Bendel Insurance have moved out of the relegation zone in Group A of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) following their 2-1 win over 10-man Enugu Rangers at the Sports Complex of the University of Benin on Thursday.
Goals from Junior Osaghae and Stephen Sodje ensured that the three points were secured for Insurance, while the solitary strike from Kevin Itoya was a mere consolation for Rangers, who played a large part of Thursday’s rescheduled tie with 10 men.
Coach Gbenga Ogunbote made some changes to the team that defeated MFM 1-0 last weekend with Kevin Itoya, Solomon Okpako and Ugochukwu Ugwuoke all getting starting roles in the rescheduled tie originally meant to have taken place on Wednesday.
Expectedly, it was the home side that came out of the blocks in search of an early goal to put them at an advantage against the table-toppers, who have been unstoppable in recent games.
Michael Enaruna had a decent chance inside the first 10 minutes but Nana Bonsu, who was in goal for Rangers, made an easy save.
While the Flying Antelopes were gradually settling into the game, they were dealt a major blow in the 21st minute when their talisman Seka Pascal was shown a straight red card for kicking an opponent.
The hosts made their numerical advantage count afterwards, as Osaghae broke the deadlock in the 34th minute to send the crowd present at the UNIBEN Sports complex into wild celebrations.
However, the lead by Insurance was short-lived as Itoya fired in the equaliser for the visitors four minutes after they conceded the opening goal.
The home team thought they were back in front again in the 42nd minute but Osaghae was ruled offside as the first half ended 1-1.
Just like the first half, it was Insurance that were dictating the pace in the early exchanges in the second half and seven minutes after the restart, the home team were back in front as Sodje restored their lead.
While Rangers put up a fight to get back on level terms, one of their key men, Ugwu Uwadiegwu, suffered an injury and was replaced by Adun Osamudiamwe in the 67th minute.
Both managers made a change in the 75th minute as coach Ogunbote brought on Traore Issif for Akpos Adubi while the Insurance gaffer substituted Michael Enaruna and brought on Charles Omokaro.
Hard as Rangers tried to get an equaliser, the Benin Arsenal held their own to claim vital three points that have taken away from the relegation zone.
Despite the defeat, which ended Rangers 13-match unbeaten run, they are still leading Group A of the NPFL with 31 points from 15 games, while Insurance are now sixth on the log with 21 points from 16 games.