Lobi Stars extend NPFL lead, Kano Pillars held
Lobi Stars raced five points clear at the top of the Nigeria Professional Football League table on matchday 16 with victory over El-Kanemi Warriors, as nearest challengers Kano Pillars could only manage a draw away from home against Wikki Tourists.
Samad Kadiri's 66th-minute penalty was enough to earn Lobi Stars a 1-0 home win against Warriors to move five points clear at the top of the standings.
Kadiri was fouled in the area and made no mistake from the spot, sealing an unsurprising win against the division's lowest goalscorers.
Stars' nearest rivals, Pillars, earned a season high seventh draw of the campaign as they were held to a 1-1 draw away at Wikki Tourists.
It's a result which leaves them five points behind the league leaders, although Akwa United, down in third, are seven points off the Ortom Boys having played three fewer matches.
Nafiu Kabuga gave Wikki a 22nd-minute lead from the spot after Bala Zakka was tripped in the box, and Pillars responded within seven minutes when Chris Madaki assisted Ibrahim Alhassan for the goal.
FC Ifeanyi Ubah produced a superb turnaround at home to Sunshine Stars in Nnewi, showing determination in churning out a 3-1 result to move four points clear of the dropzone.
Sikiru Alimi gave Sunshine Stars the lead against the run of play after 18 minutes, but the visitors were pegged back by Patrick Ikeokwu's 24th-minute leveller, before further second-half goals from Issif Traore and Chijioke Alaekwe sealed the result.
The loss leaves Sunshine in the last relegation spot.
Abia Warriors earned a third successive league draw as they were held 0-0 by Heartland in the Oriental Derby.
It was the first time in four successive meetings the Warriors had failed to earn a win in this fixture, as they remain in midtable, while Heartland's well-documented struggles were extended as they remain two spots above rock bottom.
Martin Usule popped up with a 79th-minute matchwinner for Katsina United to earn a 2-1 home victory against Rivers United, as the relatively inexperienced campaigners moved into fourth position.
It was a quick-fire start to the game, Obinna Eleje shooting Katsina into a sixth-minute lead, only for Emeka Ogbuh to extend his rich scoring form from last weekend, pulling Rivers United level in the 10th-minute.
However, despite their spirited efforts, Rivers were beaten by Usule's winner, dropping to 13th on the log on the back of four points from their last five games.
In concluding fixtures, Ibrahim Babawo's 17th-minute goal was the difference between Niger Tornadoes and Enugu Rangers, the win moving Tornadoes into fifth, a remarkable turnaround considering their early struggles.
Super sub James Odeh proved to be an inspired change for Yobe Desert Stars as his 78th-minute goal clinched maximum points for the Damaturu-based side against Go Round FC in the battle of promoted sides.
With the tie heading into a stalemate, coach Mohammed Baba Ganaru brought on Odeh, and within five minutes he clinched a first win in five games for the Desert Stars as they move back into the top half, ending the day in sixth.