Naga Corp found succ-our from an 83rd-minute strike by substitute Chhim Sambo to down a resilient National Police Commissary 1-0 on Saturday and keep alive their faint chances of capturing the Metfone C-League title.
Naga, down to 10 men going into the last 20 minutes of a lively encounter that was inexorably racing towards a goal-less deadlock at Olympic Stadium, secured a crucial victory from a weaving run into the box by Chhim Sambo, who had been on the pitch barely five minutes.
Two Police defenders were left chasing Sambo’s shadow as he latched onto a stray ball and worked his way deep into Police territory before rolling the ball in from a tight angle with great composure.
Naga had lost defender Teth Chandrasokha on 70 minutes to two yellow cards, at a time when the team was going full blast in search of a decisive break.
The first half had been one of thrust and parry, with the Police backline, well manned by Touch Panhcharong, frustrating several bold attempts by Naga.
Seventeen-year-old keeper Prak Phirun had also come up with the save of the day under the Police bar to keep Naga spearhead Julius Oiboh at bay.
On the break, the Police had been distinctly unlucky when Ol Ravy’s powerful header from close quarters crashed against the crossbar.
The first-half clean sheet was a fair reflection of the intensity with which both sides had defended after going for each other’s throats.
As Naga kept twigging every possible opening, the Police were equally forceful in their approach. The Naga backline survived a jolt when Teth Chandarasokha pulled off a goal-line clearance from Pol-ice midfielder Tith Dina’s stinging shot from the top of the box.
Coach Prak Sovanara’s ploy of replacing Sam Minea with a fresh set of legs proved remarkably justified as Chhim Sambo delivered the killer blow to the collective relief of his team-mates.
Front-runners Phnom Penh Crown lead Naga by four points, and the two sides meet on September 4. Crown, however, could wrap up their championship defence next Sunday with a victory over Preah Khan Reach.
In the event of Crown dropping points against PKR, Naga have a chance of snatching the league honours if they manage to win their next game against Ministry of Nat-ional Defence on Saturday before dethroning Crown in what would be the title decider.
Sea Sharks grab buoyancy
SATURDAY’S early kickoff was a classic case of snatching relative safety from the clutches of relegation for Chhlam Samuth as they climbed over the wall with a 4-1 victory against Prek Pra Keila.
With Rithy Sen drop-zone certainties, the interest centred on which team would join them in freefall.
The man of the hour for the Sea Sharks was ebullient midfielder Sunday Silva, who scored a brace and set up Ros Sam Oeun for a double strike in a game they dominated end to end.
It was a sweet revenge for the league newcomers, who had gone down 3-2 to Prek Pra in the first leg.
Prek Pra’s consolation goal came from Mat Keilab in the 71st minute, long after their hopes of retaining top-flight status had been put in grave danger.