By George Akpayen

It is looking like the race for this season’s Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) title might go to the wire as just as just three points separate the top-five places after the conclusion of Matchday 20 games over the weekend.

Remo Stars took top spot after grinding out a 0-0 draw at Abia Warriors where they had to finish the final seven minutes with one man less following a second booking to Ahmed Akinyele.

Kayode Bankole was particularly in good form between the sticks for the Sky Blue Stars against Abia Warriors and that ensured Remo Stars sit top with 36 points but with a superior goal difference to second-placed Lobi Stars who have same number of points.

Lobi Stars fell behind by two goals inside 55 minutes at Plateau United before Suur Kumaga pulled one back in 56 minutes but the strike proved insufficient to earn them at least a result. Muhammad Umar and Albert Hillary scored for Plateau United on 41 and 53 minutes as the Jos side now sit in fourth place on 34 points.

A day earlier, being Saturday, third-placed Enyimba and Kano Pillars in fifth earned themselves good results to keep them in the top-five. Enyimba needed a Chijioke Mbaoma first half goal to see off Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC) while Kano Pillars, who had goalkeeper Muhammad Galadima sent off in the 73rd minute, were held to a 1-1 draw by Heartland.

Ibrahim Mustapha Yuga got Kano Pillars in front on 29 minutes before a late goal at the death through Malachy Ohawume’s acrobatic attempt levelled the score for Heartland who remain the bottom-four.

Rivers United and Doma United were involved in a thrilling five-goal game at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium in Port Harcourt. Rivers United edged past their opponents 3-2.

Nyima Nwagua scored a hattrick on seven, 47 and 55 minutes while Bidemi Owoku and Hillary Ekawu got Doma United’s goals in the 32nd and 88th minutes.

Rangers, Katsina United and Sporting Lagos won by a single goal each. Rangers defeated Akwa United through Kenneth Igboke’s 48th minute goal and were fortunate to watch as Ubong Friday crashed his spot kick against the woodwork which would have levelled the score for Akwa United.

Andrew Idoko scored a late goal to help Katsina United beat Niger Tornadoes while Tochukwu Michael’s strike on 56 minutes earned Sporting Lagos the full points against Bendel Insurance at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Onikan in Lagos.

Abubakar Garba’s goal on 76 minutes for Kwara United ensured the Ilorin club took a point away from Akure against Sunshine Stars whose goal was scored by Promise Awosanmi on 33 minutes in the 1-1 draw.

In the relegation six-pointer, Bayelsa United defeated Gombe United 2-0. Bashiru Monsuru scored an own goal on 13 minutes while substitute Assurance Ifeanyi secured the full points for Bayelsa United eight minutes before time. Both clubs still remain in the bottom-four.

David NPFL
February 18, 2024
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