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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Crown keep things tight at top

Crown keep things tight at top

Phnom Penh Crown reduce the gap with Preah Khan Reach to three points after their 4-1 rout of Post Tel Club Wednesday, while Khemara Keila jump up to fourth.

Photo by: NICK SELLS nicksellsphotography.com

Phnom Penh Crown's Hong Rathana (left) leaps to control a cross-field long ball during their CPL game against Post Tel Club at Olympic Stadium Wednesday.

PHNOM Penh Crown kept their Cambodian Premier League title defence on track as they took apart Post Tel Club with a display of clinical finishing Wednesday at Olympic Stadium.

An uninspiring first half limped into action in the 11th minute when a missed clearance from Crown's Beng Panhcharong let in Gafar Surosinmi.

The ball was bouncing, and although the Nigerian striker was able to get his lob over the keeper the ball went just inches wide of the far stick.

Chances were then at a premium when Post Tel's Surosinmi, a real box of tricks in the first half, went close again five minutes later with a left-footed drive from the edge of the box.

Just as the game seemed to be wilting towards a goalless first half, Crown grabbed a priceless opener two minutes before the break. A throw-in fell kindly for Tunji Ayoyinka inside the area, and his shot was well blocked by Justine Chijioke, only for the rebound to roll across the six yard box to Chhim Rathanak, who arrived at the far post to smash the ball into the roof of the net.

It took 20 minutes of the second half for a goal to arrive, but when it did, it invoked a torrent that would soon follow. Ayoyinka, who is improving with every game, got Crown's second when he volleyed in Sun Sophanha's corner at the far post.

With one minute left on the clock, Hong Rathana added a third fro his side when he latched onto a Chan Rithy through ball at pace, knocked it round the keeper and rolled into the unguarded net. It was then Keo Sokngorn's turn to get in on the act in injury time, the Cambodian boy wonder scoring with a glorious curled effort from just outside the area, after picking up Chan Chhaya's cheeky backheel.

There was still time for Post Tel to grab a consolation through Saing Neth, who swept in a loose ball at the far post, but by then the damage had very much been done as Crown cruised to victory.

Photo by: NICK SELLS nicksellsphotography.com

Khemara Keila's Chan Dara (right) holds off a challenge from Build Bright United's Oriola Adeseye Wednesday.

Khemara Keila 3 Build Bright United 1

In Wednesday's second game, Khemara Keila were inspired by a virtuoso performance from Kuoch Sokumpheak to eventually run out comfortable winners against Build Bright United (BBU).

An enthralling first half began at breakneck speed, and after just six minutes Adeyinka Devid had raced onto a wonderful cross-field pass by Kuoch Sokumpheak. The midfield dynamo lifted a cute half-volley over the keeper and onto the bar, but when Ali Anthony bundled the rebound home, the referee had it disallowed for an alleged high boot.

There was no let-up in the action, and in the 14th minute BBU were ahead through a contender for goal of the season. An Ek Vannak corner was headed clear but out of nowhere Chhun Sothearoth unleashed a blockbuster of a volley from fully 30 yards which flew into the corner of the net, leaving the goalkeeper with nothing to do except watch in admiration.

Within ten minutes, however, Khemara were back on level terms after Kuoch Sokumpheak's low shot was well saved by BBU keeper Chea Zena, only for the ball to roll invitingly into the path of Samuth Dalin, who tapped in from six yards.

This was a truly captivating first half and, although chances continued to flow, none were taken until a minute before the interval. Kuoch Sokumpheak was mercilessly hacked down on the edge of the box following a delicious spin off his man, and with the kick merely inches from the area, Cambodia's answer to Wayne Rooney took the kick himself and curled an unstoppable free kick into the top corner to put his side ahead at the break.

It took just four minutes of the second period for Khemara to score the all-important third. A hoofed clearance was enough to undo the Build Bright defence and Nelson Oladiji, on as a 42nd minute substitute for Anthony, brushed off a defender before firing clinically into the left-hand corner.

Fifteen minutes later and the same player almost got his second when Chea Zena flapped at a cross, and the Khemara forward sent a volley goalwards, only for Bun Sophea to get back and make a fantastic clearance off the line. Khemara were really turning the screw, and it wasn't long before Kuoch Sokumpheak was denied by a smart save as he tried to lift the ball over the BBU keeper, following a defence-splitting pass from Chhun Kirivatharo.

With such a spectacle to behold, it was a shame when the elements intervened in the 70th minute. A torrential downpour meant that for the last 20 minutes it was difficult for the players to keep their balance, let alone pass or dribble, but by that stage Khemara had done enough to ensure they picked up all three points.

At the mid-season interval Preah Khan Reach remain top, three points ahead of Crown, with Naga Corp a further four points adrift in third.

Khemara's victory Wednesday pushes them into Super 4 contention, but only by goal difference over Kirivong Sok Sen Chey and National Defence Ministry.

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