Saturday, May 14, 2011

Crown avenge defeat

San Narith, owner of a 25-yard screamer, gets treatment at the end of the match
Crown's starting XI. Back Row LtoR: Njoku, Sopanha, Tiny, Dara, Obadin, Bunchhay. Front Row: Narong, Narith, Chaya, Sokumpheak, Sothearith
Phnom Penh Crown gained sweet revenge for their Hun Sen Cup exit at the hands of BBU with a comfortable 3-0 win this afternoon, to remain in pole position in the Metfone C-League, going into a mini-break. For an hour of the game, there was only one team in it with Crown dominant and two goals to the good. BBU passed their way back into the match but found Peng Bunchhay in commanding form in the Crown goal, repelling their advances before a 3rd goal finally sank the students, even though Crown played the last 20 minutes with ten men. Crown's head coach Bojan Hodak declared himself a happy man. "A good result for us, especially as we gave no chances away until we were 2-nil up. It was important for us not to concede, for the 4th straight game, and physically we looked good and strong. I'm happy." Crown took the lead in the 8th minute when Sun Sopanha's free-kick ended up in the back of the BBU net with Odion Obadin claiming the last touch after he challenged Tuy Sam in the box. However, the match commissioner gave the goal to BBU's Heng Sokly after the ball ping-ponged around the box and nestled in the corner of the net. Dark clouds and a heavy rainstorm quelled the action until a Kingsley Njoku back-heel nearly brought the Nigerian striker a goal. Though Crown had the upper hand, BBU's Nuth Sinoun fired weakly into Bunchhay's arms after the ball skidded past Obadin before Njoku poked another shot wide a few minutes before the break.

Crown skipper Thul Sothearith picked up a nonsense booking just after the break for kicking the ball after the referee's whistle, which would come back to haunt the defender later on. A few minutes later San Narith flashed a 25 yard drive inches over the cross-bar, which proved a sighter for Crown's second goal on 56 minutes. The same player took a short Sopanha free-kick into his stride, looked up and let fly with a screamer from the same distance, which arrowed into the top right-hand corner for one of the goals of the season. I hope the national team coach, watching in the stands, took note. On the hour, BBU had their first real opportunity to reduce the deficit. Chan Dara headed out weakly to Chhun Sothearath and his well-struck shot was brilliantly tipped over the bar by Bunchhay. A minute later, Bunchhay juggled the ball onto the bar and collected at the 2nd attempt after Oum Chandara's cross bounced off Obadin's knee. Njoku burst past three defenders and into the box but screwed his shot wide, just before his team went down to ten men, with the dismissal of Thul Sothearith. A late tackle on Heng Sokly merited a 2nd yellow and a red card for the Crown skipper. However, BBU were unable to take advantage and on 79 minutes, and against the run of play, Crown netted a third. Sun Sopanha took aim with an inswinging free-kick only to see Nhim Sovannara head it powerfully past his own goalkeeper and hold his head in his hands. Another match commissioner decision gave the goal to Sopanha, which was laughable. In the last minute, Crown sub Suong Virak was denied when he poked the ball towards goal from point-blank range only for Sos Proshim to miraculously fist it over the bar, before Bunchhay rounded off his best display this season with two more smart low-down saves to deny Pech Sina. It was another win for Crown, another clean-sheet and they made their point against their cup conquerors.
Crown line-up: Bunchhay, Dara, Sothearith, Tiny, Obadin, Narong, Narith, Sopanha (Ratana 81), Chaya (Virak 86), Sokumpheak, Njoku (Sovannrithy 72). Subs not used: Visokra, Bunna, Vanthan, Nwafor, Sophanal, Sophat, H Pheng, Sochivorn. Bookings: Sopanha, Narith, Sothearith (+ red card).
The Crown bench just before kick-off
After-match words of wisdom from the head coach
Most of the Crown Academy boys watch from the grandstand
The BBU team who came up against an immovable Crown force today
Storm clouds gathering over the Olympic Stadium this afternoon during the Crown game

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