A goal in each half of a highly-entertaining Matchday 14 fixture in the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) ensured that Rangers got back to winning ways with a 2-0 win over Sporting Lagos at the Awka Township Stadium on Sunday.
Austin Onyemaechi and Kenechukwu Agu scored for the Flying Antelopes in each half to seal their fifth win of the campaign.
Rangers head coach Fidelis Ilechukwu opted for a more attacking option of play in this encounter as he rested more than half of the Matchday 13 starting squad in Yenagoa and his decision paid off with a blistering start to the match from his team.
The quartet of Chidiebere Nwobodo, Onyemaechi, Chiedozie Okorie and Naziru Auwalu from the outset went on rampage but for the brilliance of the visitors’ shot-stopper, Christian Nwoke, who reacted well to push out an Auwalu’s curling shot inside two minutes and then stood firm to prevent David Chimezie’s left-footed shot from the resulting corner kick from nestling in the net.
On nine minutes, Onyemaechi broke the deadlock with a stinging shot that went through the goalkeeper’s legs after Austin Opara had found Nwobodo who sent a delicate chip to the unmarked Onyemaechi as the home bench rose to celebrate.
More opportunities came the way of the hosts but some unpardonable missed opportunities off the boots of Nwobodo, Okorie, and Ifeanyi Onyebuchi coupled with the brilliance of Nwoke, who stood tall between the sticks for Sporting Lagos kept the score at 1-0. Then, Okorie thought he had doubled the lead on 12 minutes but the referee ruled out his effort.
In the second half, the opportunities came for both sides with more coming the way of the home side. Still, they went begging and with three minutes to the end of proceedings, Anthony Henry fouled goal-bound, Nwobodo inside the box and the referee wasted no time in making the call and substitute, Agu fired an unstoppable shot past Nwoke for the second goal of the encounter on 89 minutes to send the cheering fans at the stadium into wild jubilations.
Rangers assistant coach, Alli Suleman, who spoke after the match said: “It was a good game against a strong side but we wanted it more and got the result we wanted and worked for. We understand that we have not done well in our last four matches and the boys upped their game today for the result that we are celebrating. The importance of this win today is that it has raised the morale of the players as we prepare for our next match which is against Enyimba in Aba”
With the win, Rangers now occupy the 10th spot on the 20-team log with 18 points from 13 matches as the encounter with Rivers United remains postponed. Rangers will on Wednesday, December 20, 2023, trade tackles with Enyimba in an ‘Oriental Derby’ at the Enyimba Stadium, Aba in an NPFL Matchday 15 fixture.