Nigeria League Round 1 Results: Nembe City, Kano Pillars grab first away wins of the season
The Nigeria Premier Football League newcomers and the title holders lit up the new season with victories on the road in Owerri and Bauchi respectively
By Kolade Oni
|ENUGU RANGERS 1-0 ENYIMBA
Enugu Rangers opened the league season with a valuable win over rivals Enyimba International in the Match Day One of the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) played at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu.
Dada Bitrus benefitted from calamitous defending from the Peoples Elephant to put the Flying Antelopes ahead in the 26th minute for the top flight's first goal of the season.
Enyimba's efforts to get the desired equaliser met a brick wall as the defence of Rangers held on stoutly for a famous victory over their neighbours in the South East derby otherwise called Oriental Derby. Both sides witnessed glaring misses and couldn't lift their game for most part of proceedings in Enugu.
The game was watched by record crowd and the League Management board led by the Chairman, Nduka Irabor. It was also 1-0 when both sides met in Enugu last season before Enyimba won the reverse fixture 3-1 at Aba.
|HEARTLAND 1-2 NEMBE CITY|
A low spirited performance by Heartland has put their aim of winning the NPFL title in jeopardy after suffering a surprise 1-2 defeat at home to newly promoted Nembe City of Bayelsa on Sunday.
Goals from Brown Braye and Samuel Akinbinu in the 48th and 73rd minutes gave Nembe City their first ever victory in the top flight in their very first match and away from home.
The club owned by former NPL boss Victor Baribote only got promoted to the NPFL this season after spending only a season in the Nigeria National League (NNL) last year.
The first half was of low quality that it left many fans who abandoned their other businesses to witness Heartland's first match of the season fuming at why the players couldn't lift their spirits and give them their money’s worth. But the second half was action packed with Nembe City at the middle of everything good that happened in that half.
Nembe City's first goal in the top flight came from Braye about three minutes after the restart of the second half as he lobbed a high ball into the vital area of the Naze Millionaires and the ball landed at the back of the net. It went over a badly positioned Daniel Akpeyi who was out of his goal area before the ball was played.
Heartland evened the tie about 23 minutes later through Olusesi who replaced not too effective Obinna Nwachukwu some minutes earlier.
The young striker latched unto a beautiful pull out from diminutive winger Jolly Osas in the 71st minute with his head after a howler from Nembe City's goalkeeper, Opubo Japhet put the ball in his way.
The Owerri fans that thronged the stadium in spite of the European league and Cup games going on as at that time had hardly settled down to celebrate the equaliser when enterprising forward Samuel Akinbinu capitalised on a defensive lapse from their hosts to get the back breaking second goal about two minutes after Heartland's equaliser.
The Imo government-sponsored club must overcome their internal strife before their home game in the Caf Confederation Cup first round first leg tie against dreaded US Bitam of Gabon next week.
|WIKKI TOURISTS 0-1 KANO PILLARS
The defending champions put up a spirited effort in Bauchi to secure their first win of the season at the Abubakar Umar Memorial Stadium on Sunday night.
Rabiu Ali scored what turned out to be the difference about five minutes from full time as the home team couldn't muster an equaliser till the blast of the referee's final whistle.
The arbiter even handed Wikki Tourists a lifeline with a penalty at some period in the game but it was fluffed to the disappointment of the Bauchi fans.
Pillars will return to Kano full of optimism of another impressive outing as they welcome AC Leopards of Congo in the first leg, first round of the Caf Champions League competition slated for Kano's Sani Abacha Stadium next Saturday.
|SHARKS 2-1 WARRI WOLVES
The Blue Angels got maximum points despite playing the game without their technical dviser Austin Eguavoen who was sited at Owerri watching Heartland versus Nembe City, same time his wards were entertaining Warri Wolves in Port Harcourt.
George Amakiri and Frederick Obomale both netted for Sharks in the match in which all the three goals were scored in the first half. Akeem Yakubu halved the score line before the expiration of the first half for Warri Wolves but the away side couldn't grab the much desired leveller.
|SUNSHINE STARS 1-0 KADUNA UNITED
The Akure Gunners head coach Samuel Abimbola told Goal.com he was a relieved man after his misfiring players bagged all points in their first match of the season against Kaduna United at the Akure Township Stadium.
Ajani Ibrahim who got only a goal throughout last season started this term brightly when he netted his side's only goal in the eighth minute of the game marred by missed chances and poor marksmanship.
Much was in the offing ahead of the match after Sunshine did a massive clearance of the technical crew few months after the team got to the semi finals of the 2012 Caf Champions League before losing to Al Ahly of Egypt 4-3 on aggregate.
The lads played all their hearts out but were undone by their lack of direction at scoring positions.
|3SC 2-0 GOMBE UNITED
Before the match played at the Obafemi Awolowo Stadium, Ibadan on Sunday, the visiting team boasted of a two-season unbeaten record away against the Oluyole Warriors.
It was not business as usual this term after 3SC's superb pre-season before the start of the 2012/13 league season.
The Oluyole Warriors quickly settled down to the business of the day with two breathtaking goals in the first half through strikers Tony Edjomariegwe and Osagona Ighodaro who fired home 17 goals in the friendly matches played before the commencement of the league.
All the efforts of the Desert Scorpions to claw back into the encounter were nullified by very alert Shooting Stars' defenders.
The win has given 3SC leverage with which to build on to have a successful season and return the State to continental games like in the past.
|ABS 0-0 KWARA UNITED
There is nothing much to say about the local derby between the Saraki Boys and the Afonja Warriors at the Kwara State International Stadium, Ilorin.
Two seasons ago while still bearing the name Bukola Babes and in their first season in the Premier League, ABS stunned their next door neighbours and older team 3-0 twice to launch themselves into the elite division.
This term the tie ended goalless with both sides satisfied with getting a share of the spoils ahead of a long season which started with their local derby.
|NASARAWA UNITED 0-0 EL KANEMI
Having just got about 50 percent of their signing on fees from the Borno State government the onus was on El Kanemi to start the season with a thank you message to the Governor and so they did in Lafia.
The team secured a draw away from home to justify the recent new lease of life in Maiduguri.
It was the clash between two clubs features in the lower league last season.
|BAYELSA UNITED 1-0 LOBI STARS
The NPFL newcomers got a dramatic late winner at the Samson Siasia Stadium, Yenagoa after Iyasele Odili's 90th minute stunner punished the 2013 Caf Confederation Cup campaigners Lobi Stars.
Bayelsa United just staged a return to the elite division after a surprise demotion to the lower league in 2010 a year after winning the Premier League and they have begun their new challenge against the big boys with a precious home win.
It was goalless for most of the game and when the fans were about leaving the venue anticipating a barren score line, Odili struck.
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