Wikki reclaim top spot in Nigerian league

Match Day 26 witnessed a change in leadership on the summit of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL), which only lasted for less than 48 hours, following Wikki Tourists’ score draw in Warri.

Rangers had eclipsed the Bauchi side on Friday night after disposing oriental neighbours, Abia Warriors 2-1 in Enugu. It was the first time in many weeks that Abdu Maikaba’s men were overthrown, in what has been a season filled with amazing thrills.

A total of 21 goals, seven wins and three draws characterized the match day, which saw one of the season’s amazing phenomenon, Ismaila Gata finding the back of the net yet again.

At the Warri City Stadium, Wolves thought they had subdued leaders, Wikki Tourists, through Ewenike Achibi’s header in the 32nd minute. But the visitors had better ideas and waited patiently for the magical moment, which surfaced in the 90th minute through Idris Guda Mohammed. The home side wrapped up the game with 10 men following the dismissal of Shedrack Oghali.

Kano Pillars put behind their disappointing 2-1 loss away to Akwa United on match day 25, with a convincing 3-0 win over visiting Lobi Stars of Makurdi. Adamu Mohammed got the hosts to a flying start within 66 seconds of kickoff, before Rabiu Ali added the second from the spot after the half hour mark. Jamiu Alimi netted the third in the 74th minute, as Lobi’s quest to reduce the deficit was denied when Pillars goalkeeper David Obiazo saved Raphael Ayagwa’s penalty, ten minutes to time.

At the Lekan Salami Stadium in Ibadan, Abdulrahman Bashir’s opener for Nasarawa United looked poised to spell doom for Shooting Stars, but the Oluyole Warriors had to wait till the hour mark to restore parity through Promise Ebiaku, from a penalty. Izu Joseph launched the crowd to a frenzy, when he scrambled home the winner in added time.

Ikorodu United’s chances of beating the drop suffered a major setback, as big-spending as they had to force FC Ifeanyiubah to a 1-1 draw in Lagos. Gata gave the visitors the lead midway through the first half, before Fatai Abdullahi’s excellent free kick was headed in by Paul Dike in the 55th minute, for the leveller.

Bernard Ovoke’s strike in the 22nd minute was the difference between Rivers United and Niger Tornadoes at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt. Tornadoes had a realistic chance of stealing a point off their hosts, Rivers United, in the 35th minute, but Gabriel Wassa’s poorly taken penalty blew that opportunity.

Ubong Friday’s effort in the 75th minute rescued a point for Akwa United of Uyo at the Rwang Pam Stadium, Jos. Zachary Baraje’s men had earlier taken the lead through Kelechi John, four minutes into the second half.

In the games played on Saturday, struggling Heartland FC left it late against champions, Enyimba, as Bright Ejike’s goal from the spot in added time earned maximum points, while El-Kanemi Warriors dismissed MFM 3-1 in Maiduguri.

Rangers edged oriental neighbours Abia Warriors 2-1 in a tightly contested game on Friday night. Obinna Nwobodo gave Imama’ Amapakabo’s side the lead in the 15th minute, before Chisom Egbuchulam doubled their advantage in the 35th minute. Michael Olaha’s late consolation could not salvage Kennedy Boboye’s team from yet another defeat on the road.

LMC/Tahir