|PPCFC Academy v Mandalay, back row, LtoR: Chanvuthy, Chhaya, Senteang, Chanpolin, Titchhy, Sovann (capt). Front: Sodavid, Noeut, Ponvuthy, Piphop, Chanchav - click to enlarge|
Academy coach Bouy Dary was forced into making changes to his line-up with goalkeeper Sem Mesa and defensive rock Seut Baraing picking up knocks. That meant starts for Kong Chanvuthy in goal, Choun Chanchav alongside skipper Ouk Sovann and a return for fit-again Suon Noeut. Blazing sunshine and a large crowd greeted the two teams at the kick-off at Olympic Stadium on Saturday morning. The opening stages of the game were cagey with neither team threatening until In Sodavid broke into the penalty box and delivered a low cross that evaded Chhuot Senteang by a matter of inches on fifteen minutes. Most of the play in the attacking third came from Crown with Suon Noeut sending a cross into the hands of Mandalay goalkeeper Sann Sat Naing and Pyae Maung putting an end to Senteang's charge forwards with a timely intervention. On 23 minutes, Sodavid worked himself Crown's best chance when he moved on Senteang's pass, sidestepped Zar Nay Thu's challenge but blasted the ball over the cross-bar, when placement was a better option. A minute later, Mandalay's Moe Min Zaw lobbed his side's first serious effort over the top from distance. Pov Ponvuthy caused consternation in the opposition box with his dash and cross but Senteang lost his footing at the crucial moment. Moe Min Zaw popped up on the edge of the Crown box to unleash a fizzing low drive which Chanvuthy moved quickly to push aside, and as the Myanmar side found their feet at last, Hein Phyo Win saw his glancing header from a corner go well wide. The first-half ended with Orn Chanpolin's shot blocked by a defender after Sodavid's turn created the opening. No goals at the break and an unusally subdued Crown display.
Mandalay took advantage of Crown's failure to clear the ball as it bobbled around the edge of their area, with the second-half just over a minute old. Moe Min Zaw saw his chance for glory and took it, lobbing the ball over Chanvuthy for the opening goal, stunning the home crowd into silence. Referee Suhaimi Ismail from Malaysia consulted his assistant after Crown's Chanchav was floored in his own box before a corner, and flashed yellow cards to both Chanchav and Zwe Thet Paing for the altercation. Moments later, as Sraing Titchhy moved onto Sodavid's through ball, he went over a defender's leg only to see Ismail's hand held high holding a yellow card, for apparent simulation. Crown had improved on their first-half showing but were finding it hard to make head-way until Ponvuthy was felled and Sovann's curling free-kick from 25 yards was held at the foot of the post by Naing. A poor kick from Chanvuthy gave Mandalay hope but Oakkwr Bo was flagged offside, and at the other end Naing was quickly out to smother the danger from Sodavid's break into the box. With half an hour gone, a three minute stoppage saw Crown keeper Chanvuthy forced to leave the field, after he bravely dived at the feet of Aung Phyo Thar and got a kick in the nose for his troubles. Thar was cautioned and Svang Samnang got his first taste of action, as Chanvuthy's replacement. Senteang's spurt into the box was ended when his weak shot was scooped up by Naing, while Samnang's footwork let him down and Aung Pyae Ko's shot went wide with the keeper scampering back between the sticks. Crown's passing, one of their normal strengths, wasn't at its best but a perfect Kim Chhaya cross, with twelve minutes to go, found the forehead of Senteang but the striker sent his header wide of the upright. Holding his head in his hands, Senteang knew the opportunity was a game-changer. A series of substitutions - ten in all in the second-half - disrupted the flow of the match and despite shots from distance by Chanpolin and Sodavid, Mandalay held out for their first victory in this year's competition. An error of judgement by referee Ishmail saw just two minutes added on at the end when the player changes, injuries, a water break and time-wasting suggested at least 8 minutes would've been more appropriate.
Crown coach Bouy Dary gave his thoughts at the final whistle. "The first half we started really slowly and didn't play the way we wanted to play. We weren't at 100% and didn't show enough spirit. I want them to play good football, regardless of the result, but 1st half we didn't do that today. We tried things too quickly, looking for the runs of our striker and it didn't work. Then we started the 2nd half too sleepy and let them score too easily. I warned them, close them down at the edge of the box. We didn't. But after they scored, we played much better, as a team, showed a good spirit, even though we didn't score. Its important with the youths, that they play together as a team, enjoy the game and continue to develop. I think the referee should learn from this game - in the 2nd half there were 10 substitutions, lots of breaks and injuries, but he added just 2 minutes - I don't know what he was thinking! I talked to him and he just said sorry. Next week we have a very difficult game against Frenz, they are very physical, but we have a plan, we know what to do and we want to get a good result."
PPCFC v Mandalay: Chanvuthy (S Samnang 75), Noeut, Chhaya (V Samnang 90), Chanchav, Sovann, Chanpolin (Muslim 90), Sodavid, Piphop (Sakrovy 59), Ponvuthy (Phearath 71), Titchhy (Baraing 83), Senteang. Subs not used: Chansopheak. Bookings: Chhaya, Chanchav, Titchhy. MOTM: Sodavid - always active, involved and available.