With no fans admitted, it was a Super Clash with asterisks. Both sides squandered spot-kicks. And in the end Asante Kotoko drew 0-0 with perennial rivals Hearts of Oak at the Accra Sports Stadium on Sunday, 28 February 2021, in a delayed Ghana Premier League fixture.
The Porcupine Warriors enjoyed a late rally and probably were unlucky not to have found the back of the net
After just three minutes, Kotoko were handed an opportunity to take Kwame Poku clattered inside the box by Nuru Sulley and the referee Selorm Yao Bless rightly whistled for a penalty.
Opoku quickly elected himself to take it from 12 yards and the club’s top scorer dragged it to the left but Richard Atta dived to the right spot and grabbed it firmly.
Patrick Razak was put through by a threaded ball from Kojo Obeng Junior and the fast-paced winger curled it past Abalora but was denied by the side post.
However it would not have counted anyway because the assistant referee had his flag up for offside.
Umar Manaf was put through by Frederick Ansah Botwe but the youngster’s powerful shot at goal was rising. Then seconds later, Hearts missed a glorious opportunity.
Obeng Jnr was gifted a ball by Mubarik Yusif but the striker could not round up Abalora whose stretched left leg blocked a low shot.
Hearts were on the front foot again and this time Fatawu Mohammed made a surging run on the right and floated in a cross inside the box but Obeng Jnr was a fraction late to connect home the opener.
After the half hour mark, Latif Anabila powered his way to the edge of the box from the left side and drilled in a cut back pass which found Naby Keita inside the area but the Guinean import skied his effort.
Razak weaved his magic with some trickery and slalomed past Christian Netty and Mubarik Yusif before hitting the bar line but his connection was palmed by Abalora at the near post.
Hearts of Oak passed to get the second half started and were brisk to launch an attack spearheaded by Razak who got fouled at the edge of the Kotoko area for a dangerous free-kick which Raddy Ovouka curled over the frame.
Kotoko continued to crack at the back and this time a Manaf Umar long pass found Razak who raced forward before firing off target.
The Porcupine Warriors fired a warning shot five minutes into the second half when Keita’s long drive from some 20 yards was stopped by Atta with a double save.
Brazilian Fabio Gama produced a lovely little flick to put Gyamfi through on goal and the latter pulled the trigger but it was low and feeble to beat Atta who collected it coolly.
Substitute Isaac Mensah darted inside the Kotoko box to meet Botchway’s pass but his cut back ball was intercepted.
Abalora gifted Hearts of Oak a penalty has he cynically brought down Isaac Mensah but the Ghana international goalkeeper produced a brilliant save to stop Mensah’s shot.
Four minutes later, Benjamin Afutu, unmarked in the box, applied a header to corner kick but it went straight to Abalora.
Kotoko found their rhythm afterwards as the introduction of Mudasiru Salifu freed Gama upfront and he began to torment the Hearts backline with his skills and know-how.
Six minutes later, Kwame Opoku worked his socks off but bullying his way from the left flank and cutting inside to unleashed an angled powerful shot which rattled the cross bar. Hearts were lucky.
Gama made another promising move and burrowed into the box but was outmuscled by Nuru Sulley and Mohammed Alhassan before going down inside the box but the referee waived play to continue.