Two first half goals in the 32nd and 42nd minutes by Michael Olaha and Effiong Ndifreke and a second half penalty converted by Shedrack Asiegbu came handy as struggling Abia Warriors eased themselves some relegation pressure by beating Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) champions, Enyimba, 3-1 at the Umuahia Township Stadium in a matchday 32 rescheduled fixture.
Olaha capitalised on poor defending by Enyimba to stab home from an Ndifreke chip from the left for the first goal of the game just past the half hour mark.
In the 42nd minute Garba Mohammed’s cross from the left found the head of Ndifreke and he nodded past Moses Ocheje for Abia Warriors’ second goal.
Though Enyimba pulled one back through a penalty converted by Alloy Brown in the 69th minute, the Umuahia club were determined to take the day from the blast of the whistle knowing that their stay in the top-flight was dependent on getting an outright win from this game with two matchdays before the end of the 2015/16 season.
Enyimba’s penalty goal which was as a result of Christian Pyagbara being brought down in Warriors’ box was taken two times after the second assistant referee ruled out the first sighting encroachment in the penalty box. Brown duly converted his second take given Enyimba a lifeline.
But in the 78th minute Emmanuel Anyanwu could not contain the sleek and pacy runs of Bashir Sheriff and decided to bring him down with the centre referee pointing to the spot and awarding Abia Warriors a penalty.
In the 80th minute Shedrack Asiegbu stepped up and coolly tucked in the ball to the far left corner of Moses Ocheje in goal for Enyimba and restored Abia Warriors’ two-goal.
Pyagbara came up with a spectacular volley in 85th minute but Abia Warriors goalkeeper Chinedu Anozie stopped the attempt and helped his team preserve their 3-1 lead.
Tried as much as they could the Peoples Elephant could not break the backline of Abia Warriors as the centre referee sounded the final whistle after three minutes of added time.
Enyimba coach Paul Aigbogun ruled out any chance of Enyimba picking a continental ticket from the league following their loss and is now focused on the Federation Cup as a route to the continent next season.
“It’s all over for us in the league as we will not be playing in the continent through this platform come next season but we will now focus on the Federation Cup for any laurel this season,” Aigbogun said after the game.
Abia Warriors coach, Abdullahi Biffo, revealed that they are now focusing on winning their last two games of the season against Rivers United and Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC) to ensure they escape relegation.
“We are not carried away though we have gotten two victories on the bounce. We are focused on the two remaining games, starting with the one against Rivers United this weekend and our last home game against 3SC. We have resolved to give the matches our all, hoping that luck shines on us as we fight till the end,” Biffo said.
Biffo maintained that though their weekend match against Rivers United will be difficult, they are in the right frame for the game in Port Harcourt. “So many people have written us off against Rivers United but we are determined and in the right frame of mind for that game. I tell you I am optimistic that we will get a result in Port Harcourt,” Biffo said with confidence.
With the win Abia Warriors improved their standing on the league log to 14th position after garnering 44 points.