Preah Khan Reach bounced back from a two-goal deficit to outfox General Commissariat of National Police 4-3 in a top-tier Metfone C League encounter at the Olympic Stadium yesterday.
The Seven-goal thriller not only helped the Hun Sen Cup winners avenge 3-2 first round defeat, but it also lifted them to the top of the League Standings with 32 points, two ahead of overnight joint leaders Naga Corp and National Police.
The Military Police backed PKR turned the first half script upside down and added several exciting elements of their choice in the second half to produce a climax that eventually suited their robust style.
The first half belonged to the police in terms of space and possession. They were more potent with the ball though they had to wait till the 41st minute to turn opportunity into a goal. It was left to a vintage finish by old warrior Nout Sinoun to fire Police to the front.
The gloom for PKR deepened in the first 10 minutes of the second half. Their star striker Khuon Laboravy limped out of the pitch with his trouble-making right knee. Even as his replacement Olawale Bologun got in, the Police doubled their lead through Oladiji Olatunde, his header bouncing off the ground into the net, a weighty cross from Nov Sosela igniting the move.
If the Police were looking for a quick wrap-up, they were in for a rude shock because PKR chose those adverse moments to turn the tide.
Phany Rotha sturck PKR’s first blow, strong enough to set off panic in the Police camp. In the face of a string of PKR attacks, pressure got to the Police and the worst of it rubbed on goaltender Thong Chan Raksmey.
He had seemingly covered a grounder from Chea Samnang only to fumble with the collection, letting the ball roll into the net.
Then and there it was downhill for the Police. David Njoku got home PKR’s go-ahead goal, and as if to add insult to injury Bologun produced a 40-metre screamer, the likes of which are very hard to find.
In fact, the entire Police team watched helplessly as the ball, which was struck from within the centre circle, went like a targeted missile into the net. The Police players led everyone to believe that Bologun was generously turning the ball over and his intention was not really a hot try.
With a two-goal gap to fill, a desperate Police raid resulted in Nov Sella reducing the margin at the stroke of regulation time. PKR played out the added time safely to complete a stunning fight back.
The day’s second kickoff, between two teams in the bottom half of the table, ended in a 2-2 draw. It was obvious that Challam Samut, right at the bottom end, counted on their survival by sucking Kirivong Sok Sen Chey into the relegation dog fight.
That did not happen – though for a brief while the Sea Sharks sensed that possibility after Silva Sunday gave them a sound start.
Minutes before half time Ishola Abiding found the equaliser for Kirivong, who went ahead through Chang Sophal. The visitor from Takeo were riding home that slender advantage when the Sharks won a penalty a minute before full time. Ek Sovanara made no mistake with the spot kick, ensuring a deadlock.
Crown beat BBU
Formline and points count clearly indicate sure berths in the Super Four for PKR, Naga and Police. But the fourth spot is developing into a huge tussle between defending champions Phnom Penh Crown and newcomers Boeng Ket Rubber.
Both won their matches on Saturday to keep the race alive, just knocking out of stride the third element in the equation, Ministry of National Defence.
Sos Sohana’s goal sandwiched between Chan Chaya’s double ensured a smooth run for Phnom Penh Crown against Build Bright United. Crown’s 3-0 victory pushed them to fifth on the table, a point behind Boeng Ket Rubber, who scored a notable 2-0 win over MND, who suffered the ignominy of giving away an own goal through Ke Vanna on the top of Keo Sokgnon’s strike.
Boeng Ket Rubber retain their fourth position in the standings.
To contact the reporter on this story: H S Manjunath at [email protected]