NPFL wrap: Top four remain unchanged
The title-favourites in the Nigeria Professional Football League failed to show the stuff of champions on match-day 14, on an exciting weekend which saw the top four remain unchanged with 29 goals scored.
Lobi Stars completed an impressive comeback to earn a 3-2 home win against Rivers United, a result which ensured they opened a three-point lead at the top. The leaders had trailed at the half-time interval despite going ahead through Ezekiel Mbah's 18th-minute penalty.
The visitors turned the game on its head with two goals in15 minutes through Oche Salefu and Fredrick Obomate, but Austin Ogunye was decisive in the second half by netting a brace, including the match-winner in the final seconds.
Abia Warriors extended their unbeaten run to four games after ending Akwa United's excellent home form with a 1-1 draw. Samson Obi handed the visitors the lead, but Christian Pyagbara saved the Promise Keepers' blushes by netting the leveller in the 84th-minute. Despite the dropped points, Akwa remain second, while Warriors are sixth.
Yaya Kone netted a hat-trick for FC Ifeanyi Ubah to inflict a heavy 3-0 defeat on Plateau United, a third successive league loss for the champions. Kone was in top form, beating four markers before calmly slotting past Dele Ajiboye for the opening goal.
He was at it again in the 55th minute, profiting from Chijioke Alaekwe's pass and skipping past two defenders to score the second. Kone completed his hat-trick from the spot just after the hour-mark, earning a result which eases the relegation worries on the Anambra Warriors.
Kano Pillars' toothless away form took a turn for the worse after being embarrassed 2-1 at bottom club Kwara United. Junior Lokosa extended his phenomenal scoring record by netting his 12th goal of the season to hand the sleeping giants a halftime lead.
Despite holding the advantage past the hour-mark, Pillars were pegged back within a space of six minutes -- Sunday Okechukwu's 64th-minute leveller before Lukman Binuyo completed the comeback with a superb strike to earn Abubakar Bala a dream managerial start.
Despite suffering a third loss and remaining winless on the road this season, Pillars remain third on the log, albeit trailing the leaders by five points.
Enyimba became the first team to score a goal and earn a point on the ground in an eventual 1-1draw against Yobe Desert Stars.
Home-based Super Eagles forward Mustapha Ibrahim gave Enyimba a strong start with the fifth-minute lead. Philip Auta drew the hosts level from the spot to preserve their top four position, while Enyimba -- with two outstanding games -- drop out of the top half and two points above the relegation zone.
Enugu Rangers threw away a two-goal lead at Go Round FC, eventually been forced to a 2-2 draw by the privately-sponsored team in Omoku. Ifeanyi George netted a first-half brace for the Flying Antelopes, but the hosts rallied back as Okon Otop reduced the deficit, before Chile Azu levelled matters for Go Round.
In other results, super sub Chijioke Akuneto netted a brace within the space of 20 minutes to complete a 2-1 fightback for MFM FC against Katsina United, having fallen behind to Garba Yashau's 35th-minute goal.
Abba Umar and Shammah Tanze's brace handed Wikki Tourists a 3-0 home win against El-Kanemi Warriors in the north-east derby, while Austin Igenepo's seventh-minute winner handed Niger Tornadoes maximum points against Sunshine Stars, moving them fifth on the back of a five-game unbeaten run.
John Uche's late penalty handed Heartland a 2-1 home win against Nasarawa United, a result which halted the relegation-threatened side's four-game losing streak.