NPFL Week 9 Round Up: Enugu Rangers thrash Kano Pillars 4-0 to jump to the top of the league
In a week that almost saw all the home teams capture the three points available the Flying Antelopes stormed back to the summit of the league toppling the defending champions
By Kolade Oni
ENUGU RANGERS 4-0 KANO PILLARS
This heart-warming victory against the defending champions may rank among the Flying Antelopes' best results this season as they were rampant against Kano Pillars at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu on Sunday evening.
Rangers knew before the start of game that a big win would guarantee top spot but they were also aware they had a tough job on their hands for them to beat the Pillars.
The Flying Antelopes quickly settled down for the business of the day as they outplayed their opponents and were already three goals up before the half hour mark with goals from Dada Bitrus (his second consecutive goal), Oduokpe Oghogho and Alhaji Gero in the 14th, 16th and 24th minutes.
With the three goals cushion, Rangers handed a league debut to former Gombe United forward Sani Sanusi who made significant impact after coming on in the second half. Sanusi's contribution was to notch home the fourth goal in the 79th minute and it was the goal that sealed Rangers’ place at the top and over Sunshine Stars of Akure on goals difference.
Pillars were a shadow of their former selves and showed they were yet to recover from the hangover of the crowd violence that marred their Week 8 home tie against Heartland last Thursday.
Rangers occupy first place on the log with 17 points, Pillars stepped down to third with 16 points albeit with a protest game in hand as Sunshine Stars stormed to second but level on points with Rangers after nine games.
WARRI WOLVES 2-1 KWARA UNITED
Warri Wolves secured their second consecutive home win in their nail-biting 2-1 win over the Afonja Warriors at the Warri City Stadium. Wolves’ victory put a halt to the two game unbeaten run of Kwara United who had recovered from their home loss to Nasarawa United in Week 6 with a goalless draw at Aba against Enyimba and 2-0 success at Ilorin over Nembe City.
Wolves had Musa Najare's brace (including one from the spot kick) to thank for the three points while Kwara United ensured a tense finish after Sidi Lawal halved the score.
The Warri side now have 12 points from eight games. They have remained unbeaten in the last eight games including six draws. Wolves are in ninth position. Kwara United have 12 points too just like their conquerors and have played similar number of matches. They are placed 12th.
ENYIMBA 2-0 DOLPHINS
Under an ideal setting, this game should easily have been the star match of the week but with both clubs suffering different problems the tie at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu easily overshadowed this game that was played at Enyimba's slaughter slab Enyimba International Stadium, Aba.
Enyimba have not been inspiring this season with the team only averaging a point per game in the previously played eight games, they may not be good enough to compete for the league title. The Aba Millionaires have failed to beat lightweights Warri Wolves and Kwara United at Aba in their last two games and have lost all away matches bar one this season.
The tie had so much tension around it with Enyimba's technical crew in its second game of the three-match ultimatum anything apart from a victory could mark the beginning of the end for coach Salisu Yusuf and his lieutenants.
The Peoples Elephant managed a 2-0 win with goals from Ifeanyi Edeh (10th) and Ugo Nwachukwu (61st) and they now have 12 points from nine games and are placed 10th on the log. Dolphins who are still on 11 points slipped down to 15th from the same number of games.
HEARTLAND 3-0 WIKKI TOURISTS
The Naze Millionaires put aside their problem with funds to record another impressive win at their fortress, Dan Anyiam Stadium, Owerri over bad travellers Wikki Tourists of Bauchi.
Before the tie, Heartland had scored a whopping 12 goals at home in just four league games and they added another three to it on Sunday to average three goals each in their last five home fixtures.
Happy Okuoka, Isah Akor and Esom Tochukwu in the 6th, 51st and 89th minutes in that order fetched Heartland's three goals as Wikki returned empty handed.
The Owerri club are on 13th position with 13 points while Wikki have taken over the position of Sharks of Port Harcourt at the bottom of the log with eight points.
SUNSHINE STARS 3-0 AKWA UNITED
The Akure Gunners are also another club that their home form has been more than outstanding. They are yet to drop any point at the Akure Township Stadium this season. They have beaten Gombe United, Kaduna United, Lobi Stars, Wikki Tourists and now Akwa United.
The Akure club has relied on the goals from Dele Olorundare who bagged a brace this term and Ajani Ibrahim who also saw the back of the net against the Uyo team.
Sunshine are now second on the log but they have same 17 points with Rangers and are only below them owing to goals difference between the two teams. Akwa United on the other hand are 17th with 10 points.
SHARKS 2-1 BAYELSA UNITED
The Blue Angels survived the scare from former player Gomo Onduku and other ex-Sharks' players that featured against their former team at the Sharks Stadium, Port Harcourt.
The Super Eagles' player got his team’s only goal which was the first goal of the day before Sharks rallied back to get two goals through Chiamaka Madu and Abraham Ezeoha.
The victory was Sharks' second win of the season and it came barely three days after securing the club's first away point in Bauchi against Wikki Tourists. The Blue Angels have moved a step higher from the bottom of the log to 19th position while Bayelsa United are still on 13 points from same number of matches.
ABS 1-0 SHOOTING STARS (3SC)
The Oluyole Warriors are in desperate search for away points which they have not got since the current season began about two months ago.
So many expected the Ibadan club to break that jinx in Ilorin against ABS having beaten the same side twice during the pre-season but they still lost.
The only goal of the game was scored in the 62nd by Ibrahim Abdulahi and all 3SC's attempts to equalise were foiled by the alert ABS defence.
The Ilorin club have 11 points from nine matches to occupy the 14th position while 3SC are a point better than ABS in 11th position.
NASARAWA UNITED 1-1 LOBI STARS
It was a local derby based on the nearness of both teams and it was dubbed “brothers-at-war” before the kick off of the game.
Nasarawa United needed all points to consolidate their impressive start to the season while Lobi were condemned to get at least a point if they wanted to remain in reckoning regarding this season's league.
The home team drew the first blood in the 37th minute through ex-Pillars striker, Victor Namo who converted a penalty kick but Lobi Stars' John Kollins Hda scored the equaliser to the delight of his team mates.
Nasarawa United are fourth on the log with 15 points from nine games while Lobi Stars are 8th on the log with 13 points.
NEMBE CITY 2-0 GOMBE UNITED
Nembe City are still holding their own in their debut season in the elite division. The Victor Rumson Baribote led club handed a 2-0 victory to Gombe United through two goals from Okiki Musampa.
Nembe moved to the top 5 of the league while the Desert Scorpions are on 12 points and are 13th on the log.
KADUNA UNITED 1-0 EL KANEMI WARRIORS
Kaduna United defeated El Kanemi Warriors 1-0 to boost the reality of their survival at the end of the season.
Iliya Dibo's lone strike was just good enough to get Kaduna United all the points. Kaduna United are in 16th position with 11 points from nine games.