|PPCFC v Army. Back Row LtoR: Asonibe, H Pheng, Obadin, Seyha, Rady, Lika. Front: S Pheng, Chaya, Suhana, Ary, Borey. Click to enlarge.|
With suspensions and injuries wreaking havoc with his starting line-up, head coach David Booth was looking for hard graft and character from his Phnom Penh Crown team against the Army in this afternoon's Metfone C-League encounter and that's exactly what he got. In a no-frills performance, Crown started brightly enough and always held the upper hand without running away with the match, taking all three points in a 3-1 victory to remain firmly in fifth place. Suspensions ruled out Emmanuel Frimpong, Kingsley Njoku and Chan Dara whilst a dental problem sidelined keeper Samrith Seiha and leg injuries kept Tieng Tiny and Sok Sovan on the bench. Khim Borey took the captain's armband. A poor Pheak Rady backpass nearly let in Army's Meak Chhordaravuth but Vi Lika's saving tackle cleared the danger early on, whilst Sok Pheng and Khim Borey both tried their luck from distance at the other end of the pitch but to no avail. Neat, crisp one-touch passing between Henry Asonibe and Sos Suhana opened up the Army defence and as Sok Pheng moved onto the threaded pass, he was clattered by Army keeper Um Vichet with the ball running loose to Hong Pheng who rolled it into the net for Crown's opening goal on 17 minutes. Just over a minute later, Suhana cleverly hooked the ball over his own head and his pass, at the second attempt, found Pheng in space again inside the box and he finished coolly as Vichet came off his line. Two goals in as many minutes for the young Crown striker. The downside of Crown's season has been their susceptibility to concede soft goals and on 22 minutes, they did it again. Rady sliced a corner into the air, Odion Obadin missed his clearing header and Thong Udom, playing as a central striker, poked the loose ball over the goal-line. A minute later, Borey's reverse pass found Pheng in space again at the far post and this time, Vichet was equal to his powerful drive with a two-fisted save. Sok Pheng spooned a good chance over the crossbar just after the half-hour, after he latched onto a Rady long ball. And that was it for the first half action.
In the first ten minutes of the second period, Sok Pheng twice bore down on goal and twice failed to find the finish he was seeking, shooting straight at Vichet and putting the other in the open stands. A smart dink by Suhana looked to have unlocked the Army back four but he fired his drive the wrong side of the upright. Midway through the half, Borey sent a 25-yard shot skidding a foot wide and substitue Leng Makara headed a Rady cross wide when he had more time than he realised. Thong Udom had the Army's best chance of the half but fluffed his opportunity and gave Yok Ary an easy catch. Crown made their domination count eleven minutes from the end when Khim Borey rounded off a smart move with an easy six-yard finish after Asonibe and Rady had opened up the Army on the right flank. 3-1 behind and there was no way back for the military men. Makara should've made it four for Crown but his header from close range, from a pinpoint Borey cross, somehow missed the target in the closing stages.
PPCFC line-up: Ary, Rady (Srin 84), Seyha, Lika, Odion, Asonibe, Suhana, Chaya, Borey, S Pheng (Makara 62), H Pheng (Rathanak 71). Subs not used: Chamrouen, Da, Vanthan, Tiny, Sovan, Sophanal, Sothy, Sovanna. Bookings: n/a.