After three match days of staggered matches, the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) returned on Matchday four with a full complement of fixtures as clubs who were yet to play took to the field for the first time this season.
Enugu Rangers, Katsina United, Lobi Stars, and Yobe Desert Stars all kicked off their season in a midweek of draws, reunions and few goals as FC Ifeanyiubah maintained their best ever start to a league season since coming into existence in 2015.
The Anambra Warriors yet to concede this season, kept a fourth consecutive clean sheet in a one nil defeat of Yobe Desert Stars who were making their first outing in the league this season. Chinonso Udeh scored in the 23rd minute to hand FC Ifeanyiubah their second win of the season.
Abdu Maikaba returned to Uyo for the first time since leaving Akwa United for Plateau United and left the home fans heartbroken and his successor in search of a maiden win after his wards snatched a draw from the jaws of defeat.
Mfon Udoh scored the opener in the 19th minute to open his account for the Promise Keepers but Bernard Ovoke struck in the 59th minute to draw Plateau level.
Udoh restored Akwa’s lead in the 83rd minute and just when it seemed Akwa were headed for a first league victory of the season, Benjamin Turba scored two minutes into added time to silence the home fans and leave Plateau with a share of the spoils. Akwa have now conceded in added time in consecutive home games this season.
Ibrahim Musa’s reappointment as Technical Adviser of Kano Pillars couldn’t prevent the Sai Masu Gida from falling to a two-nil defeat away to Gombe United.
Pillars could have gone ahead in the first half through Auwalu Ali Malam and were made to rue that wasted opportunity when Usman Musa and Babangida Ibrahim scored either side of half time to give Gombe a first league win of the season.
Pillars have now gone three games without victory since a one nil defeat over Heartland on the opening day.
Heartland FC and Katsina United both left it late to snatch one nil victories over Go Round FC and Wikki Tourists respectively.
It proved to be an unhappy homecoming for Go Round’s technical adviser Willy Udube who began his coaching career at Heartland as Heartland’s seventeen year old sensation Samuel Nnoshiri, fresh from scoring the winner against Nasarawa United on matchday three, laid on the assist in the 94th for substitute and former Go Round attacker Okon Otop to score the winner against his former side.
Sheriff Bashir got the winner for Katsina in the 90th minute after Joshua Agboola made up for a penalty miss earlier in the game by laying on the assist for the winner.
Abia Warriors needed a late penalty to spare their blushes at home against Kada City. Emeka Isaac scored the winner from the spot in the 83rd minute after Samson Obi had been brought down in the box.
Sunshine Stars and Rivers United played out a one all draw in Akure after Fuad Ekelujuoti’s effort for Sunshine was canceled out by Wasiu Jimoh’s sublime volley for Rivers United.
In Lagos, Kabiru Adeniji scored for the second consecutive game to consign Enugu Rangers to a defeat in their first league game of the season.
Adeniji had scored three minutes into his debut after coming off the bench against Kwara United and rewarded head coach Fidelis Ilechukwu’s decision to hand him a start with what proved to be the winning goal.
Rangers captain Tope Olusesi received his marching orders in the 77th minute.
Insurance played out a goalless draw against Kwara United in their first home game after gaining promotion to the top flight for the first time since 2008. It was also a similar scoreline in Minna where Niger Tornadoes were held at home by Remo Stars.
In Aba, it also ended goalless between Enyimba and Lobi Stars who lost John Lazarus to a red card in the 86th minute.
The Peoples Elephant will rue the wastefulness of Abdulrahman Bashir who missed several gilt-edged chances to score for the Aba-based side although Lobi themselves could have snatched it at the death through Najeem Olukokun who missed after evading the attention of Enyimba centre back Ifeanyi Anaemena.
2018/2019 NPFL MATCH DAY 4 RESULTS
MFM 1-0 Rangers
(Kabiru Adeniji 23’)
Sunshine Stars 1-1 Rivers United
(Fuad Ekelujuoti 49’ – Wasiu Jimoh 54’)
Katsina United 1-0 Wikki Tourists
(Sheriff Bashir 90’)
Enyimba 0-0 Lobi Stars
Insurance 0-0 Kwara United
Tornadoes 0-0 Remo Stars
FCIU 1-0 Yobe Desert Stars
(Chinonso Udeh 23’)
Heartland 1-0 Go Round
(Okon Otop 90+4)
Akwa United 2-2 Plateau United
(Mfon Udoh 19’ 83’ – Bernard Ovoke 59’, Benjamin Turba 90+2)
Gombe United 2-0 Kano Pillars
(Umar Musa 39’, Babangida Ibrahim 71’)
Abia Warriors 1-0 Kada City
(Emeka Isaac 83’ (pen))