NPFL Round 21 Group B review
The penultimate round of this season’s Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) took place on Monday, May 20th. Some teams looked to secure a playoff spot while others will try to not get relegated.
Lately in good form, Plateau United hosted the relegated Yobe Stars at the New Stadium in Jos. They had to wait for 30 minutes to get on the score sheet through Amos Gyang after he successfully converted a penalty kick.
Early in the second half, Yobe Stars went down to ten men which made the job even easier for the home team. They added another goal in the 83rd minute to secure the victory. Godwin Obaje scored this one.
Plateau United is in seventh place and a point above relegation with a solid goal difference. But they will have to sweat it out in the last round against Delta Force to be safe. With fourteen defeats, Yobe Stars are the worst team in the NPFL this season.
Lafia hosted the encounter between Nasarawa and Go Round at the Town Stadium. The match finished a draw even though the visitors desperately needed a win. We had to wait for 38 minutes before the visitors opened the scoring through Joshua Obem.
Most of the action happened in the second half. Firstly, Ibrahim Sunusi levelled the score in the 65th minute with his fifth goal of the season before Cheibonam Nwaogbaje gave Go Round the lead again in the 75th minute. But Abubakar Lawal broke their hearts with a goal in the fifth minute of stoppage time.
Next weekend they play fellow strugglers Gombe in a match which might directly decide who gets relegated and who stays up, or indeed if they will both get relegated. The win brought Nasarawa within three points of third-placed FC Ifeanyi Ubah and a chance of reaching the playoffs.
Carrying on their unbeaten run, Kano Pillars comfortably beat Delta Force at the Sani Abacha Stadium. Veteran Rabiu Ali scored his eighth goal of the season from the penalty spot in the 21st minute to open the scoring.
Two minutes into the second half it was 2:0 for the Pillars when Auwalu Ali Malam scored. Ten minutes later Yusuf Maigoro netted the third and final goal of the day. The host team are now just a point off Akwa United in first and have qualified for the playoffs. Delta Force is in trouble and will need a win next weekend to survive in the NPFL. However, things are so close in Group B that they even have a chance of reaching the third and final playoff spot if other results go their way.
Gombe gave themselves a stay of execution by beating Heartland with a single goal at the Pantami Stadium. The visitors held on for 73 minutes but couldn’t stop Yusuff Abdulazeez from scoring and giving his team an important victory. Next weekend both teams will have a chance to stay up. One of the two will certainly get relegated.
Eze Chibuike became the hero of Maiduguri after he scored the winner against the El-Kanemi Warriors on Monday keeping them in the hunt for the playoffs and the title. He scored in the 78th minute of the game to secure a win for his team after three straight losses. However, three teams behind them can theoretically still take that last playoff spot away from them. They need at least a point against Akwa United in the last round.
The leaders Akwa United didn’t look so secure in their 2:2 draw against Abia Warriors at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo. They had to fight back to earn a point. The visitors scored first through Ibrahim Olawoyin. He was on target on the 30-minute mark. But it took the hosts just a minute to respond after Godspower Aniefiok found the net.
Late in the second half, Samson Obi scored to give the Warriors their second lead of the night but again the home team responded with an equalizer put away by Ocheme Edoh in the 89th minute of the game.
Akwa United are in the playoffs, while Abia Warriors need to beat Kano Pillars in the last round to survive the relegation.
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