Saturday, June 15, 2013

Sweet revenge

PPCFC. Back Row LtoR: Srin, Obadin, Boris, Thierry, van der Hooft, Ha-Neul. Front Row: Makara, Seiha, Pheng, Sokumpheak, Borey
Phnom Penh Crown were looking to avenge a 3-1 defeat earlier in the Metfone C-League campaign, as well as inflict another bodyblow to the beleaguered leaders, Boeung Ket, who have suffered a disastrous run of form since the mid-season break. Crown boss Sam Schweingruber chose from a fully-fit squad with keeper Samrith Seiha returning from suspension to the starting line-up. His team amde their intentions clear from the outset with Leng Makara breaking into the box and firing his shot straight at opposing keeper Penh Bunchhay. A booking for Befolo Mbarag for a foul on Elroy van der Hooft was to be a sub-plot to the game, with Boeung Ket's African trio hell-bent on stopping Crown's Flying Dutchman at all costs. A tactic that would backfire on them disastrously. With his 8th goal in five games, it was van der Hooft who opened the scoring after 18 minutes. A neat turn and swivel and the former Ajax prodigy showed his class with a powerful drive from twelve yards out to break the early deadlock. The move leading up to his strike involved Makara's pass out wide to Odion Obadin, whose cross to the far post was headed into van der Hooft's path by Kouch Sokumpheak. Former Crown starlet Keo Sokngorn whipped a free-kick across the face of Seiha's goal but the keeper's punch cleared the danger as play switched from end to end without enough incision from either team.

Just after the half hour, Boeung Ket brought on  Chan Vathanaka but it was Crown who made the next decisive move, scoring their second goal on 39 minutes. And it came straight off the training ground. An inswinging corner on the right by Bin Thierry was met by the perfectly-timed run and leap of captain Khim Borey and his header arrowed into the net at the near post. Two goals to the good and Crown were in control. Moments later, Chukwuma Ohuruogu was cautioned fro catching van der Hooft on the heel as they struggled to keep Crown at bay and Borey fired in a wicked drive which Bunchhay was equal to. In time added on by referee Khuon Virak, officiating Crown for the secodn week running, Keo Sokpheng hit the target only to find Seiha in the way to turn the shot away for a corner.

The wounded league leaders came out of the half-time interval looking to revive their flagging season, let along this match. Vathanak outpaced the Crown defenders but found Seiha blocking his route to goal and Sokngorn struck the cross-bar from just six yards out, when it looked easier to score. Van der Hooft robbed Ly Ravy but was wayward with his shot, though it was Boeung Ket who looked the more threatening at that stage. Sok Pheng's pull-back found Vathanaka lurking on the edge of the six-yard area but his drive cannoned off the bar and into Seiha's hands. Even Ohuruogu tried his luck from two yards inside his own half, with the ball clearing Seiha's goal by a matter of inches. It proved to be Ohuruogu's last positive moment as he resorted to a desperate pull to halt van der Hooft and received his second yellow, a red and an early bath on 64 minutes. A wayward Touch Pancharong cross bounced on the top of the bar as Boeung Ket continued their search for a comeback. Referee Virak controversially awarded them a free-kick when he adjudged Seiha had held onto the ball too long but Sumaila Momoh's effort from just inside the penalty area once again found the cross-bar an obstacle. Eleven minutes from the end, Crown allowed Vathanaka to squeeze in a bye-line cross and Sok Pheng outjumped his marker to grab the goal the Rubbermen had been longing for. Before the game could restart, Vathanaka lost his temper, not for the first time, and pushed referee Virak in the chest, but remarkably the match official only saw fit to flash a yellow card, when a straight red was warranted.

Crown coach Schweingruber made a couple of changes of his own, including a return of Sos Suhana after a few weeks of inactivity, and with six minutes on the clock, was jumping for joy as his team sealed the points with a third decisive goal. Thierry avoided three tackles and fed a hot knife through butter pass to van der Hooft, who let fly with a shot that was saved by Bunchhay's feet, only for Borey to pick-up the loose ball after another van der Hooft effort was blocked, side-step a defender and unleash an unstoppable drive into the top corner. Two goals for the Crown skipper and 3 points for his team. Though his shirt over the head celebration earned him a caution. There was still time for two more bookings for Boeung Ket, to take them to half a dozen, an extra six minutes added on that turned into nine by referee Virak and a Suhana break into the box that was only foiled by Bunchhay's outstretched leg. For coach Schweingruber it was sweet revenge for that early season reverse. "Brilliant result for us. A hard fight, we were hanging on a bit at times but we deserved it with a well-disciplined performance. Everyone worked extremely hard and put in a good team effort, including Borey who capped it with two goals. He's one of the players that has been moved all over the pitch this season, and each time he's responded positively, committed and disciplined. I was very pleased with his corner-kick goal, that was something we'd worked on in training."
PPCFC line-up: Seiha, Srin (Da 78), Pheng, Boris, Obadin, Thierry, Sokumpheak, Makara (Sothy 89), Ha-Neul (Suhana 84), Borey, van der Hooft. Subs not used: Ary, Dara, Lika, Seyha, Hasan, Morslim, Pisa, Phearun. Bookings: Pheng, Borey. MOTM: Borey.
Referee Khuon Virak closes his eyes and hopes for the best with the two captains

Crown keeper Samrith Seiha proudly displaying the club badge before the match

Khim Borey leads out the PPCFC team against Boeung Ket
The Boeung Ket starting line-up

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