A calamitous Soulama Abdoulaye own-goal just before half time handed Asante Kotoko their 17th away victory in Ghana Premier League history over arch rivals Hearts of Oak in Accra.
The porcupine warriors appeared the less fancied side to carry the day as both sides entered their 54th historic meet in Accra due to their sharply contrasting form in the previous nine games of the 2015/16 Ghana Premier League.
Mother luck however smiled on Kotoko who were then down to 10 men after left-back Edwin Tuffour Frimpong was shown two successive yellow cards in a space of five minutes for reckless tackles on Hearts winger Isaac Mensah.
The 32-year-old Burkinabe international goalkeeper miskicked into his own net a harmless back pass from defender Richard Akrofi with Kotoko youngster Dauda Mohammed guarding the ball to ensure it entered the twine.
Hearts came close to scoring the opener in the 9th minute when an Owusu Bempah free kick was met by a powerful Samuel Yeboah header which beat goalkeeper Ernest Sowah but hit the crossbar. Bempah however failed to continue the game due to an injury to his left leg and was replaced by Kennedy Appiah.
Hearts went close again with Cosmos Dauda firing a dangerous low drive, which an alert goalkeeper Ernest Sowah parried away.
Isaac Mensah’s influence in the game began to bear as his trickery got the better of Tuffour Frimpong on three separate reckless tackling occasions – two of which warranted the flashing of yellow cards by referee Awal Mohammed to the young left-back.
There was no protest whatsoever from the Kotoko players, which underlined the correctness of referee Awal Mohammed, and a crestfallen Tuffuor walked off to the dressing room aided by equipment officer Issah Amadu.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, Kotoko remained composed and pushed for the opener.
Cosmos Dauda nearly opened the scoring in the 38th minute. In a solo effort on the left wing where he turned in his marker, Cosmos fired dangerously but Ahmed Adams’ timely clearance saved the Porcupine Warriors.
The first half appeared to be destined for a scoreless draw, but a drama which would be the moment of the match soon followed.
Defender Richard Akrofi sent in weak back pass to his goalkeeper, Soulama. With only an advancing Dauda Mohammed in his sight, Soulama miskicked into his own net, to the amazement and disappointment of the Hearts fans.
— Ghana Premier League (@GHPLLive) May 2, 2016
Soulama was in tears and the Hearts fans had been subdued by the vociferous reds.
Hearts of Oak returned from the break with an increased tempo, surging forward on a number of occasions for the equaliser.
Just when the Phobians thought they were on the ascendancy, Soulama’s afternoon went from bad to worse.
The former Kotoko goalkeeper’s misery was compounded after he was shown the red card for bringing down Kotoko’s dangerman Dauda Mohammed just outside the box.
It was a dramatic twist to the game and Hearts coack Kenichi was forced to bring out striker Samuel Yeboah for goalkeeper goalkeeper Akurugu.
The red card spurred on Kotoko into more raids, and each of their daring attacks were cheered on loudly by their ecstatic fans.
As the clock ticked towards the end, Kotoko became more compact and resolute in defence as Hearts probed for the equaliser. The Porcupine Warriors stood firm to once again deny Hearts victory over them in Accra in six years.
Hearts missed the chance to topple Wa All Stars who lost to Medeama on Sunday. The Phobians remain two points behind the leaders on 18 points. Kotoko, with the win, climb to 9th position.
Hearts XI vs Kotoko: Soulama Abdoulaye, Fatawu Mohammed, Owusu Bempah (11’ Kennedy Appiah), Richard Akrofi, Robin Gnange (c ), Sarbah Laryea (62’ Ollenu Ashitey), Eric Kumi, Mustapha Essuman, Cosmos Dauda, Samuel Yeboah (65’ Samuel Akurugu), Isaac Mensah
Unused substitutes: Vincent Atingah, Paul Acquah, Foovi Aguidi, Musah Ibrahim
Kotoko XI vs Hearts: Ernest Sowah, Amos Frimpong, Nana Frimpong, Ahmed Adams, Evans Quao, Theophilus Nyame (57′ Kojo Poku), Sarfo Gyamfi (75′ Akwasi Nti), Stephen Nyarko, Dauda Mohammed (86 Emmanuel Asante), Obed Owusu, Eric Donkor
Unused substitutes: Felix Annan, Atta Kusi, Michael Yeboah, Henry Ohene-Brenya.
MATCH REFEREE: Awal Mohammed.