Other Sports

Hearts, Kotoko Super Clash, deadlocked

The Porcupine Warriors Kumasi Asante Kotoko fought back in superb fashion to share the spoils with bitter rival Accra Hearts of Oak in Ghana’s Super Clash.

Hearts needed a win badly to allay fears of relegation that keep knocking at their door and there was no bigger motivation than beating arch rivals Kumasi Asante who for years have made the Accra Sports Stadium their fortress.

Winful Cobbinah set the hugely packed Accra Sports Stadium alight and the Phobians in party mood when his low ball from his cultured left foot left Soulama in post for Kotoko clearly beaten after 26 minutes.

And it was Hearts who were to increase the tally but Obed Ansah’s decision to lift the ball over the last Kotoko defender instead of laying a simple pass to his left meant the Porcupine Warriors would clear their lines.

That left Coach David Duncan livid from the touch line, shaking his head and when Hearts returned from recess without Ansah, one of their best performing players in the first half, one may assume that the singular act of over exuberance on the part of the diminutive midfielder may have cost him the final grueling 45 minutes.

But it was the visitors who started the game more composed and within ten minutes of play they won two corner kicks and a dozen other free-kicks all of which were criminally wasted.

Helegbe came close but his effort took a ricochet of the bar.

And when the Phobians took over the game, Kotoko looked emasculated. Moro Abubakar in a man-of-the-match performance combined beautifully with Obed Ansah in midfield and Mahatma in attack but the Kotoko defence was resilient.

In one of those breathtaking build-ups, Mahatma cleverly set Ansah up just at the edge of the 18 yard box but Ansah’s strike from his weaker left foot went miles away from the post.

Hearts went into recess looking buoyed and more confident. At least for the first half, they won the psychological battle engendered by a fanatic crowd who will curse at every mistake and cheer at every skill.

Kotoko returned with vigour. Michael Helegbe and Seidu Bancy kept the Hearts defence busy with some surging runs on the left flank. It was only a matter of time for the equalizer to come and when it did, goal keeper Tetteh Luggard made little effort to save the situation.

The Hearts goal keeper’s failed attempt to parry a deep cross from the left, meant Helegbe will leap higher than two Hearts defence men for a glorious header and an important equalizer in the 69th minute.

With a quarter of an hour left, Duncan brought in the bulky striker Gilbert Fiamenyo who tormented the Kotoko defence. His blistering strike from the 18 yard box shook the woodwork but there was nobody to connect the rebound.

The former Hearts of Lions striker again had his goal bound header cleared from the goal line but it was the Phobians who would be happy going home with a point thanks to Richard Mpong who failed to connect a last gasp Kotoko effort.

Mpong in a classic counter attack, left the Hearts defence hugely exposed but the striker’s cheeky flick whisked agonizingly wide.

One all it ended at the Accra Sports Stadium, a result which will make the two sides look back and rue the many chances missed.