It was a nervy encounter in Owerri but Heartland came out 1-0 winners courtesy of an Emeka Ogbuh strike on the 64th minute of the encounter to keep their fans dreaming of another season in top flight league.
With this win, Heartland now need to win their final match in Jos next week against Plateau United to beat the drop.
Ogbuh was a thorn in the flesh of Kano Pillars but goalkeeper, David Obiozor seemed to have an answer for everything Ogbuh and the rest of the Heartland attackers threw at him.
As early as the 3rd minute Ogbuh had the first shot on target in the game but it was saved by Obiozor.
Obiozor, who left Heartland at the start of the season was again called upon on the 12th minute to rescue his side and he did when he saved a long range effort from Anthony Oussou who saw the keeper off his line.
The fans had voiced their displeasure with Oussou early in the game and Ramsome Madu took him off on the 38th minute for Chidiebere Ajoku.
A minute before half time it was Obiozor again to the rescue as he parried a Rolland Koffi effort for corner.
A rare opportunity for Pillars to score in the first half was just on the dot of half time as a quick counter attack saw Shagari Mohammed at the end of the move but his effort was saved by Emmanuel Iwu.
In the second half it was an all Obiozor affair as he saved from Prince Dike on the 50th minute, Rolland Koffi on the 55th, and Macmarcel Obioha on the 62.
The save off MacMarcel was a penalty after Nura Ibrahim had handled the ball in the box.
Obioha’s lazy effort was parried by Obiozor who also saved the rebound.
But two minutes after the penalty miss, Ogbuh rose highest to head home a corner kick to hand victory over to the home side.
On the 58th minute, Heartland took off Hamzat Owolabi for Emeka Atuloma.
With fifteen minutes left on the clock, Baba Ganaru of Pillars decided to throw in Prince Aggrey to replace Rasaq Adegbite and then Nafiu Ibrahim came on for Shagari Mohammed.
Heartland, needing to score one more goal brought on Bright Ejike for Prince Dike but Obiozor continued his retinue of saves.
Ganaru threw in Mubarak Sa’id for Amos Gyang but the score line would not change and Heartland ended up winners.
“Hard work and God gave us the victory,” Heartland coach, Ransom Madu told NPFL.ng after the game.
“A lot of people were thinking about our next game against Plateau United but it was all about this one. Now we have taken the three points so it’s time to think of the next game,” Madu said.
Kano Pillars coach, Baba Ganaru insisted that his boys were unlucky not to take the few chances they got in the game.
“It was a good game. We both played very well and created chances but Heartland used theirs while we missed all of ours,” Ganaru told NPFL.ng
Ganaru added that the missed the services of five key players who were ill just before the game.
Gambo Mohammed, Rabiu Ali, Chris Madaki, Bala Mohammed and Adamu Hassan did not make the trip to Owerri.