December, 29 2023.
Two goals in stoppage time, from Onyekachi Okafor and Chinedu Ike ensured that struggling Heartland of Owerri thrashed Remo Stars of Ikenne 3-1, in one of the Day-16 fixtures of the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL), decided on Sunday.
After a rather caggy first half, at the Dan Anyiam Stadium, Heartland had their noses in front when Promise Anyanwu convert a 50th minute penalty. But Remo Stars drew level through Sikiru Alimi who scored his 10th of the season to equal the tally garnered by Robert Mizo of Bayelsa United on top of the Scorers chart.
Despite the defeat, and complaints from players and officials about the poor condition of the pitch in Owerri; the Sky Blues from Ikenne are still on top of the log, on 29 points, and superior goal difference to Lobi Stars of Makurdi.
Lobi Stars moved-up, level on 29 points with Remo Stars, after a 1-0 victory over Niger Tornadoes in their North Central derby, played in Lafia; thanks to a goal from Kumaga Suur 15 minutes from time.
It was a match-day, specially made for all four top-flight sides, based in the South-East; as Rangers Int'l FC marked their return to the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium aka the Cathedral, with an emphatic 2-0 victory over Gbenga Ogunbote's 3SC of Ibadan.
Kalu Nweke got the first goal, of the first match on the relayed turf of the Stadium in the 27th minute, and the Flying Antelopes had to wait until the stroke of 90 minutes, to add to the tally, through Chiedozie Okorie.
In Umuahia, Abia Warriors ran out comfortable 3-1 winners over visiting Gombe United, for whom David Nnaji scored their consolation goal 60 Seconds after the Warriors had made it 3-0, through Samson Obi; who had earlier scored the opener, in the 22nd minute.
But the reigning champions, Enyimba Int'l FC somehow grabbed a fair share of the highlights of Day 16, when beating hapless Bayelsa United 2-1 in Yenagoa, to bring the eighth raod win of the season.
Ekene Awazie put the Aba People's Elephant in front in the 65th minute, Israel Consul leveled matters for the Prosperity Boys seven minutes later, before Chijioke Mbaoma scored from 12 yards in the 85th minute, to hand Bayelsa United a third home defeat, this term.
The South-South derby in Port Harcourt, between Rivers United and Bendel Insurance of Benin, ended in a pulsating 1-all draw, at the Adokieye Amasiamaka Stadium. However it was Insurance that led through Chisom Okereke in the 21st minute, before captain Nyima Nwagua took it personal and netted a 38th minute equalizer.
Meanwhile, Katsina United gave their own revival a timely boost by piping manger-less Akwa United of Uyo 1-0 at the Mohammed Dikko Stadium. Chidera Ezeh scored the solitary goal in the 21st minute for the Changi Boys, who now has two wins and a loss since Abubakar Bala was hired as their new Technical Adviser.
Elsewhere, Kano Pillars left it late in both halves, as they came from a goal down to edge Kwara United 2-1 at the Sani Abacha Stadium, in Kofarmata.
Emmanuel Ogbole gave the Afonja Warriors a perfect start, by netting in the 13th minute; but Pillars' Mohammed Aminu equalized 5 minutes into first half stoppage time; and replicated that in second half stoppage time to give the Sai-Masugida all 3 points on offer.
In Jos, Albert Hillary extended his eye-catching scoring form by giving Plateau United a 74th minute winner, in their 1-0 defeat of Sporting FC of Lagos, at the New Jos Stadium, in Zaria Road.
In the only Day 16 fixture played on Saturday, Sunshine Stars comfortably defeated Doma United FC of Gombe 2-0 at the Akure Township Stadium; www.ckdmedia.ng reports.