NPFL Week 12 Round Up: Heartland secure first away win break 4 years curse
The Naze Millionaires were the overwhelming choice for the team of the week after winning in Ibadan while Sharks also picked a draw in Ilorin against ABS in match day 12 ties
By Kolade Oni
3SC 0-2 HEARTLAND
Cash strapped Heatland shrugged off their financial woes to dent the home record of the Oluyole Warriors at the Lekan Salami Stadium, Adamasingba, Ibadan with an impressive 2-0 win. It has never been this good for the Naze Millionaires who got over six away draws last season and the last time they secured a road victory was on March 7, 2009 when they defeated oriental rivals, Enugu Rangers.
Goals from Jolly Osas in the second minute and Ebere Edochie in the 68th minute settled the tie for the 2011 and 2012 Federation Cup winners.
Although the win put them in temporary second spot for 24 hours, they however dropped a place further down to third after Bayelsa United defeated Nasarawa United 2-1 in a delayed clash played on Thursday. The Yenagoa club took their former place.
Heartland have 19 points from 11 fixtures while 3SC who thought they were back to their former self after a first road point in Port Harcourt last week were given a reality check by Heartland after the home loss.
The Oluyole Warriors are placed 12th with 16 points from 12 matches and they must shake off the home defeat if they are to get anything away from their next game against Enugu Rangers. The game will not hold this Sunday but will be re-arranged for a later date due to Rangers' continental engagement in the Caf Confederation Cup against visiting CS Sfaxien of Tunisia. Heartland on their part must consolidate on their new found form as they welcome unpredictable ABS of Ilorin on Sunday.
ABS 0-0 SHARKS
Both clubs had every reason to go all out for a win before this game was played based on the fact that they both got a draw in their last match in Akure and Port Harcourt respectively against Sunshine Stars and 3SC.
ABS did all what they could to secure all points while Sharks too defended with all what they had on match day to ensure both get a share of the spoils in Ilorin.
The draw however did no good to both clubs as it left them in the bottom three. Sharks returned to the bottom of the table with a paltry 11 points from 12 games while ABS are not too far off in 19th position with 13 points from as many games. ABS will seek redemption from rejuvenated Heartland of Owerri on Sunday at the Dan Anyiam Stadium while Sharks will have their hands full when they host badly wounded Sunshine Stars in Port Harcourt same day.
AKWA UNITED 1-0 ENUGU RANGERS
The Flying Antelopes were put in a precarious position on Wednesday at the Uyo Township Stadium when they lost 0-1 to Akwa United in a tie meant to test their preparedness for the all-important Caf Confederation Cup tie against CS Sfaxien of Tunisia.
It is worrisome that after the heroics of their 4-0 home win over reigning champions Kano Pillars, Rangers have found it difficult to win a game in the last three ties and in fact they only have a point to show for their effort from a possible nine.
The Flying Antelopes are in fourth position with 18 points from 12 games while Akwa United's latest three crucial points steer them clear of the relegation zone in 13th position with 16 points from 12 fixtures. Rangers will be off domestic duties this weekend as they battle for a place in the group stage of the Caf Confederation Cup but Akwa United will take a long road dash to Lafia to face Nasarawa United on Sunday.
BAYELSA UNITED 2-1 NASARAWA UNITED
The Yenagoa side displaced Heartland of Owerri from the second spot after their narrow 2-1 home win against hard fighting Nasarawa United at the Samson Siasia Stadium on Thursday evening.
Ex-Enyimba and Sharks' striker, Bernard Okorowanta and Uche Ihurulam bagged Bayelsa United goals while Manga Mohammed reduced the Lafia side's arrears of goals in the Week 12 duel.
Bayelsa United with coach Ladan Isa Bosso at the helm just staged a return to the elite division after about three years absence and with their current second position, they are not doing too badly at all. They will seek to protect their current position with a tough battle against Enyimba International of Aba on Sunday while Nasarawa United are at home to Akwa United. Bayelsa United have 20 points from 12 matches to stay in second position while Nasarawa United are in eighth position with 18 points from as many matches.
WIKKI TOURISTS 1-0 ENYIMBA
The Tourists from Bauchi got the much desired solitary goal in the 32nd minute through Festus Umunah and they sat on that till the final blast of the referee's whistle.
For the revered Peoples Elephant, it was another setback in their recovery mode to the top half of the league having played so well last Sunday at home to Pillars whom they pummelled 3-0 and could still have scored more.
The win was very important to Wikki having now gathered six points from possible nine from their last three games.
They are now in 18th position with 14 points from 12 games while Enyimba are in 14th position with 16 points from same number of fixtures. Wikki will seek another point in Yenagoa against Nembe City while Enyimba have a must win tie at Aba against Bayelsa United.
KANO PILLARS 3-1 NEMBE CITY
The league reigning champions returned to winning ways against Nembe City after their recent humiliation in Enugu and Aba respectively where they shipped in seven goals without scoring any.
At the Sani Abacha Stadium on Wednesday, Pillars opened a two point gap at the top despite playing a game less than many clubs with. Comfortable 3-1 win against the elite league's newcomers.
Rabiu Ali got the curtain raiser in the eighth minute while Nasiru Ali increased the tally in the 22nd minute. Nembe clawed their way into the game with a goal in the 35th minute through Ebitimi Ayogu before Buhari Musa restored his team's two goals cushion in the 41st minute. All the four goals were scored in the first half.
Pillars are on top with 22 points from 11 games while Nembe are 10th with 17 points from 12 outings. Pillars will travel to Warri as guest of Warri Wolves while Nembe have a date with Wikki at the Samson Siasia Stadium,Yenagoa on Sunday.
LOBI STARS 1-0 WARRI WOLVES
The home team had all points courtesy of John Kollins' 27th minute goal. It was a tension soaked encounter as both clubs were at each other's throat in a bid to get the crucial win.
The Makurdi Gunners only last time lost two crucial points at home to Enyimba and this drew the ire of the home supporters who beat the centre referee. They don't want to lose any further ground on the league table hence the deployment of all tactics to win at all cost.
Warri Wolves questioned the role of the centre referee Henry Ogunyimodi from Ondo State and his two assistants whom they alleged never allowed free flow of football an allegation Lobi came out boldly to refute.
Lobi are on 17 points from 12 games to be placed 11th while Warri Wolves are five places down in 16th position with 15 points from 12 ties. Lobi will play a northern derby with Kaduna United this weekend while Warri Wolves have tough schedule at home to Pillars.
DOLPHINS 2-0 KADUNA UNITED
Goals from Fred Okwara and Derek Amadi in the 42nd and 55th minutes were enough to rescue maximum points to the Port Harcourt dwellers against Kaduna United.
Dolphins won the league shield two seasons ago but they are far from being their best this term after the failure of the Rivers government to offset the clubs signing on fees for last season and they have even struggled to get result at home while they have lost all their qway fixtures except against Sharks in the Port Harcourt derby. Dolphins are in ninth position with 17 points from 12 games while Kaduna United are on 17th spot with 14 points from as many matches. Dolphins will travel to Ilorin to get their first real away point against Kwara United while Kaduna United play host to Lobi Stars.
GOMBE UNITED 1-0 KWARA UNITED
Maurice Cooreman tutored Gombe United kept their unbeaten home record intact again when they pipped the Afonja Warriors to a lone goal victory.
Gombe United top scorer, Bishop Onyeudo stepped out to fire home a spot kick in the 60th minute of the tie and Kwara United could not recover till the referee signalled it was time to go home. It was Onyeudo's seventh goal of the campaign as he levelled with Heartland's Akor Isah Umoru who netted his seventh goal of the season last Sunday against Akwa United.
The Desert Scorpions also in the process were able to end Kwara United's hoodoo who have always come to Gombe to pick a point or all in the last three seasons. Kwara United beat Gombe United 2-0 last season. Gombe United are on 18 points from 12 games to be placed seventh while Kwara United are only a place ahead of Gombe with same 18 points from same number of matches. Gombe United will play at home to El Kanemi Warriors in their second successive home game. They could move within a point of the league leaders with a win while Kwara United are at home to Kwara United.
EL KANEMI WARRIORS 1-0 SUNSHINE STARS
The game went ahead in Maiduguri despite the state of emergency declared on Borno State barely 24 hours to match kick off.
The home team benefitted from it and got a deserved match winner through Reuben Ogbonnaya who netted the only goal of the match through a 30 yard free kick. It sailed into the back of the visitors’ net in spite of valiant effort from the goalkeeper.
It was another sweet victory for El Kanemi who have been flirting with relegation zone since the start of the season. The win lifted the club to season high 15th position with 15 points from 12 games while Sunshine with four points from their last four matches are on 18 points from 12 ties. They are placed fifth behind Pillars, Bayelsa United, Heartland and Rangers.
El Kanemi will travel to Gombe to halt the home invincibility of Gombe United while Sunshine will play their second successive away game in Port Harcourt as guest of Sharks.
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