Tottering Hearts Still A Handfull For Kotoko
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 also ended in a barren draw. After Referee William Agbovi’s whistle started the two giants into action, it was Kotoko who first went on the offensive and raised high hopes of a battering their tottering opponents. Kotoko for almost nine minutes of the early exchanges went on rampage, harassing 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 clear his goal area of the danger, George Asare only managed to brush the ball back into play from the goal line but only as far as an advancing Don Bortey who 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 Soulama managed to parry his effort to corner with the resultant kick going waste. In the 24th minute, Hearts’ Hassan Mohammed was shown 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 recording many infringements with Hearts the worse 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 Abdoulaye Soulama 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. On resumption 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 Emmanuel 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 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 all 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 had anticipated a sweet victory over their arch rivals remained rooted in their seats while others left with demonstrable disappointment. They were hoping their side would whitewash the tottering league defenders who have found the going too tough this season.
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