Enyimba Football Club have penned a bold statement of intent at the Nigeria Professional Football League playoffs with an impressive 3-1 win over Lobi Stars at the Agege Stadium in Lagos.
The People’s Elephant, who rose to a bright start to the tournament with a win against Rangers, saw their championship bid punctuated by a 0-2 loss to Kano Pillars, but Stanley Dimgba’s brace added to Bashir Abdulrahaman’s curtain raiser restored hopes and propelled Usman Abd’Allah’s side within a point of the top.
Two chances highlighted an opening half hour slightly edged by Lobi Stars in possession.
Samuel Matthias got on the end of a defensive clearance before attempting to chip over Theophilus Afelokhai from his own half, but the keeper retracted in time to ensure safety.
Enyimba then followed with a sleek break involving Osadiaye and Bala, but the Lobi backline regrouped well to put it out for a corner.
The last five minutes of the half turned out to be the most eventful as Joseph Osadiaye dribbled his way in the box and displaced the keeper, before setting up Bashir Abdulrahaman who kept his nerves to tap into the net.
Without the dust settling on the opener, Osadiaye proved creative again, this time with a strong run and cross that was well met and whipped in by Stanley Dimgba.
With the last kick of the half, however, Samuel Matthias cut the deficit for Lobi with a long range effort that was poorly dealt with by Afelokhai.
Having much to play for in the second half, Enyimba created the first chance when Dimgba ran through the left before watching his chip glide across the face of goal.
But the forward eventually got his brace in the 66th minute, heading in Bala’s spicy cross from the right.
Lobi came close to a response three minutes later.
Matthias dummied a low cross to leave Alex Otakho with a rare opportunity, but the midfielder placed his effort off the mark.
A late push from Lobi saw Nelson Ogbonnaya clear off the line as substitute Orok Ibitham also came close at the other end to bring a nervy end to a well fought match.