Rangers stop Lobi Stars, extend unbeaten run

A goal in either half by seven-time Nigeria League champions, Rangers International F.C, ensured that the coach Fidelis Ilechukwu tutored side stopped the high-ridding and table-topping Lobi Stars with a 2-1 scoreline in a match day 26, NPFL 2023/2024 fixture inside ‘The Cathedral’, Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu.

Coach Ilechukwu had a full complement of his well-rested regulars that missed the trip to Kano for the last match day and it was the home side that quickly settled into their strides with the duo of Odoh Joel and Godwin Obaje causing the backline of Lobi Stars some troubles as the game dragged on.

The visitor’s goalkeeper was the reason that the game did not record a goal until the 40th minute as he was alert to punch out, block, and parry all balls aimed at his goal even when he was beaten on 11 minutes, the ball cannoned off the back of Obaje onto safety.

On 37 minutes, the Lobi goalkeeper fouled a goal-bound Ugwueze Chinemerem and the referee wasted no time in pointing to the spot despite protest from the bulky shot stopper and his teammates when the dust settled, Godwin Obaje expertly stroked the ball past the diving, Lucky Abdullahi, on 40 minutes for the opening goal of the encounter that sent the large crowd of fans at the stadium into wild jubilations.

Whatever instructions that was given by coach Ilechukwu at the interval in the locker-room, was quickly put to practice as Kingsley Maduforo, who was returning to the starting team after a while, calmly volleyed home the second goal of the day for the home side just three minutes after the re-start as celebrations went over the rooftop.

Stunned as they were, the coach Eugene Agagbe tutored side made quick substitutions to try and contain the raids of the home side and in one of their forays upfront, substitute, Samuel Tiza was allowed too much time and space by the backline of Rangers for him to produce a spectacular volley that kissed the net on 66 minutes to reduce the deficit.

Efforts from both sides to convert many scoring opportunities that came their way, with the host being more profligate in front of goal, failed to materialize as the referee brought proceedings to an end as the Coal City side inches further up the log onto the second spot on the log with 45 points from 26 matches and are on an eight-match unbeaten run.

At the post-match interactive session, coach Fidelis Ilechukwu said, “It was a great fight from both sides but we did our best which I believe gave us the victory we really worked for and we thank God for that. It was a high-pressure game against one of the best teams in Nigeria and considering their position on the log, it shows that Rangers is coming up gradually and I am very happy about this win.”

Rangers will next take on Heartland in an ‘Oriental Derby’ at the Awka City Stadium in a match day 27 fixture on Sunday, March 24, 2024.


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