Saturday, July 5, 2014

7 wins on the trot

PPCFC v Nat Police, back row, LtoR: Boris, Pheng, Obadin, Bisan, Ary, Borey. Front Row: Pellegrino, Da, Suhana, Sosela, Sokumpheak - click to enlarge
Match Result: Phnom Penh Crown 3 National Police 1 (Metfone C-League).
With three players missing due to suspension - Bin Thierry, Ouk Sothy and Ngoy Srin - coach Sam Schweingruber switched Neou Sosela for Leng Makara in his starting eleven for this potentially tricky game with National Police at Olympic Stadium under lights. Sosela is a former Police player. Crown's Khim Borey sent a long distance effort wide, while Police's Noun Borey aimed a low drive straight at Yok Ary as the match took a while to get into its rhythm. It took the league's leading goalscorer, George Bisan to bring the game to life, when he smashed in his 19th goal of the campaign, on 24 minutes. Borey moved into the middle and laid the ball back for the Nigerian hotshot to strike a 25-yard volley into the bottom left corner leaving goalkeeper Yasuyuki Yoshida clutching at straws. It was just what the game needed. Ieng Tin cynically took out Kouch Sokumpheak on the half-way line as the Crown captain scurried clear and having already been booked, Tin was fortunate to escape a second caution. Bisan was on target again with a header from Hong Pheng's center but Yoshida clutched it under the bar. At the other end, Ary had to be alert to fingertip a Samuel Oseika looping header over the top. With Crown on top, Adriano Pellegrino's free-kick found the head of Odion Obadin and his nod across the box found Bisan, but the striker swung his boot and miskicked. Thirty seconds later Sosela's pass sent Bisan on a charge but as he let fly, a long leg from Say Piseth saved Police's blushes. That let-off didn't last long. From the Pellegrino corner, Obadin dived forwards to head the ball past Yoshida from eight yards out, with five minutes of the half remaining. It was Obadin's fourth of the season, all of them headers. Bisan broke away again and attempted to set up Pellegrino but without success and the Australian then sent a shot on the turn straight at Yoshida. Noun Borey sent a header well wide in a rare Police break and the final action of the first-half, saw Sosela's cross deflected off Tin and spin inches wide of the near post.

It needed a Police revival at the start of the second-half to make inroads into Crown's lead and though they huffed and puffed, it never came. Two Borey free-kick's went straight to Ary and wide of the post before Crown took back the initiative and Obadin headed over the top from Pellegrino's deep corner. Police full-back Ieng Tin's rash challenges were his undoing, as he again caught Sosela late and referee Tuy Vichheka was spot-on to produce a yellow followed by a red card. That was two minutes before Crown netted their third goal on the hour. Sosela fed Pellegrino and his sublime chip over the defence was chested down by Sokumpheak, who took an extra touch and calmly rolled the ball wide of Yoshida. Crown were looking to put the result beyond doubt as Sokumpheak released Bisan through the middle but Yoshida stood firm and stopped the striker's shot with his feet. Barely ten seconds later, Pellegrino ghosted past the last defender but also found Yoshida equal to his goal-bound shot. Police had no answer to the waves of Crown attacks and Pellegrino slipped a pass wide to Sosela but the tiny winger's aim was off and he blazed the ball over the cross-bar. Bisan moved onto a pass from Borey and his powerful drive was fumbled by Yoshida, though the goalkeeper produced a dramatic fingertip save two minutes later as Bisan raced onto Sokumpheak's pass and unleashed a ferocious drive which the Japanese stopper somehow kept out. A contender for save of the season without a doubt.   
Pellegrino sent an effort from distance harmlessly wide and another of his dangerous corners saw substitute Leng Makara head the first of a trio of good chances over the top at the far post. Police's Say Piseth was fortunate to only see yellow for a shocking late tackle on Sokumpheak. With fifteen minutes of the game remaining, Police were offered a lifeline when Tith Dina collected a ball through the middle and slotted his shot past Ary. However, Crown continued to create chances, with Borey's free-kick headed back across goal by Bisan and Makara sent an overhead kick ballooning over the bar. Next, Sokumpheak slalomed through three challenges and set up Makara, only for his fierce drive to clear the cross-bar. Ary watched a 45-yard volley from Chhin Meng Seang dip at the last moment and touched it over the top, while Bisan was again on target with a powerful shot but Piseth's foot deflected it wide. In stoppage time of seven minutes, Ary was again alert to keep out two goal-bound strikes in a crowded penalty area, as Crown saw out their seventh straight victory and extended their lead at the top of the Metfone C-League table to eight points Head coach Sam Schweingruber reflected on the chances that got away. "The most difficult part of the game is scoring goals. Its been the story of our season. Its easier to defend and park the bus than create chances and break down a fairly decent defence. We've been struggling, not for the first time, to put the ball into the net. For example, George scored the most difficult chance he had, while the later chances he had were actually easier. Police didn't have anything to threaten us and it was a completely dominant first half from us. Good possession, the goals we scored were great and we should've scored more from the chances we had. We'll take the positives that we created those chances, so that's very good. Just sad that we didn't score more."
PPCFC v Nat Police: Ary, Da, Pheng, Boris, Obadin, Sokumpheak, Suhana, Borey, Sosela (Makara 70, Pisa 89)), Pellegrino (Sokheng 74), Bisan. Subs not used: Yaty, Soksela, Dara, Morslim. Bookings: None. MOTM: Sokumpheak - a captain's performance in every respect. Goals: Bisan (24), Obadin (40), Sokumpheak (60).

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