Photo by: Sreng Meng Srun
Kirivong Sok Sen Chey’s Julius Ononiwu battles with Naga Corp’s Neang Chenla.
Prek Pra 3 Chhma Khmao 1
A robust Prek Pra Keila won the battle of the backmarkers against Chhma Khmao 3-1 in the Metfone C-League at Olympic Stadium.
With the Black Cats heading for the inevitable drop, Prek Pra recorded their third win from 16 matches to draw level with Wat Phnom on 11 points. A superior goal difference for Prek Pra means that they could escape relegation if their next two results match those of Wat Phnom.
The man of the moment Saturday was Prek Pra’s ebullient playmaker Dennis Nwaizu, who struck twice – a minute into second session and a minute before end – to ensure his side safe passage after hard working striker Mat Hassan had provided a spectacular head start in the first half.
The Black Cats found an equaliser minutes later through midfielder Kung Vichea’s 25-yard scorcher off a corner kick. But a second period dominated by Prek Pra’s incessant thrusts had Chhma Khmao with their backs to the wall.
Once the dust had settled after the change over, Mat Hassan turned a provider when his neatly laid pass reached Dennis Nwaizu for the midfield live wire to score.
Then, with 20 minutes left, Prek Pra lost reliable defender Philip Ali to a second yellow, leaving the side short on man power. Hanging onto their slender lead, Prek Pra scooped a penalty out of a goalmouth skirmish in injury time.
Substitute Sot Sa Aun was brought down in the box by Lea Sopheap, leading to his dismissal. Sot Sa Aun converted the spotkick, but the referee ordered a retake for encroachment, and this time the ever-confident Nwaizu stepped in to make no mistake.
Naga Corp 1 Kirivong SSC 0
League leaders Naga Corp severely dented Kirivong Sok Sen Chey’s Super 4 hopes with an 87th minute strike from Pok Chanthan, who booted home the only goal of their fiercely competitive league encounter.
“I was mentally preparing myself for a goalless draw,” said Naga coach Prak Sovannara. “I am happy we could find the match winner so late. Normally we have lot of possession, but today we were losing the ball quite frequently and finding it difficult to win it back.
“I will talk to the players about this. I want them to know that if one player loses the ball, the team has lost it.”
Kirivong’s assistant coach Phan Chanphath expressed his frustration at another poor result against one of the top teams. “Today was no different,” he said, adding that he thought his team had done “reasonably well given the added pressure of a must-win situation”.
A barren first half saw both sides struggling for a score. The Naga forward line showed more verve and creativity, with Kirivong breakaways few and far between.
The solitary goal of the game came in the second half, when a floated cross landed in a crowd in front of the Kirivong goal, and Chanthan powered in his first touch to break the deadlock.
The victory put unbeaten Naga on 40 points, while the visitors from Takeo stay fifth on 27 points. Kirivong have just a whiff of a place in the Super 4, and need results to go their way.