A goal each at the start and end of the game handed Enyimba a hard earned 2-0 win over Kwara United in a rescheduled Match Day 13 game at the Enyimba Stadium in Aba.
In-form attackers Stanley Dimgba and Victor Mbaoma scored in the 5th and 85th minute respectively to hand Enyimba a 5th consecutive league win and thus move to fifth position on the league log.
Wednesday’s game came barely 48 hours after Enyimba completed their Match Day 20 fixture against Abia Warriors on Monday morning at the Okigwe Stadium. Enyimba head coach Fatai Osho made just one change to his starting lineup that day; replacing Dare Olatunji with a more offensive midfielder Dayo Ojo.
Kwara United coach Abdullahi Biffo made wholesale changes to his side after failing to beat Rivers United at home on Sunday, restoring former Heartland goalkeeper Emmanuel Iwu, former Yobe Stars defender Ibrahim Omolayo and full-back Samuel Ganda to the starting lineup.
United made the better start of the two teams and almost went in front in the fifth minute but Christopher Nwaeze’s long-range effort beat Enyimba goalkeeper Theophilus Afelokhai but not the woodwork.
Enyimba pounced at the other end almost immediately after a flowing move which ended in Cyril Olisema slicing a pass-through for Dimgba to hit one-time beyond Iwu. That was the sixth league goal of the season for the former Kwara United winger.
The People’s Elephant almost doubled their lead in the 18th minute but left-back Emmanuel Ampiah’s cross-shot came off the crossbar before bouncing to safety.
Kwara United took over from there and dominated midfield play with some lovely interchange of passes as the exertions of Monday’s game started to wear in on their hosts.
Their best chance came in the 23rd minute when Taiwo Salaudeen’s cross almost wrong-footed Afelokhai through the aid of a deflection but the goalkeeper managed to keep it out.
Enyimba had the final chance of the half through Dimgba but Iwu denied him at his near post to bring the competitive half to an end.
Chances were few and far between in the second half although the visitors continued to dominate only in the midfield areas. When they managed to create a chance just before the hour mark, former Enyimba star Kamal Sikiru fired his effort wide.
Injuries, cramps and fatigue began to set in for Enyimba players and the team’s injury profile continued to rise with defenders Ampiah and Timothy Danladi succumbing to injuries late on.
There was still a final act to the game though as provided by Mbaoma. The striker showed outrageous composure combined with excellent technique inside the penalty box to skin his marker alive by lobbing the ball over him before hitting home on the half volley beyond Iwu.
It was not a vintage Osho “Sugar Ball” display for the eight times champions but their quality shone through in the end. They now visit Nasarawa United in Lafia on Sunday before turning attention to the CAF Confederation Cup.