Pillars wallop Lobi Stars to rekindle NPFL title quest

By Abdul Raheem

Kano Pillars on Sunday bounced back to winning ways after whipping visiting Lobi Stars of Makurdi 3-0 in the NPFL match played at Ahmad Bello Stadium, Kaduna.

Umar Hassan stole past the Lobi defence to open scoring with a shot in the 39th minute. Then, David Ebuka nodded home from a corner kick seven minutes into the second half, while team assistant captain and legend Ali Rabiu tripled the lead from a well taken shot.

The Sai Masu Gida needed to make a big statement after a string of poor away results against Jigawa Golden Stars, Rivers United and MFM to put their title quest in jeopardy. Lobi Stars on the other hand are on the fringes of the top echelon of the log and needed a win in Kaduna to break into the circle of title contenders.

Thus, the match was key for both sides and this they showed in the early hostilities. It was the visitors who first showed intent when Sani Mohammed forced Joshua Enaholo in Pillars’ goal into a save. Ali Rabiu replied with a shot from edge of the box, which was saved by Mustapha Aliko.

Pillars captain, Ahmed Musa then drove the ball on the left wing outran his marker before laying a pass to Okon Aniekeme who missed the gilt edged chance. Lobi Stars then had two free kicks from the right wing but both were cleared from danger by the Pillars defence.

Umar Hassan would run behind the Lobi defence, while they were ball watching, collected the ball and took a shot with his left foot placing the ball between goalkeeper Mustapha and the upright for Pillars opener.

Pillars captain, Ahmed Musa who has been showing discomfort following a knock, was replaced at half time with Yanki Joseph. Seven minutes later David Ebuka, who was unmarked stole in to send a powerful header past Mustapha to double the home side’s lead. Substitute Yanki Joseph drove the ball from the left side towards Lobi goal but shot wide.

Rabiu Ali, who took the Pillars captain armband from substituted Ahmed Musa, then embarked on a mazy run after collecting a pass midway into Lobi Stars’ half. He beat two players before shooting low into the left corner for Pillars third goal and his 12th goal of the NPFL season.

Speaking after the match Coach Ibrahim Musa said the win has rekindled their quest for the title. “I have said we are going to win the title because I believe in the quality we have. We hope to ho away and win two away matches. We have always played well, created chances but failed to score. After the MFM match, we spoke with the players and today we played well and scored.”

For Coach Kabiru Dogo, his team lost the match to a better side, but they lost concentration at the crucial moments. “The better side won. Pillars were able to convert three out of the five chances they created but we failed to convert our chances. We are out of the continental race but we want to end the season well”.