Substitute forward Isaac Mensah for the second time in three days rescued three points for Hearts of Oak as they laboured to a 1-0 win over Liberty Professionals in a local derby at the Carl Reindorf Park, Dansoman in a match week 16 Ghana Premier League (GPL) fixture.
Mensah who came on as a substitute on Sunday to score a late winner for Hearts in their 3-2 defeat of Ebusua Dwarfs, in similar fashion reduced Liberty to the same fate.
His quick reaction in the 74th minute to chip Raddy Ovouka’s low-drive beyond the on-rushing Liberty goalie Kofi Baah settled the scrappy tie in the ‘Phobians’ favour.
The win confirmed Hearts dominance in the derby having won at the same venue 2-1 in the truncated league last year in January.
The win would be a boost for interim coach Samuel Nii Noi and his charges as they prepare to face Kumasi Asante Kotoko on Sunday in Ghana football’s biggest game.
At the onset, the home side proved their readiness to carry the day by finding loopholes to exploit in the Hearts set-up. Though that proved unsuccessful, they kept the Phobians on the back foot and ceased control of the game.
Unfortunately, their blunt attack could not punish the Phobians with talisman Abraham Wayo the worst culprit as he blew the home side’s best chance of the first-half off the mark.
After recess the Phobians injected more urgency and aggression into their play and this nearly paid off when four minutes into the half, Striker Victor Aidoo forced a good save from Baah.
To curb the danger, Liberty coach David Ocloo withdrew Michael Nii Laryea for Ahmed Satar to stabilize the wobbling backline.
In the 54th minute, Liberty nearly stunned Hearts when goalkeeper Richard Attah left his line to clear a danger from a Liberty move but his clearance fell onto the path of a Liberty attacker who lobbed wide.
However, Coach Nii Noi proved the better tactician on the day when he pulled out struggling Kwadwo Obeng Jnr for Isaac Mensah in 70th minute.
For minutes after his introduction, Mensah connected Raddy Ovouka’s low drive beyond Baah.
The game became a ding-dong affair afterwards with Liberty’s best chance to equalise falling in the dying embers of the game to substitute Godfred Atuahene who blasted wide to deepen his sides struggle with relegation at 16th position.
BY NANA BENTSI ODURO