NPFL 2021-22 Matchday 2 Roundup: Remo and Enyimba maintain perfect start, Akwa United held
Enyimba and newly-promoted side Remo Stars kept up their 100 record, with wins over Enugu Rangers and Heartland respectively.
Champions Akwa United were denied victory at Shooting Stars by a late goal, while Gombe United came from behind to snatch a point at Nasarawa United.
The matchday began with the Southeast derby at Ifeanyi Ubah Stadium, where Enyimba stunned Enugu Rangers through a late strike.
234football rounds up Sunday’s action.
Remo Stars 3-0 Heartland
Remo Stars followed up their opening-day victory at MFM with a convincing home win against Heartland. Andy Okpe hit a brace within five minutes of kick-off — to take his tally to three for the season — and Samuel Anakwe netted in the 72nd minute to extend the newly-promoted team’s lead to 3-0.
The Ikenne side — back to the top-flight after being relegated in 2018 — have been in and out of the top-flight in the last five years. However, this time they’ve been tipped to remain in the division for at least another season by many analysts, given their early form.
Heartland, on the other hand, are touted as relegation candidates. The Naze millionaires hold the worst defensive record in the division, having conceded six goals — three in their opening-day tie with Nasarawa United and another three in Sunday’s loss.
The result has increased the pressure on Heartland boss Hassan Abdallah, who only took the job in September.
Enugu Rangers 0-1 Enyimba
Emeka Obioma came off the bench to net a late winner to hand Enyimba all three points against fellow Southeast club Enugu Rangers at Ifeanyi Ubah Stadium.
The match, which kicked off at 3pm, saw the two heavyweights fail to make the most of opportunities before Obioma fired into the far post to spark wild celebrations on the visitors’ bench.
Before Obioma’s strike, Eze Ekwutoziam should have fired Finidi George’s side in front after being played in Adekunle Adeleke, who had dribbled past two players from his own half to set up the debutante. The forward fired disappointingly over the bar.
Rangers, who kicked off their campaign with a 2-1 win at Katsina United, had chances of their own: Chidiebere Nwobodo shot straight at Olorunleke Ojo before Ernest Governor headed Tope Olusesi’s freekick just wide.
Kano Pillars 0-0 Lobi Stars
After a 3-0 loss at Akwa United, Kano Pillars were looking to earn a win against Lobi Stars at home. In the end, however, things didn’t go according to plan — as the game ended in a barren draw. Pillars dominated large spells of the first half but couldn’t make it count. Kokoete Udo and Abdullahi Musa blew away two glorious chances.
Lobi Stars improved after the break and did enough to earn a share of spoils.
Dakkada inflicted a second straight defeat on MFM | Photo Credit: Oyiza
Dakkada 2-0 MFM
Aniekan Ekpe’s penalty and a Musa Bashiru goal secured Dakkada a win against MFM.
The away side were left frustrated after two strong appeals for a penalty were turned down.
MFM were sharper from the off and until Ekpe converted a penalty just before the break, they looked likely to score the opening goal. Precious Roland could only fire into the side netting after being played in and Moses Adikwu failed to take advantage of a glorious chance, as he nodded straight at goalkeeper Loveday Anugbuo from point-blank range.
With five minutes of normal time left to play, Bashiru — after exchanging passes with fellow substitute Adewale Lasisi — rounded goalkeeper Kingdom Osayi and bundled the ball over the line to extend the hosts’ advantage.
Plateau United 1-0 Kwara United
Plateau United laboured to a 1-0 victory over Kwara United at the New Jos Stadium. Last season, the same fixture ended 2-0 in favour of the visitors.
This time, though, the Jos side were out to avoid a repeat of that disappointing outcome. They scored early — through Mohammed Zulkifilu, who nodded home Daniel Itodo’s long throw-in — and managed to hold on to the lead to secure all three points.
Gombe United had a goal controversially ruled out in their clash with Nasarawa United
Nasarawa United 1-1 Gombe United
Yusuf Abdulazeez’ stoppage-time goal handed Gombe United a well-deserved point at Nasarawa United.
Abubakar Abdullahi put the home side in front two minutes after the interval.
In the 86th minute, Abdulazeez thought he had equalized for his side, when he finished off Sani Suleiman’s delightful cut-back. However, his celebrations were cut short by the assistant referee’s flag. The AR1 deemed the ball to have crossed the byline before Suleiman got the cross in. Aliyu Zubairu’s men protested the decision, but the referee held his ground.
In the fourth minute of added time, though, the substitute struck again. And this time, the flags stayed down.
Shooting Stars 1-1 Akwa United
A stoppage-time strike from Ayo Adejubu forced Akwa United to a 1-1 draw at Shooting Stars.
The champions scored in the 28th minute through Utibe Archibong — who fired into the near post off Ubong Friday’s cross — and led for about an hour, before Adejubu drilled in from close range.
Rivers United 3-0 Katsina United
Ishaq Kayode’s and Chijioke Akunneto’s strike earned Rivers United their first win of the season.
Chijioke Akuneto won a penalty for the Pride of Rivers, after he was brought down by Frank Kappe inside the area. Kayode converted the spot-kick to take his tally to two for the season.
Twelve minutes into the second period, Kayode found the back of the net once more – this time from open play. The forward sent a volley towards goal, goalkeeper Godsgift Elkanah got a hand to it but couldn’t stop the ball from going into the bottom corner.
The Port Harcourt club wrapped up the tie five minutes later through Chijioke Akuneto, who timed his run into the box to deliver a low shot into the top corner, following a square pass from Ishaq Kayode.