Monday, January 10, 2011

Incident-filled victory

Crown starting XI; [Back row, LtoR] Ratana, Tiny, Sopanha, Visokra, Vanthan, Dara, Sothearith [front row] Sokumpheak, Sophat, Rathanak, Pheng
Phnom Penh Crown meted out a footballing lesson to the province novices of Kompong Thom yesterday but not without incident in their second Hun Sen Cup Group D match played at the Kompong Thom stadium. Crown cruised to a 6-1 victory but were aided by a rash challenge by the home goalkeeper Heang Seng Hong after 21 minutes, that saw him sent off and Crown's Chim Rathanak rushed to hospital nursing a head injury. Thankfully, the winger appears okay though he will have a head scan just to make certain of no lasting damage, after he was on the receiving end of a high-footed challenge by the goalkeeper. Both sets of players squared up for a few seconds immediately following the incident even though referee Khuon Virak brandished the red card without hesitation. Kompong Thom's skipper Lida Prathna donned the keeper's gloves and a few minutes later pulled off a superb one-handed save to deny a downward header from Tieng Tiny. Two goals in the last two minutes of the first-half put Crown in command. Sun Sopanha claimed the first with a neatly-taken sidefooted shot after a one-two with Sok Pheng sent him clear. Moments later, Tieng Tiny headed in a Chea Virath corner to put Crown in the driving seat.
Four minutes after the restart, Hong Ratana was tripped as he broke into the box and Kouch Sokumpheak fired home the rebound after stand-in keeper Prathna blocked his penalty kick. Sun Sopanha turned provider for Sokumpheak on 53 minutes after he raced clear onto a Ratana pass and unselfishly squared for his teammate to finish with ease for his sixth goal in two matches. Sokumpheak is a native of Kompong Thom province and his elder brother Kouch Sovireak was playing in attack for the provincial team. Sokumpheak fired against the woodwork before Hong Ratana netted on 68 minutes with a neat finish after good approach work by Chan Dara and Sok Pheng.
Crown will be without Sun Sopanha and Chan Chaya for their final group match on Tuesday after both players picked up needless yellow cards and an automatic ban. Eight minutes from time, Sok Pheng got on the scoresheet when he headed in off the underside of the crossbar after Chan Chaya's floated cross picked him out in acres of space. A booking for Tieng Tiny with five minutes to go was compounded when he caught Chay Em Dara in the final minute, was shown a second yellow card and then a red by Khuon Virak, and the striker got up to fire the resultant penalty past Hong Visokra to give the home side a consolation goal. It was only the second time Visokra had touched the ball in the match. Both teams ended the match with ten players.
Crown now go into their third and final group match on Tuesday against Baksey Chamkrong without three players who will miss the game through suspension, concerns over Chim Rathanak's health, as well as already shorn of Khim Borey and Suong Virak by the football federation's decision to impose a ban on them in the cup competition.
Crown line-up: Visokra, Dara, Vanthan Tiny, Sothearith (Sovan 72), Sopanha (Chaya 59), Sophat, Ratana, Rathanak (Virath 29), Pheng, Sokumpheak. Subs not used: Bunchhay, Narong, Narith.
Chim Rathanak receives attention to his head injury from physio Chhin Sophorn
Kompong Thom line-up before the start
Kouch Sokumpheak (left) and his elder brother Kouch Sovireak after yesterday's match

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