A depleted Rangers side staved off fellow relegation battlers Sunshine Stars in a Matchday 34 NPFL game at the Nnamdi Azikwe Stadium on Sunday.
Centre-back Chibuzor Madu scored the only goal of the game on 27 minutes from the penalty spot after Michael Okoyoh had upended Tope Olusesi inside the penalty box.
The visitors would later have a goal chalked off in the dying moments of the game but they hardly deserved a point in the game played under sweltering conditions.
Rangers were without several regulars including three key players away with the Super Eagles B in Benin Republic.
The technical crew led by 1980 Nations Cup winner Sylvanus Okpala made the crucial changes, bringing in players that have hardly featured in recent games.
Etim Mathew made his return from injury while Chidera Eze also started on the flanks with Tope Olusesi playing as a false-9.
Sunshine Stars had problems of their own and were without captain Sunday Abe and Dayo Ojo due to suspension.
The hosts had a sniff of goal on 13 minutes but Chiamaka Madu’s effort against the run of play went wide.
Sunshine almost scored at the other end but for captain Okey Odita’s last ditch tackle that stopped Ajibola Otegbeye who was about to pull the trigger from eight yards out.
The game’s decisive moment came in the 26th minute when the impressive Olusesi dragged his way into the penalty box and was fouled by Michael Okoyoh who had struggled with him from 20 yards out.
The spot kick was dispatched by Chibuzor Madu who sent Henry Ayodele the wrong way.
Sunshine Stars were then presented with a golden chance to level in first half stoppage time when Otegbeye ghosted behind the Rangers defence line to meet Ambrose Onyema’s cross.
The striker however misplaced his header, much to the relief of the hosts.
Sunshine continued from where they stopped in the first half when with barely two minutes after the restart, midfielder Anthony Omaka let fly from 25 yards, bringing out a top drawer save from Ghanaian goalkeeper Seidu Mutawakilu.
Scoring chances dried up in the game as the second half wore on although both teams produce some football work that thrilled the sizable number of spectators at the stadium.
Rangers then went close twice, in the final ten minutes through Olusesi and Bright Silas but both players could not keep their efforts on target.
The visitors thought they had equalized with one minute left on the clock when Joseph Abiodun jabbed home Ezekiel Thompson’s flick but the referee’s assistant’s flag was already up, ostensibly with Thompson in an offside position before his flick.
The victory moved Rangers from relegation waters as they proceed next to Katsina United in their underwhelming campaign while Sunshine Stars know they must win their next game to avoid being dragged into the dogfight.
Culled from lmcnpfl
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