Saturday, June 2, 2012

Crown come unstruck

Crown line-up: Back LtoR: Obadin, Sothy, Lika, Tarley, Seiha, Dara. Front: Asonibe, Borey, Suhana, Sokumpheak, Sovan
A practice match designed to give the players some game-time during the mid-season break in the Metfone C-League did not go according to plan for Phnom Penh Crown this afternoon, at their own RSN Stadium. Boeung Ket were the visitors and both teams started with strong line-ups. Crown were first to spark into life and their ex-keeper keeper Peng Bunchhay was at full stretch to save Sos Suhana's drive after just two minutes. A weak headed clearance by Vi Lika was gobbled up by Boeung Ket's in-form hitman Nwakuna Friday who lobbed the ball over a stranded Samreth Seiha, who was getting his first chance to impress between the sticks for Crown, for the opening goal on 19 minutes. A couple of minutes later and Melvin Tarley squandered an opportunity to equalize when he blasted over from ten yards out. However, in their next attack, Tarley's square pass to Suhana looked to have earned Crown the leveller, but his well-aimed shot rebounded off the foot of the post, conveniently into the path of Khim Borey whose aim was true to make it 1-1. On 35 minutes and against the run of play, Boeung Ket got their noses in front when Friday's shot took a deflection off Lika's boot and evaded Seiha's despairing dive. On the stroke of half-time, Bunchhay came to his side's rescue again, beating out Kouch Sokumpheak's thunderbolt and Borey's follow-up was first blocked and then sailed wide.
With storm clouds gathering overhead, the second half began and Crown's Ouk Sothy had a low drive scrambled away at the near post and Borey headed over from the resulting corner. Friday netted his hat-trick goal on 70 minutes after the Crown backline gave him too much room and four minutes later Boeung Ket sealed the result with their fourth, courtesy of a diving header by Chukwuma  Ohuruogu. Kingsley Njoku headed over when well-placed and Crown knew it was not their day when Sokumpheak's 25-yard free-kick thundered back into play off the crossbar. A couple of minutes from the end and the match blew up, as it had been threatening to do with some weak refereeing throughout. Njoku fended off Phoeun Saorum and Lar Pichseyla decided to take matters into his own hands, aiming a flying karate-kick at the Crown striker's midriff, causing players from both sides to threaten an escalation. Order was quickly restored and the final whistle blown, but Boeung Ket need to get control of Pichseyla, already dismissed in this season's C-League for a disgraceful challenge that could've ended someone's career. As for the match itself, it was no holds barred throughout - a first-half tackle by Sin Dalin on Asonibe was x-rated - and Crown needed to test some of their players with three missing from their league game against the Army on Wednesday through suspension, namely Pheak Rady, Tieng Tiny and Sok Pheng. With a 4-1 reversal, coach David Booth will have some food for thought.
PPCFC line-up: Seiha, Dara, Sovan, Lika (Vanthan 46), Obadin, Sothy (H Pheng 68), Asonibe, Suhana, Tarley (Njoku 46), Borey, Sokumpheak. 
Waiting for a corner to come

This free-kick from Kouch Sokumpheak rattled the cross-bar

Samreth Seiha gets some advice from coach David Booth before the match

Team talk for the starting XI

Three of the squad's younger players are interviewed on camera by Aman

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