Ismaila Sarki’s second-minute header was all that Niger Tornadoes needed to record 1-0 win against MFM FC in a Matchday 20 fixture of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) played at the Bako Kontagora Stadium, Minna on Wednesday.
www.npfl.ng reported that Niger Tornadoe’s safe-hands, Mustapha Aliko kept his place in goal for the Ikon Allah Boys while MFM dropped six players from the side that played a 1-1 draw against Remo Stars in Lagos on Matchday 19.
The hosts took an early lead after two minutes of play when Sarki’s header off a cross from Wisdom Jumbo beat MFM goalkeeper, Olatunji Odekunle.
Few minutes after the opening goal MFM were handed a bright opportunity to draw level but Aliko positioned himself well and saved Joshua Abah’s glacing header off a cross from Chijioke Akuneto.
The hosts had a chance to double the lead in the 28th minute when Jumbo tested Odekunle with a well-taken free kick but the goalkeeper was quick to punch the ball to safety.
With less than five minutes to wrap the first half, Akuneto was brought down in a dangerous position and the referee signalled for a free kick. Kenneth Elom took the free kick but his effort went wide.
On resumption, both teams made changes to their playing personnel in order to carry the day but all their efforts to score proved abortive. Tornadoes introduced Saib Dosso for Ahmadu Liman after 15 minutes in the second half while MFM substituted Simon ThankGod for Adeniji Adewole Kabir in the 62nd minute.
Adeniji made an early impact after his introduction when he tried a shot few metres away from Tornadoes’ box but Aliko calmly dealt with it to deny the visitors the equalizer.
Mubarak Said who earned the man of the match award with his fine display set Dosso up with a pass in the 81st minute but the latter failed to make his effort count in front of goal.
MFM were presented with last chance to draw level in added time but Akuneto who had the opportunity to score failed to pounce on a rebound by Adeniji inside Tornadoes box.
The match ended with Tornadoes claiming another home win as they hope to escape relegation. They now have 21 points from 20 NPFL games.
MFM FC head coach Fidelis Ilechukwu said at the post-match gathering that he expected Tornadoes to pose his team problems as they are hoping to escape relegation.
However he believes his team did put up a good show despite the 0-1 defeat.
“It was not a bad game. We knew it’s going to be a tough game as Niger Tornadoes are trying to escape relegation.
“I knew they will put in all their best which they did. It was the reflection of the victory for the Minna team. My boys did well but that second minute goal was what dashed our hope of picking another vital point on the road.
“We are still fighting hard to play in the playoff and hopefully we will achieve our aim as a team at the end of the season,” he said.