Lobi Stars finally halted the winning run of the defending champions at the Sani Abacha Stadium, while Warri Wolves cut the joy of ABS short with 2-0 away win
KANO PILLARS 1-1 LOBI STARS
The reigning champions have dropped points at home finally after they had won their other games played at the Sani Abacha Stadium before this tie. They were the last club to lose points on their turf after the other 19 clubs had either lost or drawn in their backyard this season. But they still remain unbeaten at home since 2003.
It was Lobi Stars that ended that winning streak after they battled the Mohammed Baba Ganaru led Pillars to a standstill on Wednesday.
The Dominic Iorfa tutored lads even drew the first blood in the first half in the 28th minute through Ogidison Oche who capitalised on a defensive lapse from Pillars Kabiru Uba to drill the ball beyond the reach of Theophilus Afelokhai who was between the posts for Pillars.
Pillars equalised less than 10 minutes later through Ikechukwu Gabriel who was said to have injured Lobi's goalkeeper, Terkaa Melai in the process leading to the goal in the 35th minute. The home team almost got an unlikely winner when they were handed a spot kick in the 88th minute. Rabiu Ali who was looking for his eighth goal of the season couldn't beat well composed Melai from 12 yards away. Melai was later adjudged the most valuable player of the match because of his heroics.
The draw notwithstanding, Pillars are still in first spot with 33 points from 18 games while Lobi are 15th with 23 points from 18 matches.
Pillars will welcome El Kanemi Warriors in another home game while Lobi will be at home to Wikki Tourists on Sunday in the concluding games of the first stanza.
ABS 0-2 WARRI WOLVES
Warri Wolves abruptly ended the merriment of the Ilorin outfit with a 2-0 away victory on Wednesday barely three days after ABS shocked Nembe City in Yenagoa.
ABS had over the weekend defeated Nembe City 1-0 in Yenagoa and confidence level ahead of the tie with the Seasiders was high among the players and officials of the privately owned club but literally cut to shreds on Wednesday 2-0 by Warri Wolves who were more concerned about getting a win to dedicate to their former player Solomon Oboh who died in an auto crash last Sunday in Warri.
Impressive Oghenekaro Etebo put his club on a victory path when he got the curtain raiser in the 74th minute while Gift Atiluwa made the entire points safe with the back breaker in the 90th minute.
For ABS, they need to do a reality check and unravel the mystery behind their inconsistencies this season before it is too late.
Warri Wolves have soared high on the log based on the away win with 27 points from 17 games. They are sixth with a conclusive decision yet to be taken on their disputed inconclusive tie with Akwa United while ABS are 19th with 22 points from 18 matches.
Wolves host Sunshine Stars this weekend in Warri while ABS travel to Kaduna to face Kaduna United. Both ties are Week 19 matches.
SUNSHINE STARS 2-0 NEMBE CITY
Everything positive about the Akure Arsenal these days only revolves around star striker, Dele Olorundare who netted a brace in the club's home win over Nembe City at the Akure Township Stadium.
The two goals increased Olorundare's strikes to 11 and he is on course to break the 20 goal league record made by then Kaduna United's hitman Jude Aneke two seasons ago if he maintains his form.
Sunshine have 27 points to be placed fifth after 18 matches while Nembe City are 16th with 23 points from 18 matches.
The Akure side will lock horns with Warri Wolves at the Warri City Stadium while Nembe will strive to shrug off relegation worries with a home tie against Sharks this weekend.
EL KANEMI WARRIORS 3-0 ENUGU RANGERS
The Maiduguri side have turned their base at El Kanemi Stadium to a fortress after dismantling the Flying Antelopes 3-0 on Thursday night.
The win was the club's seventh point claimed out of possible nine in the last three matches.
They will play Pillars on Saturday with so much enthusiasm of halting their host again just like Lobi did mid week.
El Kanemi Warriors have 25 points from 18 matches and are placed 11th while Rangers are 13th with 24 points from 16 games. Rangers are on the road again as they battle Nasarawa United this weekend.
SHARKS 1-0 ENYIMBA
The Blue Angels surprisingly came tops against the Peoples Elephant in Port Harcourt on Wednesday.
The only difference of the tie was the 24th minute strike from former Rangers player, Tayo Fabiyi which the home team held unto for crucial three points.
Enyimba are still one of the most inconsistent teams in the league this season and time is fast running out on their far from impressive outing this first stanza. Their supposed burning desire of nicking a continental ticket through the league this season may become a pipe dream if nothing is done now to arrest the club's dwindling fortunes.
Enyimba are eighth with 25 points from 18 matches while Sharks' revival to stay for an additional season in the premier league got a boost with their latest win. They are still last on the log with 17 points from 18 matches.
The Aba Millionaires have a tight fixture against Heartland in Aba on Sunday while Sharks face Nembe City in Port Harcourt.
HEARTLAND 2-0 NASARAWA UNITED
The Week 18 encounter with Nasarawa United was a very cagey affair until a certain Esom Tochukwu was brought in. He didn't disappoint as he dazzled the spectators and gave the Lafia side a torrid time before Heartland won the tie 2-0.
The Naze Millionaires thus remained in the fourth position on the NPFL log after they defeated Nasarawa United 2-0 in a Week 18 tie decided at the Dan Anyiam Stadium,Owerri.
The tension soaked affair did not produce any goal in the first half but the Naze Millionaires dug deep to get two goals in the second half through Akor Umoru Isah who netted his eighth goal of the season in the 48th minute and Osas Okoro who got the second about 12 minutes from the end of the tie.
The win lifted Heartland to 28 points from 18 games and are fourth after Kwara United got a draw against Akwa United in their Week 18 tie at Akwa United. The Afonja Warriors are second behind Pillars.
Heartland will take a short trip to Aba to face Enyimba this weekend in another oriental derby while Nasarawa United will entertain Enugu Rangers in Lafia.
BAYELSA UNITED 1-0 GOMBE UNITED
The Yenagoa side as usual gained a precious home win over Gombe United to take their tally for the season to 29 points and are third on the table only on goal difference. They have played 18 games.
The club's latest maximum points secured was largely possible because of the ingenuity of their top goal poacher Peter Ebimobowei who has scored about 5 goals from the club's last three home games against Nembe City, Kaduna United and Gombe United.
The 2009 league winners are gradually returning to the fearsome team they were noted for before they got demoted to the lower division in 2010. They only returned to the elite division at the beginning of the season alongside Nembe City, El Kanemi Warriors and Nasarawa United and their early signs in the first stanza showed they are itching to return to the top.
Gombe United continued their slide away from home and they will make a long trip back to base to face troubled Akwa United this weekend at the Pantami Stadium but Bayelsa United will travel to Port Harcourt as guest of Dolphins.
Gombe United are 12th with 25 points from 18 matches.
AKWA UNITED 0-0 KWARA UNITED
The Uyo side started life after they were banished from their home turf to Rojenny Stadium, Oba near Onitsha with a goalless draw against Kwara United on Thursday night.
The team played good football and held possession well but they lacked the cutting edge moving forward to nick goals.
Their star striker Obong Ekpai was unavoidably absent and he was solely missed as the club lost further grounds on the league table with another two points loss at home.
The Justin Tenger tutored Akwa United may be courting a return to the lower league if necessary overhauling is not done during the mid season transfer. They are 14th on the log with 24 points from 17 games. They take a long journey to Gombe United for Sunday's Week 19 tie.
The Afonja Warriors are riding high under new head coach Samson Unuanel and he has taken the Ilorin side to a position that coaches before him failed to reach throughout their stay at Ilorin. Kwara United are now second on the log with 29 points from 18 games and a win at home to tough customers, 3SC could cement their place among the top three after the first stanza.
Former junior international goalkeeper, Kazeem Yekeen was largely impressive and a candidate for man of the match award against Akwa United after thwarting all the Uyo side's attempts at cancelling the goalless situation. He made some top drawer point blank saves too as he helped his club gained a precious point away.
WIKKI TOURISTS 1-0 DOLPHINS
The Tourists from Bauchi have got additional three points after a 1-0 home triumph over Dolphins on Wednesday.
Ibrahim Babale nicked the match winners and improved Wikki's points to 23 from 18 matches but Dolphins are still stuck at 25 points from the same number of games.
Both sides play Lobi Stars at Katsina Ala and Bayelsa United in Port Harcourt respectively this weekend in the last set of matches before the ritual mid season break.
3SC 2-0 KADUNA UNITED
The Oluyole Warriors endured a turbulent first half at the Lekan Salami Stadium, Ibadan last Wednesday but still bagged maximum points at home to Kaduna United.
Two second half goals from Gbolahan Salami and Mutiu Adegoke in the 62nd and 71st minutes handed a win to 3SC and ensured that Kaduna United returned empty handed despite their valiant display.
The northern sides were to blame for their loss having frittered away begging chances in the first half. They paid for their profligacy in front of goal in the first half after 3SC shocked them with two well taking goals in the second half.
The Ibadan sides are seventh on the log with 25 points from 17 matches while Kaduna United are back among the relegation battlers again.
3SC will visit Kwara United this weekend at Ilorin while Kaduna United will host wounded ABS at home.