Fifteen rounds of matches to wrap up the season, it’s becoming tighter at the back. Five of the concluded seven fixtures on Saturday ended in shared honours, two with barren outcomes.
The eighth match, which happens to be the first game for Kano Pillars back on their home ground in two years, ended in controversy. Match officials reportedly stopped the game in the 82nd minutes with the visitors’ team bus allegedly vandalised by the irate supporters. The match was scoreless at that time.
While Nos 1 and 2 – Rivers United and Plateau United – wait for their respective encounter on Monday and Sunday – the teams in the race for third place, which guarantees continental football next season, produced even results.
As it was in the first leg in Akure, third placed Rangers could not break Sunshine Stars as the match ended goalless.
Remo Stars, at No 4, went ahead at the New Jos Stadium through their top scorer Andy Okpe in the 49th minutes. He finished a fine pass by Qudus Akanni.
But hosts Nasarawa United replied five minutes later when former junior international King Osanga’s free kick took a deflection before nestling inside the net.
In Kaduna, former CHAN Eagles star Abubakar Aliyu gave hosts Wikki Tourists the lead in the 13th minute through a well-executed volley
Kwara United however drew level 10 minutes from time through Abdulsalam Abdulsalam.
Reigning champions Akwa United continued their unbeaten start to new coach Deji Ayeni’s reign after a 1-1 outcome at Gombe United.
Adam Yakubu gave the Promise Keepers the lead in the 16th minute but Abdulazeez Yusuf restored parity for the hosts in 20 minutes afterwards when he converted from the penalty spot.
Neither side could find a winner in the second half.
In a result that mattered for relegation calculations, Abia Warriors played out 1-1 against 10-man Niger Tornadoes in Okigwe.
The Warriors took the lead through winger Paul Samson whose 18-metre effort beat Tornadoes keeper Lucky Abdullahi. But young defender Augustine Njoku inadvertently put Idris Munir’s ball into his own goal.
Tornadoes played the last six minutes with 10 men after left back Gabriel Wassa was dismissed for two bookable offences.
Only Shooting Stars and Dakkada FC secured wins on Saturday, the latter giving themselves a huge lift in the relegation battle after a 2-1 win over basement side Heartland in Uyo.
Israel Emmanuel provided Dakkada the lead in the 28th minute when he connected Emmanuel Ayaosi’s brilliant cross before captain Aniekan Ekpe doubled their lead with his fourth penalty goal of the season in the 53rd minute.
Heartland pulled one back in the 64th minute through Monday Yakubu but could not find a leveller.
In Ibadan, 3SC recorded their biggest win of the season after two quick fire goals by striker Emmanuel Lucky, and another 10 minutes from the end gave them a needed 3-0 win over Lobi Stars in Ibadan.
Lucky first pounced on slothful defending of a set-piece to give his side the lead in the third minute and got his brace in the 18th minute while heading home another free kick.
Substitute Ayo Adejubu provided gloss to the scoreline in the 80th minute, netting after a solo effort.
Saturday’s results: Gombe United 1-1 Akwa United, 3SC 3-0 Lobi Stars, Kano Pillars 0-0 Katsina United (TBC), Rangers 0-0 Sunshine Stars, Abia Warriors 1-1 Tornadoes, Wikki Tourists 1-1 Kwara United, Dakkada FC 2-1 Heartland, Nasarawa United 1-1 Remo Stars
Sunday’s fixture: Plateau United vs MFM (4 pm)
Monday’s fixture: Rivers United vs Enyimba (4 pm)
Additional reports by LMC Media