A well-drilled Elmina Sharks side produced some brave performance to hold Hearts of Oak to a breathtaking 1-1 draw in their 12th week tie at the Accra Sports Stadium yesterday.
Dennis Mensah stunned the home crowd with a cracking left-footed non-drop opener for the tactically richer Elmina boys, just after the half-hour mark before Kofi Kordzi pulled off the redeemer, five minutes later.
The hugely-improved Sharks side was chasing their third straight victory on the road – having kayoed then leaders Medeama SC and Ebusua Dwarfs.
It was the reason they played with supreme confidence, verve and swagger – and, but for want of self-belief and conviction sometimes, Yaw Acheampong’s side could have added Hearts to their growing list of away victims.
Hearts began the afternoon in a whirlwind fashion, desperately looking for an early lead for motivation, but solid work from Edmond Asiedu, Richard Mpong and skipper Daniel Obeng kept danger man Joseph Esso quiet.
Esso had to be replaced by William Dankyi in the 58th minute.
Hearts’ Congolese utility player Hokemba Ovouka, who cropped up at different positions, nearly gave Hearts the opener in the 14th minute when he scampered down the left before unleashing a powerful left-footer which goalkeeper Lord Martey only managed to push just past onrushing Kordzi.
A minute later, it was the turn of Martey’s opposite number – Richard Attah, to parry Augustine Owusu’s fierce effort to corner.
With the game swinging from one end to the other with Hearts finding it difficult to unlock their opponents’ backline, the impatience of the home fans grew into frustration.
But their frustration was to turn into heartbreak when Mensah stole the lead.
Mohammed Issaka had sent a sweet corner into the Hearts defence that met a feeble clearance which flew deliciously onto Mensah, who without hesitation, let go a blinder that tore into the left corner – leaving the goalie marooned.
But Sharks’ celebration lasted only five minutes when Kordzi outjumped his markers to head home a teasing corner from Emmanuel Nettey.
The cheers that greeted the goal was almost earsplitting, but the rest of the action was only punctuated with ‘oohs’ and ‘aaahhhs’ from the despondent home crowd who jeered their players away after the thrilling afternoon.
BY JOHN VIGAH