The defending champions have opened a five point lead after 3-1 home win while Lobi Stars were beaten for the secnd time at home this season by Bayelsa United
Dominic Iorfa’s team scored thrice but still ended on the losing side in league clash played at Katsina Ala against Bayelsa United.
Lobi had boasted before the tie that they would beat Bayelsa United to atone for the 0-4 loss away to Wikki Tourists in Bauchi but after 32 minutes, the story was different with Lobi trailing 1-3.
Jafar Buhari put the Yenagoa side in the driving seat in the 15th minute but Abraham Peters quickly evened the score line for the home team three minutes after Bayelsa United’s goal.
Bayelsa United were not deterred by the equaliser as they poured out in numbers looking for more goals. It paid off in the 30th minute when Buhari again got the second goal. Bayelsa United increased the tally to 3-1 in the 32nd minute when former junior international, Bernard Okorowanta smashed home another goal.
Knowing that they were staring defeat in the face, Lobi strove harder in search of goals and they were rewarded with two goals within the last two minutes of the first half through Moses Orkuma and Fortune Chukwudi who scored an own goal under the pressure of Lobi's captain, Terna Ikpeen. The first half ended 3-3 apiece before Uche Ihuarulam’s stunner in the 90th minute handed maximum points to Bayelsa United.
The win has returned Ladan Bosso’s boys to fifth on the table with 33 points from 21 games. It was an ideal response to the Yenagoans’ 2-2 home draw to Dolphins last Wednesday while for Lobi, the loss further plunged the club to relegation waters as they still remain on 26 points from 21 games. They are now 18th behind Wikki Tourists (26 points) and ABS (26 points) only on goals difference.
KANO PILLARS 3-1 WIKKI TOURISTS
Sai Masu have continued to stretch their lead at the top of the league after opening a five point lead with a 3-1 home win over Wikki Tourists at the Sani Abacha Stadium, Kano on Sunday.
Pillars have 39 points from 21 matches and their march towards another league shield was assisted by the draw had by Kwara United in their local derby with ABS in Ilorin.
Adamu Murtala, Bello Musa Kofarmata and Samuel Tswanya scored for the reigning champions in the 34th, 38th and 80th minutes to put the club 3-0 ahead but Wikki who are 16th on the league table with 26 points, reduced the arrears in the 84th minute through Shuaibu Ibrahim. Ibrahim has scored three goals in the last two matches including a brace in their 4-0 demolition of simply out of touch Lobi last Wednesday.
GOMBE UNITED 3-2 3SC
The Oluyole Warriors were within five minutes of grabbing their second point on the road before the Desert Scorpions stung them with a late goal through a good free-kick converted by Ibrahim Chili which ended the tie 3-2 in Gombe United's favour.
Gombe United were under intense pressure to win the home tie at the Pantami Stadium after they lost 2-3 to Akwa United in Uyo last Wednesday and the Maurice Cooreman tutored lads didn't disappoint their Belgian coach. They raced into the lead in the 10th minute through a spot kick converted by Cyril Obodo but 3SC were back on level terms about 25 minutes later through Chima Akas. Oliver Agbo restored Gombe United advantage to 2-1 in the 42nd minute after he nodded an inviting cross from the flank. It was 2-1 till halftime.
At the resumption of the second half both teams came out in frantic search for goals but the Ibadan side were the more forceful as they conjured up an equaliser in the 70th minute through Francis Edem. 3SC were however dealt a killer blow in the 85th minute when Chili's effort from the free kick squirmed its way into the net to hand maximum points to Gombe United. Gombe United are yet to pick a road point but have remained 'dangerous' at home winning all but one of the 11 encounters played at home. They have 31 points from 21 games. They are placed eighth while 3SC are 15th with 26 points from same number of matches.
KWARA UNITED 0-0 ABS
Just like earlier predicted, current form had no place at all in the derby clash decided at the Ilorin Township Stadium as Kwara United and ABS played an entertaining goalless draw. It was similar result achieved when both clubs played at the beginning of the season. The Afonja Warriors would be the more pained with this draw having drew them back in the title race. It has assisted Pillars to cruise to a five point gap ahead of closest rivals, Kwara United, Warri Wolves and Enyimba. Kwara United are still second albeit on goals difference while ABS are 17th on the log with 26 points from 21 games.
KADUNA UNITED 2-0 SUNSHINE STARS
The acquisition of a new coach, Fatai Amoo in place of former gaffer, Samuel Abimbola has not helped solve the Akure Arsenal's poor road form after the club lost 0-2 to Kaduna United on Sunday.
Sunshine have got three games without a win after their last win came during the Week 18 tie at home to Nembe City which they won 2-0 courtesy of Dele Olorundare's brace. They have lost twice and drew once after that result. Warri Wolves beat them 2-0 in Warri and drew 1-1 in the return leg played Wednesday at Akure before the latest setback in Kaduna.
The loss slid Sunshine Stars to 13th on the league table with 28 points from 21 matches. It was their lowest ranking since the league season began this term while Kaduna United leapt from previous 15th position to 11th with 29 points from 21 fixtures.
WARRI WOLVES 1-0 SHARKS
The Seasiders got maximum points from an unlikely source at the Warri City Stadium on Sunday. The game was virtually ending goalless before super sub, Kelvin Itoya marked his home debut with a goal barely four minutes of his introduction. Itoya who had his father watching from the stands came on in the 82nd minute as a last resort for Warri Wolves' gaffer, Solomon Ogbeide and he didn't disappoint as he nicked the crucial goal in the 86th minute to end the resilience of relegation haunted Sharks.
Itoya was discovered by Warri Wolves during the Delta State FA Cup where he emerged highest goals scorer before his switch to the elite division side during the mid season transfer. The win was a morale booster for Warri Wolves as it increased their points haul to 34 from 20 games. They still have a game in hand until the outcome of their tie with Akwa United is resolved by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF)'s Appeal Committee. Sharks are still drowning even though they are familiar with water. They have 23 points from 21 games. Their next four games against Kaduna United, Akwa United, Gombe United and Dolphins will be crucial for their campaign with three of the four fixtures taking place in Port Harcourt.
NEMBE CITY 2-0 HEARTLAND
The Yenagoa based side that are cheered on by their financier and deposed Nigeria Premier League boss, Rumson Victor Baribote are living their dreams in their debut campaign in the top flight division after a sensational double over giants, Heartland of Owerri at the Samson Siasia Stadium on Sunday.
Nembe City which came into the elite division somewhat unheralded shocked the Naze Millionaires 2-1 at the Dan Anyiam Stadium,Owerri during the first game of the season ensured they completed the job with another 2-0 whitewash of troubled Heartland.
Two first half goals were enough to do the damage on the aspirations of Heartland and despite lifting their game in the second half, the Owerri side couldn't penetrate the wall of defence marshalled by Japheth Opuro who was the goaltender for Nembe City during the said encounter.
Zikieye Jonathan and Frank Egharevba goals in the 18th and 32nd minutes were enough for the maximum points.
Nembe are now 10th with 29 points from 21 games on the log despite losing nine of their regular players to other elite division clubs during the mid season transfer while Heartland fell to 12th from previous eighth position with 28 points from as many games.
ENYIMBA 1-0 ENUGU RANGERS
It was the second leg of the Oriental Derby clash played at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu in the match day one of the NPFL. It was actually the opening match of the season and Rangers just did enough then to pip Enyimba 1-0 through Dada Bitrus' effort.
The situation was however very different at Aba because of the problem had by Rangers in recent times with their disqualification from the CAF Confederation Cup the height of them all. From the outset of the fixture, Enyimba were favourites to have all points having beaten Heartland 1-0 at Owerri barely four days earlier.
The Peoples Elephant who were cheered on by a capacity crowd that thronged the Enyimba International Stadium defeated dispirited Enugu Rangers 1-0 in the NPFL Week 21 tie.
The only goal of the game came in the 34th minute through Emeka Nwanna who is on a second stint with the Aba Millionaires. He previously played for Rangers too.
The process leading to the goal came when Bright Esieme's nice pass found Saviour Fidelis at the right hand flank of the Flying Antelopes' territory. Fidelis did not hesitate to float a measured cross to well placed Nwanna to nod home to the bewilderment of Emmanuel Daniel who was between the goalposts for Rangers.
It was a very cagey affair after that goal with both teams effort to score either missing target narrowly or fluffed. Rangers were second best on the night and they must do something about their free fall on the road if they want to near their last season's achievement.
Enyimba maintain fourth place with 34 points from 21 matches while Rangers went down to ninth with 30 points from same number of matches.
EL KANEMI WARRIORS 3-0 NASARAWA UNITED
Another big win at home to Nasarawa United at the El Kanemi International Stadium, Maiduguri has catapulted El Kanemi Warriors to their highest league position this season-seventh.
Despite the security challenges in the city believed to be the base of Islamic sect, Boko Haram, El Kanemi continue to host league matches without fears and have been notching important wins in recent times in front of their supporters.
The game ended 3-0 and it has propelled the Zachary Baraje tutored side to seventh with 31 points from 21 games but Nasarawa United on the other hand slid to their worst league position this season. They are now 14th with 28 points from 21 games.
DOLPHINS 2-1 AKWA UNITED
Dolphins prevailed 2-1 over Akwa United in a match that had to be played twice within 24 hours after heavy downpour forced a postponement on Sunday with Dolphins ahead at 2-0 through Johnson Olewesi's double.
But on Monday morning at the Liberation Stadium Akwa United came out stronger and actually got a goal in the 90th minute courtesy of Mfon Udoh to leave Port Harcourt with their heads held high.
Just like their last home fixture at the conclusion of the first stanza against Bayelsa United which had to be played twice because of the heavy downpour that rendered the pitch unplayable after 70 minutes or thereabouts, Dolphins couldn't complete their NPFL Week 21 tie at the Liberation Stadium on Sunday against Akwa United as the water logged pitch halted proceedings after 45 minutes.
The win moved Dolphins to sixth on the log with 32 points from 21 games while Akwa United maintained their 19th position with 23 points from 20 games after the loss.