By Anwar U. Larry from the Zaytuna Park, Kasoa.
Accra Hearts of Oak eked out a 1-0 victory over Accra Young Wise to progress to the last 8 of the 2016/17 MTN FA CUP competition on Sunday.
Young Wise striker Abdul Rahman Abdullah scored an own goal in the 35th minute to put Hearts on course for the lone goal victory.
The host did not succumb all too easily and they were even unlucky not to snatch a draw late in the game when they headed a good cross onto the post.
Hearts, on the other hand, were not at their scintillating best but they did just enough to overcome the exuberant Wise side.
Head Coach Frank Nuttall named an unchanged side from the team that beat Bolga AllStars in the last game.
Winful Cobbinah was welcomed back to the team after duty with the Black Stars but he was named on the bench together with the back-from-suspension Leonard Tawiah.
The Phobians had to wait till the sixth minute of action to get their first shot on target. It came after a well worked move but with Wise clearing the ball out, Akrofi pounced on the loose ball to sting the palms of goalkeeper Osei Bonsu who pushed the ball back into play for Atingah to connect. However, the flag had long gone up.
At the other end, Wise should have taken the lead but though Charles Manu beautifully teed up the lively Nana Kwame Antwi, the winger fired high and wide with Ben Mensah at his mercy.
The hosts dictated play and held the bulk of possession however, they could not make it count when they carved Hearts open in the 22nd minute. Abdul Rahman nutmegged Robin Gnagne in the box with Isaac Antah reacting quickest to clip the ball past goalkeeper Mensah but luckily for Hearts, the ball sailed inches wide.
When Wise seemed to have pitched camp in the Hearts half and were riding on a false sense of superiority, the Phobians hit the jugular from a setpiece. Fatawu's arcing cross sent the pigeons flying in the Young Wise box with striker Abdullah unluckily wrong-footing his keeper and heading the ball into his own net.
Hearts were fortunate to get the opener. But they were back again on the attack with Patrick Razak shooting straight for the keeper to gather on a quick break.
Wise weathered the storm of going behind against the run of play and continued to press Hearts. However, they could not come close to finding the equalizer as they went into the break a goal down.
After the break, Akowuah was unlucky to receive a yellow card when he attempted to clear an aerial ball with his foot. His marker had eluded him and jumped to face the ball only to get hit by Akowuah's foot but Referee Timothy Obuobisa deemed the accidental contact a bookable offense.
Bulky midfielder Nana Nyanteh blasted the awarded free-kick just inches over the bar midway in the Hearts half.
Coach Nuttall threw on Tawiah for Daniel Kodie as Hearts sat back and soaked the pressure from Young Wise before hitting on the break.
On the hour mark, Hearts' game plan nearly worked with skipper Abbey cushioning the ball down for Kassenu on a break, but the wing-back's volleyed acrobatic effort missed the near post by a few centimetres.
12 minutes later, Kassenu was unlucky to see his looping header sailing over the bar after goalkeeper Osei Bonsu failed to intercept a Fatawu cross.
The Young Wise technical handlers threw two players on as they sought ways to get an equalizer. Coach Nuttall reacted by taking off Razak for Cosmos Dauda in the 78th minute.
However, Young Wise were denied clear cut chances by the resolute Hearts back-three but they nearly caused a major scare when they headed a cross off the post from a set-piece in the dying minutes of the game.
In the end, Hearts did not really get out of gear but they had done just enough to progress to the last 8 of the MTN FA CUP.
Hearts XI vs YOUNG WISE: Benjamin Mensah, Fatawu Mohammed, Ghandy Kassenu, Vincent Atingah Adae, Akrofi Richard, Robin Gnagne, Malik Akowuah, Daniel Sarkodie (53 Leonard Tawiah), Thomas Abbey (c), Patrick Razak (78 Cosmos Dauda), Kwame Kizito
Booked: Patrick Razak (32), Malik Akowuah (52)
GOAL: Abdul Rahman Abdullah (35) [own goal].
YOUNG WISE XI vs HEARTS: Osei Kwadwo Bonsu, Elvis Boadi, Nana Yaw Ocran, Kwasi Owusu, Fuseini Mutawakilu, Godson Nana Nyanteh, Nana Kwame Antwi, Charles Manu (77 Manuel Suku), Abdul Rahman Abdullah, Isaac Antah (71 Ernest Osei Pumpini), George Asante Adjei
Unused substitutes: Prince Sarfo, Kassim Abdulai, Prince Ampo, Botchwey Bismark
Booked: Elvis Boadi (39)
MATCH REFEREE: Timothy Obuobisa