By Rabark Bakare, LMC Media
Rivers United continued to exert their superiority over other teams with their fifth away win of the season through a 3-2 outcome in Uyo over Dakkada in Matchday 30 of this season’s Nigeria Professional Football League.
In the absence of the season’s top scorer, Ishaq Rafiu (14 goals), Chijioke Akuneto held forth scoring once for his 12th goal of the season, while Malachi Ohawume added two more as Rivers United ran away as winners at Dakkada to increase their points haul to 64.
The result keep Rivers seven points clear at the summit, while Dakkada now occupy the last spot on the table.
But in Jos, Plateau United, No 2 on the log, protected their position before their fans after a 4-0 home win over third placed Rangers, who were saved blushes following Remo Stars’ home defeat.
It was a fantastic weekend for Fidelis Ilechukwu and his men after Plateau United inflicted on the Flying Antelopes their biggest loss of the season.
Mohammed Zulkifilu weighed in with two goals to improve his scoring stats to seven, while Chimezie Izuchukwu and Sunday Anthony converted the other two goals as Rangers were made to return to their fortress with a disappointing defeat.
Plateau United have now opened a nine-point lead between them and No 3 Rangers.
For Remo Stars, it was their second time of losing at home this season as the rejuvenated Pillars shocked the Sky Blue Stars in Ikenne-Remo.
Mark Daniel and Auwalu Ali Mallam put Sai Masu Gida two goals up in the 15th and 35th minutes before Ibrahim Yusuf halved the deficit for Remo Stars in the 40th minute. But Auwalu extinguished the thought of any comeback for the home side with his second of the game three minutes into the second half.
In a space of one week, Pillars have now produced three successive wins with earlier victories over Heartland and Katsina United. And the former champions have now sensationally pulled away from the drop zone to the 12th spot with 38 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.
The Harmony Boys are on the fifth spot with 46 points but the reigning league champions slipped to the seventh spot with 44 points.
At the Enyimba International Stadium, Aba, Enyimba and Nasarawa United played an entertaining game that produced five goals in regulation time.
Samuel Stone put the eight-time league champions 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 was converting his fourth penalty kick of the season to take his total to nine goals.
Enyimba were deservedly awarded two spot-kicks afterwards with Ghanaian import Farouk Mohammed converting his in the 87th minute while 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 Nasarawa United slid a spot down to the 13th spot 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 Akure Gunners are eighth on the table with 42 points but the Katsina United are just a step up the drop zone at 16th with 36 points.
At the Dan Anyiam Stadium, Owerri, troubled Heartland secured their fourth successive home win after they came back from a goal down to beat Shooting Stars 3-1.
MFM left the bottom of the log for the first time in recent weeks to occupy the 19th spot with 31 points. The Lagos side grabbed their eighth home win of the season in a 3-1 success over Gombe United in a tie decided about midday on 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 deficit for the Desert Scorpions who slipped to the ninth spot with 41 points.
In the only match on Sunday, Wikki Tourists marked their return to their home ground at Tafawa Balewa Stadium, Bauchi with a lone goal win over Abia Warriors. Fuad Ekelojuoti’s strike in the 33rd minute proved to be the difference.
Wikki are in the 10th spot with 41 points, while Abia Warriors are in the 15th spot with 36 points and only two points away from the drop zone.
The clash between Niger Tornadoes and Lobi Stars, which was deadlocked at halftime, could not be concluded as claims and counter claims as the away side, Lobi Stars claimed that some fans attacked the team during the break.
In all, 30 goals were scored from the nine completed games in Matchday 30 to make it one of the most productive weeks in the league this season.
All the results: MFM 3-1 Gombe United, Plateau United 4-0 Rangers, Dakkada FC 2-3 Rivers United, Heartland 3-1 Shooting Stars, Kwara United 1-0 Akwa United, MFM 3-1 Gombe United, Remo Stars 1-3 Kano Pillars, Enyimba 3-2 Nasarawa United, Sunshine Stars 2-0 Katsina United, Wikki Tourists 1-0 Abia Warriors, Niger Tornadoes v Lobi Stars (abandoned)