|PPCFC v TriASia, back row, LtoR: Bisan, Makara, Boris, Obadin, Ary, Pellegrino. Front; Sothy, Srin, Pheng, Borey, Sokumpheak - click to enlarge|
Crown coach Sam Schweingruber was without his injured goalkeeper Sou Yaty and the suspended Bin Thierry but welcomed back from injury the defensive duo of Kok Boris and Odion Obadin for this important clash with TriAsia. A win was vital for the league leaders as they maintain their march to the Metfone C-League championship. The opening fifteen minutes of the game was bogged down in midfield and it was Crown who forced the first noteworthy chance when George Bisan moved onto Boris' long ball and set up Adriano Pellegrino for a shot, which was blocked, as was Leng Makara's follow-up at the far post. TriAsia then grabbed the initiative on 18 minutes as Thul Sothearith's long ball caught the Crown backline napping and Suong Virak sped away and tucked his shot under Yok Ary's body for the game's opening goal. A minute later and Ary's feet stopped Virak from doubling the lead. Former Crown player, Virak was causing problems with his quick feet and his low cross was touched wide at the far post by Friday Nwakuna as TriAsia posed all the questions. That was until the 26th minute when Crown used Route 1 football to level matters. Ary's long kick was headed on by Bisan, Pellegrino nodded it sideways and as it dropped, Bisan unleashed a thunderbolt volley from the edge of the area that gave Hem Simay absolutely zero chance as it arrowed into the top corner. Crown were level, though Virak twice sent in long range efforts that Ary collected comfortably. On the half hour, Kouch Sokumpheak sent Ngoy Srin sprinting away on the left flank and as he tussled with En Vichhay in the penalty area, referee Khuon Virak pointed to the spot after seeing the defender use his hands to gain an advantage. It took nearly two minutes for the TriAsia protests to die down as Bisan stepped up to smack the penalty against the foot of the left upright, with Simay's fingertips helping it on its way. With TriAsia still celebrating, Srin's quick throw-in was pounced on by Khim Borey and his header into the six yard box was nodded in by Odion Obadin to put Crown 2-1 ahead. It was a mere twenty seconds after the penalty miss, and 32 minutes into the game. Borey's long ranger was easily held by Simay, while Tomohiro Masaki's header was touched over the bar by Ary. From the corner, Hong Pheng was on the post to head away Nuth Sinoun's goalbound effort for the last serious action of the first-half.
Dani Kouch whipped his drive a yard wide early on after the restart but it was the introduction of Khmer-Dutch midfielder Chan Sokha that briefly livened up proceedings. Crown's Ouk Sothy was booked for lashing out at the new arrival and after just five minutes on the pitch, Sokha was red-carded by referee Virak for a high foot on Sothy. TriAsia were down to ten men with 62 minutes of the game played. Bisan powered his way towards goal and his vicious drive rebounded off Simay's gloves, while Sokumpheak chanced his arm from 25 yards, but his shot veered well wide. TriAsia lost one of their coaches, when he was sent to the stands but they looked to have been presented with a gift when Virak adjudged Crown keeper Ary to have picked the ball up twice and gave an indirect free-kick just nine yards from goal. With the whole Crown team on the goal-line, Seng Kosen wasted the chance, sending it wide of the far post. Crown lost Pellegrino with a knee injury and Virak was again lively, nipping in behind the Crown defence, only to find Ary's legs blocking his way to goal, with six minutes left on the clock. Pheng and Sos Suhana exchanged passes with Pheng racing into the area only to send his shot high and wide. With five minute of stoppage time added on, Borey sent Suhana sprinting clear only for Simay to punch his angled shot away. It was the final action of the game as Crown collected three more valuable points, extending their lead to eight points and registering the double over TriAsia.
Sam Schweingruber's after-match comments were: "We stay on top with another hard-fought win but we struggled a bit on the bumpy pitch, struggled with relaxing and getting into our groove. We found ourselves a goal down but managed to get ahead before halftime, which was very good, mentally strong to keep pushing. An amazing goal by George, a brilliant strike. He could've scored with the penalty but I think the keeper got a touch onto the post. But very happy how quickly we reacted to that, that's a sign of mental strength. We deserved to win, they didn't really create but I wish we were more relaxed and in control of the game and the ball. Towards the end we were too nervous, we should be keeping the ball and riding the time out. When they did get dangerous through 32 who I thought had a really good game, Ary did very well to save the situation."
PPCFC v TriAsia: Ary, Pheng, Srin, Boris (Pisa 90+2), Obadin, Sokumpheak, Sothy, Makara (Suhana 58), Borey, Pellegrino (Sosela 81), Bisan. Subs not used; Soksela, Da, Dara, Morslim. Bookings: Srin, Sothy. MOTM: Srin - showed adventure down the flanks. Goals: Bisan (26), Obadin (32).