Sunday, November 22, 2015

Crown nose ahead with 1st leg win

PPCFC, back row, LtoR: Obadin, Soksela, Sokthorn, Makara, Thierry, Bisan, Boris (capt). Front row: C Pisa, Chanpolin, Sodavid, Booysen.
Sunday 22 November 2015 : Phnom Penh Crown 2 Nagaworld 0 (MCL Play-off Final, 1st Leg).
Crown got their noses firmly in front in the first leg of the Championship Play-off, with a well-deserved and comprehensive victory over Naga at the Olympic Stadium tonight. The game began at a pedestrian pace though a head injury to Keo Soksela, the teenager making his debut in goal for Crown, caused some concern on the bench. The youngster had already dived to his right to push aside a low free-kick from Barry Lelouma before a crack on his head from a Khim Borey challenge saw a five-minute stoppage whilst the bloodied head wound was treated. Defender Odion Obadin's goal-bound header was pushed out by Samrith Seiha and In Sodavid's attempt was cleared by Om Thavrak after a poor clearance.  Just before the half hour mark, Lelouma's shot on the turn went harmlessly wide and Kouch Sokumpheak's breakaway was blocked as Soksela was quickly out to the edge of his box with his arms outstretched.  The best chance of the game came on 38 minutes as Bin Thierry's free-kick was pushed out by Seiha and into the path of George Bisan, but his hurried blast into the ground bounced agonisingly over the cross-bar. Sodavid's quick ball found Shane  Booysen in space on the edge of the area but Seiha was down smartish to divert his whipped drive. Moments later, Bisan headed down Va Sokthorn's free-kick and Obadin's shot on the swivel was blocked by Seiha and Sun Sovannrithy. The first-half ended with Lelouma's 20-yard drive easily held by Soksela.
A Bisan shot was harmless enough after he was set-up by Bin Thierry's magic feet and then ten minutes after the interval, Crown took control with the first goal of the 1st leg. Bisan was lurking fifteen yards from goal and his forceful header looped in after Thierry's corner was headed into the air by Borey's clearance. Five minutes later the Nigerian hitman sent another header inches wide from Booysen's pass. A flurry of cautions included a booking for Om Thavrak for an off-the-ball trip on Bisan that prompted a mini flare-up, before Naga had to replace their goalkeeper, Seiha leaving the pitch with a knee injury. On 78 minutes, Thavrak tripped Sokthorn as he broke through, leaving referee Khuon Virak with no option but to brandish a second yellow card.  Booysen sent a long range drive wide before he combined with Sokthorn and lashed a shot against the upright at the end of a 60-yard run.  Bisan's neat chip to the far post gave Sodavid a sight of goal but his shot was turned aside at the foot of the post by the replacement keeper Phorn Rathana. A double substitution saw Keo Sokpheng introduced, and his final pass, from Sokthorn's incisive run on the left wing, gave Booysen space to cut inside and sent an unerring drive into the bottom corner for Crown's second with three seconds of normal time remaining.  In the five minutes of stoppage time, Booysen's long range effort was collected by Rathana and Yongsun Baek's shot, from Sokpheng's pass, went a foot wide of the upright. 2-nil and game over. Now the teams wait for the Play-off 2nd Leg on 12 December, also at Olympic Stadium.
Head coach Sam Schweingruber on the 2-0 victory over Nagaworld in the 1st leg of the Play-off Final. "We survived an unbelievably poor first fifteen minutes. We couldnt deal with the slow ball speed, we had so many intercepted passes. We didn't play at all the way we were hoping to play, we made life very difficult for ourselves. I'm not surprised as we had little time to work as a team with our national team players gone for three weeks, etc; we'd not had enough opportunities to work on these things. Nevertheless, we sorted it out, got into the game before half-time. We could've had a goal on the Thierry free-kick and rebound but from the 30th minute, I didn't feel Naga looked like scoring. We had everything covered.
We worked on set pieces yesterday, so I was happy that one of those worked out as it did, although not as we planned. Our speed and our runs made it very difficult for them to deal with it, they got a player sent off and from then, it was always going to be us.
There's still another game to go, we'll have a few days to relax and focus on recovery. Mentally, its been a tough two weeks, not just football-wise but with other events at the club. We'll be back for a determined two weeks, working extremely hard to be even better than today. While the result today was satisfying, the way we played wasn't, so I want us to do better." 
PPCFC vs Naga: Soksela (GK), Makara, C Pisa, Boris (Capt), Obadin, Thierry, Sokthorn (Dani 90+3), Chanpolin, Sodavid (Baek 86), Booysen, Bisan (Sokpheng 86). Subs (not used): Danny (GK), Boran, Tola, Yaneat. Bookings: Obadin, Bisan. Goals: Bisan (55), Booysen (90).

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