Despite their financial challenges, the Naze Millionaires have risen to the top of the league for the first time in almost three seasons as Sharks, Enyimba, Nembe, Wolves win home
HEARTLAND 1-0 ABS
For the first time in almost three years the city of Owerri was agog again over their darling club's rise to the summit of the premier league after a hard earned 1-0 win over hard fighting ABS at the Dan Anyiam Stadium, Sunday evening.
A delightful free kick converted by Amarachi Ukaegbu from a good pass from Ikechukwu Ibenegbu in the 34th minute of the encounter was all the Naze Millionaires needed to stage a return to the pinnacle of the league for the first time in recent years.
It was a follow up to the feat recorded in Ibadan where Heartland against all odds outwitted 3SC 2-0 at the Lekan Salami Stadium, Adamasingba last Wednesday.
The defeat meant that the Ilorin outfit has slipped to the bottom of the table and must do everything fast in their next home tie against Enugu Rangers on Wednesday. An outright win is non-negotiable for the privately owned club.
Heartland have a big task of their own if they want to retain their place at the top when they visit Sunshine Stars of Akure this Wednesday. If they secure another unlikely win, they are going to remain at the top. Heartland are currently on 22 points from 12 games, same as Kano Pillars but they are on top by virtue of their better goals difference while ABS are at the wrong end of the table with 13 points from 13 encounters to place 19th.
ENYIMBA 2-0 BAYELSA UNITED
The Peoples Elephant's renaissance at home continued Sunday at the Enyimba International Stadium, Aba after the club stopped the Yenagoa side 2-0 through a top class first half performance.
Bayelsa United who were second on the log prior to the tie could have jumped to the top with an unlikely win but all permutations about their top spot dreams evaporated before halftime after goals from Ayo Saka and Sibi Gwar in the 27th and 31st minutes. Saka provided the assist for Gwar's second goal as the latter took his tally to five in the league this season.
Enyimba are back in the top half based on the win. They have 19 points from 13 games to be placed sixth while Bayelsa United dropped to fifth with 20 points.
The Aba giants will seek an end to their away misery when they make a short dash to Uyo as guest of Akwa United this mid week while Bayelsa United are at home in the Yenagoa derby against neighbours Nembe City at the Samson Siasia Stadium.
WARRI WOLVES 2-1 KANO PILLARS
The Seasiders are steadily finding their way to the top of the table after their unimpressive start to the season following an important 2-1home win over floundering reigning defending champions, Pillars at the Warri City Stadium on Sunday.
Two quick first half goals from Oghenekaro Etebo (who netted his sixth goal of the season) and Joseph Osadaiye in the sixth and 13th minutes respectively confined the Kano club to their third consecutive road loss and four overall this season. Significantly, it was a halt to the heavy defeats suffered in Enugu (0-4) and Aba (0-3) against Rangers and Enyimba.
Pillars however woke up in the second half and got a deserved goal through Kabiru Umar in the 80th minute but Warri Wolves kept their nerves to hang on to that vital win.
Warri Wolves are 11th with 18 points from 13 encounters while Pillars are second with 22 points with a game less.
Pillars could return to the top again this midweek if they get a routine three points at home to Kaduna United but Warri Wolves must make a long road trip to Bauchi to slug it out with Wikki Tourists.
KWARA UNITED 1-1 DOLPHINS
The Afonja Warriors dropped two precious home points in Ilorin on Sunday after allowing the Port Harcourt dwellers to sneak an important draw at the Kwara State Sports Complex.
Coach Samson Unuanel and his wards couldn't get the vital second goal to guarantee all points after Yahaya Adamu put them at the driver's seat but they allowed Dolphins to claw their way back into the game through Fred Okwara who got the leveller to the delight of club gaffer Stanley Eguma.
Kwara United have a big task on their hands to keep themselves in the top 10 this midweek with a trip to Katsina Ala as visitors of Lobi Stars while Dolphins will seek consolidation with a home duel against bad travellers Gombe United. Kwara United are seventh after 13 matches with 19 points while Dolphins are 12th with 18 points from same matches.
GOMBE UNITED 1-0 EL KANEMI WARRIORS
The Desert Scorpions scooped another three points and made it six from two home clashes after pipping El Kanemi Warriors 1-0 at the Pantami Stadium, Gombe.
Sani Modu's lone goal was good enough to catapult Gombe United to the third spot on the table by the virtue of their near invincibility at home. They have 21 points from seven home games to claim their current position on the log from 13 games while El Kanemi are in 17th position with 15 points from the same number of games.
Based on their away form this season,Gombe United will struggle to get anything out of their road trip to Port Harcourt as guests of Dolphins while El Kanemi will welcome Sharks in their matchday 14 tie.
SHARKS 1-0 SUNSHINE STARS
The Blue Angels' manager, Gbenga Ogunbote rubbed salt on the aspirations of his erstwhile club and their quest to be among the top clubs with a precious home win meant to ease their relegation worries.
Chibuzor Osigwe's solitary strike in the early part of the second half guaranteed all points in a tie the Akure Gunners sat at the back for most of the game for reasons best known to them.
Sunshine are now in 10th position from 13 fixtures despite an impressive start to the season. They have 18 points while Sharks are 18th from 13 games with 14 points to show for their efforts.
After returning empty handed from their last two consecutive away ties, the Akure Gunners will host Heartland of Owerri Wednesday in the unarguably the star match of the week while Sharks are travelling to meet El Kanemi Warriors.
NASARAWA UNITED 0-0 AKWA UNITED
The Lafia based side lost more ground on the league table after allowing Akwa United to 'steal' a point off their back last Sunday.
A win could have seen them risen to as high as third on the log but they would be content with an eighth position with 19 points from 13 games while Akwa United's solitary point on the road ensured they jumped to 13th position with 17 points from 13 ties.
Nasarawa United with coach Alphonsus Dike at the helms have a tough road tie with wounded 3SC in Ibadan this mid week while Akwa United equally have a difficult home duel with Enyimba in Uyo.
NEMBE CITY 2-1 WIKKI TOURISTS
Despite losing the tie, the media officer of the visiting team, Usman Abbas praised the good works of the match officials and predicted a good future for them if they continue with the way they handled the Week 13 tie involving them against Nembe City.
Wikki Tourists dominated the early exchanges and even drew the first blood in the 29th minute through Ibrahim Babale but Nembe City came back stronger and netted twice through Arinze Obioma and Joshua Ugeh in the 35th and 70th minutes in that order.
Nembe City are still living their dream in their debut campaign in the premier league as they now occupied fourth spot after 13 games with 20 points but Wikki Tourists are still with their relegation stress. They are bottom of the league with 11 points albeit with the disputed game at hand against Rangers.
Nembe City must go full throttle this midweek in their bid to control the annals of Yenagoa with a tricky local derby against Bayelsa United. Wikki Tourists will welcome Warri Wolves.
KADUNA UNITED 1-0 LOBI STARS
Lobi Stars free fall away from Katsina Ala continued in Kaduna over the weekend after they lost another game to Kaduna United.
Despite squandering scoring chances in the first half, Kaduna United made amends in the second session and they were rewarded with a goal through Ali Mohammed in the 62nd minute.
Like their host, Lobi Stars' players were guilty of spurning gilt edge chances that came their way with Tony Okpotu a major culprit.
Kaduna United moved a spot better than last week position. They are now 15th on the log with 17 points from 13 games while Lobi are just a spot better in 14th from same number of matches and with same 17 points garnered too as Kaduna United.
RANGERS VS 3SC
The tie involving both legendary clubs could not take place as scheduled as the Flying Antelopes had a continental tie same day against CS Sfaxien of Tunisia one which they managed to win 1-0 through a stoppage tie winner from Ugonna Uzochukwu.
They must fashion out a winning formula in Tunisia if they do not want to make it zero for Nigeria's clubs on the continent this season.
Despite not kicking a ball, Rangers are ninth with 18 points from 11 fixtures while 3SC are 16th from 13 games with 16 points.
Rangers should fancy picking at least an away point from Ilorin as guest of ABS the same venue they grabbed all points last season courtesy of Chikeluba Ofoedu's goal but the Oluyole Warriors must vent their anger on Nasarawa United so as to gain the confidence of their fans back after their home loss to Heartland last Wednesday.