NPFL23: Lobi Stars defeat champions in five-goal thriller, go six points clear in Group B
Rivers United fall behind with a game in hand
Shock Group B pacesetters Lobi Stars continued their impressive form in NPFL23 as they edged Rivers United 3-2 in their rescheduled meeting to open up a six-point cushion over the champions. The Makurdi-based club have played a game more than their rivals in the league this season.
After a win for Lobi Stars at the weekend, their first of the second stanza of the season, they went up against Rivers United with only three points separating them.
Rivers United were dealt an early blow as goalkeeper Sochima Victor was sent off for handling the ball outside his box following a rush of blood in the 26th minute. Liberian winger Albert Korvah had to be sacrificed, with backup goalkeeper Darlington Ovunda making his way onto the pitch in his stead.
Despite being a man short, it was Rivers United who drew first blood in the 64th minute through midfielder Farouk Mohammed’s free-kick, his first in the league this season.
It did not take long for the hosts to respond, though, and Abba Umar scored his sixth goal of the season to draw them level in the 68th minute. Former Kwara United ace Wasiu Alalade scored his first goal for Lobi Stars since his mid-season switch to put them ahead in the 87th minute before Nyima Nwagua seemingly stole a point for Rivers United with a 90th minute equaliser.
There was more late drama in store as former Rangers star Elijah Ani headed home the winner for Lobi Stars in the sixth minute of added time to seal their hard-earned win.
Lobi Stars picked up an impressive win that takes them to the summit of Group B with 26 points from 13 games. Rivers United are a big further behind in second place with 20 points from 12 games. Both sides will be looking for a place in the Super Six billed for Lagos as the season gradually reaches its conclusion.