Goals from Winful Cobbinah and Michel Helegbe in each half saw Accra Hearts of Oak held to a draw on home turf against their bitter rivals Kumasi Asante Kotoko. Cobbinah gave the Phobians the lead midway through the first half before a Tetteh Luggard blunder gifted Helegbe an equaliser.
First chance of the game came early to Hearts of Oak as Nuru Sulley saw his header flash just wide after a well worked free kick in the second minute of the game. Kotoko got their chance a few minutes later when a short corner resulted in a well weighted cross from Joseph Ochaya but Yusif Aziz failed to get over the header. Kotoko were almost presented with a gift in the 13th minute when Tetteh Luggard failed to get a hand on an out swinging cross from the right but Emmanuel Ansong spared his blushes before Bancey headed into the side net from the resulting corner.
The deadlock was broken in the 24th minute when Cobbinah lashed home from the edge of the box after the Kotoko midfielders backed off him. Harts of oak took control of the game after the goal as Kotoko struggled to gain any presence in the middle of the field. Hearts’ dominance showed in several forays forward as Mahatma Otoo got a couple of efforts at goal but the porcupine warriors managed to hold on and went into half time trailing by just the one goal.
Hearts of Oak started the second half like they had ended the first laying siege to the Kotoko half but failing to get a shot at goal despite some slick play by Winful Cobbinah. Kotoko hit back with an attack of their own with Uchaya instrumental but the Ugandan‘s cross failed to clear the first man before good play by Otoo and Kofi Abanga set up Moro Abubakar who hit a tame shot into Sulaima’s arms. Yakubu almost beat the sluggish Luggard with a weak effort from distance a couple of minutes later but the goalkeeper managed to just palm it away for a corner which was wasted. Seidu Bancey almost levelled the scores a few minutes later latching onto another corner but his flick went wide. Both sides then carved the opposition open with some good build up play. First mahatma Otoo and Emmanuel Ansong combined beautifully from a free kick to get the ball into the box past Sulaima’s but a ricochet off Abubakar was favourable to the Burkinabe who then sent Kotoko on the counter with Nuru Sulley having to provide the last ditch tackle to concede the corner.
It was then the turn of Luggard to provide the heroics as he stretched to tip Bancey’s goal-bound header over the bar. Tetteh Luggard’s failure to get to the crosses across the face of goal gifted Kotoko the equaliser in the 64th minute as he failed to make contact again after rushing out of his penalty area this time however Helegbe was on hand to punish the goalkeeper’s error nodding into the empty net to level the scores. Kotoko seemed galvanised by the goal, piling the pressure on the Phobians but they failed to make it pay before hearts warmed back into the game. Substitute Gilbert Fiamenyo was announcing his presence in the game and came close to restoring hearts of oak’s lead three times in a couple of minutes. First he lashed an effort from a tight angle against the crossbar before forcing Bobbie Ansah into a goal line clearance from a looping header. His third effort in those whirlwind couple of minutes was a sweet strike that was blocked by Rashid Sumaila.
There was drama in the final minutes as both sides went close to grabbing the late winner. Hearts of oak had the first opportunity after Ashitey Ollenu beat a couple of players before squaring the ball but there was nobody to finish it off. Kofi Nti Boakye and Seidu Bancey then went the other side with some slick passing but Richard Mpong’s chip went wide as the game finished with a point a piece for both teams.