Accra, August 14, GNA - Dansoman-based Liberty Professionals became the first team to qualify to the second stage of the Ghana League Clubs Association's (GHALCA) Knockout League at the expense of Berekum Arsenal with a 2-1 win in their crucial tie at the Accra Sports Stadium on Saturday.
The "Scientific Soccer lads" struck in each half to win 4-2 on aggregate having recorded a similar margin in the first game played in Berekum two weeks ago.
The controversy-infested match, which was supervised by "notorious" Cape Coast-based referee Essel Walker, saw both teams selling out a scrappy first half but with an improved second half performance to the almost empty stadium.
Referee Walker who left the pitch under Police escort after the game is best remembered for his role in the last controversial league game between Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko played at the same venue. The referee it would be recalled awarded a well criticized second half goal scored by Yussif Chibsah to Kotoko after ignoring a glaring foul on Hearts goalkeeper, Eben Dida prior to the goal.
Liberty's first goal from Agyemang Hanson in the fifth minute separated both sides in the first half that saw each team displaying nothing more than amateur football characterized with faulty passes and midfield incompetence.
It was however, the visitors, Alex Asamoah who gave Liberty a wake up call when levelled up for his side two minutes into the second half with a long curly drive that caught goalkeeper Patrick Antwi stranded in his stride.
Inspired by the goal, Arsenal took total dominance of the game by capturing the midfield where Eric Kwakye, Issah Alhassan and Frank Asowah's network clipped the wings of the Liberty midfield pair of Komlan Amewu and Osei Agyemang.
Having enjoyed the best of the exchanges, the scanty supporters that patronized the game saw another goal as a matter of course, but keeper Antwi stood between Arsenals and their much- awaited goals till the end. Coach Selas Tetteh seeing danger for his side, effected three changes on the trot by bringing on Eric Bekoe, Osei Akoto and Mark Amofah, the eventual scorer of the match winner to strengthen the middle.
The substitution worked to perfection as Liberty tilted the pendulum of action in their favour in the last quarter of the game and Amofah made good use of a cross from the left flank in one of their numerous onslaughts to record the second goal.
The goal that was met with protest from the Arsenal bench came at a time an Arsenal player was fouled in their vital area and the referee allowed play on that resulted in the winning goal. The Arsenal's officials therefore rightly faulted the referee for ignoring the infringement that gave an advantage to Liberty to get the winner.