Asante Kotoko maintained their supremacy over Ebusua Dwarfs after sealing a hard-fought 2-1 win yesterday at the Cape Coast Sports Stadium to preserve their top spot position and also take their points build-upto 44 points after Match-Day 24.
The Porcupine Warriors made it two straight wins over the Cape Coast side, having earlier notched a narrow 1-0 victory in their first round clash, courtesy Christopher Nettey’s 71st minute strike in January.
In Cape Coast yesterday, outstanding skipper Emmanuel Gyamfi grabbed two goals – one in each half- with Dwarfs’captain Dennis Akorsah stealing the initiative earlier.
Kotoko established their intentions of picking the maximum points on the afternoon. As early as the sixth minute, Mudasiru Salifu zoomed pass two of his markers, but his effort was blocked; and minutes on Dwarfs’ goalie Razak Issah was called to duty, responding to a crucial save from Imoro Ibrahim. It was a good omen for Kotoko.
However, it was sheer beauty to watch when the home team gradually warmed themselves into the game as they threatened the goal area of Kotoko and earned a couple of set pieces – forcing goalie Razak Abalora to pull some fine saves to deny Dwarfs’ Ellia Kofi.
Dwarfs maintained the intensity and deservedly snatched the lead in the 24th minute through Dennis Akorsah.
The skipper’s drive outside the penalty box flew into the top right corner with no chance for goalie Abalora, sending the entire stadium into raptures. But the celebration was ephemeral.
Not disquieted bythe goal, Kotoko kept their composure and pressed for the leveler which came only five minutes later through impressive winger Emmanuel Gyamfi who soared above everybody to nod home from Nettey’s teasing cross.
Bent on increasing the tally, Kotoko Coach Mariano Barreto replaced poor-performing Patrick Asmah for Osman Ibrahim. His introduction added more potency to the attack as Fabio Gama and Emmanuel Gyamfi both tried from close range but went off target.
Dwarfs’ Liventus Arthur had the last chance in the first half with a decent left-footed drive which was cleared to safety by the Kotoko backline to end the half at 1-1.
“We could have killed the game in the first half and it is unfortunate it ended this way,” lamented Dwarfs coach Ernest Thompson, in a post-match interview.
After recess, Kotoko grew in confidence and continued to mount pressure in their search for the second goal; and their efforts paid off five minutes into the second half asGyamfi again pounced on a goalkeeping slip-up from Razak Issah to register Kotoko’s second and a personal brace.
The 2-1 lead descended with loud cheers from the Porcupine faithful as they goaded the team to dash for the third goal which almost dropped from the foot of Gyamfi after being set up by Brazilian import Fabio Gamo.
The last 10 minutes was well dominated by Kotoko who blew off a number of chances that fell to Andy Kumi and Osman. All the same, it was quite a sterling Kotoko performance as theyjealously held on to the top spot.
“I’m happy with the performance of my boys but we could have scored seven goals in the second half going by the statistics of the game,” Barreto told the media after the entertaining afternoon.
BY LINUS SIAW NARTEY