Inter Allies and Accra Hearts of Oak played out a goalless draw game in the opening match-day fixture of the 2016/17 Ghana Premier League at the El-Wak Stadium on Monday.
The Phobians were unable to record their fourth consecutive victories on the opening day fixture of the Ghana Premier League but still extended their unbeaten run on the opening day to eight games.
Assistant Coach Henry Lamptey handed debuts to five new players. Marquee signing Malik Akowuah, Anthony Nimo, Joshua Otoo, Alex Kouassi, and Benjamin Mensah were given their first start in Hearts colours.
Inter Allies also maintained a core of their team from last season, with Ropapa Mensah, Isaac Osae, and Frederick Yamoah leading their three-man attack.
The hosts started the game quite brightly with Ropapa and Osae going close in the opening three minutes. Malik Akowuah responded for Hearts but his shot went narrowly wide.
Hearts slowly got into the game but they were dealt a blow when captain Gnagne pulled out injured. A few minutes later, Akowuah also took a knock which inhibited his play in the remaining minutes of the game.
Allies were unlucky when they saw a header crush off the bar but goalkeeper Mensah reacted very well to save the rebound in the 33rd minute.
Two minutes later, the Phobians shook the Allies rearguard. Striker Dauda weaved his way past his marker only to be brought down close to the box. Otoo elected to effect the free-kick and attempted to catch Kwame Baah unawares at his near post, but the keeper quickly reacted by pushing the ball back into play. However, Kouassi could not finish off the rebound.
The game suddenly opened up on the stroke of halftime with Allies drawing out a save from Ben Mensah, who clutched Ropapa’s cushioned header. At the other end, the Phobians went on a swift counter-attack with Patrick Razak creating space for himself in the box, but he could not apply the finish.
Allies started, once again, brightly in the second half but they could not create any good chance. The visitors were now finding it difficult to string passes in the final third and it kept inviting pressure onto the back-four.
Coach Lamptey threw on Agbashie Dotse and Daniel Kodie as the Phobians sought a way to find the opener but it was the former who came closest to breaking the deadlock after a well worked move. Nimo picked out the striker with a lovely cross, but Dotse’s volleyed effort rose over the bar.
Hearts survived a self-inflicted scare at the back when Akowuah nearly deflected a low cross past Ben Mensah as Allies threatened to find the opener.
The home side finished the game strongly but they could not go past the resolute Hearts defensemen.
Hearts XI: Benjamin Mensah, Anthony Nimo, Joshua Otoo, Robin Gnagne, Inusah Musah, Malik Akowuah, Isaac Mensah, Samudeen Ibrahim, Cosmos Dauda, Alex Kouassi, Patrick Razak
Used substitutes: Vincent Atingah (17 Robin Gnagne), Agbashie Dotse (63 Alex Kouassi), Daniel Kodie (75 Samudeen Ibrahim)
Unused substitutes: Samuel Akurugu, Fatau Mohammed, Thomas Abbey, Paul Acquah
Booked: Inusah Musah (17), Samudeen Ibrahim (55)
Allies XI vs Hearts: Kwame Baah, Paul Abanga, Abass Mohammed, Wahab Ackwei, Uriah Kporvi, Hasmin Musah, Isaac Twum, Samuel Bekoe (61 Prince Baffoe), Isaac Osae (59 Frederick Boateng), Ropapa Mensah (84 Samuel Kinney), Frederick Opoku Yamoah
Substitutes: Kotei Blankson, Shaibu Haruna, Prince Baffoe, Samuel Konney, Stephen Jolley.
MATCH REFEREE: Issaka Afful
Asst.1: Kwasi Brobbey
Asst.2: Rahman Salifu
Fourth: Uriah Glah
Match Commissioner: Umar Teni
By Anwar Larry Sadat/Hearts of Oak