Abia Warriors were held to a goalless draw by visiting Rangers International at the Umuahia Township Stadium in a matchday seven fixture played on Sunday.
Both teams came into the game with contrasting results, Abia Warriors lost to state rivals Enyimba 1-0 in Calabar while Rangers defeated Nasarawa United by the same scoreline in Enugu, and were confident of going away with something at the end of regulation time.
The game kicked off in a manner typical of Abia Warriors this season, racing off the blocks from the start. They got their first chance in less than 120 seconds as Chinedu Ozor threatened the Rangers goal with an inviting cross which was beautiful stopped in its flight by Rangers goalkeeper, Femi Thomas, before it could get to a Godwin Zaki lurking in the area.
As the game wore on, Adun Osamudiamwen seemed to have pulled a hamstring but managed to play on after being treated.
The best chance of the first half came the way of the hosts when Obi Samson sent a low cross into the box but his teammates Shedrack Asiegbu and Kalu Nweke failed to capitalized. Abia Warriors felt they should have gotten a penalty as Ndifreke Effiong went down inside the area but the referee rightly ignored it.
Rangers rallied and tried to make inroads into their opponents box but their lone striker, Godwin Zaki who was returning to his old stomping ground, was successfully kept in check by the sturdy Abiodun Adebayo. That limited Rangers to shots from outside the box but none could hit the target until the referee called for halftime break.
Just before the restart, Abia Warriors threw in Sheriff Bashir for Ubong Friday in a bid to add bite to his attack. Rangers quickly replied with a substitution of their own, Ugwu Uwadiegwu for the struggling Adun Osamudiamwen, in a bid to limit Sheriff’s runs.
A mixup between Semiu Liadi and Okey Odita almost set an onrushing Obi Samson through on goal but Femi Thomas was quick to react and save his team.
Rangers, still believing of churning out a result in Umuahia, introduced lanky Yusuf Ibrahim who paired up with Godwin Zaki to terrorize the Abia Warriors back line. Their pairing almost bore fruits as Zaki square played to Ibrahim from an Uwadiegwu cross but his shot was tame enough for Joseph Enaholo to gather comfortably.
Rangers went on rampage and got the best chance of the game when Bright Silas who was just bright all evening found Zaki in the box but he shot twice into the body of Ozioma Goodluck who held on to the ball for his goalkeeper to gather.
Rangers fought on, keeping Abia Warriors defenders on their toes. The hosts also had their own substitute, Uduak Idemokan, replicating the same pressure on the Rangers defenders.
Both teams failed to break the deadlock and had to share the spoils. The result pushes Rangers down to ninth with 10 points with Abia Warriors four places below and two points less.
Abia Warriors Rangers
9 (4) Shots (On Target) (2)7
2 Saves 4
15 Fouls 16
1 Yellow Cards 1
0 Red Cards 0
4 Offsides 3
8 Cornerkicks 1
Abia Warriors: Enaholo, Ozor, Ubong(Sheriff 45′), Isaac, Ayinde, Adebayo, Goodluck, Nweke(Idemokan 57′), Ndifreke, Asiegbu, Obi(Kola 87′)
Unused Subs: Okafor, Mohammed, Efugh, Irumekhai
Rangers: Femi, Aziz, Adun(Uwadiegwu 48′), Madu, Odita, Liadi, Zaki, Anyorra(Ibrahim 53′), Aguda, Silas, Salau(Okpako 89′)
Photo credit: @RangersIntFC