By Akyereko Frimpong Manson
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Ghana Premier League giants Hearts of Oak continued their pre-season campaign with a narrow 2-1 defeat against Tema Youth at the Tema Park on Wednesday afternoon.
Youth under the tutelage of owner-turned head coach Winfried Osei Kwaku took a 2-0 first-half lead with Ekow Benson scoring from a free kick before Bright Adjei added the second 7 minutes before the break.
Youngster Kenneth Okoro climbed off the bench to register the face-saving goal in the 82nd minute.
Herbert Addo paraded a strong side featuring Ivorian Robin Gnagne who partnered 'captain' Philip Boampong in central defence while Sumaila Atia was assigned the holding role.
Winful Cobbinah, Selasi Adjei and Emmanuel Hayford were the other known names in the squad for the game while Kofi Abanga started the game from the bench.
Youth, who were relegated from the Ghanaian top-flight two seasons ago, had influential midfielder Ekow Benson in their line-up.
Hearts started the game off with brilliant stringing passes and dominant display but it was the host who drew first blood. However before Youth got their opener, it was Emmanuel Hayford who showed enough venom and intent after flashing two drives at goal.
The goal arrived in the 18th minute. Hearts new-boy Isaac Oduro felled a Youth defender just outside of the box and the center referee marched him off for the foul.
Ekow Benson stepped up and bent a magnificent ball into the net of Kingsley Kissi. A goal that proved a measure of the class that won him a Ghana debut almost six seasons ago against Brazil.
Hearts tried to reply immediately with Selasi Adjei and Cobbinah both missing narrowly. In the 31st minute, Cobbinah came ever close to pecking the scoring. Adjei performed an artistic pirouette just outside of the box and released the ball to Cobbinah but his effort was tucked off the line for a corner.
Bright Adjei ghosted into the box, beating the offside trap to slot beyond Kissi for the doubler in the 38th minute.
With Herbert Addo's bubble almost burst by the second-tier side, he made a double change just before the break with triallist Chibsah and Baadu changing Maxwell Boakye and Philip Boampong.
The game changed into a ding-dong battle and Hearts were unable to make any real impact until the arrival of Kenneth Okoro, the youngster blasting a dynamite of a shot into the top root corner in the 82nd minute to halve the scoring.