THE top-of-the-table Metfone C-League clash between the two teams that have been swapping places at the head of the standings in the last few weeks failed to live up to its pre-match hype and turned out to be a pretty lacklustre 1-1 draw.
The battle of the top scorers – BBU’s Nuth Sinoun on 10 goals and Naga marksman Teab Vathanak on 11 goals – was settled in Vathanak’s favour as he netted Naga’s equaliser, whilst Sinoun had a quiet afternoon and was substituted half an hour from the end.
Naga shaded the best of the chances in the first half, with Meas Channa testing Hem Simay in the BBU goal with a vicious inswinging free kick on 15 minutes. A fracas in the middle of the pitch involved all but one of the players in a bout of pushing and shoving after 23 minutes, with referee Thong Chankethya mitigating the melee with bookings for Teab Vathanak and Nhim Sovanara.
Both Joseph Oyewole and Vathanak were wayward with further efforts on goal for Naga, before BBU took a surprise lead in the 35th minute. Naga keeper Mak Theara came but never reached a floated Chhun Sothearath corner, leaving lanky striker Nelson Oladiji with a free header to put the students ahead.
Just three minutes later, and Naga levelled through a typical poacher’s goal from Teab Vathanak, who was lying in wait to head Soung Monyroath’s pin-point center onto the underside of the bar and over the goal line to finish off a quick breakaway initiated by Jonathan Onyeahiri.
In the final action of the first half, another Meas Channa free-kick caused BBU problems as his curling effort rebounded off the crossbar, but Onyeahiri, all alone in front of goal, sent his header over when it seemed easier to score.
The second half proved even less eventful than the first period. Naga skipper Sun Sovanrithy twice sent near post headers inches wide when he outwitted the BBU defence at successive corners.
On 68 minutes, referee Thong Chankethya brandished a second yellow card and resultant red to BBU’s Nhim Sovanara for a trip on Joseph Oyewole, to make BBU’s task a tough one. The university backed side coped manfully until the third minute of additional time, when it took a save out of the top drawer by goalkeeper Hem Simay to ensure they kept a share of the points. A Meas Channa corner fell invitingly to Soung Monyroath and his sweetly struck half-volley looked destined for the net and to collect all three points until Simay produced his late and spectacular intervention.