Boeung Ket Rubber Field saw their bid to claim top spot in the Metfone C-League table for the first time this year fall short yesterday at the Olympic Stadium after Kirivong Sok Sen Chey surprised them with a 1-0 defeat.
With the time ticking away in the second half, Takeo-based Kirivong forced Boeung Ket to concede an own goal through defender Touch Pancharong.
The loss saw the Kampong Thom club remain in third, two points off the pace of leaders Phnom Penh Crown and Naga Corp, who share the summit with 20 points a piece.
Having missed a 77th minute penalty, Naga had to settle for a 1-1 draw against their arch rivals Crown as the twilight clash between the top two in the MCL standings produced only transient phases of brilliance at the Olympic Stadium.
Naga will perhaps look back with great regret as Sun Sovannrithy’s botched a penalty as he sent the ball on a flight over the crosspiece much to Crown’s collective relief since it was keeper Sou Yaty who had brought down an advancing Teab Vathanak leading to the spotkick.
After a bustling first 30 minutes, during which Crown had seen George Bisan and Hong Pheng test Naga’s nerves with long rangers, came a snap strike at the other end.
In the midst of a Naga buzz around the Crown big box, an opportunity arose for Choun Chum, who craftily angled his shot well enough to beat Sou Yaty hollow in the 39th minute.
An exuberant Choun Chum was deprived of another strike minutes later when Sou Yaty spectacularly rose to his heights to tip over a firm drive.
After Kouch Sokumpheak’s attempt had bounced back into play after hitting a Naga defender came Crown’s moment of reckoning. A firece freekick from Khim Borey right into the crowded Naga box saw Leng Makara volley the ball in.
With parity restored, the wind was clearly behind Crown, who were seemingly dominating the exchanges until that penalty slowed them down.
Once the chance to lead again disappeared, Naga had to completely reboot. Barry Lelouma, who manned the wing with great zest throughout, had one of his soft headers from close range off a freekick well covered by Yaty.
A few more fast Naga breaks couldn’t dent the Crown resolve either. The heat of the contest clearly got to a couple of players. Lelouma and Sokumpheak faced off, exchanging a few angry words, but the tension was diffused in quick time by the referee who promptly flashed a yellow card to both players.
Crown stayed on top of the table due to their superior goal difference over Naga.
Before this high profile contest, defending champions Svay Rieng were beaten 1-0 by Build Bright United, the only goal of the match being scored by Rieng Bunheang in the 76th minute.
The win gave BBU a slot among the top four in the league table for the first time this term. A bold Cup run has obviously revitalised the team to the extent that the BBU camp is now contemplating this season their best ever finish.
At the Old Stadium on Saturday, the Ministry of National Defence packed too strong a punch for Albirex Niigata, flooring the first foreign franchise to figure in the league 4-1.
It took two minutes for the Armymen to open their account, Ung Dara doing the trick. But Albirex surprisingly stayed strong producing an equaliser nine minutes later through Yuya Wada.
But by the half hour mark, the Armymen were back in front with Touch Roma hitting the straps hard, scoring the next two goals. Up Kamol signed off in style to complete the MND tally.
In another match at the Old Stadium, Asia Europe University broke the TriAsia back with two second half goals. George Kelechi drove AEU into the lead in the 58th minute and Pin Oudam doubled the score in the 78th.
In yesterday’s opening clash at the Olympic Stadium, National Police Commissary weathered an early storm to take down Western University 4-3 and jump up two places in the league to fourth.
Western found themselves surprisingly up 2-0 after just eight minutes played against the Samdech Hun Sen Cup holders, but two goals in as many minutes brought things back level.
Police then fired in two more in the second half before Western grabbed an ultimately consolatory third in the closing stages.