By George Akpayen

Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) leaders Rangers had their unbeaten streak snapped at Katsina United where they lost 3-4 on Sunday.

The opening 20 minutes went from chaotic to frenetic but produced end-to-end talking points as both teams scored two goals apiece at the Muhammadu Dikko Stadium in Katsina.

After a run of 10 matches without defeat, the Flying Antelopes began on the back foot when Azeez Falolu handed the home side the lead just four minutes into the match. The lead lasted only six minutes as Saviour Isaac drew Rangers level.

On 16 minutes, Katsina United had their lead restored through Michael Ibe but the table-toppers found their way back almost immediately when Godwin Obaje fired in a shot past Pius Ibrahim on 18 minutes.

Right at the break, Katsina United got their noses in front for the third time in the contest through Ibe who got his second goal of the day.

At the restart, Rangers head coach Fidelis Ilechukwu opted to change the shape of his playing personnel by sending Chinemerem Ugwueze for Nasiru Auwalu but it backfired as Andrew Idoko extended Katsina United’s lead by two five minutes into the restart.

At 4-2, Ilechukwu made more changes and one of the substitute Joel Odoh headed in Kazeem Ogunleye’s corners to trim Katsina United’s lead to one and set up a nervy final nine minutes. Despite the loss, Rangers stay top of the table with a superior goals difference ahead of second-placed Lobi Stars.

Lobi Stars needed just a solitary goal to see off champions Enyimba at the Lafia City Stadium in a game of title contenders. Alao Danbani scored the winner on 58 minutes.

At the other end of the table, bottom-placed side Gombe United suffered a five-nil defeat at Niger Tornadoes. Clinton Jephta scored twice on six and 86 minutes while Chidebere Ernest, Mohammed Hussaini and Bashir Usman got among the goals in the rout.

Heartland won only their second game in 2024 out of 13 matches as they bid to beat the drop. The Naze Millionaires saw off new boys Sporting Lagos 3-1 at the Enyimba Stadium in Aba with Stephen Chukwude scoring twice and Chukwudi Esobe netting 12 minutes before time. Junior Lokosa’s strike for the Lagos club proved insufficient after full-time.

Kwara United and Sunshine Stars had to battle back to claim a point each against Bendel Insurance and Bayelsa United respectively. Both games ended with 1-1 scorelines.

Bendel Insurance got the lead through Meyiwa Oritseweyinmi on 25 minutes, leaving Kwara United to struggle for 39 minutes before they could level the score through Isaiah Ejeh’s goal from the spot.

Sunshine Stars striker Tunde Adeniji, who made a return to the league after a sojourn abroad, cancelled out Muniru Abdulrahman’s goal for Bayelsa United.

A day earlier, Plateau United ran over Doma United 4-0. David Onovo, Barnabas Daniel, Sunday Anthony and Bernard Mundi were the goalscorers.

Another title contender Remo Stars edged past Akwa United 2-1. Abayomi Adebayo and Sikiru Alimi scored for Remo Stars before Akwa United got their goal off Kayode Bankole’s own goal after he inadvertently turned home the free kick of Cameroonian midfielder Gerome Heutchou that off the woodwork.

The matchweek will be rounded off at the Sani Abacha Stadium in Kano on Monday when Kano Pillars play hosts to 3SC.

David NPFL
April 7, 2024

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