Accra Hearts of Oak and Kumasi Asante Kotoko played a 2-2 drawn encounter at the Accra Sports Stadium yesterday the first leg of the UNA-GH-Goldman Capital Football for Peace, Justice and Development match.
The thrilling encounter was, however, marred by the controversial decisions of referee Joseph Lamptey whose judgment on incidents turned the previously calm atmosphere into a chaotic one as Kotoko supporters’ nearly re-enacted events of the infamous May 9 disaster.
Following a contentious penalty awarded to Hearts when Isaac Mensah made the most of a challenge from a Kotoko defender, fans reacted in a manner that required a combined force of Police and Military personnel to the Reds side of the May 9 Stand where bottles and other plastics were thrown on the field to avert trouble.
When calm was restored, Vincent Atinga scored expertly to put the Phobians on top.
But the controversies did not end.
Just five minutes after the goal, Hearts scored what appears a valid goal following a counter attack that saw Kwame Kizito outrun his markers to deliver a tailor-measured cross to Cosmos Dauda who slotted home from close range.
But when the Phobians rose to celebrate the goal, Lamptey judged the goal was scored from an offside position, sparking another round of fierce and intense debate among supporters with those at the VIP Wing not spared people had to be separated from what would have led to a fisticuff.
On the stroke of half time, Lamptey awarded Kotoko a penalty when Hearts skipper and Man-of-the-Match award recipient, Inusah Musah handled the ball in his goal area.
Surprisingly, Kotoko’s skipper and premier penalty taker, Amos Frimpong delivered a lousy kick into the arms of Hearts goalie, Evans Agbeti.
Kotoko improved in the second half and had much of the exchanges despite the occasional threats Patrick Razak and Isaac Mensah posed.
Hearts brought on Ashittey Ollenu in the second half with Kotoko responding by throwing on Sadofo Halifa and Kwame Boateng, changing the trend in favour of the Reds.
Boateng was always a problem for the Hearts defense with his brilliant control and cut-ins but had to wait till the 71st minute when substitute Halifa scored with a curling shot.
The attacks continued with Kotoko earning a corner in the 76th minute which was taken and created a melee which Frimpong atoned for his penalty miss by firing straight into the net for the leader.
Kotoko’s celebration was, however, short-lived when Mustapha Essuman’s fierce shot drove through a packed Kotoko area and zoomed straight into the net for the equalizer.
By Andrew Nortey