The overwhelming emotion at full time was that of relief among the home support. They were eight minutes from a yet another home draw.
Afeez Yusuf's well struck effort from the edge of the box ensured the three points, ensuring a 2-1 win over 10-man El-Kanemi Warriors in a rescheduled Glo Match Day 33 fixture.
Chukwude Stephen had put FC Ifeanyiubah ahead from the spot in the 19th minute before Ifeanyi Matthew's brilliant free-kick three minutes form the restart produced the equalizer. The visitors then got reduced to ten men after Mustapha Ibrahim had been sent off for hitting an opponent. Yusuf then produced the winner after fine work by Uchenna Junior.
How time changes - earlier in the season, FC Ifeanyiubah would have easily rolled this opponent over. Indeed they did thrash them 4-1 in the reverse fixture. El-Kanemi Warriors on the other hand would have shipped in as many goals as the opponents had to offer. But now while the Maidugiri based team has tightened at the back, FC Ifeanyiubah is labouring to beat teams at their home ground in Nnewi where they did not drop points for their first seven home games this season.
John Obuh's men needed an early boost and they started firmly on the front foot. The visitors were pegged back in their half in those early moments as Maduabuchi Okereke and Stephen Chukwude dazzled and wriggled their way into the danger regions. But despite their early pressure, it was the visitors that came closest to an early breakthrough. Chinedu Ohanachom curled a delightful ball from the area that fizzled just wide. Stephen would retaliate at the other end forcing Michael to a finger tip save.
In the 12th minute, Stephen was brought down in the area but the referee waved away protests of the home side who felt they earned a penalty. The visitors knew they escaped there but they were guilty of the same mistake seven minutes later leaving the referee an easy decision of awarding the spot kick. Stephen stepped up and fired his initial effort at the goalkeeper. The rebound fell to him and he made no mistakes. There was a chance to double just before the interval but George Michael denied Maduabuchi Okereke.
El-Kanemi found their way back into the game at the beginning of the second half. Having been quite for most of the first, Super Eagles star Ifeanyi Matthew proved why many teams are after his signature. Having been tucked down 25yards from goal, he fired a low shot that went through the wall and flew into Nwakanma's bottom left. The home team was stunned, visitors pulling themselves level on this ground had fast become a norm.
FC Ifeanyiubah rang the changes, bringing on Uchenna Junior and Enudi Solomon as they looked to crank up the pressure. Stephen Chukwudi and Enudi Solomon both had efforts in quick succession that George smartly saved before the visitors found themselves reduced to ten men. Mustapha Ibrahim was seen by the assistant referee hitting an opponent and he got his marching orders.
With eight minutes left, Uchenna Junior drove in from the left and with a couple of stopovers, ghosted past his marker. He squared to an unmarked Yusuf Afeez at the edge of the box who tucked it into the bottom corner to break the hearts of the visitors.
FC Ifeanyiubah: Nwakanma, Mbaonu, Binuyo, Wilson, Emmanuel. Saidu, Isaac, Afeez, Okereke, Stephen, Bidemi
Subs: Eze, Enudi, Onyiri, Ohanu, Ezuokeaba. Uchenna, Davidson
El-Kanemi Warriors: Michael, Alhaji, Opara, Yahaya, Efe. Ifeanyi, Nweze. Ohanachom. Ibrahim, Agali, Dori
Subs: Okeogbo. Auta, Jang, Obadiah, Daudu, Adewale, Audu,
21 - Total Shots - 9
11 - Shots on Target - 3
15 - Fouls Committed - 17
10 - Corner kicks - 2
3 - Offsides - 7
3 - Yellow - 3
0 - Red - 1