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Sea Sharks swim clear of relegation zone

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Phnom Penh Crown’s Sun Sopanha is scythed down by Prek Pra’s Maliky Rohan during their Metfone C-League match at Olympic Stadium on Saturday. Reigning champions and league leaders Crown won 4-0. Photo by: Sreng Meng Srun

Paul Olabode was at his rampaging best as he plundered a hat-trick in Chhlam Samuth’s 5-2 victory over Rithy Sen in their battle of the Metfone C-League tail-enders at Olympic Stadium on Saturday.

Aiming to thrash themselves out of the relegation hole, the Sea Sharks meant business from the get-go, taking absolute control on the pitch.

In the end, they managed to rise above the red line, thanks to Prek Pra Keila’s 4-0 defeat by Phnom Penh Crown hours later, which saw the teams switch places in the table.

Midfielder Olabode kick-started the goal chase with a 24th-minute strike and added another 12 minutes later. Kampong Chhnang-based Rithy Sen, looking for the first win of their debut season in the top tier, did well to pull one back before the break when Raymond Esim found the net.

But things turned for the worse again for the bottom- rooted club as Olabode came back to haunt them with his third strike in the 71st minute.

Substitute Sunday Silva got a fourth for Chhlam Samuth before Rithy Sen gifted an own goal on the stroke of full time through Sos Math.

The victory took the Sea Sharks to 10 points, two ahead of Prek Pra Keila, as Rithy Sen continued to grace the wrong end of the league table.

Crown too good for Prek Pra
For league leaders Phnom Penh Crown, it was another profitable outing on Saturday as they sliced through Prek Pra Keila 4-0 without much exertion, unlike their first-leg experience of a laboured 1-0 victory.

Taking the pitch under their new coach, Englishman David Booth, Crown quickly established their supremacy with a third-minute strike by Soung Virak, whose strength comes from his ebullient wing play.

Chan Chaya closed out the first half by doubling Crown’s lead, and on resumption Sok Pheng quickly got his name on the score sheet to make it 3-0 for the titleholders.

Within a minute of taking Sok Pheng’s place as a substitute, Kingsley Metu bulged the Prek Pra net before Crown took their foot off the accelerator pedal.

In fact, the momentum was so markedly in favour of Crown that the coach could afford to take out the other goal-scorers Suong Virak and Chan Chaya, bringing in star striker Kuoch Sukumpheak and Hong Ratana as replacements, although neither afforded anything further.

The win meant Crown extended their lead at the top to four points over their closest rivals, Naga Corp, while Prek Pra, who enjoyed a brief respite from relegation fears, have been pushed back into the rut to keep company with Rithy Sen.

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