Hearts of Oak continued with their disquieting string of reverses in the betPawa Premier League, when they were beaten 2-1 by RTU on a highly dramatic afternoon at the Accra Sports Stadium yesterday.
Goals from Abdul Manaf Umar and Stephen Badu Dankwa made the week-33 encounter tick for the visitors who have now executed a season double over the Phobians – leaving the home team all to fight for in their final game to avoid the drop.
Characterised by two second half expulsions – one to each side, a couple of consultations between referee and assistant, contentious disallowed goals and delightful football, the afternoon could not have asked for more.
Yesterday’s game and result was a tear-away from what Hearts produced at the same venue last season, when they clattered to an embarrassing 1-4 scoreline to RTU – after selling off a run-of-the-mill performance.
Ahead of the engaging tie yesterday, Hearts had picked only three points in their last five games, easily throwing away what many initially thought was going to be a ferocious chase for a title they surrendered to sworn rivals Asante Kotoko – last season.
Truth be told, yesterday’s performance was a marked improvement of what they had of late, laboriously thrown at their embarrassingly tongue-tied fans – most of whom have decided to stay away from their matches.
RTU, themselves, were initially not as sparkling and clinical as the last time they visited. If they had, they could have stunned Hearts with the opener as Abdul Manaf Umar squandered a gilt-edged opportunity in the 29th minute after outwitting an offside trap with goalkeeper Richard Attah at his mercy.
Manaf, a former member of the Oak family, was responsible for Hearts’ defeat when the two sides met in the first round in Tamale as his 83rd minute range settled matters.
Interestingly, the last time they visited on the final day, the Tamale lads needed victory desperately to remain in the top flight. And they got it!
Perched at the 12th position on 43 points – and with just two games remaining, RTU were again not safe from danger – heading into yesterday’s assignment. They knew their survival depended on the outcome of the day.
It was the reason the visitors threw everything into the afternoon for the result with ginger-haired striker – 22-year-old Mohammed Alhassan Mankuyeli, posing constant danger to the Hearts’ backline.
However, Hearts struck the initiative after 35 minutes through DR Congo import Linda Mtange, who majestically rose to control Suraj Seidu’s spectacular pass in the area, before letting go a right-footed blinder to the left corner – beyond the reach of goalkeeper Yaw Osei. It was a sweet finish – and a justified lead into the break.
The two teams returned from the cessation with renewed vigour, but just as it seemed as though it was the Phobians who were hungrier for the points, Manaf Umar grabbed parity after poking home a rebound – goalkeeper Attah failing to make a firm grasp of Alhassan
BY JOHN VIGAH