Another league leader emerged at the end of hostilities in the 5th week of NPFL actions. Enugu Rangers rose to the summit of the league after defeating Wikki Tourist on Saturday. They lead the table due to a superior goal difference, ahead of Kano Pillars and MFM FC who have 10 points as well.
No away victory was recorded in this round that saw three games end in a draw and 18 goals scored in total. Kano Pillars’ Rabiu Ali became the 2nd player to score a hatrick this season, as Lagos experienced its first derby in over a decade.
Here is my review of the weekend:
ENUGU RANGERS 1 – 0 WIKKI TOURIST
In the opening tie of the weekend, Enugu Rangers and Wikki Tourist knowing a win will take them to the summit of the table, clashed at the Nnamdi Azikwe Stadium in Enugu.
A tight encounter it was, between both sides. On the stroke of half-time, Aguda scored the crucial goal for Rangers.
Wikki Tourist tried but failed to find a means of equalling scores in the second half as Rangers held on to record an important win that saw them climb to the summit of the league table.
WARRI WOLVES 1 – 0 NIGER TORNADOES
(Achibi Ewenike 5’)
In Warri, Achibi Ewenike’s 5th minute goal was what Wolves needed to overcome a stubborn Niger Tornadoes at the Warri Township stadium.
Although it wasn’t as easy as expected, the win does a whole lot of good for a Wolves side that had recorded only 5points this season. The win means Warri Wolves are just 2-points behind the league leaders.
Abdullahi Biffo’s Tornadoes won’t feel too bad about the result becuase they put in a brave fight as no one expected such a keenly contested match. It’s on to the next game for them.
KANO PILLARS 3 – 2 AKWA UTD
(Rabiu Ali 14’26’ 47’) (Micheal Okoro 10’ Ekpai 44’)
Without any doubt, this was the game of the weekend. As I preddicted in my preview, this game turned out to be a spectacle as Kano Pillars defeated Akwa United in a 5-goal thriller at the Sani Abacha stadium in Kano.
Pillars had gone behind in the 10th when Micheal Okoro put last season’s Cup winner’s ahead. 4 minutes after, Rabiu Ali scored the first of his three goals to equalise. He scored his second in the 26th minute, only for former Pillars player Ekpai even the game on the stroke of half-time.
Rabiu Ali eventually won the game for Pillars in the 47th minute. More chances were created by both sides in the remaing minutes of the second-half, but Kano Pillars saw of the game to go 2nd of the league table, equal on points with Rangers but with an inferior goal difference.
PLATEAU UNITED 1 – 1 ABIA WARRIORS
(Victor Namo) (Uche Ihuarulam 52’)
In one of the three games that ended in a stalemate, Plateau United were held to a one all draw by Abia Warrior, at home.
Plateau United’s Victor Namo scored in the first-half and while they were hoping to record a win just to maintain touching distance with the top four. That dream was dampened in the 52nd minute of the game, when Uche Ihuarulam restored parity for the Abia Warriors.
Late in the game Obaroakpo was sent off for handling the ball in the box, gifting Plateau United a penalty. Charles Okafor’s resultant penalty was saved.
Abia Warriors will have their goalkeeper, Gaadi to thank as his late save from Charles Okafor’s penalty, prevented them from losing the game at the death of time and continue their unbeaten start to the season.
HEARTLAND 1 – 0 LOBI STARS
Heartland recorded their first win of the season against erstwhile league leaders, Lobi Stars. It was a hardworked victory for the home side, whose goalkeeper trainer kept emphasising on the needed victory, during the half-time talk.
Surprisingly, Tony Okpotu couldn’t add to his goal tally due to the work done by the Heartland defence at the Dan Ayiam stadium.
He and his team returned to Makurdi, disappointed.
EL KANEMI WARRIORS 2 – 0 ENYIMBA
(Ohanachom 13’ Ibrahim Mustapha 54’)
This was the surprise of the weekend as the defending champions, Enyimba lost to an El-Kanemi side that hasn’t won a single game this season.
Although Enyimba had just recorded their first win of the season, they felt they could record their second win of the season even after Ohanachom put El- Kanemi Warriors ahead in the 13th minute.
Unfortunately for Enyimba, Laden Bosso’s men killed the game off in the 54th minute, when Ibrahim Mustapha got their second goal of the game.
Enyimba never recovered.
For a team rock-bottom on the league table, the win over Enyimba could be all they need to turn their season around.
IKORODU UTD 0 – 0 MFM FC
In the much anticipated ‘Lagos Derby’, between Ikorodu United and MFM FC, both teams shared the spoils in a goalless draw.
Ikorodu United will feel they should have done more due to their numerical advantage, after MFM’s Monsuru received his marching order, in the first-half but MFM held forth to earn a point which saw drop to third on the table, tied together on points with the 1st and 2nd teams but with an inferior goal difference.
For Ikorodu, the result meant they just have 5 points, meaning they need to start picking points.
Both goalkeepers gave a very good account of themselves at an impressively crowded Onikan Stadium.
SUNSHINE STARS 1 – 1 IFEANYI UBAH FC
(Okereke Maduabuchi 86’)
Sunshine Stars needed a late goal to abort Ifeanyi Ubah’s plan for victory at the Akure Township Stadium.
Ifeanyi Ubah took the lead late in the 86th minute of the game through Okereke Madubuch; A goal everyone thought was going to be the match winner, until later in the game, when Sunshine struck back, to kick-start Coach Kayode Olujohingbe’s tenure without a defeat.
Sunshine Stars will have to do more in the coming weeks if they want to make a good outing this season, in the NPFL.
SHOOTING STARS 2 – 1 GIWA
(Izu Joseph 2’ Kabiru Umar 87’) (Isiaka Olawale 90+’)
On a day that saw the return of Gbenga Ogunbote to the Adamasingba stadium in Ibadan, to face his former team, 3sc with his new side Giwa FC, he wasn’t afforded much luxury as Shooting Stars took all three points with 2-1 victory.
Izu Joseph quickly set Shooting Stars on their way to victory with a goal in the 2nd minute. No other goal was recorded until the 87thminute. After Aminu Mbai saw red for Giwa, Kabiru Umar took advantage of 3SC’s numerical advantage to give them a 2-0 lead.
Isiaka Olawale pulled one back for Giwa, but it wasn’t enough to steal a point.
RIVERS UTD 1 – 0NASARAWA UTD
(Godbless Asamoah 90+3’)
In a game that was already looking destined for a draw, Godbless Asamoah struck very late to break the heart of Nasarawa United and send them to the foot of the table, still without a win and give Rivers United a scrappy win.
The win puts Rivers United fifth on the league table.
NPFL Roundup done by Adebiyi Tobi, who can be reached via @THETOBBI