|PPCFC v Chonburi, line-up, back row, LtoR: Chanvuthy, Chanpolin, Chanchav, Senteang, Titchhy, Sovann. Front Row: Sakrovy, Baraing, Ponvuthy, Sodavid, Phearath - click to enlarge|
For their final ACT game of the season, the Crown Academy were looking to do a lot better against the competition favourites Chonburi here in Thailand, after losing 8-3 at home last week to the same opponents. The home team had already qualified for the competition's semi-finals, having won the 2013 version and are keen to repeat the feat. Crown would finish in 3rd place in Group B whatever the outcome. Kung Chanvuthy got the nod for the final match between the sticks with slight knocks for Kim Chhaya and Suon Noeut leaving them on the bench. In the opening minutes, Crown looked to Sraing Titchhy for a breakthrough but he was halted in his tracks on a couple of occasions. Chanvuthy was called into action in the 8th minute as Kritthanaphong Paidaen got a lucky break in the box but his shot was palmed away by the Crown stopper. On sixteen minutes Orn Chanpolin released Titchhy and as he raced clear he was upended by Autthagowit Jantod. A yellow card for the defender, saved from dismissal by a teammate in a covering position. Ouk Sovann's free-kick from 20 yards out looked to have found the top corner only to hit the post and bounce to safety. A let off for the home team. Moments later, Long Phearath ventured down the left flank, slalomed around three challenges but his dangerous low cross was cleared at the last moment with Chhuot Senteang looming menacingly. It was Chonburi's turn to hit the woodwork when Nititorn Sripramarn fed Paidaen on the edge of the box and he lazily struck a shot which rebounded into Chanvuthy's hands after hitting the upright. Pov Ponvuthy was looking lively on the left flank for Crown and after his run was blocked, Chanpolin sent a speculative 25-yarder wide of the target. Chonburi brought on substitute Theeraphat Niyomrit after 31 minutes and in less than a minute, he opened the scoring for the home team. Keeping the ball with successive passes, Kritsada Kaman spotted Niyomrit's blindside run into the box and picked him out perfectly, for the substitute to arch his neck muscles and send a header over Chanvuthy's outstretched hands. Chonburi kept the ball well for long periods, with Sripramarn heading over and Niyomrit firing straight at Chanvuthy before the goalkeeper was pulled up for holding the ball too long. The free-kick came to nothing as half-time came with the group winners a goal to the good.
The second half started brightly for the visitors with Chanpolin feeding Senteang who looked to have escaped the back-line only to take a moment too long to get his shot away, and Arthit Kansangwet got a last-ditch tackle in to thwart Crown's leading scorer. A rare miskick by Seut Baraing presented Paidaen with a golden opportunity from fifteen yards out but Chanvuthy stood firm and helped the ball over the cross-bar with a strong hand, with just five minutes played. Choun Chanchav got a timely block in to deflect a shot from distance by Saharat Sontisawat, the home skipper. As Chonburi pressed, last week's 5-goal hero Sittichok Paso headed over and Sontisawat blasted well wide. With twelve minutes of the second-half gone, Senteang was played in by Ponvuthy and as he got a shot away with his left foot, home keeper Chakhon Philakhlang was at full stretch to keep his goal intact. Men Piphop came on for Crown and was immediately in the action as he raced clear onto Mat Sakrovy's pass, but found Philakhlang's reactions razor-sharp as he left his line to block the attempted cross-shot. In an end-to-end encounter that was being lapped up by the audience, the home team went in search of a second goal and skipper Sontisawat stung Chanvuthy's fingertips with a 20-yard blast, before Paso weaved his way around two defenders but screwed his shot across the face of goal. It was edge-of-the-seat stuff. At the other end, Senteang took the ball on from the halfway line and evaded the tackle of Kansangwet before unleashing a curling low drive which Philakhlang did well to get down to and hold at the second attempt. Sontisawat escaped his marker and laid the ball to Sripramarn only for Chanvuthy to be equal to his snap-shot at the near post. Chonburi were fortunate to find the referee from Malaysia in a benevolent mood when Natthanon Charoensingkeewan jumped up in his own box and the ball struck his hand, only for play to be waved on. Senteang was a constant thorn to the home team and a one-two with Ponvuthy gave the striker a half chance, though Jantod got his foot in to block for a corner. The final ten minutes was devoid of chances as Chonburi were content to sit on their lead and Crown couldn't find a way through, to end the season with a defeat but their pride restored after this narrow reverse.
Crown Academy coach Bouy Dary had this to say at the final whistle. "The boys did really well in terms of defending, creating chances, we didn't score but we played good football, especially in the second half and we did well. Unlucky not to score and get a penalty for handball. I'm proud that the boys gave everything they had. We lost the game but I'm happy to see us improve from the last game. Its important to understand why we do so well away from home. First, the quality of the pitch. Every away team has a far better pitch than the Olympic Stadium. They allow us to play good football, we play the ball on the ground and a good surface allows us to play our game. Secondly, away from home we play in the late afternoon or evening when its cool, which makes a real difference from the morning games at home, when its so hot. We've improved a lot this year, as a coach I want more, but I'm happy that we've shown a big improvement over last year. We only drew 2 games last year and found it hard to score goals. This year we have scored a lot more goals and we've stopped the other teams scoring, except the Chonburi game when we had a lot of injuries. I'm quite happy with our results this time around. I would choose Pov Ponvuthy as our most improved player. He's only small but he causes other teams problems and works really hard at all aspects of his game, attacking and defending."
PPCFC v Chonburi: Chanvuthy, Sovann (K Chhaya 90+3), Phearath, Chanchav, Baraing, Chanpolin (Muslim 89), Sodavid (Chansopheak 86), Sakrovy (Rozak 72), Ponvuthy (Noeut 81), Titchhy (Piphop 61), Senteang. Sub not used: S Samnang. Bookings: None. MOTM: Senteang and Chanvuthy - both had very good games.