Enugu Rangers halted a run of three consecutive losses with a home win against Kwara United to extend their lead at the top of Group A while Akwa United earned yet another impressive victory on the road to maintain their position at the helm of Group B on Matchday 18 of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) on Wednesday.
Substitute Felix Ogbuke had barely spent five minutes on the pitch when he broke the deadlock in the 75th minute for Rangers at the Nnamdi Azikiwe stadium against what had hitherto been a very stubborn Kwara United defence. The Flying Antelopes extend their lead on top Group A to six points while United recently shorn of their manager Abubakar Bala, slip further into relegation waters in 10th place, three points from safety.
Second-placed Enyimba suffered the first loss in 12 matches and had goalkeeper Theophilus Afelokhai to thank for only losing 1-0 to Rivers United at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium in Port Harcourt. Ossy Martins made up for his horrendous miss in the loss to MFM on Matchday 17 with the winner for Stanley Eguma’s side and the forward could have added to his tally in the 75th minute but was thwarted by Enyimba’s goalie who also saved Nelson Esor’s follow up effort.
Niger Tornadoes secured a fourth consecutive clean sheet as they ran out 1-0 winners over Katsina United at the Bako Kontagora Stadium in Minna. Saib Dosso’s freekick in the 79th minute earned eleventh placed Tornadoes just their third win of the season to kindle hopes of an unlikely bid for survival with four games to go. They are currently five points from safety.
In the final game in Group B on Wednesday, third-placed MFM forced Wikki Tourists to a 1-1 draw in difficult weather conditions in Bauchi. Franklin Anthony opened the scoring for the hosts five minutes before halftime with Joshua Abah responding for the visitors in the 75th minute.
In Group B, Akwa United earned a third victory on the road with a dramatic 93rd-minute winner to beat Go Round FC 1-0 in Omoku. Godspower Aniefiok headed home the winner to consolidate Akwa’s hold at the summit of Group B.
Bernard Ovoke came from the bench to score one and set up another in Plateau United’s 2-0 home win over Gombe United in Jos. Saidu Salisu missed a spot-kick for Plateau United in the first half before Ovoke was sprung from the bench to set up winger Sikiru Olatunbosun for the opener before scoring the second from the spot to boost the home team’s survival hopes.
Yobe Desert Stars remain rock bottom of Group B after they could only manage a goalless draw at home to El Kanemi Warriors while the match between Delta Force and Heartland FC also ended goalless in Asaba.
The second round of Matchday 18 fixtures conclude later today.
2018/2019 NPFL MATCH DAY 18 RESULTS
NIGER TORNADOES 1-0 KATSINA UNITED
(Saib Dosso 79’)
WIKKI TOURISTS 1-1 MFM FC
(Franklin Anthony 40’ – Joshua Abah 75’)
ENUGU RANGERS 1-0 KWARA UNITED
(Felix Ogbuke 80’)
RIVERS UNITED 1-0 ENYIMBA
(Ossy Martins 13’)
GO ROUND FC 0-1 AKWA UNITED
(Godspower Aniefiok 90+3’)
DELTA FORCE 0-0 HEARTLAND FC
YOBE DESERT STARS 0-0 EL KANEMI WARRIORS
PLATEAU UNITED 2-0 GOMBE UNITED
(Sikiru Olatunbosun 63’, Bernard Ovoke 67’ (Pen))