Phnom Penh Crown’s Henry Asonibe (R) tries to block a shot by Preah Khan Reach’s David Njoku during their Metfone C-League match on Saturday at Olympic Stadium. Photograph: Sreng Meng Srun/Phnom Penh Post
A pair of 2-2 draws in top table clashes at Olympic Stadium played out over the weekend as the Metfone C-League resumed after a two-week recess.
Yesterday, the second-placed National Police Commissary were matched by Naga Corp, who remained a point below in third, while striker David Njoku’s second-half double helped league leaders Preah Khan Reach level up 2-2 after being twice in arrears against Phnom Penh Crown in their highly anticipated match on Saturday.
Naga Corp’s prolific striker Choun Chum continued his red-hot form by opening the scoring on 20 minutes, taking his season goal tally to 14, two clear of Police’s Nelson Oladiji.
Man Ritavan dragged things back level on 33 minutes, but Naga grabbed a second almost immediately through Sun Sopanha.
Police seemed determined to restore parity before the break, and did so with two minutes to spare, thanks to Tit Dina.
A tense second session involving few clear cut chances saw neither side improve on their totals, while a rash of fouls in time added generated four bookings. Both sides will have to be content with their static positioning, although Police may come to regret a missed chance to re-take the top slot.
In yesterday’s later kickoff, Build Bright United consolidated their seventh place with a 4-2 victory over bottom side Chhlam Samuth.
Bolaje Badmus got things moving with a strike on 21 minutes. The Sea Sharks rallied to equalise through Bisan George, whose goal marked the 200th netted in the campaign so far.
BBU rapidly got back in front with a goal from new Japanese signing Ito Dan to take a slender lead into the interval.
BBU forward Prom Puthsethy then increased their lead shortly after the restart, although Chhlam Samuth’s Silva Sunday pegged one back on the hour mark.
Prom Puth Sethy rounded off a fine brace on 69 minutes to help his club coast to their fifth win.
Defending champions Crown, desperately trying to get a foot in the door of the post-season Super 4 playoffs, shot into an early lead on Saturday through Sok Pheng’s 17th- minute strike, only to find David Njoku equalise for Hun Sen Cup holders PKR early in the second half.
Crown again took control of the proceedings, this time Khim Borey firing the go-ahead goal. But for the second time, PKR’s Nigerian hitman rose to the challenge, finding the leveller barely minutes from the final whistle to force Crown into sharing the honours.
Their closely contested match was not without controversy, the most glaring of which happened moments before the interval when referee Koun Vireak, amid fierce protestations from PKR players, decided to reverse his initial decision of a goal by Crown’s Chan Chhaya, citing a handball by team-mate Kingsley Njoku during the build-up.
With a second draw in 12 matches on the top of five wins and five losses driving them to 17 points, Crown are outside the Super 4 frame with a lot of catching up to do.
Military Police-backed PKR, who are well on track for their maiden league title, remained atop of the table with 26 points, made up of eight wins, two draws and two defeats.
In Saturday’s second fixture, Ministry of National Defence boosted their tally to 17 points for tied fifth place with Crown, following their 2-1 victory over debutants Western University.
Phoung Soksana and substitute Pov Phearith were on target for the Army men, who seemingly enjoyed a trouble free run. Mat Rofashi’s consolation goal for the University side hardly made an impact on the outcome.
After their 10th loss, Western University remain rooted in the drop zone on four points alongside Chhlam Samuth.