Warri Wolves gave up a one-goal lead in Enugu to be pushed back five points behind table-toppers Enyimba International, as they played out a 1-1 draw against Rangers International in Sunday’s Glo Premier League Matchday 33 at Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium in Enugu.
A Gbolahan Salami’s goal gave visiting Wolves an early lead following a finished pass from Kufre Ebong who beat a poorly executed offside trap by Rangers back line.
Salami’s goal came as atonement for a second minute chance he should have scored when he chose to pass to his teammate inside the six yard.
Rangers’ equalizer came from Osas Okoro who managed to slot the ball into the net from close range in front of a crowded Warri Wolves defence.
The Flying Antelopes had come into the game with an advantage of being the only side that picked all three points from Wolves at their Warri Township Stadium earlier in the season.
Before Sunday’s NPFL match in Enugu, it was dubbed a Grade-A clash going by the potentials and growing profiles of both teams this term, and the encounter lived up to that rating.
Rangers’ initial game plan was all targeted at containing the fluid play of the Paul Aigbogun-led side from Warri, with skipper Etim Matthew spearheading the defensive play of the host team.
Defenders Nnamdi Anyasodo and Pape Ousmane Sane also took pride in pushing the guests away from their rear but their flabby approach later opened many opportunities for Wolves who crowded the midfield to gain more possession throughout the first half.
Rangers had a glimpse of a goal midway into the tie when Okoro broke through from the right flank and sent a pullout but their strikers were shy in front of goal and allowed the visitors to clear away.
There were some other chances that the home team wasted that way.
Seeing that the hosts were not ambitious, Wolves’ coaches urged them to come out for a total attacking play, which almost wrecked Rangers as the host defenders were lucky not to have conceded about three more goals as at the end of first half.
The tide however changed in the restart as Wolves were on the receiving end, making crucial interceptions as the Antelopes upped their game to dictate the pace in the tension-soaked but highly entertaining encounter.
Just before the game entered the last half hour, the coaches made their crucial changes with Omoforman Freedom of Wolves coming on for Dimgba Stanley, while Rangers responded by pulling out Emmanuel Eze and brought on Chisom Egbuchulam.
Egbuchulam almost scored but he did not know what to do when the ball fell to him inside the box about three minutes to regulation time.
There were near chances missed towards the final minutes of the game, but the fans appeared glad with the way they yelled all through the duration of the match in Enugu.
Coach Imama Amapakabo of Rangers, who spoke to npfl.ng in a post-match conference said: “I’m sad about the result of today’s match because my plan was to win. Our players switched off in the first half, and wasted the chances created in the second half which we controlled. All the same, it was a good match”.
Wolves’ tactician Paul Aigbogun also spoke to npfl.ng: “We started the match so well that our effort yielded a beautiful goal from Salami. But, our boys lost focus in the second half and allowed Rangers to bounce back into the match. We must work hard in our next matches but our title ambition is still intact”.
-Culled from: npfl.ng