|PPCFC v AEU. Back row, LtoR: Oliveira, Yaty, Obadin, Boris, Thierry, Bisan. Front: Makara, Dara, Pheng, Sokumpheak, Borey - click to enlarge|
Crown got off to the best possible start in their opening C-League game, beating AEU 4-0, with all the goals coming in the 2nd half. Coach Sam Schweingruber began his league campaign by giving debuts to new arrivals George Bisan and Rafael Oliveira but was without Neou Sosela, who is waiting for clearance from the federation. For the first-half of today's game at the Olympic Stadium, kicking off at 6pm under floodlights, it was one-way traffic though Crown will be working on shooting practice after coming up goal-less in the opening 45 minutes. After just fifty seconds, Bisan sent a hopeful forty-yard effort into the hands of a busy AEU keeper, Mak Theara. Bin Thierry's free-kick was headed wide by Khim Borey, and then Thierry lashed a drive wide from a corner. Oliveira sent Bisan scampering free but he screwed his shot across the face of goal and Hong Pheng did the same as Crown took the game to the student team. On 20 minutes, Theara was out sharply to block Leng Makara's attempt with his legs, Borey and Kouch Sokumpheak fired wildly over the cross-bar, while Bisan cut into the box, only to see his low drive rebound off the foot of the upright. With 34 minutes on the clock, Theara pulled off a one-handed diving save to keep out a curling Thierry free-kick. Odion Obadin came up from defence to get his head to a Thierry free-kick, only for the ball to strike a defender on the post. Theara was out sharply to deny Bisan as he looked to create another chance and with the last effort of the 1st half, Borey sent a vicious drive into Theara's midriff.
Without anything to show for their efforts, Crown were determined to put matters right after the break. Just a minute in, Sokumpheak's cross was met by Makara six yards out and his header look destined for the net, until Theara produced a 'Gordon Banks' moment to miraculously scoop the ball over the bar. Less than a minute later, the keeper was down well to collect a header from Obadin and a scuffed shot from Borey. The breakthrough finally arrived 11 minutes into the second half, as Crown made their pressure pay. Borey whipped in a corner, Bisan headed powerfully against the bar and as the ball rebounded, Makara was alive to nod the ball past an overworked Theara. Oliveira tried his luck from the edge of the box but sent his drive harmlessly wide. In a rare AEU break, Sou Yaty, on his Crown debut, was out sharpish to tackle Ty Bunvichet on the edge of his area, with Obadin clearing the danger. It was a reminder to Crown that despite their dominance of possession and chances, they needed another goal to make the game safe. That strike duly arrived on 72 minutes. Another Borey corner proved to be AEU's undoing, as Obadin guided his back post header into the path of Thierry and his drive took a deflection off Makara's hip to confound Theara in the AEU goal, Makara claiming his second of the game. Just two minutes later and Crown had added a third. Pheng's well-timed through ball allowed Bisan a touch to take him beyond the onrushing Theara and the Nigerian hit-man marked his debut by whacking the ball into the net from two yards out. Cue his trademark somersault celebration. A minute later he looked certain to score again only for the brave Theara to grab the ball off his toe. It was Bisan's last bit of action as he left the pitch nursing a hamstring strain. In a rare AEU forward push Bunvichet looked miles offside though his shot was wayward, and with their next move Crown extended their lead even further. Thierry's 40-yard pass was collected in his stride by Borey and as he entered the box, Theara looked to have bravely halted his run by grabbing the ball, as Borey went to ground. Referee Chuop Visal didn't agree and pointed to the spot, which brought howls of protest from the whole AEU team. Borey calmly stepped up to beat Theara from the penalty spot, only for the referee to order a retake for encroachment. It made no difference to Borey, who sent Theara the wrong way with his second kick. Crown were now 4-nil ahead and deservedly so, on the balance of play, with ten minutes to go. Yaty reacted well to keep out a header from Bunvichet with a few minutes remaining and Thierry blew his chance of a goal, as he fired wide after Sos Suhana's run and pull-back set him up.
This was coach Sam Schweingruber's post-match assessment of his team's 4-0 success: "Four-zero looks great - 2 set pieces, 1 possible offside and 1 totally gifted penalty - but if we are looking at what we wanted to do, then I didn't see enough of it. And in the end, gifting them opportunities to get a goal back, it's not funny. It's good to get the first game out of the way, good to be on top of the table after the first round and we will try our best to stay up there for the rest of the season. We've done reasonably well in a lot of areas but certainly nothing we can be proud of, leaning back, taking a break... and a lot of things we have to do better if we want to do well against the big teams." Crown have a midweek Hun Sen Cup match with TriAsia on Wednesday before they return to C-League action next Sunday against Army at Olympic Stadium.
PPCFC v AEU: Yaty, Dara, Pheng, Boris, Obadin, Thierry, Sokumpheak, Borey, Makara (Boran 78), Oliveira (Suhana 67), Bisan (Tola 81). Subs not used: Ary, Soksela, Da, Sothy, Sokheng, Morslim, Srin, Phearun. Booking: Sokumpheak. MOTM: Bisan - looked the dangerman that we already know. Goals: Makara 2 (56, 72), Bisan (74), Borey (80 pen).