Saturday, July 19, 2014

Crown slip up

PPCFC v Svay Rieng line-up, back row, LtoR: Obadin, Makara, Thierry, Bisan, Borey, Ary. Front: Dara, Da, Sothy, Pellegrino, Sokumpheak - click to enlarge
Match Result: Phnom Penh Crown 2 Svay Rieng 3 (Metfone C-League).
Phnom Penh Crown slipped to their first defeat in 16 matches and their first reversal in Round 2 of the Championship, which they had already guaranteed themselves with their win over NagaCorp last week. Kok Boris was suspended so coach Sam Schweingruber sprang a surprise by slotting Bin Thierry alongside Odion Obadin as the central defensive pairing. Hong Pheng missed the game as he was at a wedding. It took a while for the game to warm up before George Bisan's shot was blocked by James Adekunle and Obadin cleared the danger from Prak Mony Udom's low cross into the six-yard area. The best opportunity fell to Dzarma Bata when a fortunate rebound off Ouk Sothy fell into his path but he slipped his shot wide of Yok Ary and the upright. Ary looked a bit uncomfortable as he fumbled a low shot from distance by Nob Tola around the post, before an unfortunate clash required Svay Rieng to change their goalkeeper after just twenty minutes. Khim Borey slotted a pass through to Sothy but keeper Aim Sovannarath came out quickly to collect, but also got caught by Sothy's boot on his head and required stitches in a wound. Sar Sophea replaced him in goal. Bisan's long range free-kick was deflected for a corner and then his run across the pitch, exchanging passes with Adriano Pellegrino and Leng Makara, ended with the striker firing well wide of the target. A few minutes later Pellegrino played a one-two with Bisan and let fly from 25 yards, though his drive whistled a foot over the cross-bar. Borey's long ball send Bisan scampering clear on the left touchline but his sprint into the box was ended with a heavy touch allowing Sophea to collect. Bata forced a one-handed save from Ary though a raised flag meant it didn't count.

On 33 minutes Crown opened the scoring when Kouch Sokumpheak's lobbed pass, aimed at Bisan, found the head of Seuy Visal and in trying to direct his header to Sophea, sent it inside the far post for an own goal. It took just two minutes for Svay Rieng to equalise. Udom's curling free-kick was forced in at close range by Adekunle's high foot though Crown complained bitterly to referee Sang Sopheak that the scorer's foot was dangerously high, with a mark on Ary's ribcage to back up their claims. He waved aside the appeals. Stung by the decision, Crown forced the pace with halftime approaching. Borey released Bisan again and this time the striker cut inside but couldn't find the power to beat Sophea. Bisan nearly turned provider when his through ball looked to have caught out the Svay Rieng defence with Pellegrino looking to get a crucial touch, only for Sophea to clear the ball to safety off the Australian's toes. Udom's curler narrowly avoided the post after Tola had set him up and to close the first-half, Makara blasted well over after Pellegrino's shot was deflected into his path. It was all-square at the interval.

Crown will be disappointed to concede just three minutes after the restart as Svay Rieng broke, Tola laid the ball into the path of Bata, and he made no mistake, forcing the ball past Ary, to take him well clear of Bisan in the race for the Golden Boot award. Responding well to the reverse, Visal was forced to head the ball away from danger from Borey's cross, though at the other end it needed a timely intervention by Thierry to clear a similar situation. Bata's touch let him down as Udom sent him clear and Ary came out quickly to collect at the striker's feet. A trademark Pellegrino free-kick from 35 yards out looked destined for the net from Sokumpheak's flicked header but Sophea dived full-length to divert it around the post. Pellegrino's corner was met by Borey's head at the near post and though Sophea's stop gave Makara a close range header, he missed the target and sent the golden opportunity over the cross-bar. On 63 minutes, Crown got the goal their pressure deserved. Pellegrino, 30 yards out on the touchline, floated over a free-kick which missed everyone except Makara at the far post and his hook back across goal was nodded in by Sokumpheak from a couple of yards out to draw the teams level again. Nofiu Lawal swept a cleared corner past the post through a crowded area, before another Pellegrino corner was headed goalwards by Sokumpheak but stopped on the line by Visal and cleared. 

Ngoy Srin tried his luck from 35 yards when a poor clearance landed at his feet, but a back-pedalling Sophea saw it all the way and fingertipped it over the bar. A foul on Sothy gave Borey an opportunity for one of his curling free-kicks but he pulled it left and past the upright from 25 yards. The winning goal came out of the blue with twelve minutes to go. A long ball down the middle saw Ary race out to kick it away, only for the ball to hit Bata and ricochet into the path of substitute Samouen Pidor, who calmly volleyed it into the empty net. It was rough luck on Ary and his Crown teammates who quickly recovered their composure to take the game to their opponents. Pellegrino found Borey and he took aim from 30 yards only for his ferocious drive to strike the wrong side of the post. Sophea, not involved at all, remained motionless on the ground for two minutes as Svay Rieng played for time. Neou Sosela sent a hit and hopeful shot wide before the final chance of the match fell to Borey. Two minutes into stoppage time, Sokumpheak forced his way at the heart of the defence and slipped the ball to his teammate, but Borey's dipping drive was tipped aside by Sophea and referee Sopheak had seen enough and blew for time, and the end of Crown's nine-match winning sequence.

Coach Sam Schweingruber had this to say about the game. "The game was quite good, I thought they had a bit more in midfield, they keep the ball well and were a bit better organised in the 1st half. We had a couple of good opportunities and were a bit unlucky a couple of times. We got a fortunate goal and then they got one that shouldn't have counted for a high foot, though it was poor defending by us. I was quite happy with our possession, rotations and general build-up play. We made a little mistake at the start of the 2nd half and were too far away from Bata, and he showed why he's the top scorer. I was unhappy with that. We equalised, had more opportunities, we were the better team at that stage. Then as we were deciding on our next change, their third goal came. We did really well playing from the back today and Ary had some really good moments helping the build-up. And then to have this fairly easy ball, which he kicked at Bata and it bounced perfectly for a one-touch finish. These things happen. We tried to equalise, there wasn't much between the two teams and I'm disappointed we couldn't get a result out of this game. We deserved another goal." 
PPCFC v SVR: Ary, Dara (Srin 54), Da (Sosela 83), Thierry, Obadin, Sokumpheak, Sothy, Borey, Makara, Pellegrino, Bisan. Subs not used: Yaty, Soksela, Pisa, Morslim, Sokheng, Suhana. Bookings: None. MOTM: Pellegrino - for his 2nd half prompting. Goals: OG (33), Sokumpheak (63).

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