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Chhma Khmao come good

Phnom Penh Crown reclaim top spot in the Metfone C-League through a 1-0 win Sunday; Chhma Khmao score their first league goal and hold out for victory

Metfone C-League favourites Phnom Penh Crown were keen to get their title aspirations back on track Sunday after two successive draws, though opponents Kirivong Sok Sen Chey had won their last two games and were not in the mood to just lie down and let them.

The game was played at almost walking pace because of the oppressive heat and humidity though the half minute silence for Wilson Mene, the Nigerian striker with Prek Pra Keila who died from a heart attack on the same pitch the day before, left a long shadow over the day’s proceedings.

The majority of possession in the first period belonged to Crown. Uche Prince Justine stung the hands of Kirivong goalkeeper Keum Makara with a trademark thunderbolt on 22 minutes after teammate Keo Sokngorn had fired against the foot of the upright.

Crown made their dominance pay off seven minutes before the interval, after good approach play on the left flank by Hong Makara allowed Keo Sokngorn to beat Keum Makara’s despairing dive with a first-time drive that arrowed into the far corner.

Kirivong came more into the game after the break with Julius Chukwumeka heading over from close range soon after the restart. Oscar Mpoko then did exactly the same at the other end in an identical position.

The Takeo-based team posed the Crown defence a few problems without ever really worrying Peng Bunchhay in goal, whilst at the other end, Justine fired into the side netting after working himself an opening.

Keo Sokngorn could’ve wrapped it up late on, but Keum Makara stood firm in goal as the ball rebounded off his body. It didn’t matter as Crown ran out 1-0 winners to regain top spot in the Metfone C-League with a one point advantage over the National Defence Ministry.

Chhma Khmao 1 Wat Phnom 0

The relief at registering their first goal, their first win and their first points in the Metfone C-League was etched over every face of the Chhma Khmao squad as they celebrated in style at the final whistle of their historic 1-0 victory over Wat Phnom Sunday. It wasn’t a pretty performance but it was a gritty and effective one as the Black Cats, who hail from Svay Rieng province, snuffed out a toothless Wat Phnom at the Olympic Stadium.

Wat Phnom are finding it tough themselves this season with just a single victory so far, and came into the game on the back of two heavy defeats. They should’ve scored early on but both Henry Asonibe and Srey Vandeth wasted good chances with the goal at their mercy.

Refusing to be bullied into submission, Chhma Khmao took the game to their opponents and with their first real strike at goal, they registered their first score in nearly nine hours of league play.

And what a goal it was. With thirty minutes on the clock, Chhma Khmao skipper Pao Phearith took possession of the ball twenty metres from goal and unleashed a wicked dipping drive that whistled past Wat Phnom keeper Sin Pisal for a moment to savour for the captain and his jubilant teammates.

Wat Phnom increased the pressure after the half time interval but lacked a cutting edge in the last third of the pitch. Henry Asonibe and captain Phlong Chanthou were guilty of not capitalising on gilt-edged opportunities, with the latter firing wide with only the goalkeeper to beat.

Chhma Khmao defended stoutly and at times desperately, determined to hold onto their slender one-goal advantage, and when referee Chhour Mengtong blew for full time, it was the cue for unbridled celebrations that went on long after the floodlights were turned off.

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