Six times champions, Enyimba International failed to ascend to the top of the Glo Premier League after state rivals, Abia Warriors forced a 2-2 draw at the fast emerging Abia Classico on a day leaders, Sunshine Stars also let slip a one goal lead in Makurdi.
Another contender for the top spot, Wikki Tourists were also forced to a 1-1 draw late into regulation time in Port Harcourt.
Despite shrugging off an early lead by Heartland to win 2-1, Giwa FC still stayed on fourth place while FC Ifeanyi Ubah climbed above Heartland to now stay fifth with 26 points after beating Shooting Stars 1-0 at the Rojenny Stadium.
The highlight of the day was undeniably the four goals thriller in Aba where Ndifreke Effiong crowned a power run-in on the Enyimba back-line, twisting captain Chinedu Udoji before unleashing a shot that left goalkeeper Chijioke Ejiogu rooted to the spot for the opening goal of the rain soaked game.
That was in 26th minute and Chisom Chikatara, the increasingly famous Kolanut Boy had initiated that move, winning the ball in the midfield and setting Ndifreke free the second time.
Enyimba responded with raids on the last half of the visitors with Idris Aloma, Daniel Etor and Ezekiel Bassey combining well and seeking out Christian Obiozor.
After a number of near chance and saves from John Gaadi in the post for Abia Warriors, Obiozor finally got to the end of a rebound to toe-in the equalizer in added time of the first half.
The People’s Elephant did not relent in the second half, forcing several corners and restricting Abia Warriors to frantic clearances and their probes paid off five minutes into the second half when Etor connected a powerful but easy header to another cross from the left side by Aloma.
Scores of half chances for Enyimba and occasional tries by Chikatara and Ndifreke saw the game drifting to a possible Enyimba win, but Michael Olaha came in as substitute and stunned the packed stands of Enyimba fateful with a late equalizer in 79th minute.
Obiozor would labour to score what was thought to be the winner but was rightly ruled offside by the assistant referee. The Umuahia side thus preserved their unbeaten record with their more illustrious neighbours in three league meetings.
Sunshine Stars were heading to extend their points lead at the top after Tunji Adeniji put the Akure Gunners in the lead after 64 minutes.
The first half against Lobi Stars in Makurdi had ended scoreless but it was the hosts that had their profligacy in front of goal to blame for not being in front much earlier.
Substitute Obioma Arinze was brilliant in combining well with another substitute, Tony Okpotu to level scores six minutes after. Sunshine retained their hold at the top with 30 points, same with Enyimba that tags along on goals difference count.
Bright Ejike scored his 9th goal of the season for Heartland on the 9th minute but it was short lived as Ibrahim Shuaibu restored parity in the 22nd minute with a sublime effort that was assisted by Edoh Ocheme from the edge of the box.
Gyang Amos then grabbed the winner in the second half scoring from outside the box in 69th minute to gift all three points to his side. The win is Giwa’s 7th of the season from 16 games.
In Uyo, Akwa United finally became the first side to win a match at the not too recently commissioned stadium nicknamed Nest of Champions.
The Promise Keepers netted two second half goals to end Rangers International’s four-match unbeaten run and climb farther away from relegation troubles.
Defender Nnamso Edo scored first from the penalty spot on 53 minutes, sending goalkeeper Itodo Akor the wrong way while Nathaniel Kingsley consolidated on 79 minutes with the second goal.
Defending Champions, Kano Pillars managed a 1-0 win over former city neighbours, El-Kanemi Warriors with the lone strike from Adamu Mohammed assisted by Samuel Tswanya on 21 minutes.
Pillars move two places to 7th position with 25 points while El-Kanemi dropped to 10th place from 8th.