Saturday, June 22, 2013

Elroy magic

PPCFC. Back Row LtoR: Boris, Ha-Neul, Seiha, Thierry, van der Hooft, Obadin. Front Row: Srin, Suhana, Pheng, Borey, Sokumpheak.
Phnom Penh Crown began their Metfone C-League clash with rivals Svay Rieng like a train and were in control and two goals up by 21 minutes into the match. With both sides looking to cement their top 4 credentials, it was Crown who showed the greater appetite as first Bin Thierry tried his luck and then skipper Khim Borey attempted a curling chip into the far corner but missed by inches. On 16 minutes they took the lead through their Dutch import Elroy van der Hooft, who is in a rich vein of goalscoring. Thierry's free-kick from wide on the left was missed by the defence, allowing van der Hooft to chip the ball over You Mesa and smash it home all in one quick-as-lightning move. Three minutes later, Lee Ha-Neul broke and fed van der Hooft but his first touch was too much and even though he managed to wrestle the ball from keeper Sar Sophea, he was quickly snuffed out by the retreating backline. However, the Flying Dutchman was not to be denied, and his second goal on 21 minutes, brought the crowd to their feet. Hong Pheng fed Odion Obadin wide on the left flank and his first-time cross was met by van der Hooft with an acrobatic bicycle-cum-overhead kick that caught everyone unawares. It was a stunning strike and his tenth goal since he joined the club at the mid-way stage of the season. Soon after he had the chance to make it three but his stubbed shot lacked power. Eight minutes before the break and Borey rolled a shot wide of the post, when it looked easier to score. Svay Rieng's first serious effort arrived as referee Khuon Virak was putting his whistle to his lips for the half-time interval. Prak Mony Udom found himself free at the far post but Samrith Seiha was well-placed to fist his shot over the cross-bar.

Just 33 seconds after the restrat, Khuon Laboravy blasted a shot a few inches wide but it was Crown who looked dangerous on the counter-attack. Lee Ha-Neul whacked a shot wide before van der Hooft cut to the bye-line and must've thought Hong Pheng would have done better with his free header at the far post. Instead, he headed harmlessly into Sophea's hands. Van der Hooft went down in agony after an innocuous clash and then lacked power when the ball rolled to him 15 yards out as he re-entered the fray. Svay Rieng finally began to ask Crown questions and a free Laboravy header from just six yards was pushed aside by Seiha, who was struggling with a leg injury. Also struggling, van der Hooft was cheered off the pitch when replaced by Leng Makara and it proved to be an inspired substitution, on 74 minutes. Two minutes later, Makara ghosted in at the far post to slot home an inch-perfect center by Borey to give Crown a commanding 3-goal lead. After dealing with two long-range efforts, Seiha finally gave into his injury as Yok Ary replaced him. Ha-Neul shrugged off a defender to fire in two low drives at Sophea, who repelled both and at the other end, Laboravy skated past Ngoy Srin and Ary but couldn't find the angle to trouble the scoreboard. Four minutes into time added on, Svay Rieng did manage a consolation as Udom fed Phanny Rotha, who benefitted from Obadin losing his feet, and the substitute found the net with ease. Referee Virak blew for full-time and managed to keep his cards in his pocket, giving Crown a 3-1 win, though they remain in third place in the league table.
PPCFC line-up: Seiha (Ary 80), Srin, Pheng, Boris, Obadin, Thierry, Sokumpheak, Suhana (Sothy 87), Ha-Neul, Borey, van der Hooft (Makara 74). Subs not used: Da, Narin, Dara, Lika, Seyha, Morslim, Phearun, Pisa,  Bookings: None. MOTM: Elroy van der Hooft.

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