Saturday, March 30, 2013

Not switched on

PPCFC v PKR. Back Row LtoR: Seiha, Boris, Thierry, Oladiji, Obadin, Narin. Front: Rady, Pheng, Suhana, Sokumpheak, Borey - click to enlarge.
"We were not good enough. In all areas. Physically, our players returning from national team were low on confidence, they didn't fit into the team today and tactically we didn't play as well as we wanted. We were not better, we made too many simple mistakes, they were quicker and we were always caught by surprise. We just weren't switched on." Those were the immediate after-match comments from a plainly disappointed Phnom Penh Crown head coach Sam Schweingruber after he watched his side go down to their first Metfone C-League defeat of the season against their age old rivals Preah Khan Reach. The only goal of the game was scored by Khuon Laboravy in the 73rd minute but that too came in for some flack from the Swiss coach. "The goal should not have been allowed. Two players were down, each holding their head, clearly the FIFA rules state the referee should stop the game, he didn't, they scored. We still should've stopped the goal but it was a reflection of how we played the game today," he bemoaned. However, his Crown team were definitely not at their best in the two o'clock kick-off, with four players returning from the national team's debacle in the Philippines and looking almost like strangers alongside their teammates. PKR's Laboravy sent a header harmlessly wide with the game's first real effort, before Crown's Sos Suhana burst into the box on fifteen minutes, only for his foray to be blocked and the ball cleared. Kouch Sokumpheak sent a skidding shot wide after keeper Sar Sophea had punched poorly from Nelson Oladiji's cross, and the goalkeeper then pushed a free-kick from Bin Thierry out for a corner at the foot of the upright. On 24 minutes, Crown keeper Samrith Seiha's stood strong with a one-handed fist as Tum Saray drove in a thunderous strike from Laboravy's break and pass, and from the inswinging corner by Nen Sothearoth, Leng Narin was well-placed to head away at the far post. The game swung to the other end as Oladiji broke and crossed long only for Khim Borey to send his volley wide on the stretch. Just after the half-hour a good build-up gave Pheak Rady a sight of goal but his shot was deflected off target. With little to choose between the teams, Chea Samnang sent a low header wide, Laboravy was closed down as he shot and Samnang rode a challenge, only to scuff his drive wide of the mark.

Crown pressed from the start and as a corner fell to Kok Boris, his shot was deflected into the path of Thierry and as he got his shot away, an outstretched leg took it away from danger. Borey used his hand to divert Oladiji's cross into the net and he was reprimanded with a yellow card. Seiha was again in the thick of the action, as Saray's cross found Laboravy on his own but the goalkeeper made himself big enough to thwart the striker. Two minutes before the hour, the national team custodian showed exactly why he's one of the best in the league. Prak Mony Udom's wickedly bouncing free-kick was pushed out by Seiha, who then blocked a header from Laboravy and dived bravely at the feet of Sok Chanrasmey for an outstanding triple save. Sokumpheak then had Crown's best chance to date when he drilled a shot on target only for Sophea to push the shot wide at full stretch. Seiha was again called on to keep out another Udom free-kick but with 17 minutes to go, his high challenge outside his penalty box led to the game's only goal. As he cleared, leaving Phany Ratha and Hong Pheng on the floor holding their heads, referee Tuy Vichheka allowed play to continue, PKR reacted quicker and Samoeun Pidor's cross-shot was parried by Seiha only to Laboravy who nodded in from five yards out. With five minute remaining, Narin's deep cross found Odion Obadin free at the far post but his header flashed wide of the goal-frame, though Sokumpheak looked set to equalise in the third minute of injury time. Seiha's long range free-kick fell at his feet, twelve yards out and central, only for the striker to miscue and fail to hit the target. A minute later, Seiha rugby-tackled Laboravy forty yards from goal, and next to the touchline, to earn a yellow card and then reacted with his feet to deny Saray, after PKR caught Crown napping with a quick free-kick. At the final whistle, PKR leap-frogged their opponents into second-place and gave Crown boss Schweingruber food for thought ahead of Wednesday's clash with table toppers Boeung Ket.
PPCFC line-up: Seiha, Rady, Pheng, Narin, Obadin, Boris (Sothy 77), Thierry, Suhana, Sokumpheak, Oladiji, Borey. Subs not used: Ary, Dara, Lika, Dary, Phearun, Kano, Srin, Pisa, Morslim. Bookings: Borey, Seiha. MOTM: Seiha.
Duh...on 67 minutes Crown attempted to bring Leng Makara on as a substitute only for the match officials to point out that he wasn't included on the team-sheet and the disappointed player sat back down again.

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