Karela United yesterday forced a bitter pill down the throat of the Porcupine Warriors, Kumasi Asante Kotoko as they run away with a 1-0 victory in their match day 15 fixture at the CAM Park in Aiyinase.
Kotoko had hopes of joining the top three clubs on the betPawa Ghana Premier League (GPL) table with a win they seriously desired.
But Karela showed a tough and rugged character; resisted the flaming arrows thrown at them by the Asanteman warriors and escaped with a solitary win courtesy Samuel Atta Kumi’s strike from the spot on the hour mark.
Kotoko’s confidence soared ahead of the game, perhaps due to Karela’s unimpressive run lately plus the quest to close up on the top four clubs.
But Karela had a plan of their own which they kept closely to the chest.
Secondly, with a new coach, Shaibu Ibrahim Tanko, in the saddle, each player felt the need to impress to get into his good book.
But Coach Tanko also knew the mood in camp would be if he were to kick start his Karela campaign
on a winning note and over Asante Kotoko.
These factors contributed in the all-combative display from the host that saw them match Kotoko boot-for-boot in every department of the game although the Reds enjoyed greater part of the exchanges.
Coming from a narrow defeat to Great Olympics over the weekend, Tanko reshuffled the pack and handed starting berths to the likes of Emmanuel Owusu Boakye, Isaac Donkor and Samuel Atta Kumi who emerged their hero.
Kotoko were in the driving seat from the onset; trying several tricks to unlock the Karela defence but struggled to do so with strikers Steven Mukwala and Eric Serge Zeze coming under heavy ‘policing’.
That notwithstanding, they had a few decent chances that could have change their fortunes but failed to find the back of the net.
Karela, though appeared defensive, also made a few incursions as the game became a ding dong affair.
The closest the Porcupine Warriors went was a 24th strike from Enoch Morrison who saw his effort hit the goalpost.
The tempo increased in the second half as both sides pushed more men forward, hoping to find the opener.
At this stage, Karela passed the ball beautifully and seemed comfortable on the astro turf.
They put Kotoko under pressure at this stage and forced the defenders to make wild clearances.
Under such circumstances, Kotoko’s Sheriff Mohammed brought down an advancing Karela attacker, an incident the referee did not hesitate to point to the spot to award a penalty.
With that opportunity to make the headlines, Attah Kumi stepped forward and buried firmly in the net to give his side the opener.
For the rest of the 30 minutes to play for, Kotoko laboured to find an opening in the Karela rear but the host defended gallantly and thwarted every effort until the final whistle went to create a frenzied atmosphere for the home fans.
The win moved Karela to 14th position on the table and served as a boost for their relegation fight.
BY ANDREW NORTEY