By Anwar Umar Larry from the Nana Fosu Gyeabour Park, Bechem
Accra Hearts of Oak were handed a surprising 1-0 defeat by Bechem United on Sunday.
The Phobians appeared nailed on to leave Bechem with a solitary point but a penalty awarded the hosts in the 75th minute overturned the game with Ahmed Toure blasting past Ben Mensah to hand the Hawks all the three points.
Hearts fought back in the dying embers of the game but the reaction had come too late with Bechem wasting time to the very end.
Coach Frank Nuttall made two changes to the side that lost to Ashgold in the last game. Patrick Razak missed out on the game after picking a muscle injury in the President’s Cup game with Kotoko.
Fatawu Mohammed was on national duty with the local Black Stars and he also missed out. In their stead came Cosmos Dauda and Anthony Nimo.
Hearts waltzed past Bechem in the first round, racing into a 3-goal first half lead and so their hosts tried to replicate that sprinting start by pushing the Phobians back.
Three good chances in the first 10 minutes signaled Bechem’s thirst for an early goal but the visitors’ defense stood their ground. First, Vincent Atingah had to clear the ball off the line following a well worked Bechem move and a few seconds later, Ben Mensah produced an outstanding save, stretching full length to grab Maxwell Frimpong’s arcing shot.
Toure tested goalkeeper Mensah again but the visitors eventually cleared from the ensuing corner kick.
After surviving the early scare, Hearts surged forward at the other end led by the lanky Kwame Kizito. The striker teed up Abbey in the box but the ball was quickly intercepted and cleared by Daniel Egyin. A few minutes later, Team Hearts were back again but Kassenu Ghandy’s inviting cross into the box was also cut out.
Leonard Tawiah drew the rage of the home supporters when he collided with Hamza Mohammed but though he had his eyes firmly fixed on the ball, his foot was raised a bit high. Referee S.B Bortey showed him the yellow card for the offense in the 11th minute.
The game flew from one end to the other with neither side having a grip but Cosmos arrived a fraction late when Abbey slipped him through with goalkeeper Ernest Adu pacing out to clear the ball.
In the 29th minute, Atingah dispossessed Toure in the center circle and quickly released the ball for his defensive partner Robin Gnange, who threaded the galloping Kassenu through down the channel. Three minutes later, Abbey intercepted Egyin’s back pass but though the angle was narrow, the skipper fired high and wide with no Hearts player in the box.
Hearts were slowly getting full control of the game but Akowuah could not keep his volleyed effort low after a wonderful combination that finished with the midfielder firing over the bar.
At the other end, right back Sylvester Owusu stealthily arrived in the box to meet a cross from the right but he also shot over after catching the Hearts defense unawares.
The half finished with Kizito firing wide from a tight angle after combining with Cosmos in the box whilst the Hearts No.14 drew a free-kick on the edge of the box in added time.
After the break, the hosts started the game quite brightly but Toure theatrically fell in the box when he was clean through and the referee rightly booked the Burkinabe for the dive.
In the 57th minute, Hearts caught Bechem on the break and they nearly took the lead from it. Abbey headed out a cross in the box before combining with Malik Akowuah. Akowuah released the ball quickly to Cosmos who took the Bechem defense on a race from his half. Bombing forward, the Hearts no.14 raced all the way into the box but he checked to cut back only for the defender to dispossess him. The striker was unaware of the Bechem keeper’s attempt to race off his line.
The game swung in Hearts’ favor but most of their attempts forward got whistled for offside with the grating incident being substitute Isaac Mensah’s defense splitting pass for Anthony Nimo being flagged.
Mensah had just replaced Kassenu but he was at the wrong end of a bad tackle from Akwasi Acheampong. The defender also went into the book.
In the 75th minute, from a basic cross into the box, Akowuah attempted to control the ball with his shoulder but the overzealous S.B Bortey pointed to the spot. Toure made no mistake from the spot, sending Ben Mensah the wrong way to put the hosts in front.
Hearts tried to react after going behind but Bechem were in no mood to make the game flow as they wasted time to the very end.
Reaction needed in midweek and the Phobians must go all out to get a win against Berekum Chelsea.
HEARTS XI vs. BECHEM: Benjamin Mensah, Anthony Nimo (85 Paul Acquah), Kassenu Ghandy (68 Isaac Mensah), Richard Akrofi, Vincent Atingah, Robin Gnagne, Leonard Tawiah (91 Agbashie Dotse), Malik Akowuah, Kwame Kizito, Cosmos Dauda, Thomas Abbey (c ).
Unused substitutes: Evans Gbeti, Robert Addo, Samudeen Ibrahim, Daniel Kodie
Booked: Leonard Tawiah (11), Robin Gnagne (83)
BECHEM XI vs. HEARTS: Ernest Adu, Sylvester Owusu, Asante Agyemang (c ), Akwasi Acheampong, Daniel Egyin, Danso Akoto, Sadick Hadji, Hamza Mohammed, Bashiru Abdul (84 Solomon Mensah), Maxwell Frimpong (66 Nana Manu), Ahmed Toure
Unused substitutes: Prince Asempa, Kwaku Osei Bonsu, Yaw Abotsi, David Tefler, Noah Neequaye
Booked: Ahmed Toure (48), Akwasi Acheampong (74)
MATCH REFEREE: S.B Bortey