It was nervy, looked improbable at the beginning but AshantiGold managed to pull it off, earning a 4-2 victory over Elmina Sharks at the Len Clay Sports Stadium.
The Miners were low on confidence ahead of the game. Burkinabe side Salitas had eliminated the Obuasi-based side from the CAF Confederation Cup preliminary round the previous week with a 2-1 aggregate scoreline.
In the first half, the hosts were lethargic, showed poor decision making and lack of concentration which led to a 1-0 deficit at the half time whistle.
The Fearsome Sharks looked the better side in the first period, showing higher probability in finding the net despite having less possession.
About 300 fans were in attendance for this one following the ease of COVID-19 restrictions. They were left in disbelief as goalkeeper Robert Dabuo’s howler gifted Benjamin Bernard Boateng the opener in the third minute.
Milovan Circovic, needing a miracle at the restart, made some changes. He brought on Amos Nkrumah and Kwadwo Amoako, who he later described as ‘pacy’ and ‘energetic’ players to change the game. That decision paid dividends.
There was a sense of renewed belief from fans after referee Emmanuel Tampuri blew the whistle for the restart. The fans showed even greater optimism when Appiah McCarthy stood behind a free-kick which was about 23 yards from goal.
McCarthy rewarded viewers with a perfectly taken set piece in the 47th minute.
After the equalizer, the hosts piled on more pressure and attempted more crosses, a shift in the shoot on sight strategy they deployed unsuccessfully in the first period.
One of them found Dacosta Boadu who beat his marker and headed it past the opposition goalkeeper Joseph Essam and into the net in the 62nd minute.
Six minutes later, Dacosta found the net again using his head. This time, it came from a corner. The mood at the stadium became a joyous one with supporters cheering every attacking move employed by the hosts.
A mistake from the AshGold defence left Benjamin Tweneboah with Dabuo at his mercy. He finished with aplomb in the 82nd minute and the fans expressed fear of seeing yet another stalemate.
The Miners quenched all doubts after David Abagna turned in a deflected free kick just before the final whistle was blown.
AshantiGold have not lacked in goals, netting eight of them in three games. Unfortunately, they have failed to avoid them at the other end, conceding six which equates to two goals conceded per 90.
Currently, only Elmina Sharks (8) and King Faisal (7) have conceded more and both teams have played at least one more match than the Obuasi-based side.
Milovan noticed the problem as well and expressed the need to work with the defenders.
“We must work hard with [the] defenders. I [will] train some defenders and after some games, we should be okay,” he stated in the post match press conference.
The win has seen AshantiGold move up to 7th on the log having played a game less.
If the 2015 winners desire to beat 17 other teams to the trophy, solving their defensive issues should treated with the utmost importance.