|PPCFC line-up v PKR. Back Row LtoR: S Pheng, Tiny, K Njoku, Obadin, Rady, Dara. Front: Sovanna, Seiha, Chaya, Sokumpheak, Borey|
The eagerly-awaiting match of the day ended all square at the Olympic Stadium today as fifth-placed Phnom Penh Crown twice led league leaders Preah Khan Reach but were twice pegged back and had to settled for a point apiece in their Metfone C-League showdown. 2-2 was the final score and there was little to choose between the two sides for much of the game. Crown had to start without influential midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong, whilst PKR were missing Sok Rithy in the heart of their defence. On 17 minutes, a nice interchange on the edge of the PKR box allowed Khim Borey to set up Sok Pheng, who cut inside and fired Crown ahead with a low drive inside the near post. Goalkeeper Samrith Seiha twice came to Crown's rescue as he dived bravely at the feet of first, Bologun Olawale and then Khuon Laboravy to deny the Preah Khan strikers what were clear goalscoring opportunities. Two decisions by the match referee went against Crown as the half-time break approached. With three minutes remaining, Lay Raksmey was booked for a challenge on Sok Pheng that was clearly inside the penalty area but referee Khuon Virak deemed the incident was an inch outside the box and Kouch Sokumpheak's free-kick came to nothing. On the stroke of half-time, referee Virak bizarrely cancelled out a second Crown goal after both he and his assistant initially agreed on its legitimacy. Pheak Rady's deep free-kick was headed back across goal by Kingsley Njoku and Chan Chaya stooped to head the ball over the line. The Preah Khan team reacted furiously, surrounding the referee and jostling him into checking with his linesman. Their deliberations ended with the goal chalked off and Njoku booked for handball. Deep into injury time, Olawale was again denied by a brilliant tip over from Seiha as Crown went in a goal ahead at the break.
It took just four minutes from the restart for PKR to conjure up an equalizer from nowhere. Crown failed to close down David Njoku and he unleashed a thunderous twenty-five yard strike that gave Seiha no chance. The scorer was booked for donning a t-shirt in memory of the recently deceased coach Solomon Damagudu. Eight minutes later and Crown were back in front when Khim Borey's twenty-five yard low drive arrowed into the corner after PKR failed to clear their lines. Both sides made changes in an effort to force the game but it was a mistake by the otherwise excellent Samrith Seiha that led to Preah Khan's second equalizer. On 65 minutes, Seiha slipped as he kicked out of his area, the ball landing at the feet of David Njoku and his perfectly-flighted chipped return sailed over Seiha's head from 35 yards out. Clear-cut chances were few and far between though Sokumpheak reacted well to a quick free-kick only to fire into the hands of Sar Sophea at the near post, whilst Chan Dara made an important clearance to deny Sok Chanraksmey at the other end. And that was it. Two goals and one point apiece. Crown coach David Booth commented at the final whistle. "I thought we should've closed down their first goal, we had five players on the edge of the box and he's hit a screamer. Same with the equalizer, we've got possession and we're winning the game, and you're really looking for a bit of patience and quality and its a scuff from the keeper that's cost us again. I don't know how many times I've said it, but our mistakes have cost us games. We should be at the top of the league if you take away the really bad mistakes that have cost us goals. It's very frustrating as second half I thought we played quite well, we looked dangerous, they looked vulnerable. It's just a mistake that has taken the gloss off the game."
PPCFC line-up: Seiha, Dara, Rady, Tiny, Obadin, Sovanna (Asonibe 70), Sokumpheak, Borey (H Pheng 88), Chaya, S Pheng (Suhana 64), K Njoku. Subs not used: Ary, Da, Vanthan, Lika, Sovan, Srin, Sothy, Makara. Bookings: Obadin, K Njoku.
|Final words from PPCFC coach David Booth just before kick-off|
|Referee Khuon Virak with the captains, made two crucial decisions at the end of the 1st half|
|Kouch Sokumpheak looking focused before the teams enter the field|