NPFL Week 5: Enugu Rangers go top, Bendel Insurance falter

NPFL Week 5: Enugu Rangers go top, Bendel Insurance falter
Credit @EnuguRangersFC Twitter

The three games played on Saturday, October 28, 2023, in the NPFL saw Enugu Rangers go top of the table after a convincing victory over rivals Kano Pillars.

With nine matches on the cards in the NPFL Matchday five, there were some tasty ties, and Saturday served exciting outcomes.

The three ties on Saturday were Enugu Rangers hosting Kano Pillars, Bendel Insurance at home to Akwa United and Plateau United as guests of Gombe United.

There were two wins and one draw in a positive start to the weekend.

Enugu Rangers go top of the NPFL

NPFL fixtures Enugu Rangers vs Doma United action for Awka township stadium
Credit @EnuguRangersFC Twitter

With three games on Saturday, Enugu Rangers had the opportunity to go top of the NPFL table, albeit temporarily, and they took advantage of it.

Their stay at the top of the table is dependent on the outcome of the Rivers United vs Lobi Stars tie on Sunday.

The Flying Antelopes made short work of Sai Masu Gida in Awka with a comprehensive 4-1 victory, but it was not without a few hiccups.

Kano Pillars had not scored any goal on the road this season, but they changed that quickly against a Rangers side who have conceded in every game it has played this term.

How it happened

Enugu Rangers thrash Kano Pillars 4-1
Credit @Rangers_Intl Twitter

In the 13th minute, Mohammed Yakubu unleashed a rocket that beat goalkeeper Japhet Opobo.

Enugu Rangers were calm and quickly settled into their game as they probed at a Kano Pillars defence that was creaking. It was not long before they got rewarded for their efforts.

After a foul in the box, Godwin PObaje converted the penalty to restore parity in the 20th minute. From then on, the game belonged to the home side.

The first half finished 1-1, but the Enugu Rangers upped the ante in the second half. After nine minutes into the second half, the home side struck again.

A beautiful interchange of passes between Isaac Saviour and Kazeem Ogunleye ended with Saviour putting it in the back of the net.

More was to come, with Enugu Rangers dictating the pace. Three minutes after their second goal, the Flying Antelopes made sure of the game.

Chukwudi Nwaodu was on hand to smash in a rebound to give Enugu Rangers a 3-1 lead.

The fourth goal came much later. In the 63rd minute, Chukwudi Nwaodu got his brace to put the game beyond Sai Masu Gida.

Kano Pillars thus returns to Kano without a point on the road this season. Except Lobi Stars beat Rivers United, Enugu Rangers will finish the weekend top of the table with ten points.

Bendel Insurance falter at home to Akwa United

Players in action in the Nigeria Professional Football League insurance lose ground to Enugu Rangers
Credit: @NPFL_News X

The Benin Arsenal had every opportunity to close ranks with the teams at the top of the table, but they blew it.

Bendel Insurance hosted the bottom of the log side, Akwa United. A win would have taken them to nine points and second behind Enugu Rangers, but they could not make home advantage count.

Akwa United came determined to go home with at least a point, and they were successful, as they held the Benin Arsenal to a 0-0 draw.

Insurance is missing the services of their top scorer, Imade Osarenkhoe, as they struggle for goals this term.

Against the Promise Keepers, they laboured all evening to no avail, but they can take solace in the meanness of their defence.

They remain the side with the best defence after conceding one goal against Gombe United in a 1-0 defeat.

With this result, Insurance remains fifth on the log, but results on Sunday can change their status.

Gombe steals a late win against Plateau United

As expected, the tie between Gombe United and Plateau United was feisty.

Both sides, with even records, had little to separate each other as they sought supremacy. Gombe United struggled to make home advantage count, as Plateau United made them labour all evening.

The tide swung in the favour of the home side, as a late penalty gave them victory. The referee awarded the penalty after substitute Eric Oguocha tripped Aliko Bala.

Four minutes into added time, Sadiq Shuaibu scored the decisive penalty to give the Savannah Scorpions three points and take them to third on the log.

Both teams eventually finished the game with ten men, as the referee punished dangerous fouls.

Lobi Stars can either go top or second on Sunday after their tie against Rivers United. In the meantime, Enugu Rangers can enjoy their stay at the top.

https://twitter.com/NPFL_Live/status/1718305276468801569

This article was most recently revised and updated 8 months ago

Chooka Izuegbuna is a Sports Journalist with 20 years of experience in print, TV and Radio. He has worked with some of the top media houses in Nigeria, including NTA Network, Channels TV, TVC, Silverbird TV and MITV. Chooka broke his sports reporting teeth with The Game Football Weekly in 2003 as a cartoonist and reporter. Chooka has a passion for football and has been a fan of Enugu Rangers (over 30 years) and Real Madrid (Since 1996).