Glo Nigeria Premier League ‘big boys’, Kano Pillars and Enyimba International showed up on the road claiming all three points in their respective fixtures on Match Day 9, which saw leaders, Sunshine Stars grinding out a draw in Lafia.
Sunshine Stars are now tied on points with Gabros FC and Wikki Tourists, 1-0 winners in their home games that brought their total tally to 17 points.
Four home wins, two wins on the road, three draws and a total of 13 goals including two own goals summed up activities of Match Day 9 with the highly anticipated clash of the longest football rivalry in Nigeria between Shooting Stars and Rangers International ending 1-1 in Ibadan.
Giwa FC recorded their second home draw and were pushed down to fifth place from second after they were held 0-0 by Taraba United. It will be the second game in four that joint top scorer, Ibrahim Shuaibu failed to find the back of the net.
It was six-time champions, Enyimba International that showed intent early in Port Harcourt after the heavy downpour forcing an own-goal just six minutes into the game off Festus Austin, the hard tackling Dolphins defender who recently made a return from a season long injury lay-off.
Markson Ojobo would consolidate the Peoples Elephant’s lead a minute after a quick-fire strike that shattered Coach Stanley Eguma’s pre-match expectations of ending Dolphins’ four-year jinx against the visitors.
Dolphins last defeated Enyimba in 2011 on their way to winning their last league title. Omo Johnson connected an Ifeanyi Egwim flick to reduce the deficit on 28 minutes and that was the best both sides could muster for the remaining 62 minutes of the encounter.
From the match statistics, it was obvious Coach Kadiri Ikhana fashioned out a match plan aimed at stemming the run of poor results which has seen Enyimba lose to Gabros 2-0 and draw 0-0 in Aba with Giwa FC. Enyimba finished the game with 11 shots at goal with seven on target while Dolphins managed six shots with three on target.
Adamu Hassan’s volley from Ubong Ekpai’s low cross on the 4th minute earned defending champions, Kano Pillars their first points away from Kano as they pipped Abia Warriors 1-0 at the Umuahia Township Stadium. It was Warriors second home defeat this season after a first home loss to Wikki Tourists.
Heartland also returned to winning ways and it was against their perennial victims, Akwa United with quick early goals from Collins Nwaneri in the 2nd minute and Hassan Babangida two minutes after to bring respite to Coach Erasmus Onuh whose job has been threatened with a streak of defeats in the last five games.
Kano Pillars, Heartland and Enyimba move up the log on 15 points each but the Cup holders enjoy superior goals count.
Seun Sogbeso had sent 2012 Olympic team goalkeeper, Ikechukwu Ezenwa the wrong way to put Nasarawa United ahead from the spot on 45 minutes. Mannir Ubale was felled inside the box and the perfect execution of the spot kick sent the crowd roaring in salute and perhaps relief that they were ending the half with a goal.
Sunshine Stars fought back seeking to sustain their lead at the top and it was joint league leading scorer Tunde Adeniji that came close to restoring parity with a thunderous shot five minutes into the second half.
He saw that effort saved by goalkeeper Pius Ibrahim who on 66th minute failed a keep away Kingsley Eduwo’s header that finished off a Prince Aggreh great work from the flank.
In other results, Wikki Tourists continued their fine run of form as they beat a resolute Lobi Stars 1-0, thanks to Uche Martins’ goal from the spot in 75th minute.
Under pressure Lobi coach Justin Tenger could not see through his pre-match determination to leave Bauchi with a point as Lobi continue to search for the first win of the season.
In Kano, El-Kanemi Warriors also managed a goal from the penalty spot to breakdown the resistance of struggling Bayelsa United. Benjamin Turba converted the penalty after Salomon Junior was adjudged to have brought down Ibrahim Mustapha inside the box.
Gabros scaled the Sharks hurdle thanks to a 77th minute own goal from Jamiu Alimi, a win that ensured the newly promoted Nnewi side have maintained a 100 percent winning record on their turf.