Two second half goals from Ibrahim Mustapha and captain Mfon Udoh secured a nervy but deserved 2-0 win for Enyimba in a Matchday 3 encounter against Gombe United in Calabar.
The former champions laboured for about an hour of the feisty contest at the U,J. Esuene Stadium but gaffer Gbenga Ogunbote’s second half substitutions turned it on its head. Striker Mustapha poked home on 65 minutes to calm some nerves before Udoh sealed it with a penalty in stoppage time.
Enyimba made four changes to the side that lost in Jos against Plateau United in midweek, giving debut to former Giwa FC star Omotayo Adebogun. It was the petite midfielder that went close to scoring for Enyimba in a first half where chances were few and far between. His inswinging corner kick was aimed directly towards goal but an alerted Gombe goalkeeper, Emmanuel Fabiyi scrambled it into safety.
Another of Enyimba’s new signing Chinedu Ohanachom managed to craft out a decent chance after skillfully displacing two Gombe defenders on the touch line but rather selfish effort went into the side netting.
The hosts continued to labour against their hard-tackling visitors until Ogunbote made two inspired changes on the hour mark. Winger Joseph Osadiaye and striker Ismaila Gata were sent on to the field and they brought instant positivity to an hitherto blunt Enyimba attack.
It was Osadiaye that embarked on a trademark surging run down the right and his cut back was not properly dealt with, falling kindly to full back Dare Ojo who hit a daisy cutter with the outside of his boot. Ojo’s effort was deflected towards Mustapha whose outstretched left leg put the ball beyond Fabiyi amidst some veiled protests from the visiting team.
Mustapha’s goal came just three minutes after he was booked for trying to improvise with his hand after Ismaila Gata had created an opening for him after some resilient play.
Overall, Enyimba goalkeeper Theophilus Afelokhai was on holidays throughout as all he had to do was a tame long range effort from Manir Ubale in the first half. Enyimba though did little to test Fabiyi in Gombe’s goal buy when it seemed the game would end in another 1-0 home win for Enyimba, Dare Ojo overlapped once again down his right flank and crossed with Gombe’s Ola Ogundele unable to keep his hand away.
Up stepped captain Mfon Udoh who made no mistake from 12 yards, sending Fabiyi the wrong direction and sealing a second successive home win for the Peoples Elephant in their adopted home ground in Calabar.
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