men the crucial three points they needed to keep their title aspirations back on track.

Coach Gbenga Ogunbote tweaked his team after the opening day loss to Enyimba as he opted for the trio of Bobby Clement, Ajani Ibrahim, and Michael Uchebo upfront.

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On his part, the Lobi Stars coach Evans Ogenyi kept faith with Kadiri Samad, Sikiru Alimi and Samuel Mathias to lead the charge for the Pride of Benue.

Thursday's second game at the Agege Stadium started at a fast pace with both teams coming straight off the blocks after the whistle was sounded. 

It was Lobi Stars that had the first chance of the game after barely two minutes into the game when Alimi fired a shot from close range but his effort went slightly off target.

With their backs against the wall after the loss to Pillars, Rangers came all out; looking for an early goal to calm their nerves.

In the 7th minute, Chiamaka Madu forced a save from Lobi's Egbe Ospino and from the resultant corner kick the goalkeeper suffered a knock which temporarily halted the game.

With the game coming back on, Rangers continued to impress and they could have taken the lead in the 10th-minute but gangling striker Uchebo failed to get on the end of Tope Olusesi's cross.

The pressure from Rangers paid off in the 13th minute when Aguda broke the deadlock after receiving a good pass from Madu and calmly placed the ball into the net.

Lobi Stars tried to respond quickly with an equaliser of their own but they were met with a brick wall by Rangers backline.

In the 28th minute, the Flying Antelopes doubled their lead when Madu rounded the Lobi keeper Ospino before calmly slotting the ball into an open net.

While Rangers were seeking to further increase their lead, Lobi were pushing hard to reduce the deficit.

Both managers opted for early substitutions as coach Ogenyi pulled off Kelly Kester for Tiza Iorwuese while coach Gbenga Ogunbote brought in Ifeanyi George for Ajani Ibrahim.

Despite going two goals down, the Pride of Benue were undeterred and were pushing hard to reduce the deficit but all their efforts proved futile as the first half ended 2-0 in favour of Rangers.

In the second half, both teams started evenly as they cautiously sized each other out trying to exploit any loopholes.

After some near misses, Lobi Stars finally got a goal and it came on the hour mark when Alimi connected well with a pass from Kadiri and fired in a low drive which goalkeeper Nana Bonsu had no answer to.

As expected the goal by the Pride of Benue breathed life into the game as the defending champions pushed hard to get back on level terms but they were unlucky not to get another goal.

With the result, Rangers have finally secured their first win over Lobi in six game.

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