By Colin Udoh
Mfon Udoh scored one and set up another as Enyimba came from a goal down to secure a last gasp 2-1 victory over drowning champions Rangers in a Nigeria Professional Football League match on Sunday.
Former Enyimba forward Daniel Etor stunned the hosts with an expertly curled freekick after just seven minutes, as the champions got off the blocks quicker.
But Enyimba captain Udoh played a blinder to haul the Peoples Elephant back into the game and then ultimately sealed victory for them.
Despite the magnitude of the game, Gbenga Ogunbote’s wards looked way too relaxed even before kickoff, exchanging pleasantries with fans and officials on their way out of the dressing room for the warm-ups.
That attitude drew stinging rebuke from club chairman Felix Anyansi-Agwu, and rightfully so, as the result of such a lack of focus was immediately manifest when the hosts ceded control despite taking the kickoff.
Rangers won a cornerkick in the opening five minutes and came close to testing Theophilus Afelokhai in the Enyimba goal, only to win a freekick on the edge of the area.
With Enyimba yet to gather their wits about them Etor took full advantage, whipping in a freekick that that left Afelokhai rooted to his line.
However, rather than pressing for a bigger advantage, Rangers retreated into their half, with sporadic raids upfront led by the isolated Bobby Clement.
They did have two opportunities to make the score 2-0, and put Enyimba under more pressure, but both Clement and Obinna Nwobodo failed to take advantage.
Within 10 minutes of the restart, Enyimba were level. Udoh floated a cornerkick into the Rangers area, and substitute Stephen Chukwude rose highest to guide the header to Akpan Bassey’s far corner.
Starting out as a wide forward, Udoh was orchestrating Enyimba’s most dangerous, running at the defence time after time, and creating all manner of confusion in the Ranger box.
With 12 minutes to go, the forward dragged an effort across the face of goal that rolled agonisingly inches parallel to the goal line, and needing just any kind of touch to end up in the net, but there was no Enyimba player in the box.
Udoh forced another three chances within five minutes, volleying one over the bar when Bassey flapped at a high ball, skipping last two defenders to whip a lovely drive just a hair’s breadth away from Akpan’s upright, before sealing the win with a goal of genius simplicity.
Collecting a threaded ball from another substitute Chinedu Ohanachom, Udoh slipped inside a crowded defence and squeezed a ball in that dribbled into the Rangers goal with just two minutes of play left.
The forward was booked for taking his short off in celebration, and said afterwards it was deliberate.
“I told the Rangers goalkeeper and defence that I would give each of them N10 000 if I did not score against them today, so that celebration was just because I had done what I promised to do,” Udoh said after.
Enyimba 2-1 Rangers
SHOTS ON TARGET: 6-3
SHOTS OFF TARGET: 5-4
FREE KICKS: 17-11
YELLOW CARDS: 2-4