It was billed as payback time for Accra Hearts of Oak and the Phobians roared sprightly to the tag as they sent All Stars packing to Wa empty-handed with a 2-1 win in their Premier League game at the Accra Sports Stadium.
Thomas Abbey gave Hearts the all-important winner to break down the dogged resistance of a Wa side that had humbled them 3-1 at the same venue last season, on their way to annexing their maiden premiership Golden Fleece.
The goal, important as it was, quenched the frustration of the home crowd who had to endure more than 270 minutes of football without a win. Suddenly, the distressed faithfuls were heard vigorously singing the famous club rendition of “Arose, Arose, Arose …”
A supporter’s voice pierced through the din of excitement that was now hitting the roof.
“We have finished them at long last,” the ecstatic middle-aged Phobian screamed out.
Full-of-beans and hungry to quash an embarrassing chain of draws, Hearts opened fiercely from the get-go and created some half chances that provided the team with a deep feeling of self-belief and assurance.
For some reasons, the visitors decided to lay back a bit and operate on the break. It was not the style of All Stars who have three outstanding games in hand – partly as a result of their discomforting CAF Champions League campaign that saw them exit at the preliminary stage to Al Ahli Tripoli.
But as they waltzed into their elements, especially in the last quarter of the all-rainy afternoon, All Stars were a delight to watch. They were now looking like the side that clinched the Premier League Holy Grail last season.
Displaying a collective spirit on a soggy pitch, Hearts stole the lead in the 25th minute through their Ivorian import Alexandre Kouassi who muscled off All Stars’ defender, Nana Aduku Addai, off the ball and unleashed a right-footed corker that exploded behind goalkeeper Rashid Seidu.
The stadium rose to celebrate the supremely-crafted goal by the Ivorian, who could have added a second in the 34th – but saw his free-headed effort go wide.
The Wa boys returned from the break with renewed vigour and fought for an equaliser that was effortlessly gifted them by goalkeeper Ben Mensah whose howler was crashed home by Richard Arthur in the 83rd minute.
But the ‘Never Say Die’ spirit of the home team was in full glow as Abbey popped up with barely four minutes from the end to head home Kouassi’s sublime cross from the right for the deserved winner. The celebration of the goal was massive on an afternoon of great football by the two sides.
By John Vigah