- Published on Sunday, 06 August 2017 20:55
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By George Akpayen
Plateau United continued to inch closer to a first Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) following a 1-1 draw at Kano Pillars on Sunday.
The other big game of the matchday at the Agege Stadium in Lagos ended in a stalemate with MFM FC and Enyimba cancelling out each other.
Four previous visits by Plateau United to Kano had ended in defeats including two heavy losses of 1-5 and 0-4. The historical odds of the contest were further stacked against the league leaders as they had not earned a result at the Sani Abacha Stadium, or anywhere else Pillars called home, in 18 years since a 1-0 win in February 1999.
It did not take long for Plateau United to have their noses in front. Ibeh Johnson who scored in the reverse fixture in Jos when Plateau United won 2-0 and he was on hand again to punish 'Sai Masu Gida' right in front of their faithful. He pounced on sloppy defending by the Pillars defence to score just after 17 minutes.
If Ibeh's goal had given Plateau United a stronghold in the contest, it galvanized Pillars to pepper their opponents and ensured that they were pinned in their own half for longer spells in the first half.
Former Nigeria under-17 goalkeeper Dele Ajiboye was also a major reason Pillars could not breach Plateau United's defence as he stopped attempts from Rabiu Ali, Alassan Ibrahim, Hamza Abba Tiya and Nyima Nwagua.
On 52 minutes, there was little Ajiboye could do to deny Pillars youngster Tiya from levelling the score. Plateau United held on for a point that made sure they kept their three-point lead at the top of the pile.
Second-placed MFM could not cash in on the draw between Plateau United and Kano Pillars to trim the gap to a point at the top as they played out a goalless draw with Enyimba. It was the fourth time both teams met and all four meetings in the NPFL have now ended in stalemates. MFM stay second with 56 points.
Abia Warriors were imperious at Lobi Stars as they dragged their hosts all over the place to win 4-2. Sunday Adetunji helped himself to two goals while Anthony Okemmiri who scored in the first meeting and Chinenye Agoha put the icing on the cake for Abia Warriors to make Kingsley Eduwo's brace look elementary.
FC Ifeanyiubah, Niger Tornadoes and Sunshine Stars enjoyed slim 1-0 victories at home over Nasarawa United, El-Kanemi Warriors and Akwa United respectively. Pascal Seka, Bolaji Adeyemo and Ajibola Otegbeye were the goalscorers for FC Ifeanyiubah, Tornadoes and Sunshine Stars in that order.
Shooting Stars left it late in the game to edge Gombe United 2-1. Musa Usman gave visiting Gombe United a goal lead on 55 minutes before inspired substitutions by Shooting Stars coach Fatai Amoo turned things around for the Oluyole Warriors.
Substitutes Jide Apena, Sunday Faleye and Najeem Olukokun were heavily involved in all two goals. Apena won the spot kick converted by Seun Akinyemi to level score at 1-1 in the 72nd minutes and seven minutes later Olukokun benefited from Faleye's initial attempt palmed into his path by Gombe United goalkeeper Ahmed Yusuf to score the winner.
Chinedu Onyelonu saved Wikki Tourists the blushes as they held champions Rangers to a 1-1 draw at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Stadium in Bauchi.
A goal each from Samuel Oyedeji and Wasiu Alalade helped ABS FC to a 2-0 win over bottom-placed Remo Stars. The victory eased ABS' relegation trouble temporarily until Rivers United and Katsina United face off in a relegation six-pointer on Monday.
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