Top guns struggle as Lobi Stars emerge new leaders

By George Akpayen

NPFL champions Plateau United as well as former winners Enyimba, Heartland, Kano Pillars and Rivers United all suffered defeats on the road on Sunday paving the way for Lobi Stars to go top of the pile. Lobi Stars had to rely on veteran David Tyavkase to come off the bench and deliver the goods against a plucky Katsina United at the Aper Aku Stadium in Makurdi. Title-holders Plateau United looked weary as evident in their play and Tornadoes also failed to lift things and produced a borefest of a contest at the Bako Kontagora Stadium in Minna. The only goal of the game came from 12 yards, directly from the penalty mark, after Plateau United defender Elisha Golbe fouled Ibrahim Babawo in the box. Hussaini Isah made no mistake by converting the spot kick on 34 minutes as Tornadoes move into the top half of the ranking. UNBEATEN STREAKS SNAPPED Kano Pillars began the matchday on top of the standings and majority of the pundits tipped them to win at Yobe Desert Stars but slipped up at the August 27th Stadium. Mohammed Baba Ganaru’s men hardly put a foot wrong with Ali Aliyu in the thick of almost everything offensive against a colourless Kano Pillars. Joel Djondang turned in the ball into his goal in a scramble in the box on 24 minutes. Things did not improve in the second 45 minutes for Kano Pillars as Yobe Stars got their second goal through Abdulmalik Mohammed after the impressive Ali Aliyu picked him out with a perfect pass with 19 minutes to time. Pillars drop to second place with 20 points, three behind new leaders Lobi Stars. The Kano club also had their aim of extending their unbeaten run to nine ended. Yobe Stars move into the top-three with 19 points and a game in hand. Seven-time champions Enyimba pulled off all the stunts in their books at Rangers but failed to breach the backline of their oriental rivals in the derby. Bright Silas’ fifth minute header off Felix Ogbuke’s free kick secured all points for Rangers. The defeat brings to an end Enyimba’s eight-match unbeaten run in all competitions including the CAF Confederation Cup. NO SHOW FOR LOKOSA However Kano Pillars head coach Ibrahim Musa will rue the fact that the league’s leading scorer Junior Lokosa turned up ill an hour to kickoff and had to rework his squad, starting experienced Gambo Mohammed in his place. Gambo would later make way for Adamu Hassan as the Pillars contingent watched from the sidelines as they suffered a second defeat of the season. FIRST HAT-TRICK OF THE SEASON It was a different story for Nafiu Bala Kabuga at the New Jos Stadium. He was immense for Wikki Tourists against Rivers United as his three second half goals put the game to bed for the Bauchi club to win 3-0. Quickfire goals on 55 and 58 minutes put things in good stead for Wikki and a late strike from Kabuga ensured he became the first player to score a hat-trick this season. ABIA WARRIORS REMAIN FC IFEANYIUBAH’S BOGEY TEAM Abia Warriors continued to enjoy a fine run against FC Ifeanyiubah who have never beaten them in this NPFL derby. Patrick Ikeokwu handed FC Ifeanyiubah a dream start when he scored from Wasiu Jimoh’s assist on five minutes. But the Anambra Warriors failed to clear their lines and allowed Samson Obi to level scores after 66 minutes. Former FC Ifeanyiubah goalkeeper Uche Okafor returned to haunt his former employers as he saved a late spot kick by Victor Chidume to help Abia Warriors keep their streak against their rivals. MFM had unusual goalscorers in Stanley Okorom, Chuka Uwaga and Giscard Tchato as they romped to a 3-0 win over Heartland at the Agege Stadium in Lagos. El-Kanemi Warriors were held to a 1-1 draw at Kwara United. Antonio Dasouza gave Imama Amapakabo’s team the lead on 36 minutes before Anayor Ogbonna equalized eight minutes after the restart for Kwara United who have now gone four matches without a win and remain in bottom place. New boys Go Round remain in the bottom-four despite a 1-0 win over Sunshine Stars at the Krisdera Stadium in Omoku. Otop Okon’s first half headed steered ‘Dare The Lion’ past Sunshine Stars for their fourth win of the campaign. Matchday 12 will be rounded off at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo where Akwa United will play hosts to Nasarawa United on Monday.