Sunday, March 3, 2013

Game plan comes unstuck

PPCFC v Senate. Back Row LtoR: Boris, Nelson, Thierry, Pheng, Narin, Obadin. Front Row: Da, Suhana, Seiha, Makara, Borey - click to enlarge
Phnom Penh Crown opened what should've been the floodgates after eight minutes of their Metfone C-League game against newcomers Senate Secretariat this afternoon, but the expected avalanche never really materialized. Despite the 5-0 scoreline in Crown's favour, head coach Sam Schweingruber was not pleased as he watched his team squander a sackful of goal-scoring opportunities. "We started aggressively, gave them no space, no time, were constantly in their faces and we should've been double that what we had at half-time. 4-0 was not a reflection of our chances. We played very well in certain situations, kept possession, got behind them, put balls into their box but we have to be better at taking our chances and at finishing. The second half was not what we trained for, not what we want to display, we didn't stick to our game plan. We had so many opportunities to do something with the ball, but we didn't do it. Winning 5-0 is okay but looking at the second half, it was very disappointing." First of all, let's be clear, Crown scored five times but could easily have doubled that tally in the opening period alone. So exactly how many chances did Crown fail to convert? In the first half, I counted at least a dozen and in the second period, another ten more, all penalty-box opportunities to score, where the guilty players either missed the target or where thwarted by Senate defenders or goalkeeper. On his return to the starting line-up, Khim Borey was the most profligate in the opening 45 minutes. And you could sense his relief when he finally made one of his half a dozen chances count. 

For Borey, his rustiness in front of goal, after what has been a formidable opening couple of months prior to his hamstring injury, was apparent from the 2nd minute. A Sos Suhana corner to the near post saw Borey edge in front of his marker, only to plant his header a foot wide. Six minutes later and Crown registered their first goal, which should've signalled the floodgates, though that never quite happened. Leng Makara was upended in mid-flight on the right touchline. Bin Thierry's inswinging free-kick was inch perfect for Makara to glance a deft backward header which nestled sweetly in the far corner to open the scoring. Three minutes later, the same player was on hand at the far post to connect with Suhana's free-kick but this time his headed effort failed to find the target. During the next 25 minutes, Crown spurned another half a dozen opportunities with the Senate defence reeling from Crown's superiority. Borey and Thierry were off target with dipping free-kicks; Borey failed to trouble the keeper with two scoring chances from eight yards set up Suhana and Nelson Oladiji; Suhana blazed over the bar from Oladiji's set-up when a controlled finish was required, and Oladiji was an inch away from adding the finishing touch to Suhana's rolled pass.

The second goal finally arrived on 38 minutes. Kok Boris' header found Borey in space and as he shaped to shoot, he eyed Makara's sprint into the box. His pass was controlled at speed by the young wingman and he took his second goal with a neat finish. Three minutes later and Borey could breathe a little easier. Thierry and Boris combined in the middle with the latter spotting Borey's movement, sending the striker through on his own, to round the Senate keeper and gleefully roll the ball into an empty net. It was his 9th goal of the season. Soon after, he sent a free header over the bar from Thourng Da's center. In the first minute of injury time, Oladiji sent Makara racing clear and when most expected a shot for his hat-trick, he unselfishly laid the ball square into the path of Suhana, who couldn't miss for Crown's fourth before the break. The second half began much as the opening half had done with Borey fluffing his finish to Da's near post cross. Fifteen minutes in and Crown added to their tally of goals. Borey and Makara combined to release Suhana and his rolled center was deflected past his own goalkeeper by Sung Menghoth for an own goal.

The Crown fans were pleased to see Kouch Sokumpheak enter the fray with 25 minutes to go and he quickly made an impression, but a combination of keeper Kha Theara and Menghoth denied him a comeback goal. Odion Obadin covered acres to get to Hong Pheng's lofted free-kick but at full stretch, he only managed to clear the cross-bar with his effort. Theara again got down to block another Sokumpheak effort with his legs and Obadin rose high but headed Chhom Pisa's corner high and wide. Oladiji went close twice without getting a telling shot away, Sokumpheak was denied by a last-ditch tackle and Oladiji sent Crown's final effort two feet too high from the edge of the box. That was it as the match ended, with Crown always in charge but rueing their plethora of missed chances to add to their final total.
PPCFC line-up v Senate: Seiha, Da, Pheng, Narin, Obadin, Boris (Sothy 61), Thierry (Sokumpheak 65), Suhana (Pisa 72), Nelson, Makara, Borey. Subs not used: Ary, Dara, Lika, Seyha, Srin, Phearun, Dary, Hasan. Bookings: Thierry. MOTM: Makara. 

No comments: