Kumasi Asante Kotoko ended their winless streak in the MTN Top Four tournament when they chalked a lone goal victory over archrivals Accra Hearts of Oak at the Ohene Djan Stadium, Accra on Sunday.
Substitute Kwabena Yaro slotted home the match winner on the 84th minute in the ultimate clash of the annual pre-season competition.
The result handed Kotoko their only victory of the competition which also served as a sweet revenge after they suffered a similar fate at the hands of their bitterest rivals, the Phobians during the previous meeting at the Baba Yara Stadium, Kumasi four weeks ago.
Even though the outcome of the clash was little enough to lift them from the depth of the standings, it served as a great relief to the followers of the Kumasi-based Club who had endured a five-match winless streak amidst their ‘big’ signings.
For once, the usual high patronage that characterizes matches involving the two sides was missing as the attendance appeared ordinary.
Kotoko who finished the game with 10-men after captain Osei Kwame was given the marching off order for a second yellow card offence after impeding Hearts striker Samuel Afum in the 64th minute, started off on a slow pace in search of their rhythm.
Hearts had the upper hand in the early exchanges of the first half but it saw the Hearts goalie Laud Quartey who had to deny Kotoko’s captain Osei on two occasions from getting the opener from his volleys.
The home side resumed strongly into the Kotoko half with several raids led by returnee Bernard Don Bortey.
Four minutes past the hour mark, Hearts striker Afum tore apart the Kotoko defence after diminutive midfielder Obed Ansah had put him through but over elaboration by Afum saw Osei impeding him with only Kotoko’s goalie Eric Nii Baah at his mercy.
Osei was given the marching off orders but the Phobians failed to make the most of their numerical advantage.
Six minutes to time, Kotoko broke the deadlock through substitute Yaro who notched home after Hearts goalie Quartey fumbled with Ofosu Appiah’s free-kick.
The burly Yaro who earlier saw his goal bound header kiss the goal line back into play managed to beat Quartey with the rebound to send their supporters in wild jubilation.
After the goal, the game turned physical with the Phobians mounting pressure for the equalizer. The efforts almost yielded dividends three minutes from time but Appiah was on hand cleared the ball off the goal line from a goalmouth melee for Kotoko to cruise to victory.
It was the second successive time Kotoko has beaten Hearts at the Ohene Djan Stadium after a similar result in the 2008/2009 Glo Premier League clash.
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