By Fisayo Dairo
Lobi Stars climbed to top spot of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) 2019/2020 season log on Sunday after a narrow home win over MFM but there was no joy for Wikki Tourists on their return to Bauchi as Sunshine Stars inflicted a home loss on the Tourists.
Gbenga Ogunbote’s Lobi had moved joint top with Plateau United after an away win in midweek but they moved two points clear at the summit on Sunday with a 1-0 win over MFM FC courtesy of former Heartland star Chukwudi Nwaodu’s ninth minute goal.It marks the first time Plateau United got toppled from the top spot this season.
Lobi’s win was made sweeter by hitherto leaders; Plateau United’s draw at home to resurgent Akwa United in Jos. Akwa boss Kennedy Boboye frustrated his former employers with a 3-5-2 formation as the game ended 0-0; ensuring that Boboye’s side are yet to concede a goal in their last five matches.
There was a solitary away win on Sunday and it came from an unlikely venue: the Tafawa Balewa Stadium, Bauchi. Hosts Wikki Tourists were playing their first game at their real home in 19 months but that mattered little to visiting Sunshine Stars.
Midfielder Anthony Omaka marked his return to the starting lineup with a 13th minute effort before winger Fuad Ekelojuoti doubled their lead just after the hour mark. The hosts were handed a lifeline after captain Idris Guda Mohammed converted from the penalty spot with twenty minutes left on the clock but Sunshine held on for the win.
Dakkada FC continued their fairytale run when they edged Rivers United 2-1 at the Nest of Champions in Uyo. Spencer Bassey gave Caleb Esu’s boys the lead before former Super Eagles defender Azubuike Egwuekwe put through into his own net to double Dakkada’s lead. Bakary Bamba converted from the penalty spot in the 89th minute to halve the deficit for Rivers but it was too little too late for Stanley Eguma’s men.
In Okigwe, Heartland FC recorded their first ever top flight win over Abia Warriors at the tenth time of asking. Forward Abiodun Thompson scored the only goal of the game in the second half as Fidelis Ilechukwu’s men held on to take the bragging rights in the Oriental Derby.
Elsewhere, there were routine wins for Kwara United and Jigawa Golden Stars although the latter were made to work extra hard in spite of a commanding lead early in the game.
Issah Saidu and Abdulwaheed Afolabi scored the goals for Kwara United who spanked coach Abdullahi Biffo’s former side Katsina United 2-0 at the Ilorin Stadium.
In Kano, Jigawa edged Adamawa United 3-2 in the relegation six-pointer decided at the Sani Abacha Stadium. Abdullahi Malam and right back Bilal Yakubu gave the hosts a commanding 2-0 lead within the opening 15 minutes but midfielder Idris Yakubu halved the deficit for Adamawa in the 24th minute.
Jigawa then stretched their lead back to two when Kingsley Innocent scored his first goal for the club in the 56th minute but Isa Garba’s 70th minute goal for Adamawa set up a nervy finish in Kofarmata.
The next round of matches come up in midweek.