A last gasp equaliser from Phnom Penh Crown’s Keo Sokgnorn Tuesday completed Phouchung Neak’s winless season
Photo by: Nick Sells (www.nicksellsphotography.com)
Phnom Penh Crown’s Keo Sokngorn (left) takes on two Phouchung Neak players during the final CPL game of the season Tuesday.
PHOUCHUNG Neak's miserable Cambodian Premier League season was confirmed, as Phnom Penh Crown grabbed a stoppage time equaliser through U19 national star Keo Sokngorn, to deny the Navy side their only win of the campaign with a 3-3 draw Tuesday.
The match kicked off before a paltry crowd, and Phounchung got off the blocks fast with Wilson Mene's shot well saved by the outstretched leg of Sos Brothim inside 40 seconds.
It was not until the tenth minute before Crown's second eleven churned out their first attempt at goal, albeit against the run of play, when Hong Rathana saw his weak shot picked up easily by Thai Sineth in goal for the Navy.
The game dragged its feet in the first 15. Crown's Srey Veasna knocked in a looping cross that eluded everyone including the goalkeeper, only for Chan Chhaya to fail to get the vital touch. Navy struck back immediately, with a shot from Mene which Sos Brothim held onto firmly.
Moments later, Srey Veasna was brought down 20 yards out, and Chea Virath picked his spot superbly from the resultant free kick to curl over the wall and clip the post on the way in to put Crown in the driving seat.
Phouchung were not deterred and fought back hard to equalise with 12 minutes left in the half. Tuy Som raced down the left wing and hit a cross-come-shot than stunned Sos Brothim, sailing into the top corner at the near side.
Six minutes later, the Navy missed a glorious chance to go ahead when Sos Brothim fumbled a cross, only for Tith Dyna to shoot wide with the goal at his mercy, leaving both sides to go into the break all square.
Phouching Neak's Joesph Olatubosn (right) celebrates his goal against Phnom Penh Crown with teammates Tuesday. AFP
The second half was much lively, as Crown came on heavy. However, the league leaders were surprised again by the relegated club. Mene was brought down on one of his darting runs, and Kao Niso's free kick cannoned off the cross bar to fall invitingly for Joseph Olatubosn, who wasted no time in tapping it in.
Chea Virat then proved his first wasn't a fluke, as he once again bent it like Beckham into the top corner to draw Crown level.
The Navy side pushed forward, and got their just rewards as Kao Niso, in one of his numerous overlapping runs, got past two Crown defenders to knock a through ball Mene, who blasted home.
Crown boss Makara Be responded by bringing on two of his big guns, Chan Rithy and Tunji Ayoyinka. Their introduction altered the shape of the game, but with ten minutes remaining, Ayoyinka was stretchered off after a head collision with Kao Niso that required six stitches to force Crown to play out the game a man short.
Phouchung wasted a golden chances to put the game beyond Crown, when Heng Sokly's looping shot to hit the post in stoppage time. However, from the resultant counter attack, Keo Sokgnorn was left in a world of space to sprint down the left before unleashing an unstoppable shot to end the game with the points shared.
Phouchung were left cursing themselves, forfeiting their last chance to record a win in the CPL before prepare for life in the Division 1A.
"This is really unfortunate," said Navy coach Solomon Demagudu after the game Tuesday. "We came all out to win this match, but just like it has been all season, we are going back empty-handed."