Story: Kwame Asare Boadu, Kumasi
A DRAMATIC save by Burkinabe goalkeeper Abdulai Sulama, two minutes inside injury time, saved Asante Kotoko from dropping two vital home points as the Porcupine Warriors coasted to a 2-1 victory over Sekondi Hasaacas in their Onetouch Premier encounter at the Baba Yara Stadium today.
The visiting team who were down 2-0 had pulled one back in the 90th minute and were on the verge of equalising within the two minutes time added on, but Sulama rose to the occasion to deny substitute Isaac Donkor who fired towards goal from just eight yards out.
It was a close shave, and when FIFA referee Mercy Tagoe ended proceedings immediately, the fans filed out of the stadium quietly, some of them thanking God and the keeper for the near escape.
Featuring Baba Adamu “Armando” in his maiden competitive game on his return to Kotoko, expectations were very high for the home fans but Kotoko struggled to punch holes in the Hasaacas rear where Paul Mensah, Paul Aidoo and Daniel Ampadu stood supreme.
Armando seemed to have lost his creative skills in the game as his passes most often went astray, and could hardly tackle effectively, making his partnership with leading striker Eric Bekoe in the league ineffective.
Even though Armando was the architect of the first goal fetched by Francis Akwaffo, his overall input could not convince trainer Bashiru Hayford who rightfully pulled him out for the gangling Kwabena Yaro in the 67th minute.
Twice in the 48th and 49th minutes Bekoe was presented with great opportunities to put Kotoko ahead, but he messed up.
Kotoko were full of fight on restart and deservedly opened the score when Akwaffo raced unto an Armando pass to fire home at the near post.
Hasaacas reacted with fluent attacking play but were unlucky to pull even as Daniel Acquah scooped the ball off the Kotoko goal line with the keeper sprawling on the turf.
Good old Stephen Oduro and Nana Arhin Dual came on for Jordan Opoku and Prince Amponsah respectively for Kotoko while
Donkor replaced Kennedy Nti for Hasaacas but it was Kotoko who profited from the changes immediately as they piled up pressure to score the second goal from former Hasaacas defender Samuel Inkoom who raced from the back to finish off a build-up from the left.
When all looked like Kotoko running away with a two-goal lead, Hasaacas pulled one back from a brilliant free kick from some 20 metres.