A late goal by a substitute, Jonas Emmanuel on two of the four added-on minutes of the 2023/2024 NPFL match day 8 fixtures, helped the ‘Flying Antelopes’, Rangers International F.C earn a share of the spoils as they forced the ‘Owena Whales’, Sunshine Stars F.C to a 2-2 draw in an encounter played at the Akure Sports Complex on Sunday.
Coach Fidelis Ilechukwu had stuck to the squad that defeated Heartland on the last match day. The boys did not disappoint the traveling delegation as former league top-scorer, Godwin Obaje nodded the Coal City side into an early lead as he connected home an Isaac Saviour well-taken free kick that resulted from the fouling of Kenneth Igboke on 4 minutes under pressure from lanky Ekerette Udom.
The goal silenced the half-full Akure Township stadium but sprung the coach Edith Agoye’s wards into action as they pushed for an early leveler that failed to materialize as the backline of the visitors ably anchored by the duo of Ifeanyi Onyebuchi and David Chimezie as Kazeem Ogunleye almost increased the lead for Rangers on 11 minutes but his pile-driver from about 25 meters missed target by few inches before Ibrahim Yusuf drew the home side level on 13 minutes after been left unmarked to blast an unstoppable shot past goalkeeper, Japhet Opubo as fans of the ‘Owena Whales’ found their voices again.
Both sides retired for the first half on even note and on resumption of the second stanza, the home side pushed for the winning goal as they dominated the middle of the pack but Ejike Ugochukwu, Chukwudi Nwaodu, Isaac Saviour, Joel Odoh, and Kenneth Igboke joined others to put up stiff resistance until the 81st minute when Moses Omodumueke’ teasing shot found its way past a badly positioned Opubo to put the home side in front heading into the last ten minutes as the fans went into wild in celebrations that were cut short with only two minutes remaining in the match when Isaac Saviour found Odoh Joel on the right who ran down with the ball to deliver an inch-perfect cross that was stylishly side-footed into the net by Jonas Emmanuel as goalkeeper Mustafa Lawal was caught napping as the visitor’s bench went into wild jubilations.
Coach Fidelis Ilechukwu said after the match, “It was a very difficult match against a quality side but as our slogan says, we never say die until the final whistle and I give my players kudos as we keep working on the areas of deficiency. My defense gave away cheap goals but we keep working until we get it right.”
With the win, Rangers maintain the third spot of the twenty-team log with 14 points from eight matches and will next play Katsina United on Sunday, November 19, 2023, at the Awka City stadium.