Enyimba overcame a late scare to secure a 2-1 win at home against visiting Sunshine Stars of Akure in a Matchday 12 fixture in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) played at the Enyimba Stadium, Aba.
The hosts put themselves in a comfortable position after goals from Dare Olatunji and Ifeanyi Anaemena in the 29th and 70th minute respectively, but were left to fight hard to preserve the win, as the visitors put up a late performance in the final quarter hour, and scoring in the process through Israel Abia.
Enyimba head coach Usman Abd’Allah handed Joseph Osadiaye his second start of the season, and included Chinedu Udechukwu upfront, and named Ikechukwu Ibenegbu on the bench. It was the first time the former Warri Wolves playmaker made a matchday squad for the People’s Elephant after months on the sidelines.
The visitors reworked their squad that was defeated 1-0 by Rangers in Enugu last Sunday, with Tayo Fabiyi replacing Esosa Igbinoba.
Enyimba could have been in front just 30 seconds into the game, but Kabiru Dogo’s side had goalkeeper Ayo Ojo to thank for rushing off his line to block Udechukwu’s effort. The goalkeeper was called to action again on 10 minutes and he was alert enough push Thomas Zenke’s low shot to safety.
Sunshine Stars’ first only sight at goal in the first half was on 14 minutes, when Abia’s 20-yard effort was gathered by Enyimba goalkeeper Fatau Dauda. The hosts took the lead just before the half hour mark, when Olatunji’s left-footed strike curled past Ojo. Enyimba were the most threatening as the half came to an end.
The seven-time league champions doubled their advantage in the 70th minute, when Anaemena converted a spot kick. The assistant referee had earlier flagged that Sunshine Stars defender Gabriel Olalekan impeded Osadiaye’s header inside the penalty box with his hand.
The visitors pulled one back on 75 minutes, when Abia rose highest to head home Adeniyi Alaba’s cross, urging his teammates to fight to the death.
Enyimba would have Ghanaian import Dauda to thank, as the goalkeeper made timely intervention on several occasions to frustrate Sunshine Stars’ advances, as the hosts managed to secure the win.
The win means Enyimba keep their place as second in Group A with 19 points, three adrift of MFM, while Sunshine Stars slip to eighth position.
Enyimba: Dauda; Abalogu, Sani, Anaemena, Ogbonnaya, Zenke, Olatunji, Oladapo, Osadiaye, Bashir, Udechukwu
Sunshine Stars: A. Ojo; Olulayo, Alaba, Abe, Sogbeso, Olalekan, Ekelojuoti, Abia, Fabiyi, Egbeta, D. Ojo
Enyimba 2-1 Sunshine Stars
On Target 4-2
Fouls Won 17-18