NPFL Matchday 23 Roundup: Continental hopefuls stutter on a day of draws

NPFL Matchday 23 Roundup: Continental hopefuls stutter on a day of draws

It was a day of statements in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) on Saturday as five of the seven concluded games on offer ended in draws. 
Quite pertinent is the gap between the league’s top two sides and the chasing pack which remained almost in tact after teams in 3rd, 4th and 5th managed just earning just one point apiece in their respective games.

Rangers stayed in 3rd after they were forced to a 0-0 draw by visiting Sunshine Stars at the Awka City Stadium while Remo Stars also stayed one point adrift of the Flying Antelopes in 4th after a 1-1 draw against Nasarawa United in Jos.

Remo went in front in the 49th minute when club’s top scorer, Andy Okpe finished a fine pass by Qudus Akanni but 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, Kwara United earned their own away point after holding hosts Wikki Tourists to a 1-1 draw. Former CHAN Eagles star Abubakar Aliyu gave Wikki the lead in the 13th minute through a well executed volley. Kwara United however drew level ten minutes from time through Abdulsalam Abdulsalam as Abdullahi Biffo’s men stayed in 5th.
Reigning champions Akwa United continued their unbeaten start to new coach Deji Ayeni’s reign after a creditable 1-1 draw at Gombe United. Adam Yakubu gave Akwa United the lead in the 16th minute but Abdulazeez Yusuf restored parity for the hosts in the 36th minute when he converted from the penalty spot. Neither side could find a winner in the second half.
In a result that mattered for relegation ramification, Abia Warriors played out a 1-1 draw against ten-man Niger Tornadoes in Okigwe. Warriors took the lead through winger Paul Samson whose 20-yard effort beat Tornadoes goalkeeper Lucky Abdullahi but young defender Augustine Njoku inadvertently put Idris Munir’s ball into his own goal. Tornadoes played the last six minute with ten men after left back Gabriel Wassa was dismissed for two bookable offences. Only Dakkada FC and Shooting Stars 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 gave 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 so far after two quick fire goals by striker Emmanuel Lukcy gave them a needed 3-0 win over Lobi Stars in Ibadan. Lucky first pounced on some slothful defending to a set-piece to give his side the lead in the 3rd minute before getting his brace in the 18th minute while heading home another free kick. Substitute Ayo Adejubu then provided gloss to the scoreline ten minutes from time, netting after a solo effort.

Saturday’s results
Gombe United 1-1 Akwa United
3SC 3-0 Lobi StarsKano Pillars 0-0 Katsina United (TBC)Rangers 0-0 Sunshine StarsAbia Warriors 1-1 TornadoesWikki Tourists 1-1 Kwara UnitedDakkada FC 2-1 HeartlandNasarawa United 1-1 Remo Stars
Plateau United vs MFM FC
MondayRivers United vs Enyimba

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