Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Crown surge on

PPCFC v PKR. Back Row LtoR: Pheng, Da, Boris, Srin, Thierry, Lika. Front: Dani, Suhana, Seiha, Makara, Borey - click to enlarge
The Phnom Penh Crown senior team repeated what the Academy team had managed two days before and put Preah Khan Reach to the sword in this afternoon's Hun Sen Cup Group D decider, winning 4-3, though they'd led 4-0 with twenty minutes left on the clock and had to calm their own nerves before being able to celebrate progress to the quarter-finals. Crown began the game slowly and allowed PKR too much room to operate. On 19 minutes a Prak Mony Udom free-kick found the head of Khuon Laboravy but Samrith Seiha in the Crown goal pulled out a superb one-handed stop on the line to keep his goal intact. A few minutes later the Crown stopper came off second best in a collision with Laboravy and received six minutes of treatment on a neck and shoulder injury from physio Lidwina Niewold, whose entry onto the field of play drew applause from the sizeable Olympic crowd. With Crown starting to exploit PKR's flanks, a defence-splitting Kok Boris pass sent Sos Suhana scampering away and though Sar Sophea saved his low drive, skipper Khim Borey was on hand to slot the rebound home to give Crown a 35th minute lead. Six minutes later and Crown caught PKR cold again. Another Boris pass released Hong Pheng who skated past his marker, won a tackle with the onrushing Sophea and kept his cool to lob in an expertly-taken second goal for Crown from the left-hand edge of the penalty area. Laboravy sent another header skidding past the foot of the far post before Crown saw out the six minutes of additional time with ten-men after Boris left the field with a gashed knee.

PKR made two changes at half-time, whilst Crown replaced keeper Seiha with Yok Ary in the second minute after the restart as a precaution. Crown quickly picked up where they'd left off, catching the PKR defence in disarray time and again. Leng Makara sent a drive against the cross-bar before Borey was again on target for a second time, six minutes into the half. Bin Thierry fed Suhana, whose shot hit Thierry's legs and fell kindly into the path of Borey who made no mistake from eight yards. It was the skipper's 7th goal of the season. On 58 minutes, Thierry released Borey wide on the left and his inch-perfect square pass allowed Suhana to slot in Crown's fourth with ease. A textbook counter-attack goal. Chances continued to pile up for a rampant Crown though their finishing quality failed to match their build-up play. Suhana was played in by Makara but dragged his shot across the face of goal. Borey raced onto an arrowed Ary drop-kick but whacked his drive over the top. Less than a minute later, Borey set up Suhana and with time on his side, he lobbed the keeper but also cleared the cross-bar, when it seemed a goal was a certainty.

Referee Tuy Vichheka offered PKR a lifeline with twenty minutes remaining. He deemed Ary spent too long holding onto the ball and Udom's indirect free-kick sailed into the corner from sixteen yards out. Suhana again fluffed his lines when set up by Borey, firing against the post and then thumping the rebound high and wide. The same player did it again moments later, with Borey again the provider. He made it a hat-trick of failures in the space of ten minutes when Ouk Sothy put him in but he aimed straight at Sophea. With five minutes to go, Sothy's acrobatic attempt to clear saw the ball strike his hand and Vichheka gleefully pointed to the spot. Udom slotted in the penalty kick to spark PKR's interest. A minute from time, Sok Chanraksmey's right-wing cross eluded Ary's flailing punch and Laboravy tucked the ball home at the far post to add even more jitters to the Crown back-line. With the final kick of the game, Sothy stole into the PKR box but finished weakly as Crown celebrated a win over the reigning cup holders that had looked a done deal until the closing stages.

Crown head coach Sam Schweingruber's comments reflected that; "I'm disappointed with how we were not able to keep possession, we had hardly any spells of keeping the ball, so we had to work hard without the ball. A lot of positives to take out of the game but then obviously disappointed with the final result, the 3 goals we conceded and missing the chance to be first in the pool." Crown meet in-form Boeung Ket in Thursday's Quarter-Finals at the Army Stadium (KO 2pm) with the coach declaring; "Our real challenge is waiting for us on Thursday, with only a day to prepare, which is to our disadvantage with our squad short on experience and as Boeung Ket played their 2nd string today. They will be fresher. Boeung Ket go into the game as clear favourites. But nothing is impossible, so we will try to make it happen." AEU finished top of Group D with a 7-1 win over Porsenchey, leaving PKR forlorn in third place and unable to defend their position as cup winners for the past two seasons.
PPCFC v PKR: Seiha (Ary 47), Da, Dani, Lika, Srin, Boris (Sothy 56), Thierry (Pisa 69), Suhana, Makara, Pheng, Borey. Subs not used: Seyha, Kano, Dara, Hasan, Morslim, Kano. Bookings: None. MOTM: Borey

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