NPFL: Rangers demolish Hartland in Oriental Derby, Abia Warriors sink Remo Stars

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Rangers International F.C of Enugu, Saturday, humbled fierce neighbors, Heartland F.C 3-1 in an ‘Oriental Derby’ inside Awka City stadium in a match day 27, NPFL 2021/2022 fixture to complete a double over the ‘Naze Millionaires’ this season.

The visitors took a surprising lead on 13 minutes against the run of play when Monday Yakubu benefited from a slip-up at the host’ backline to stab home the game’ curtain raiser and send the few travelling fans of the Owerri side into wild celebrations.

Stunned as they were, the men of coach Abdul Maikaba shrugged off the let-off and took the fight to the half of the opponents with ceaseless raids for an equalizer which came ten minutes after conceding as club’ top scorer, Ossy Martins found the top of the roof with an unstoppable shot that impressive, Olufemi Thomas had no answer for.

Rangers players surged forward for more goals which did not come until the 40th minute when Shedrack Asiegbu drilled home from an acute angle to hand the ‘Flying Antelopes’ the lead even when opportunities fell for the likes of Elijah Ani, Chidiebere Nwobodo and Chukwuebuka Okorie to bury earlier but former Rangers shot stopper, Olufemi Thomas, was at his very best to stop these chances.

With the game approaching its climax, substitute, Eso Achibong produced what could be a contender for goal-of-the-season in time added-on when he volleyed home from the edge of the box beyond a stranded Thomas for the third and last goal for the host who did a double over their ‘Brothers’ this season after earlier dismantling the Owerri side, 3-0 in Owerri in the reverse fixture.

Ghanaian, Seidu Mutawakilu was alert to his duties between the sticks in the last minute of time added-on to make a double save off the feet of substitute, Nonso Nzediegwu to maintain the two-goal cushion as the referee brought proceedings to an end.

With the win, Rangers now occupy the 3rd spot on the log with 45 points from 27 matches and will next play away to 4th placed, Remo Stars on Sunday, May 15, 2022 in Ikene, Ogun state.

An elated coach Abdul Maikaba said after the encounter, “It was a tough match against a difficult side but I praise the efforts of my boys who despite going down at a point did not lower their guards but took the fight to our opponents, creating several chances and taking some. The result no doubt, put us where we want to be going into the last round of matches and hopefully, we shall achieve our target at the end of the season.”

Meanwhile, Abia Warriors sank visiting Remo Stars at the Okigwe township stadium.

Both goals came in the second half after a goalless first half.

Yakub Hammed scored the first goal for Abia Warriors in the 60th minute while Valentine Odoh doubled the host’s lead 20 minutes later.

Remo Stars with the result dropped to the fourth position with 43 points from 27 games ahead of its next game against Rangers International on May 15 at Remo Stars Stadium, Ikenne-Remo, Ogun State.

Abia Warriors occupy the 12th position with 33 points.