We asked for a win, pleaded actually and thank God the team heeded. Our Oriental Derby ended 2-0 with goals from Jospeh Osadiaye and birthday boy Mfon Udoh. It did look like an easy and routine win but it did look scary while scores stayed 1-0. They even had one ruled out for offside according to the updates we saw.
I didn’t see the game and I was neckdeep at work while the updates took place so the match jitters weren’t even there. I just held my breath while I opened the club Twitter handle to see the final scores. A hastily written post match report gave some form of insight into what transpired in the game. Read below.
Enyimba snapped out of a five-game winless run to record a comfortable 2-0 victory over visiting FC Ifeanyi Ubah on Wednesday. Goals from Joseph Osadiaye and Mfon Udoh, in the 32nd and 88th minutes respectively, decided the contest in favour of the People’s Elephant.
Technical Adviser Gbenga Ogunbote made two changes to the team that drew at the weekend against MFM FC, with Theophilus Afelokhai recalled in goal and Ismaila Gata relieving Stephen Chukwude.
Straight from the kick-off, there was an indication of what was to come, as Ibrahim Mustapha won the ball almost right away, igniting an attack. Barring a lengthy stoppage for a foul on FCIU defender Ikenna Hillary, there was no let-up in pressure from the hosts.
The first clear chance of the game came in the 15th minute. Mustapha spun on the edge of the box, but his miscued volley fell to Udoh. The captain’s effort was however slightly scuffed, and the advancing Bamba in the FCIU goal made himself big to keep it out.
Two minutes later, a long throw into the box broke to Mustapha in a pocket of space inside the box. His shot was struck hard and low, hitting the side-netting to the anguish of the home support.
The former El Kanemi man was getting a lot of joy against the FCIU defence, but his strike partner Ismaila Gata also got in on the act in the 27th minute, sprinting behind the offside line before attempting a cross, which looped up via a deflection. Udoh, advancing into the box, contorted his body and applied an acrobatic finish, one which seemed destined for the net till Bamba incredibly pawed it away.
At this point, the whiff of an opener was strong, and eventually it came just past the half-hour mark. Having threatened all game, Udoh turned provider, teeing up Osadiaye to finish from just inside the penalty area. It was the first goal of the season for the winger.
The visitors struggled to muster any concerted attacking threat, with Adeleye Olamilekan’s tame free kick in the 42nd minute the best they could manage.
The second half began much as the first ended, with Enyimba on the front foot. A flowing counter-attack in the 55th minute saw the ball flow through Chukwude and Mustapha, before finding the goal scorer Osadiaye on the right. His effort was narrowly over.
An almost exact replica of this play resulted on the 80 minute mark: this time, Udoh switched into the path of Dimgba, who also went for a curler, only to see his effort dip just over.
Two minutes from the end though, the points were made safe. A perfectly timed run by Mustapha left the FCIU defence flat-footed, and the striker had the time to compose himself, round Bamba, and square for an unmarked Udoh, who stabbed home to seal the win.
There was still time and an opportunity to put gloss on the scoreline, as Chukwude showed tremendous strength to hold off his marker. He however took too long to make a decision, allowing Bamba to smother the ball at his feet.
The victory moves Enyimba up to 8th on the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) standings, with 18 points from 13 games.
Enyimba XI: Theophilus Afelokhai, Chima Akas, Samson Gbadebo, Isiaka Oladuntoye, Dare Ojo, Kelly Kester, Joseph Osadiaye (Stanley Dimgba 77’), Ikechukwu Ibenegbu (Olufemi Oladapo 67’), Mfon Udoh, Ismaila Gata (Stephen Chukwude 50’), Ibrahim Mustapha.
The winless run now over, let’s hope this is a springboard for greater, bigger things in the future. Finally, thank you for swapping Afelokhai for Dauda in goal. I’m sure the Ghanian can have his field day in Illorin on Sunday.