NPFL Matchday 30 Review:Rivers United close in on title as Enugu Rangers falter in Jos


Rivers United continued to exert their superiority over all other contending teams with their fifth away win of the season in their 3-2 victory in Uyo over Dakkada FC while Plateau United protected their impressive record before their fans after a 4-0 home win over Enugu Rangers in their 15th straight home success as Matchday 30 fixtures were decided on Saturday across Nigeria.

Despite shorn of their top marksman, Ishaq Rafiu whose 14 goals is yet to be matched by any NPFL striker but on international duty with the Super Eagles, his able lieutenant, Chijioke Akuneto held forte scoring once for his 12th goal of the season while Malachi Ohawume added two more as Rivers United ran away 3-2 winners at Dakkada to increase their points haul to 64. They have thus protected their seven points advantage at the top which they could extend to 10 with a home win over nearest challengers, Plateau United next on Wednesday in Port Harcourt.

In the game played at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium, Uyo it was Akuneto that drew the first blood in the 21st minute for the Pride of Rivers but the Chosen Ones replied with two goals scored by Edidiong Ezekiel in the 27th and 48th minutes. Rivers United made victory certain when Ohawume netted twice in the last eight minutes of the game.

The defeat was a bitter pill to swallow for Dakkada FC who slid to the bottom of the table with 30 points.

MFM left the bottom of the log for the first time in recent weeks to occupy the 19th spot with 31 points after they grabbed their eighth home win of the season in a 3-1 success over Gombe United in a tie decided earlier In Saturday at the Otunba Dipo Dina Stadium, Ijebu Ode.

Micah Ojodomo, Oladayo Alabi and Elijah Akanni were on the score sheets for the Church Boys while Samuel Oyedeji reduced the goals arrears for the Desert Scorpions who slipped to the ninth spot with 41 points.

It was a fantastic weekend for Fidelis Ilechukwu and his men after Plateau United inflicted on Enugu Rangers their biggest loss of the season in a 4-0 home win to ensure they have picked up all available 45 points from the 15 games played before their fans at the New Jos Stadium.

Mohammed Zulkifilu weighed in two goals to improve his scoring stats to seven while Chimezie Izuchukwu and Sunday Anthony converted the other two goals as the Flying Antelopes were made to return to their fortress with a disappointing defeat. It was only the second time this season that they would lose by more than a goal margin.

Plateau United remain in the second spot with 57 points opening a nine point lead between them and their defeated foes, Rangers who continued to occupy the third spot with 48 points despite the loss after fourth placed Remo Stars suffered an embarrassing 3-1 home defeat to Kano Pillars.

The Sky Blue Stars were beaten only for the second time this season rejuvenated Sai Masu Gida thumped them in a game played at their home ground in Ikenne. Mark Daniel and Auwalu Ali Mallam put Pillars two goals up in the 15th and 35th minutes before Ibrahim Yusuf halved the deficit for Remo Stars in the 40th minute. Auwalu extinguished the thought of any comeback with his second of the game three minutes into the second half.

It was Pillars third successive win in the spate of one week with victories over Heartland FC and Katsina United earlier recorded and the former league champions have sensationally pulled away from the drop zone to the 12th spot with 38 points. But Remo Stars suffered a set back in the race for them to finish the season in the top three as they are still in fourth spot with 46 points.

At the Dan Anyiam Stadium, Owerri, troubled Heartland FC secured their fourth successive home win after they came back from a goal down to beat Shooting Stars 3-1.

The Oluyole Warriors almost brought the entire fans on their knees when they were awarded a penalty kick after only six minutes which Gafar Olafimihan converted a minute later. One of Heartland’s defender was adjudged to have touched the ball with his hand in the vital area and Olafimihan sent goalie Chijioke Ejiogu the wrong way.

The hosts powered back through the goals of Chukwudi Nwaodu who got his sixth goal of the campaign; Adewole Adeniji, and Murphy Ndukwu in the stoppage time of the first half, 56th and 73rd minutes. Heartland are still 18th on the log in spite of the home win with 34 points but 3SC are 11th with 38 points.

Sunshine Stars bagged a routine 2-0 home win over Katsina United through the goals of Afeez Ajagbe and Ugochukwu Leonard with the latter getting his ninth goal of the season from the penalty spot five minutes from normal time.

The Owena Whales continued to occupy the top half and are eighth on the table with 42 points but the Changi Boys slipped back into the drop zone by virtue of their second straight defeat. They are 16th with 36 points.

Kwara United had Samad Kadiri to thank for their home win over Akwa United in Ilorin. The former Enyimba star notched his eighth goal of the season from the penalty spot in the 35th minute and the Harmony Boys are in fifth spot with 46 points but the reigning league champions slipped to the seventh spot with 44 points.

At the Tafawa Balewa Stadium, Bauchi, Wikki marked their return to their home ground with a lone goal win over Abia Warriors. Fuad Ekelojuoti’s strike in the 33rd minute proved to be the difference as the Giant Elephants are in the 10th spot with 41 points. Abia Warriors are in the 15th spot with 36 points with only two points away from the drop zone.

At the Enyimba International Stadium, Aba, Enyimba and Nasarawa United played an entertaining game that produced five goals at regulation time.

Samuel Stone put the eight times league champs in the ascendancy a minute before halftime but Sunday Okereke equalised for the Solid Miners four minutes after the break. Chukwuemeka Obioma shot the home team ahead again in the 52nd minute but again, Nasarawa United proved to be up to the task when they levelled again from the spot kick taken by Tochukwu Michael who concerted his fourth penalty kick of the season that has produced nine goals for him.

Enyimba were deservedly awarded two spot kicks afterwards with Ghanaian import Farouk Mohammed converting his in the 87th minute but skipper, Austin Oladapo had his penalty kick saved by Goalkeeper George Ameh earlier.

The People’s Elephant moved a step up to the sixth spot with 45 points but are still three points away from the top three while the Solid Miners slid a spot to the 13th spot with 38 points.

A total of 30 goals were scored from the nine completed games in the Matchday 30 fixtures to make it one of the most productive weeks in the league this season with Matchday 31 fixtures already fixed for the midweek.

NPFL Matchday 30 Results

MFM 3-1 Gombe Utd
Sunshine Stars 2-0 Katsina United
Kwara United 1-0 Akwa United
Heartland 3-1 3SC
Remo Stars 1-3 Kano Pillars
Dakkada 2-3 Rivers United
Plateau United 4-0 Enugu Rangers
Enyimba 3-2 Nasarawa United
Wikki Tourists 1-0 Abia Warriors


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