|PPCFC. Back Row LtoR; Boris, Srin, Makara, Sokumpheak, Borey. Front Row: Obadin, Thierry, Pheng, Ha-Neul, Seiha, van der Hooft - click to enlarge|
Another early booking, in the second-half, for Crown's Hong Pheng was keeping referee Tuy Vichheka's pencil sharpened. This time it was for simulation after Pheng went over in the penalty box. Tow BBU players were quick to follow him into the referee's book. Twenty minutes into the second period and Makara will wonder how he missed the target. Bin Thierry's inswinging corner kick was missed by keeper Sos Proshim and Makara, standing five yards from goal, cushioned his free header wide of the mark. Five minutes later the same player burst into the penalty area only to fire his shot straight at a grateful Proshim. It was all Crown at this point, as van der Hooft had a shot blocked and Suhana, on as a sub, saw his goal-bound effort deflected for a corner. Searching for a winner, Suhana volleyed straight at Proshim and Makara's fierce drive was blocked by a defender and keeper combination. Shouts for a penalty when the ball struck Adewale Olugbami's arm went unheeded and the same player was cautioned for hauling down van der Hooft as he broke away. The final action of normal time saw Thierry's 25-yard free-kick well taken at the foot of the post by Proshim. Extra-time was next.
Under the floodlights, Thierry was first to test Proshim with a free-kick that the keeper punched clear. Referee Vichheka then decided to take matters into his own hands with two yellow cards for Kouch Sokumpheak within six minutes of each other, both for lunging tackles, leaving Crown a man short. Within two minutes that numerical disadvantage was swept away as Makara broke into the box, and as van der Hooft challenged for the cross, he was upended by Proshim and a penalty was awarded. The Dutch marksman got to his feet to crash the ball home for his 13th goal of the season. It was timed at 104 minutes on the clock and greeted with loud cheers from the majority of the crowd. A neat one-two between Suhana and van der Hooft opened up the BBU backline five minutes into the second period of extra time but on this occasion the striker sent his hurried shot over the top. A small sign of resistance from BBU skipper Prum Putsethy, as he flashed a shot wide, but it was all too brief as Crown maintained control and saw the match out to claim third place in the MCL play-offs.
PPCFC coach Sam Schweingruber had this to say at the end of the game. "We've seen in the 2nd Round that BBU are a very difficult team to break down, they only lost by a single goal in the semi-final, so we knew they had a well-organised defence. I thought we could've played better but for me our discipline was much improved from our last game, and that helped us to have a clean sheet again, and if you work hard, you get that piece of luck you need. It was a penalty but it was also a bit of a struggle to get to that point. We were dominant, we were better, we just didn't create enough clear chances." He also took a moment to look back at the whole season, his first in charge of the club. "I would've been quite happy with two 3rd places if you'd asked me before the season. At that time we didn't know what kind of team we'd have and we initially struggled with young and inexperienced Cambodian players. The decision to sign foreign players after a few games obviously gave us more depth and helped us to, with lots of hard work, create a solid team that we've seen in the last few months, take positive results against every single team. We've shown we have the qualities to compete and to be champions. I'm obviously disappointed about that, both times we were very close, in the cup and the league. All in all this season, I've learned a lot of lessons and a lot of things that can be improved upon in the future."
PPCFC line-up: Seiha, Srin, Pheng (Seyha 70), Boris, Obadin, Thierry, Sokumpheak, Makara (Sothy 106), Borey, Ha-Neul (Suhana 70), van der Hooft. Subs not used: Ary, Soksela, Da, Dara, Lika, Morslim, Phearun, Pisa. Bookings: van der Hooft, Pheng, Makara, Seiha, Sokumpheak (+ red card). MOTM: van der Hooft.