As the Nigeria Professional Football League goes on a two-week break, the first stanza ended with impressive performances from the duo of John Uche and Yahaya Adamu who helped Kaduna United and Kwara United to important victories with Uche getting a hat-trick for Kaduna against ABS and Adamu scored a brace against Shooting Stars.
WARRI WOLVES 2-0 SUNSHINE STARS
The Seasiders are the form team of the concluding part of the first stanza after they beat the Akure Arsenal 2-0 to record their fifth straight win at the Warri City Stadium.
Warri Wolves had beaten Bayelsa United 4-0; Akwa United 3-0; 3SC 2-1 and ABS 2-0 before Sunday's drubbing of Sunshine Stars to make it 15 points out of 15 from five consecutive fixtures.
Oghenekaro Etebo got the curtain raiser in the 44th minute for his ninth goal of the season before Kola Anubi made the points safe with a stoppage time winner.
Wolves are second behind Pillars with 33 points from 19 ties and are poised to be one of the teams of the season if they do not falter along the way while Sunshine are 10th with 27 points from 19 fixtures.
For their effort against Sunshine, Wolves players and officials were rewarded financially as they were paid their win bonus for the victory recorded against 3SC and ABS at the same time after their triumph on Sunday.
ENYIMBA 1-0 HEARTLAND
Enyimba of Aba silenced their neighbours, Heartland of Owerri 1-0 in the Globacom Premier League Week 19 clash played at the Enyimba International Stadium on Sunday.
The Peoples Elephant were cheered to victory by a capacity crowd who thronged the stadium in droves for the first time in recent times.
The game itself was tension soaked with few limited chances created because of the intense rivalry between the teams and the Aba Millionaires got the only goal of the match in the 23rd minute through a free kick from Sokari Kingsley after Heartland's goalkeeper, Daniel Akpeyi handled the ball outside the 18 yard box.
The second half was drab though Heartland proved to be the better side and could have surprised their host if not for the bad state of the pitch caused by the rain.
Enyimba are 6th on the log with 28 points from 19 matches while Heartland are 5th with 28 points from same number of matches. Both sides will restart the second stanza in the first week of July in Owerri.
KWARA UNITED 2-0 3SC
Despite the tension created before the start of the match because of the false alarm raised by 3SC that there was plan by their hosts' fans to attack them all in a bid to win the Ilorin affair at all cost, Kwara United thrashed the Oluyole Warriors 2-0.
It was an affair between two warriors and the Afonja Warriors ensured they scoop the three points on offer to end the first stanza with 32 points from 19 games. They stayed in close touch with Kano Pillars and Warri Wolves who both have 36 and 33 points respectively.
Kwara United's rave of the moment and one of the revelations of the first stanza, Yahaya Adamu scored both goals to hand a win to his Ilorin side.
3SC have 25 points from 18 games to be placed 14th, but based on their precedents from their previously played away games, it may be difficult for them to get anything from their tough away tie against disappointing Enugu Rangers' team on Wednesday.
DOLPHINS 2-0 BAYELSA UNITED
The Port Harcourt based side ended the first stanza in the top seven after they beat Bayelsa United in a South-South derby played at the Liberation Stadium.
Goals from Fred Okwara and Osita Echendu handed Dolphins a priceless 2-0 home win over Bayelsa United and the win lifted them to seventh on the log with 28 points from as many matches. They are a point less than Bayelsa United who are placed fourth with 29 points from 19 matches.
And it is very difficult to decipher the contrast fortunes of Sharks and Dolphins this season. Both clubs are suffering same financial crunch issues with the Rivers government yet to release funds for their last season's signing-on fees but Dolphins have managed to grind out impressive results while the Blue Angels on their part are last on the table with 17 points from 19 matches.
KADUNA UNITED 3-0 ABS
Arguably, Kaduna United’s striker, John Uche was the stand-out player of the weekend when he single-handedly wrecked the Ilorin outfits with three goals to hand Kaduna United the maximum points.
Uche got all the three goals in the first half as ABS tightened their defence and stopped Kaduna United from adding more goals in the second half.
The win catapulted Kaduna United to 13th on the log with 26 points from 19 matches. However, it is good to note that their present position may not be final yet till Rangers play their two outstanding games against 3SC and Sharks.
Besides Uche's latest hat trick, other three players have netted thrice in a game. They are Oghenekaro Etebo who got the first hat trick of the season for Warri Wolves in their 4-1 thumping of El Kanemi Warriors in Week 7. Others are Enyimba's Sibi Gwar and Dele Olorundare.
The loss by ABS coupled with the agonising second home defeat by Warri Wolves has plunged the Saraki Boys back into relegation zone as they only have 22 points from 19 fixtures to place 18th.
They have a chance to review their season during the mid-season break and ensure they find the Midas touch that will turn their season around at the start of the second stanza in a fortnight.
NEMBE CITY 1-0 SHARKS
The Yenagoa side pipped Sharks 1-0 at the Samson Siasia Stadium on Sunday to end the first stanza in 12th position with 26 points after 19 games.
Youngster Joshua Uge got the lone goal of the tie and the win was a relief to club's financier, Victor Rumson Baribote, the immediate past Nigeria Premier League boss.
For Sharks, the defeat was another sad story in their desperate bid to avoid the chop from the elite division at the end of the season. They have a home game against Enugu Rangers on the 23rd June which they must win at all costs if they want to improve on their present 17 points from 18 games. They are bottom of the log.
GOMBE UNITED 4-1 AKWA UNITED
The Desert Scorpions added to the misery of their Uyo-based counterparts with a 4-1 walloping at the Pantami Stadium in Gombe.
Bishop Onyeudo ended his goal drought by scoring his eighth league goal but if his threat of leaving Gombe United is for real, he might have scored his last goal for the club in the impressive win over Akwa United.
Gombe United have 28 points from 19 games and are placed ninth on the log while Akwa United are second from bottom with 21 points from 19 matches.
It should be noted that Gombe United got all their points from their near invincibility at home. They only dropped two points from possible a 30 but they lost all their away fixtures including their 4-0 losses at Owerri at Week five and Kano at Week 16.
It was only Lobi Stars that left Pantami Stadium without a defeat from those clubs that have visited Gombe this season.
KANO PILLARS 2-0 EL KANEMI WARRIORS
The reigning league champions brought the Maiduguri outfit down to earth with the 2-0 win at the Sani Abacha Stadium, Kano on Sunday.
Before the loss, El Kanemi had gone three games without a defeat but goals from Kabiru Umar and Mustapha Musa shattered their aspirations to improve on their unbeaten record.
Pillars knew only a win could sustain their lead on top of the league table with Warri Wolves breathing down their neck in second position.
They got their wish and have opened a three point cushion at the top with 36 points from 19 matches while El Kanemi are 15th with 25 points from same number of matches.
LOBI STARS 1-0 WIKKI TOURISTS
At the Emmanuel Akume Atongo Stadium in Katsina Ala, Lobi Stars pipped Wikki Tourists 1-0 to end the first round of the league with 26 points from 19 games.
Joseph Ujah, a rookie from the Lobi Academy got the lone goal of the match in the 67th minute to the delight of club's Technical Director, Dominic Iorfa.
Iorfa and his troops must ensure they go back to the drawing board and draw out the necessary solutions to the problems they had during the first stanza.
Wikki Tourists on their part are still hovering in the relegation zone. They have 23 points from 19 games. They are 17th and will be relegation if their form does not improve during the second stanza.
NASARAWA UNITED 2-0 ENUGU RANGERS
At the Lafia Stadium, Enugu Rangers lost to Nasarawa United 2-0, a second consecutive away match lost, after the thrashing 3-0 by El Kanemi Warriors during the last mid-week.
Goals from Victor Namo and Ugochukwu Leonard gave the three points to the home team who have a former coach of the Flying Antelopes, Alphonsus Dike as head coach.
Nasarawa United thus ended the first stanza with 28 points from 19 games in eighth position while Rangers with two games at hand are on 24 points from 17 fixtures. They are presently placed 16th but will move up if they secure positive results from their games against 3SC and Sharks.