Kelvin Itoya’s well-struck effort on the hour proved decisive as Enugu Rangers beat Rivers United 1-0 in a Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) contest decided at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu on Thursday.
Itoya played a one-two with Godwin Aguda before latching onto the latter’s deft pass and rifling past a helpless Rotimi Sunday in the United goal to send the home faithful into raptures.
It was the least Rangers deserved for a second half of intent after they came off second best in a first half bossed largely by the visitors.
Itoya could have opened the scoring inside 45 seconds when he headed straight at Rotimi from eight yards after winger, Bright Silas completely carved open the Rivers United right hand channel before delivering an inch-perfect cross.
The visitors then took over, dictating the pace for the majority of the first stanza with Daniel Israel coming closest to breaking the deadlock with a header, off a corner kick, that Thomas did well to save.
Rangers stepped on the accelerator after the restart and got due reward on the hour mark after Itoya started and finished off the enthralling move that produced the winner.
Rangers head coach, Gbenga Ogunbote spoke after the contest.
“It was a good one. I am happy that we are getting it right,” Ogunbote said to riversunitedfc.com.ng.
On his part, Rivers United head coach, Stanley Eguma explained that the absence of intensity in his side’s second half display proved costly in the end.
“Our performance in the first half was above average and I was not disappointed with that but in the second half, we didn’t give enough and that is why we lost,” Eguma told riversunitedfc.com.ng.
“We are still working on the team which is not yet perfect but I think that we will get better and we have to go back and work for our next game.”
Rivers United slipped to 16th place on the log with seven points from six matches following the reverse to the Flying Antelopes.
Rangers are in eighth place on the log with seven points from six matches.
Enugu Rangers: Femi Thomas; Camara Aziz, Adun Osamudiamwem, Odita Okechukwu, Christian Madu, Semiu Liadi, Kelvin Itoya (Richard Jonathan 77′), Abu Azeez, Silas Bright (Yusuf Ibrahim 54′), Chiamaka Madu (Ugonna Anyaora 43′), Godwin Aguda
Substitutes not used: Nana Bonsu; Chibuzor Madu Felix Ogbuke, Ifeanyi George
Rivers United: Rotimi Sunday; Markson Ojobo, Festus Austine, Chiwendu Ali (Zoumana Doumbia 80′), Samson Gbadebo, Godwin Obinze, Bamba Bakari, Ochowechi Salefu, Sunday Afolabi (Bernard Ovoke 68′), Israel Daniel (Guy Keumian 67), Samuel Akinbinu.
Substitutes not used: Robert Cole, Gabriel Olalekan, Christian Weli, Ikeleji Bello
Enugu Rangers 1-0 Rivers United
Goal: Kelvin Itoya 60’
Enugu Rangers: Godwin Aguda 28′
Rivers United: Gbadebo Sampson 40′ and Sunday Rotimi 54′
Red card: Nil
Man of the match: Yusuf Ibrahim (Enugu Rangers)
© Rivers United Media