By Tony Ademodi
A second minute goal from Abia Warriors defender, Collins Nwaburuoke, was the decider for Abia Warriors against Rangers in a Matchday 10 fixture at the Umuahia Township Stadium on Sunday.
Rangers conceded the goal, off a corner kick from Sunday Megwo, whose cross picked out an unmarked Nwaburuoke to head home.
Rangers, after conceding the goal early, took the game to Abia Warriors, and in the 16th minute Chidiebere Nwobodo combined well with Joel Odoh close to the Abia Warriors box, but Odoh failed to shoot on target.
Abia Warriors had a chance to increase their lead in the 22nd minute, after Obi Samson, found the back of the net against the run of play, but was ruled to be offside by the assistant referee.
Rangers trio of Kazeem Ogunleye, Chidiebere Nwobodo, Okorie Chidozie and Naziru Auwalu all missed chances that came their way, in the remaining minutes of the first half. Abia Warriors goalkeeper Johnson Mmecha kept his team from conceding with brilliant saves, as the game went into halftime with Abia Warriors leading by 1-0.
The second half saw Abia Warriors head coach Erasmus Onu, make a tactical switch in the 50th minute, with the withdrawal of Monday Yakubu and Sunday Megwo for Dehinde Ibrahim and Adejoh Ojonugwa, as the Umuahia team searched for their second goal.
Meanwhile, Rangers head coach Fidelis Ilechukwu, in the 55th minute, also made a substitution, replacing midfielder Auwalu with former Abia Warriors striker Malachy Ohawume.
The introduction of Ohawume saw Rangers throw everything at Abia Warriors, in search for an equalizer, but were guilty of not being prolific in front of goal.
Abia Warriors’ Emmanuel Onu missed clear opportunities to increase his teams lead in the 74th and 82nd minute, after benefiting from a good attacking play close to the opponents’ box, but had his effort saved by Rangers goalkeeper Detan Ogundare.
Rangers knowing that time was ticking away, needed more energy upfront, as this led to Ilechukwu introducing Austine Onyemaechi and Jonas Emmanuel to replace Okorie and Nwobodo in the 82nd minute.
The substitution made a huge impact, as Rangers pushed for an equalizer, which they almost got in the 85th minute, as Ogunleye dribbled his way close to Abia Warriors’ box, and was fouled, but was ruled to be a simulation by the centre referee, Joseph Ogabor. Abia Warriors held on to their lead till the final whistle was blown.