By Peter Amine/Jos
Defending champions Plateau United FC of Jos vaulted to the top of Nigerian Professional Football League table on Wednesday, after defeating visiting Rangers International of Enugu 1-0.
The match at the New Stadium in Jos, was a rescheduled MatchDay 9 fixture of the NPFL.
The champions now have 18 points, one point more than Kano Pillars and Enyimba, who were tied atop with 17 points after 10 matches.
The champions jumped from their sixth position to the top, overtaking all the pretenders, from Yobe Desert Warriors, who were fifth, Rivers United 4th, Akwa United 3rd, Kano Pillars and Enyimba, both tied as number one.
The Champions can further separate themselves from the pack, if they win their tenth match, at a date to be announced later.
Chizoba Amafule gave Plateau United the lead in the 83rd minute, when he headed in after a lob by Ingbede. Rangers keeper, Thomas was beaten to the far right for the lone goal that took the champions to the top of the table.
The first half was marked by the injury sustained in the 35th minute by Rangers forward Aguda, after a bad challenge from Plateau’s Golbe.
Aguda was taken out of the field.
Four minutes after, Plateau goalie Okiemute Odah stretched his full length to keep out Bright Silas’ attempt for Rangers, an effort that would have given the visitors the lead.
The first half of the match ended goalless as both sides failed to undo each other.
In the second half, the hosts mounted pressure on the visitors, such that the latter were made to seat deep in their own half of the field as they conceded free kick after free kick.
In the 65th minute, Plateau made two tactical substitutions, introducing Peter Eneji to replace Osanga, and Abdulwaheed replacing Omoniwari. To pile more pressure on the visitors, Ibe Johnson also replaced Ambrose in the 75th minute.
Two minutes after, the substitutions drew the result expected as Chizoba Amaefule headed the champions in front.
Rangers made their own substitutions later on, but they were not so effective.
After the match, Rangers Chief Coach, Gbenga Ogunbote said that his side was unlucky to go home without at least a point.
“We did all we could to get at least a point but lost it at the last minute. It is unfortunate but it is one of those things in football.
“We will take the positives from the game and make amends where necessary,”he said.
Kennedy Boboye, Plateau United Chief Coach, said that his side played against a very technical team and was happy that they got the three points.
Boboye said the three points were very important points to his side and would boost their morale as they travel to play on Tuesday in CAF Champions league.
Amafule the scorer of the goal that gave United the victory, thanked God for giving them the three points in the match.
He said the team was tired after the long journey from Cameroon, where they beat Eding Sports in CAF Champions League
He said the team would do their best when they travelled to Tunisia for another CAF Champions League match against Etoile du Sahel.