Ashgold players jubilating with the cup after beating Hearts on penalties
Accra Hearts of Oak and Obuasi Ashgold sold out a classic display of soccer artistry in the second leg of the SWAG-SIC- H.P Nyemitei cup match at the Ohene Djan Stadium yesterday, giving strong indication of what to expect in the 2010/11 football season which kick start on Sunday.
And after failing to find the back of the net in both legs, the glittering trophy was presented to Ashgold after dramatically pulling a 3-2 win on penalties to halt the Hearts pre-season run.
The feat, carved by a determined and inspired team, could have been sealed in regulation time had the Miners forwards, Frederick Quayson, Emmanuel Adjetey and Edmund Owusu Pepprah been more purposeful upfront.
Hearts lacked the shine and cohesion that saw them conquer every opposition in the just ended GHALCA Top 4 competition. While it became obvious that the inclusion Kofi Asiamah, Yufa Zugah and Abraham Annan in the starting team affected their play in midfield, the central defence where Osei Bonsu and Mohammed Saeed featured leaked badly, forcing Sammy Adjei to make many vital saves to keep them in the game.
With virtually no supply from the midfielders, the new Hearts talisman, Osei Pele was forced to withdraw to deep midfield, rendering the attack non-existent for greater periods of the game.
During that period, Ashgold, driven by Sampson Cudjoe in midfield and Mohammed Aminu clearly dictated the pace, making several inroads into the Hearts territory but always found it difficult to unlock the Hearts defence.
On two occasions, Quayson and Addo came face to face with Sammy Adjei after breaking through a porous offside trap but unbelievably wasted them to the chagrin of their few supporters that traveled all the way to Accra.
In the 20th minute, a two-man combination between Aminu and Adjetey earned them a corner in the 18th minute but the resultant danger was cleared by the Hearts defence.
The Miners resorted to long drives but found Sammy Adjei a tough customer as he pulled some spectacular saves to drum home his readiness for another Black Stars call-up.
Luck smiled on Hearts in the 24th minute when referee Gyasi ignored a clear penalty in favour of the ‘Aboakese’ lads after Quayson who found himself in scoring range was impeded.
It attracted the anger of head coach David Duncan who protested vehemently, making various gestures to the fourth referee with the Hearts fans booing at him.
Under intense pressure, Coach Paa Kwesi Fabien reshuffled his midfield and brought on Uriah Asante for Asiamah.
That substitution impacted in the latter stages of the half as Hearts mounted a late rally, earning two quick corner kicks on the stroke of half time but failed to beat the Ashgold defensemen to end the half goalless.
Hearts resumed the second half more aggressive and made the first incursion under two minutes but an opportunity which fell to John Antwi was blown away.
Five minutes after, they went under pressure again as the ‘Aboakese’ lads surged forward in droves with a 51st minute grounder from Mohammed Aminu being saved by Sammy Adjei in goal for Hearts.
Pepprah wasted another glorious chance in the 56th minute when he failed to bury the ball from close range.
And minutes after minutes as the Miners continue the search for the opener, Coach Fabien brought on Douglas Nkrumah for Abraham Annan with Duncan responding with the substitution of Henry Entsil and Adjetey with Michael Boakye and Frimpah Jonas.
But try as they did, none of them found the net despite the many attempt made at goal.
In the shoot-outs, Ashgold trailed the Phobians from the second kick and even blew away a final opportunity only for Daniel Asamoah to nail them to take home the trophy.
Sampson Cujoe, Frimpah Jonas and Daniel Asamoah scored for the Miners while Henri Traore, quayson and Mohammed Aminu wasted theirs.
Tetteh Nortey and Uriah Asante gave Hearts a false hope after brilliantly converting their kicks but two brilliant saves by Adjei was not enough to save them from defeat as Owusu Sefa, Yufa Zugah, Osei Pele and Wilson Andoh wasted their kicks in succession.