By Fisayo Dairo, LMC Media
Second placed Plateau United on Sunday secured a 3-1 win over Wikki Tourists in Jos to reduce to four points Rivers United’s cushion at the summit of this season’s Nigeria Professional Football League. Plateau’s win was one of five home victories recorded out of the six Matchday 28 games decided on Sunday.
With all three games on Saturday also ending in wins, the week ended with eight triumphs – all by home sides – and just a draw, the goalless outcome in Akure between Sunshine Stars and defending champions Akwa United.
With league leaders Rivers United’s failure to extend their lead on Saturday, Plateau United knew only a home win over Wikki would put them back in contention. And they got just that courtesy of two goals by Jesse Akila, who started and ended scoring at the Zaria Road Stadium in Jos.
Defender Buhari Ibrahim also scored his sixth goal of the season for Fidelis Ilechukwu’s men while Ridwan Adesina netted for Wikki.
The gap between Plateau in second and the third placed side got widened to eight points after Remo Stars edged Rangers International 1-0 in Ikenne-Remo. Sikiru Alimi’s header four minutes before the break gave Gbenga Ogunbote’s side the crucial three points against their direct rivals for the crucial third place contest.
Moving to fifth on the log is Kwara United who spanked Shooting Stars 3-1 at the Ilorin Township Stadium.
In the game played behind closed doors, Samad Kadiri gave the hosts the lead in the 38th minute before Issa Gata (60th minute) and former Shooting Stars’ Ayobami Junior (68th minute) took the game beyond the visitors. Opeoluwa Olufemi got the consolation goal for the Stars in stoppage time.
Katsina United continued to give themselves hope in the race to avoid the drop when they beat Nasarawa United 1-0 in Katsina. Winger Waheed Adebayo scored what turned out to be the only goal of the game in the 23rd minute to lift Usman Abd’Allah’s side out of the relegation zone.
In Sunday’s early game, bottom of the table MFM defeated Kano Pillars 2-1 in Ijebu-Ode to also give themselves some hope against hope. Tunde Azeez and Oladayo Alabi scored either side of Jerry Alex’s goal for the Sai Masu Gida who remain 19th on the table.
In the only stalemate on Matchday 28, former Sunshine Stars head coach Deji Ayeni led his new side Akwa United to Akure and forced out a barren outcome, which ensured Akwa United (7th) stay three points clear of Sunshine (8th) on the log.
On Saturday, leaders Rivers United went down 0-2 to Heartland with goals from Sunday Chinedu and Chijioke Mbaoma, while in Aba, Enyimba pipped stubborn Lobi Stars 2-1, courtesy of second half goals by Samuel Kalu and Samuel Stone. Samuel Ganda scored late for Lobi.
In Kaduna, Munir Idris scored again for Niger Tornadoes in their crucial 1-0 win over Gombe United to ease relegation worries.
Weekend results: Heartland 2-0 Rivers United, Enyimba 2-1 Lobi Stars, Niger Tornadoes 1-0 Gombe United, MFM FC 2-1 Kano Pillars, Sunshine Stars 0-0 Akwa United, Kwara United 1-0 Shooting Stars, Remo Stars 1-0 Rangers. Plateau United 3 -1 Wikki Tourists, Katsina United 1-0 Nasarawa United, Dakkada vs Abia Warriors (postponed)