Sunday, May 5, 2013

Indifferent Crown

PPCFC v BBU. Back Row, LtoR: Da, Boris, Seiha, Pheng, van der Hooft, Narin. Front: Sothy, Sokumpheak, Suhana, Makara, Borey.
After such a sterling team performance the week before to defeat Kirivong, it came as a surprise to everyone, the Phnom Penh Crown players included, how indifferent their display against Build Bright this afternoon could be. The same spirit and commitment was lacking, passes were poor in execution, defensively, we were not strong enough and last week's hat-trick hero Elroy van der Hooft was starved of service, after BBU took an early contentious lead. Referee Sang Sopheak felt Crown keeper Samrith Seiha had touched Chan Chaya's leg causing him to fall in the penalty area. Seiha disagreed vehemently. Chaya was happy to get one over on his former club as Prum Putsethy stepped up to send Seiha the wrong way in the 11th minute. It proved to be the only goal of the game. Crown began the match with four regulars suspended and a couple of others out with injury. BBU fired an early shot across Crown's bows when Pech Sina blasted high and wide when well-placed, whilst Sos Suhana broke into the BBU box only to see his drive saved at the second attempt by Sos Proshim. BBU then netted their debatable penalty, which saw skipper Sem Bunny pushing striker Ogudogun Ekelechukwu out of the area to allow Putsethy to take the kick, with the Nigerian angrily wagging his finger at his captain. The recent addition to the BBU line-up proved to be a thorn in Crown's side throughout the match and twice in two minutes he forced Seiha to smother a drive and then ran forty yards unopposed, only to blast his shot well wide. Six minutes before the break, Crown looked to have levelled when Suhana's neat flick from Leng Makara's pass eluded Proshim and nestled in the net. Referee Sopheak had other ideas and disallowed the effort for offside, which video later proved to be a poor call from the match officials. On the stroke of half-time, Seiha was alert to turn a Putsethy long-range skidder around the post.

Ekelechukwu was at it again at the start of the second period. After four minutes he left Leng Narin sitting down on the job but blasted over the bar and soon after, did the same to Seiha after he broke the offside trap, but as he rounded the keeper, he rolled his tap-in into the side netting. A lucky escape for Crown who surged up the other end and should've equalised. Suhana showed his marker a clean pair of heels as he surged into the box and laid on a low cross to Leng Makara at the far post. The winger had to tap home to level but spooned a glorious opportunity over the bar from close range. His miss would come back to haunt his team. Suhana drilled a 25-yard shot over the cross-bar and then brought on Choi Jae-Cheol for his first outing in a Crown jersey as they pressed for a goal with 17 minutes remaining. But it was BBU who nearly extended their lead as Ekelechukwu held off Thourng Da and fired a shot across the face of goal and just past the far upright. Within a minute, Jae-Cheol got his first touch, a downward header to Hong Pheng's deflected cross but Proshim was in the right place to collect. As Crown pressed, van der Hooft, battled free of his shadow, stole into the penalty area and let rip with a fierce shot only for it to hit a fallen Pin Pheara in front of goal. Two minutes later, van der Hooft controlled a pass from Khim Borey but directed his hasty shot across the face of goal and wide, while Kouch Sokumpheak was too wide to get a shot on target from Borey's cross and Crown were running out of time. Kouch Dani, opposing his former club, saw his free-kick punched clear by Seiha, who also held onto a long-range effort from Putsethy. Crown's final chance fell to Pheng in time added on but his low shot went straight into Proshim's hands and BBU were home and dry. Crown remain in 4th place having played their first match of the second round of the C-League campaign and will aim to remain in the play-off places as the season progresses.
PPCFC line-up: Seiha, Da, Pheng, Boris, Narin (Lika 57), Sothy, Suhana, Makara (Jae-Cheol 73), Sokumpheak, Borey, van der Hooft. Subs not used: Ary, Baraing, Dara, Dary, Kano, Seyha, Phearun, Ratana. Bookings: Boris. MOTM: Suhana.

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