Abia Warriors coach Imama Amapakabo heaved a sigh of relief at the final whistle as his side finally won a game in the 2020-21 Nigeria Professional Football League season at the eighth time of asking with a 4-1 mauling of Sunshine Stars in Umuahia on Wednesday.
The under pressure coach was precipitously close to the sack following an embarrassing home defeat to Jigawa Golden Stars on Matchday 4 and was issued a three-match ultimatum to turn things around.
Since then, Amapakabo has led his side on a four game unbeaten run culminating in the emphatic Matchday 8 victory over Gbenga Ogunbote’s side which the former Super Eagles assistant manager would hope will serve as a turning point as they look to climb up the table.
Fatai Abdullahi and Emmanuel Ugwuka put Warriors two goals up at the break but familiar worries resurfaced when Sadeeq Yusuf reduced the deficit just after the hour mark with his sixth strike of the campaign.
But when the home side would have crumbled in the past, they revealed a new found steel apparent in their unbeaten run in the past three games as Bello Lookman scored twice to put the game to bed and claim a first win with a showing that made it worth the wait.
Abia Warriors still have relegation worries despite the win but are now just one point from safety although they have played a game more than 17th placed Katsina United and 19th placed Heartland FC both of whom play Rivers United and FC Ifeanyiubah respectively later.
Elsewhere, Enyimba bounded up to the top of the table with an impressive 2-1 win at Nasarawa United despite playing the nearly thirty minutes with ten men following the dismissal of Anthony Omaka.
Abubakar Abdullahi’s own goal put the visitors in front after 16 minutes but Nasarawa struck back four minutes later as Chinedu Ohanacho levelled matters.
Parity didn’t last long, however, as Cyril Olisema scored what proved to be the winner from the penalty spot following a foul on Anayo Iwuala in the box.
The 8-time league champions move up to 18 points, three more than second-placed Rivers United who have a game in hand while Nasarawa United who would have gone top with a win, are 6th with 14 points.
Mfon Udoh scored directly from a corner kick as Akwa United edged bottom side Adamawa United 1-0, the victory moving the visitors to 9th.
Christian Nnaji scored a brace following Israel Abia’s opener as Rangers swatted Dakkada FC aside in a 3-0 win at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium to move them up to 5th, level on 14 points with Kano Pillars who brushed Jigawa Golden Stars aside 2-0 with Abbas Rabiu and Ndasi Denis Kadiang on target in Kaduna.
Kwara United conceded for the first time in five games but still had enough to defeat Lobi Stars in Ilorin with Chinedu Nwanze and Jude Steven scoring for the hosts before Samuel Tiza grabbed a late equaliser for Lobi.
The win takes Kwara United up to 3rd on 15 points while Lobi Stars drop to 8th with 12 points.
Promise Damala and Chinedu Sunday scored either side of half time as Wikki Tourists climbed to 11th with a 2-0 win over 13th placed MFM while 15th placed Warri Wolves edged past 10th placed Plateau United with Efe Yarhere scoring the only goal of the match.
NPFL 2020-21 MD8 RESULTS
Nasarawa United 1-2 Enyimba
Adamawa United 0-1 Akwa United
Kano Pillars 2-0 Jigawa Golden Stars
Wikki Tourists 2-0 MFM FC
Kwara United 2-1 Lobi Stars
Abia Warriors 4-1 Sunshine Stars
Rangers 3-0 Dakkada
Warri Wolves 1-0 Plateau United