Hearts Hold Kotoko To A Drawn Game
Accra Hearts of Oak held Kumasi Asante Kotoko to a pulsating 3-3 drawn game in their outstanding second round Onetouch Premier League match played at the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi on Sunday. The first round encounter at the Ohene Djan Sports Stadium in Accra ended goalless. From an early indication of high spirits of victory by Kotoko after referee William Agbovi had set the tone for the two teams, it was Kotoko who pinned their opponents into their half compelling the Phobians to concede four free- kicks but the ‘Porcupine Warriors could not utilise any of the opportunities. Kotoko for almost nine minutes of the early exchanges went on rampage into the Hearts vital area with the visitors playing it hard to hold them at bay and it came as no surprise when Kotoko got the opener in the 10th minute when Kwadwo Poku soared to nod home for Kotoko after Jordan Opoku’s in-swinger from the left wing. Hearts accepted the challenge and had a free kick in Kotoko’s vital area and Bernard Don Bortey expertly took the kick and in an effort to save the goal bound shot, George Asare pushed the goal bound shot on the goal line but an alert Don Bortey moved ahead to boot the ball into the net for the equalizer in the 14th minute. Bortey was on target again in the 18th minute to cause havoc but goalkeeper Abdoulaye Soulamana managed to parry his effort to corner with the resultant kick being wasted. In the 24th minute, Hearts Hassan Mohammed was flashed the yellow card for rough play on Francis Coffie. Kwadwo Poku missed the post narrowly in the 37th minute with a shot from a free kick taken by Stephen Oduro. The game from then became a robust affair with many infringements by the two teams with Hearts the worst offenders but it was the Phobians who took the lead when Ekow Ghansah outwitted Richard Manu from the centre circle and in a fast move, raced with the ball to beat the onrushing goalkeeper to plant the ball gently in the net in the 41st minute. Kotoko pulled even in the 43rd minute through aspiring goal king Eric Bekoe with a right footed grounder from Kwadwo Poku’s pass in the box sending goalkeeper Saani Mohammed sprawling. Just on the stroke of the half, Hearts made it 3-2 through Francis Bossman’s 35 metre powerful free kick which beat Soulama who was found wanting. On resumption of the second half, Kotoko replaced Soulama with Eric Nii Baah and came to level terms in the 50th minute through Stephen Oduro whose terrific right footer hit a defender and deflected into the net. Determined to carry the day, Kotoko improved on their game as they brought on veteran Osei Kuffour for Francis Akwafo in the 52nd minute but this did not bring any change in their game plan as they continued to squander chances with the heat on Hearts. Hearts also brought on Ishmael Addo for Bossman in the 60th minute but this could not change the tide as Kotoko who continued to exhibit good football and to exert pressure on the Phobians in an effort to carry the day but to no avail. In the 75th minute, Hearts pulled out Ghansah for Kwabena Boafo in an effort to absorb the pressure with Don Bortey receiving a yellow card in the 76th minute, and another to Kofi Abanga in the 77th minute and Stephen Offei in the 78th minute within three minutes all going to Hearts for rough play. Kotoko nearly took the leader in the 88th minute but Stephen Oduro and Eric Bekoe messed up the chance after goalkeeper Saani failed to make a first time save of the ball and Bekoe who got to the loose ball in the vital area of Hearts pushed it to Oduro who shot feebly into the waiting hands of the keeper to the chagrin of their supporters. At the end of the match, Hearts supporters went into wild jubilation whilst the heavy presence of Kotoko fans who anticipated a sweet victory over their arch rivals remained rooted in their seats while others left with their heads bowed down in despair at the drawn game.
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