NPFL Matchday 18 Review: Rangers blow Akwa apart in Uyo

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.Abia Warriors grab first away win
.Rivers United force Gombe United to draw to keep top spot

Enugu Rangers and Abia Warriors made bold statement of intent with blockbuster away victories at Akwa United and Lobi Stars while Rivers United battled to a goalless draw in Gombe to hold on to their top spot as the Nigeria Professional Football League entered Matchday 18 last weekend.

Enugu Rangers barely managed a 1-0 win over Gombe United penultimate weekend at the Ifeanyi Ubah Stadium, Nnewi but they were all over the league’s reigning champions, Akwa United at the Godswill Alpabio Stadium, Uyo to continue their unprecedented impressive away record.

The Flying Antelopes scored three goals in the second half to inflict the first home loss of the season on the Promise Keepers who slipped to the sixth spot with 27 points as a result of the defeat. Samuel Pam, Chidiebere Nwobodo and Shedrack Asiegbu scored the goals in the 55th, 70th and 90th minutes for Rangers who now occupy the third position with 31 points.

Rangers have garnered 14 points from nine away games with only a defeat against Rivers United in Port Harcourt the only dent to their fantastic record.

Erratic Abia Warriors secured their first away win of the season with a 2-1 success against Lobi Stars in Makurdi. Valentine Odoh’s brace in the 54th and 84th minutes were enough to put the Umuahia side on the path of victory before Solomon Kwambe’s strike in the 56th minute turned out to be a consolation goal for Lobi Stars.

The win takes Abia Warriors to the 12th spot with 21 points but Lobi Stars slipped to the relegation zone as they are 17th with 19 points. The loss piled more pressure on Lobi Stars head coach, Eddy Dombraye who’s family is still trapped in war-hit Ukraine and the Pride of Benue with inconsistent performances.

At the Muhammadu Dikko Stadium, Katsina United recorded a slim win over Wikki Tourists with Habibu Yakubu’s 17th minute goal. The Changi Boys are sixth on the table with 20 points while Wikki are eighth with 26 points.

Sunshine Stars were truly at home at the Otunba Dipo Dina Stadium, Ijebu after they pipped Dakkada FC 2-1. Emmanuel Charles got the curtain raiser in the second minute for the Chosen Ones but the Owena Whales equalized through Babatunde Bello in the 14th minute before Ikenna Cooper clinched the winner for Deji Ayeni’s men in the 75th minute.

Sunshine Stars are now seventh on the table with 26 points while Dakkada FC are in 19th spot with 18 points.

Rivers United held Gombe United to a goalless draw at the Pantami Stadium, Gombe to hold on to the top spot with 39 points ahead of Plateau United who are second with a point lesser than the Pride of Rivers. The Desert Scorpions have plummeted to the 10th spot with 24 points.

At the Kwara Sports Complex, Ilorin, Kwara United bagged their first win over Heartland FC in over five years after a 2-1 win. Deji Bamidele and Alao Danbani were on the score sheets for the Harmony Boys in the 57th and 59th minutes. The Naze Millionaires skipper, Chukwudi Nwaodu reduced the goals arrears in the 80th minute.

While Nasarawa United recorded their fourth home draw of the season after bottom club, MFM played a 1-1 draw at the Lafia Township Stadium. The Olukoya Boys’ Chukwudi Ekeocha put the spectators at the stadium at the edge of their seats with the ascendancy in the second minute but Aliyu Abdullahi equalized for the home team in the 45th minute.

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