Kumasi Asante Kotoko managed to put their miseries behind them to share the spoils with Accra Hearts of Oak in their outstanding week 23 Ghana Premier League fixture at the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi yesterday.
Haven’t had the luxury to prepare adequately for this epic encounter, Hearts got the opener through striker, Kwame Kizito, before Saddick Adams equalised late in the game after a barren first half which saw expatriate Kotoko coach, Steve Pollack, returning to bench after surviving an accident together with some members of the team.
The Phobians took control of the match with some swift inter passing that nearly fetched them the first goal through striker, Patrick Razak, who proved to be a torn in the flesh of the well-guarded Kotoko defence marshalled by Awal Mohammed and captain, Amos Frimpong.
The Phobians came close to breaking the deadlock again in the 32nd minute when a Patrick Razak strike from close range was parried away by Kotoko’s agile goalkeeper, Felix Annan.
Hearts captain, Thomas Abbey, who was waiting to tap in from the rebound, got disappointed as Annan punched the ball to safety.
A midfield combination from Samudeen Ibrahim and Hearts of Oak’s top marksman, Winful Cobbinah, in the 40th minute could have unlocked the Kotoko goal area but a quick response from defender Awal Mohammed proved very vital to deny Hearts the lead. Kwame Kizito also wasted the chance to put Hearts ahead after shooting from close range into the waiting hands of Felix Annan.
Both teams had penalty appeals waved away by referee Dailly Gaba, who saw nothing wrong with challenges on Patrick Razak and Saddick Adams before the game went on recess.
Kotoko started the second half better than Hearts with Baba Mahama, Saddick Adams and Emmanuel Gyamfi all testing goalie, Ben Mensah, but Kwame Kizito against the run of play gave Hearts the lead in the 60th minute with a fine strike on target after he was put through beautifully by Fatau Mohammed.
Kotoko tried to provide answers after going down. They won two corners in succession but Hearts goalie, Ben Mensah, was equal to the task, producing great stops to deny the Porcupine Warriors. Kotoko continued to ask questions from the Hearts of Oak defence through ferocious strikes by Saddick Adams and Baba Mahama who were eager to get on the score sheet after failing to impress against Inter Allies in Tema.
While running against time, Coach Steven Polack realised his side were also running out of options and responded by bringing on striker Yakubu Mohammed and Sarfo Gyamfi who marked their inclusion with an added urgency to the Kotoko attack. The attack became more purposeful and it was one of those that resulted in a penalty in the 79th minute.
Amos Frimpong’s strike on target was adjudged to have hit the hand of Leonard Tawiah by referee Dailly Gaba who wasted no time to point to the spot. Saddick Adams made no mistake to capitalise on the resulting penalty and equalised with a great effort from the spot with less than 15 minutes remaining to end proceedings.
The goal propelled Kotoko to pile on incessant pressure and Hearts were lucky to escape with a point as Saddick Adams, in the final minute of added time, missed the match winner for Kotoko as he failed to find the net from a close range effort.
Kotoko’s next outstanding fixture in the Ghana Premier League will be against West African Football Academy at the Red Bull Arena in Sogakope.
…with Gottlieb Baako