It was a festival of goals on Matchday 6 of the 2018/2019 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) as FC Ifeanyi Ubah’s previously impregnable defence and unbeaten start ended at the hands of bogey team Abia Warriors.
Twenty-seven goals were scored in the ten matches played on Sunday with Akwa United, Heartland FC and Kano Pillars all scoring three times in their respective matches while just one fixture failed to return any goals.
FC Ifeanyi Ubah the in form team in Group B going into this round of fixtures had kept five consecutive clean sheets in their best ever start to an NPFL season and were unbeaten. However, if any team was going to put an end to that run, it had to be Abia Warriors who had never failed to leave Nnewi with a share of the spoils going back to 2015.
There had been four draws in four corresponding encounters between these sides but when Emmanuel Ugwuka put FC Ifeanyi Ubah in front after just three minutes, the 5,000 strong crowd cheering the home side must have thought that the trend was about to be bucked.
Warriors coach Henry Makinwa made an intriguing change in the 28th minute taking off Kola Raimi for Chigozirim Metu and that perhaps was the spur they needed as Samson Obi drew them level on the stroke of half time.
Shedrack Asiegbu put Warriors ahead with a fierce strike from outside the box in the 59th minute and although FC Ifeanyi Ubah piled on the pressure, Warriors held firm and had goalkeeper Joshua Enaholo to thank for the victory.
Enaholo saved a penalty in the 80th minute and showed remarkable agility to deny Uche Onuoha an equaliser in the 90th minute to ensure that Abia Warriors left Nnewi with the day’s sole away win.
Still in Group B, Ibrahim Musa led Kano Pillars out at the Sani Abacha Stadium in Kano for the first time since returning as Technical Adviser and his wards duly put a hapless Nasarawa United to the sword with a first-half blitz.
Musa had claimed after the goalless draw away to Gombe United last time out that the current Pillars team was barely recognisable from the side he left at the end of last season and had vowed to work on their attack – and it showed.
Adamu Hassan’s brace either side of Chinedu Sunday’s goal during a fourteen minute first half blitzkrieg gave Pillars a first win since their opening day fixture at home to Heartland FC.
Heartland themselves were involved in the Matchday’s biggest goal fest against Kada City in Okigwe as they ran out 3 – 2 winners against the newly promoted side from Kaduna.
Heartland’s 17 year old sensation Samuel Nnoshiri opened the scoring in the 19th minute with his second goal of the season. Kada however rallied and hit back through Sadiq Suleiman and Anayo Iwuala and were ahead at half time.
Heartland resumed the second half with intent and were level after Papa Idris could only deflect Maduabuchi Okereke’s low cross into his net. The Naze Millionaires were ahead three minutes later through league top scorer Chinonso Okonkwo’s 55th-minute strike. The marksman sixth of the season was sufficient to give his side all three points and send them top of Group B on goals difference.
Coach Raphael Everton of Akwa United bought himself some respite following his side’s first win of the season at home to Go Round FC. Akwa had failed to win any of their previous four fixtures but proved too good for the Omoku based team in a three-nil victory. Christopher Lolo, Ndifreke Effiong and Ubong Friday were the scorers for Akwa United.
El-Kanemi Warriors were 2-1 victors over Yobe Desert Stars in Maiduguri. Abubakar Umar and an Isiaka Olawale penalty either side of Abdullahi Usman’s goal for Yobe secured victory for El-Kanemi.
In the group’s final game, Gombe United were held to a goalless draw by Plateau United at the Pantami Stadium in Gombe in the day’s only goalless encounter.
In Group A, the first managerial casualty of the 2018/2019 NPFL season was recorded after Bernard Ogbe announced his resignation from Niger Tornadoes in the wake of his side’s 3–1 loss away to Katsina United.
United had head coach Abdullahi Biffo back in the dugout for the first time since his release from kidnappers and it was a befitting welcome back present from his team. Matiu Usule’s opener was followed by a brace from Tasiu Lawal to put the Changi Boys three goals up. Eric Frimpong scored from the spot in the 90th minute to reduce the severity of the scoreline for Tornadoes.
Sunshine Stars came out tops in a pulsating south-western derby against Remo Stars at the Akure Township Stadium. Both sides scored inside five minutes of the start with Fuad Ekelujuoti’s 2nd-minute effort for Sunshine cancelled out by former Sunshine player Bright Akpojuvwevwo’s 5th-minute strike. Alaba Adeniji stole the points for Sunshine with a scrappy 57th-minute goal to preserve Sunshine’s unbeaten record against Remo Stars.
Enyimba ended a three-match winless streak by inflicting a first defeat of the season on Rivers United. Abdulrahman Bashir put the Peoples Elephant ahead at the Enyimba Stadium and Wasiu Alalade made sure of the points in the 87th minute off an assist from Ifeanyi Onuwa.
In the last Group A game, MFM scrapped a one nil victory over visiting Wikki Tourists at the Agege Stadium to record a third successive home victory. Chijioke Akuneto scored the winner after good work by fellow substitute Said Mubarak to send the Olukoya Boys top of Group A.
2018/2019 MATCH DAY SIX RESULTS.
MFM 1-0 WIKKI TOURISTS
(Chijioke Akuneto, 69’)
ENYIMBA 2-0 RIVERS UNITED
(Abdulrahman Bashir 37’; Wasiu Alalade 87)
SUNSHINE STARS 2-1 REMO STARS
(Fuad Ekelujuoti 2’; Alaba Adeniji 57’; – Bright Akpojuvwevwo 5’)
KATSINA UNITED 3-1 NIGER TORNADOES
(Martins Usule 13’; Tasiu Lawal 51’ 67’; – Eric Frimpong 90’ (Pen))
FC IFEANYI UBAH 1-2 ABIA WARRIORS
(Emmanuel Ugwuka 3’ – Samson Obi 45+1’; Shedrack Asiegbu 59’)
HEARTLAND FC 3-2 KADA CITY
(Samuel Nnoshiri 19’; Papa Idris 52’ (og); Chinonso Okonkwo 55’ – Sadiq Suleiman 28’; Anayo Iwuala 33’)
EL KANEMI 2-1 YOBE DESERT STARS
(Abubakar Umar 21’; Isiaka Olawala 69’ (pen) – Abdullahi Usman 38’)
AKWA UNITED 3-0 GO ROUND FC
(Christopher Lolo 47’; Ndifreke Effiong 53’; Ubong Friday 70’)
KANO PILLARS 3-0 NASARAWA UNITED
(Adamu Hassan 20’ 34’; Chinedu Sunday 26’)
GOMBE 0-0 PLATEAU UNITED