Metfone C-League heavyweights Phnom Penh Crown emerged 2-1 victors past resilient league debutants Prek Pra Wednesday at Olympic Stadium
Phnom Penh Crown’s Heng Sokly (centre) powers past Prek Pra Keila’s Sos Souhana (left) and Khin Voeurn during their Metfone C-League game Wednesday at Olympic Stadium.
Phnom Penh Crown’s Cliff Goodluck (left) vies with Prek Pra Keila’s Sman Sokry during their league match Wednesday.
Photos by Nick Sells (www.nicksellsphotography.com)
PHNOM Penh Crown maintained their perfect start to the 2010 Metfone C-League and returned to the top of the table after seeing off hardfighting Prek Pra Keila 2-1 Wednesday at Olympic Stadium.
Two first-half goals by Heng Sokly in a space of three minutes was all the 2008 champions could muster against the league newcomers in a match many had anticipated as a goal feast, considering Crown had netted 17 in their first two matches.
Crown opted to field a second string team in preparation for this weekend’s blockbuster against Khemera Keila, with Cliff Goodluck the only foreign player in the starting line-up. Leading scorer Uche Prince Justine was kept off the bench with a thigh injury, and will have a late fitness test before Saturday’s game.
Prek Pra on their part made a wholesome change in their starting line up. Hotshot Phillip Ali was drafted into central midfield in place of compatriot Christopher Kingston, who is yet to recover from a groin injury.
Despite some early confidence from Prek Pra, it was Crown that came close first, forcing goalkeeper Yok Ary to make a save from a cross shot by Srey Veasna in the sixth minute. Crown gradually settled down as Prek Pra became increasingly guilty of surrendering possesion away in the midfield. Four minutes later, Prek Pra were made to pay for their poor passing with a rapid-fire brace from Heng Sokly.
Capitalising on slack defending by Phillip Ali, whose pass was intercepted deep into his own half, Heng Sokly wiggled his way past two defenders before unleashing a low strike that found the bottom corner.
Heng Sokly’s second was a beauty to behold. Phoung Narong stole the ball off Prek Pra defender Khin Vouern in the midfield, broke with pace, then laid a ball across to Goodluck. The Nigerian turned his marker and chipped over to the diminutive Heng Sokly, who controlled acrobatically before unleashing a carbon copy of his first shot to double his team’s lead.
The Prek Pra’s supporters were undaunted by the scoreline and kept up their chanting and cheering. Their good spirit was duly rewarded in the 37th minute, when a long ball found its way to Fuet Sulkiphly who had timed his run perfectly to beat the Crown offside trap, rounding the keeper and slotting home from an acute angle before defender Tieng Tiny could get back to clear.
The rest of the half saw a whole load of misses from both sides, with Goodluck the worst culprit. The former BBU midfielder, making his debut for Crown, squandered the opportunity to put his side further ahead twice in quick succession.
Prek Pra gave away the ball cheaply in the middle of the park, and the ball fell nicely to Goodluck at the edge of the 18-yard box, only for him to power it over the bar. Moments later, the forward’s near-side header from a corner sailed wide.
At the other end, Fuet Sulkiphly almost grabbed an equaliser when he duplicated his goal-scoring maneuvers but cannoned his shot straight off the keeper’s body for a corner.
Crown went into the break marginally in front, but more wastage was to come in the second period. Goodluck found himself one-on-one with Prek Pra stopper Yok Ary, but could only shoot wide. Prek Pra were pushed on by their visiting fans, but poor marksmanship robbed them of the chance of getting anything out of the game.
Just inside the hour mark, Fuet Sulkiphly smashed one off the crossbar from a long-range effort. Not long after, Prek Pra created the best move of the day when Sman Sokry beat two defenders down the right channel before providing a tasty cross, which was met by a flying header from Wilson Mene. Prek Pra fans rose in unison expecting the net to bulge, but the ball was palmed onto the post by Crown keeper Pen Bunchhay and the rebound fell fortunately back into his hands before Mene could react.
With the clock winding down, there was still time for more misses as Goodluck summed up his miserable debut with another spurned effort, while a cross from Prek Pra’s Mene was neatly headed down by substitute Put Sotheara, only for Mat Hassan to blast wide.
As referee Sang Sopheak blew the final whistle, Pre Pra players were left ruing their myriad of misses but pleased with the way they gave the title favourites a run for their money.