Big guns falter as Heartland, FC Ifeanyiubah continue rollercoaster ride

By George Akpayen

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Photo: LMC Media
Photo: LMC Media

Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) title hopeful Akwa United, Enyimba, Enugu Rangers and Kano Pillars failed to win their midweek matches as FC Ifeanyiubah and Heartland maintained their impressive start to the campaign.

Unbeaten in CAF Confederation Cup this season, Rangers were tipped by bookmakers to at least eke out a draw at worse at MFM FC. Gbenga Ogunbote’s men failed to fly in their first game of the league season as they fell one-nil to MFM at the Agege Stadium in Lagos.

Kabir Adeniji’s first half goal was enough to settle matters in Agege as Rangers’ hope of a fightback suffered a setback with the sending off of Tope Olusesi in the last quarter of an hour in the contest. The win puts MFM in top spot of Group A.

Kano Pillars had a bad day in the office as they lost 0-2 at Gombe United — their second defeat in four league matches. A goal in each fro Usman Musa and Babangida Ibrahim secured a big win for the Savannah Scorpions.

Two-time AITEO Cup winners Akwa United remain without a win in three matches after they were held by Plateau United to a 2-2 at the Nest of Champions in Uyo. It was an eventful return for Abdu Maikaba as Plateau United head coach to his old stomping ground as his team battled back twice through a goal each from Bernard Ovoke and Benjamin Turba to cancel out Mfon Udoh’s double.

Enyimba also failed to win as they were wasteful in front of goal in a 0-0 draw at home to Lobi Stars though the Makurdi club finished the game with 10 men in the last four minutes after John Lazarus was sent off for a second yellow card offence.

THE HIGH-FLYERS

With the big hitters failing to make headway on Matchweek 4, southeast sides FC Ifeanyiubah and Heartland continued their good run of form with 1-0 wins over Yobe Desert Stars and Go Round FC respectively. Chinonso Udeh’s first half strike was sufficient for FC Ifeanyiubah to win and keep a fourth clean sheet while a late goal by substitute Okon Otop broke the hearts of Go Round who were few seconds away from leaving the Okigwe Township Stadium with a point.

THE BARREN DRAWS

Apart from Enyimba’s 0-0 draw at home to Lobi, there were two other matches that produced barren outcomes. Niger Tornadoes still without a win played out a scoreless draw with Remo Stars while the first top-flight game in 11 years in Benin City between Bendel Insurance and Kwara United ended 0-0.

THE OTHER GAMES

After Joshua Agboola’s spot kick was saved by Wikki Tourists goalkeeper Ibrahim Pius, it looked like Katsina United would settle for a 0-0 draw in their first home game of the season before substitute Sheriff Bashir popped up with a late winner at the Muhammadu Dikko Stadium.

Wasiu Jimoh made sure Rivers United claimed yet another point on the road this season as his brilliant volley evened the contest at Sunshine Stars six minutes after Fuad Ekelejuoti opened scoring on 49 minutes.

Abia Warriors had to rely on Emeka Isaac’s late goal from the spot to see off new boys Kada City at the Umuahia Township Stadium.

The midweek matchweek in the NPFL will be completed on Thursday when El-Kanemi Warriors play hosts to struggling Nasarawa United in Maiduguri from 4pm local time.

© The Predictor NG

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