|PPCFC vs Army, back row, LtoR: Srin, Matnorotin, Thierry, Sokthorn, Ary, Boris (capt). Front: Pisa, Da, Sokheng, Suhana, Sothy- click to enlarge|
With the competitive debuts of Sary Matnorotin and Va Sokthorn, Crown started slowly in the sunshine at Tonle Bati in their opening Group C match of the Hun Sen Cup. Yok Ary was called into a simple save from Pov Phearith's free-kick before coach Sam Schweingruber was forced into an early change, as Thourng Da left the field with a knee injury on 12 minutes, to be replaced by teenager Chey Chetra. Crown's first sight of goal came on 23 minutes as Ngoy Srin's ball to Bin Thierry, allowed the midfielder to create space for a shot but his strong drive went whistling wide of the target. Sokthorn went down claiming he'd been pulled over in the box but referee Khuon Vireak was in no mood to listen to Crown's pleas throughout the match. The opening goal came as Crown asserted themselves, on 29 minutes. Touch Sokheng, who had an outstanding game at left-back, fed Thierry, and his deflected cross sat up perfectly for Matnorotin to get a left-foot half-volley on target for the first of his two goals. The teenager could've scored again three minutes later, set up by Sokthorn after a neat interchange, but Um Sereyroth in the Army goal came out quickly to deny him. A wayward back-pass from Srin allowed Touch Roma space but his lob was well off target. With two minutes of the first-half remaining, Sereyroth was twice called upon to produce outstanding stops to keep his team in the tie. Matnorotin's cross to the far post was headed powerfully goalwards by Thierry, only for the keeper to tip it over the bar. Moments later, a 25-yard free-kick by Thierry was finger-tipped around the foot of the post by the stopper. In injury time, Ary pushed away a cross-shot from Phourng Soksana, but Army were well off the pace.
It took just 39 seconds of the second-half for Crown to continue their dominance. Sokthorn, who was the man-of-the-match in most observer eyes, broke clear and his cross was met by the forehead of Thierry, only for his header to miss the goal by inches. Three minutes later and Sokthorn set up Sos Suhana but his lob cleared the cross-bar. Ouk Sothy tried his luck from distance but Sereyroth was equal to it before Matnorotin clinched his second on 59 minutes. Ary's long drop-kick was headed on by Sokthorn and Matnorotin held off his marker and coolly rolled the ball past the keeper for Crown's second goal. Phearith struck the foot of the Crown upright with a free-kick, but it was all Crown and on 70 minutes, Sokthorn got the goal his performance deserved. Thierry held the ball up well and as it was cleared, Sokthorn took a touch and then blasted a left-foot screamer into the top corner from 25 yards out. A special strike, which must've looked good on the live TV cameras. Leng Makara and Um Tola entered the fray and the two combined with ten minutes to go, when Makara's 40-yard sprint set up Tola, but his finish struck the foot of the post and out to safety. Chetra set up Sokthorn but his shot was blocked low down by Sereyroth. With two minutes to go, captain Kok Boris stepped up to fire home his team's fourth goal from the penalty spot after Thong Udom had handled Makara's shot on the goal-line and was dismissed by referee Vireak. It was Sokthorn who released Tola, his initial shot was stopped by Sereyroth and that allowed Makara two strikes at goal, his second being punched away by last-man Udom. The game ended on a sour note as Ke Vannak's flying elbow caught Tola in the face and the striker was carried off with a bloody mouth. Crown, after this confident performance, will meet Battambang on Sunday in their next cup outing at Tonle Bati; the youngsters from the northwest were beaten 10-2 by Boeung Ket.
PPCFC vs Army: Ary, Pisa, Da (Chetra 12), Srin, Boris, Thierry (Tola 79), Sothy, Sokheng, Sokthorn, Matnorotin (Makara 74), Suhana. Subs not used: Usarphea, Boran, Polo, Lavy, Charly. Booking: Sothy. MOTM: Sokthorn. Goals: Matnorotin 2 (29, 59), Sokthorn (70), Boris (88 pen).