Duro Ikhazuagbe with agency report
With leaders Enugu Rangers 2-1 defeat in Akure against Sunshine Stars and Rivers United’s third straight victory sealed yesterday, the heat appears getting tougher at the summit of the ongoing Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) 2015/2016 season.
Now, the Flying Antelopes are barely hanging on to the top of the league by the skin of their teeth. Only better goals scored separate them from the resurgent Rivers United who defeated Wikki Tourists 1-0 in the midweek clash at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium in Port Harcourt. They are both tied on same 28 points.
Against the Akure Gunners, Rangers’ Chisom Egbuchulam canceled out Samad Kadiri’s lead before the break for scores to stand at 1-1 but Okiki Afolabi’s strike on the hour mark made sure Sunshine Stars emerged 2-1 winners.
Rivers United on the other hand grabbed the winner in the 26th minute through centre-back Gabriel Olalekan to send the Tourists back to Bauchi empty handed.
In Ibadan, odds were stacked against Warri Wolves ahead of their match-week 16 game at the Lekan Salami Stadium having lost 0-1 at home to Rivers United in their previous game, while their hosts, 3SC, earned a draw at Rangers.
John Odumegwu was the man who ran 3SC’s defence ragged with Izu Joseph being on the end of his runs on and off the ball.
On 27 minutes, Odumegwu threaded a sublime pass through the Ibadan club’s defence to pick out former Nigeria’s Under-17 star King Osanga, who made no error in finishing past Emmanuel Fabiyi in goal.
The Ibadan club’s only real chance of the half was close to the break when Najeem Olukokun headed a corner kick over the bar.
Wolves continued with their pressing style in the restart and it paid off on the hour mark. This time, Odumegwu was the scorer. The Wolves’ man shrugged off his marker, Izu, in a race for the ball to score his side’s insurance goal of the game.
Olukokun pulled one back for 3SC on 75 minutes. The 3SC striker then saw his late spot kick saved by Wolves goalkeeper Dele Ajiboye, who returned to haunt his former employers with that heroic stop.
Ismaila Gata scored twice for Niger Tornadoes to edge Heartland 2-1. Ifeanyi Onuigbo’s goals came in between Gata’s double.
Plateau United got their second point on the road thanks to the butter fingers of Ikorodu United goalkeeper Segun Fatunwase. At the Onikan Stadium in Lagos, fans of Ikorodu United watched as their side blew their lead twice in a 2-2 draw.
A Moses Bunde own goal was all FC Ifeanyiubah needed to defeat Lobi Stars in Nnewi while MFM FC and Enyimba played out a goalless draw at the Agege Stadium in Lagos. Enyimba finished the game with 10 men after Nzube Anaezemba got his marching order for a second yellow card with 17 minutes to time.
Nasarawa United were made to toil for the three points by a plucky Abia Warriors in a 3-2 win. Abdulrahman Bashir and Emmanuel Makama scored in a game in which their team, Nasarawa United, had to take the lead thrice before winning while a delightful lob by Michael Olaha and a stunner by Ndifreke Effiong could not help Abia Warriors’ cause.
However, the game in Ilorin did not take place as Giwa FC did not show up as they were scheduled to play Cup holders Akwa United. Giwa FC was directed to play its next three home games at the Kwara State Stadium by the League Management Company (LMC) following recent crowd trouble in their fixture against Rangers.
The Jos club failed to turn up for the first of the three games at Ilorin against Wikki and the LMC awarded three points and three goals to Wikki.
Kano Pillars face El-Kanemi in Maiduguri to round off the match week, and could go top if they beat their hosts.
MATCH DAY 16
Sunshine 2-1 Rangers
Ikorodu 2-2 Plateau
MFM 0-0 Enyimba
Rivers Utd 1-0 Wikki
Nasarawa 3-2 Abia W’
IfeanyiUbah 1-0 Lobi
Tornadoes 2-1 Heartland
Shooting 1-2 W’Wolves