In a spirited game that lacked many clear-cut chances and build-ups to goal, Godwin Obaje’s second half goal was all FC Ifeanyi needed to see off rivals Enyimba International FC in the Oriental Derby.
It was the visitors who initiated the early threats after captain Mfon Udoh ran into space in the opponent’s half following a swift counterattack, but his finishing was not fortunate to hit the back of the net as Ivorian shot stopper Drissa Bamba’s sharp reflexes helped parry the ball out of danger.
FC Ifeanyi Ubah’s attack led by last season’s highest goal scorer Godwin Obaje and Chijioke Alaekwe met stiff resistance from Nelson Ogbonnaya, Isiaka Oladuntoye, Andrew Abalogu and Ikouwem Udoh who were holding out the backline for the Peoples’ Elephant.
At the restart of the game, Enyimba gaffer Gbenga Ogunbote substituted Ikouwem Udoh to throw Chima Akas into the fray, but the change did not do much to stop Obaje who anticipated a long pass from Ngoma Luamba. Obaje dispatched an on-coming Enyimba defender and unleashed a powerful shot which found its way past Fatau Dauda to give the homers the lead.
Coach Yaw Preko exhausted all his substitution options by bringing in Bright Onyedikachi for Prince Aggreh. Tony Msonter came in for a tiring John Huan and then Oni Jimoh replaced injured Ikeokwu Patrick.
Meanwhile, Ogunbote completed his changing with Koffi Franco Atchou for Femi Oladapo and Chinonso Okonkwo for Stephen Chukwude.
The victory leaves FC Ifeanyi Ubah with 45 points on the 6th position while Enyimba follows on 7th position with 44 points.
FC Ifeanyi Ubah hit the road to Jos for a date with league leaders, Plateau United while Enyimab hosts in-form Lobi Stars in Match day 30 fixtures.