Saturday, August 13, 2011

Winning at half-pace

Sun Sovannrithy opened the scoring with a powerful header
Phnom Penh Crown coasted to a 2-0 victory over Kirivong at Olympic Stadium this afternoon, playing most of the game at half-pace after cementing a two-goal cushion on 19 minutes and keeping possession of the ball for most of the match after that. The win takes them 7 points clear at the top of the Metfone C-League with just three games left to play. It wasn't a vintage performance, far from it, with Crown taking an early lead and controlling the game throughout, without ever really clicking into top gear and killing off their opponents. Kirivong looked set to get a foothold in the game just after half-time but fluffed the opportunity from the penalty spot, whilst at the other end, Crown will be kicking themselves for squandering a series of great chances, with Kingsley Njoku the main culprit. A reshuffle in defence was necessary with Odion Obadin suspended for the game but it made little difference as Crown took a fifth minute lead through Sun Sovannrithy. The attacking full-back, who was prominent going forwards all game, was unopposed in the six-yard box to head powerfully home once a short corner between Chan Chaya and Sun Sopanha had been floated in by the latter. Not giving Kirivong a breather, Crown scored a second on 19 minutes when Sopanha picked out Kingsley Njoku's run through the middle, the Nigerian controlled neatly and rolled his shot expertly into the corner from the edge of the box. As cool as you like. Kirivong were finding Njoku a handful, with two defenders receiving cautions for bringing him down and keeper Koum Makara standing strong when faced by the rampaging striker. After Sopanha's 30-yard free-kick was pushed aside by Makara, the keeper was on hand to deny Njoku's powerful header. Two minutes before the interval, Njoku looked odds-on to net his second as he played a smart one-two with Kouch Sokumpheak and shaped to score from 15 yards out but his measured sidefoot shot went the wrong side of the upright and Kirivong breathed again.

The second half was more of the same, as Crown dominated possession, passing the ball around at will and keeping Kirivong in their own half. That is except for two occasions after the break. Nine minutes in, In Vichheka saw Peng Bunchhay's desperate lunge and made sure his leg was touched leaving referee Tuy Vichhika with no choice but to point to the penalty spot. Nelson Oladiji blasted his spot-kick against the crossbar and then tucked in the rebound, but without another player touching the ball, the referee was right to cancel out the goal and the celebrations. The only other shot on target from Kirivong came five minutes from time, with Bunchhay scrambling across his goal to push out a drive from Ouk Thon. Those two incidents aside, it was all Crown. A minute after Oladiji's effort was chalked off, Sovannrithy was denied a second headed goal by Song Dara's goal-line clearance, Sokumpheak toe-poked one wide, headed another off target and then substitute Sok Pheng made a real hash of a great chance at the far post from Sopanha's cross. With ten minutes to go, Njoku looked likely to find the net, sidestepping two defenders and the keeper, only for Sok Va to get back to deny him with a last-ditch block. Three minutes later, the Nigerian looked destined to finish with a tap-in at the far post from Sok Pheng's deflected cross, only to completely miss the ball with his head inches from the goal-line and upright. The game ended with Crown in control, giving coach David Booth his sixth win in as many matches and needing just two more victories from their remaining three games to win their 2nd successive C-League championship.
Crown line-up: Bunchhay, Dara, Sovannrithy, Tiny (Sovan 82), Sothearith, Narith, Ota, Sopanha, Chhaya (S. Pheng 67), Njoku (Ratana 90), Sokumpheak. Subs not used: Visokra, Vanthan, Sophat, Nwafor, Sophanal, Sochivorn, Ratahanak, H Pheng. Bookings: None.
Crown line-up. Back Row LtoR: Sovannrithy, Dara, Ota, Tiny, Sopanha, Bunchhay. Front Row: Sokumpheak, Njoku, Narith, Chaya, Sothearith
It's time for that team huddle thingy that all the teams do
It's a tight squeeze on the Crown bench with 11 subs and the coaching and medical staff
Kirivong went down 2-0 and never looked in the game
Crown coach David Booth with his midfield playmaker Sun Sopanha after today's game

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