Title holders Phnom Penh Crown and last year’s runners-up Preah Khan Reach opened the new Metfone C-League season with a scrappy 2-2 draw that failed to live up to the pre-match hype at Olympic Stadium on Saturday.
Nigerian striker Njoku Kinsley Metu produced a header of stunning quality off a flag kick from San Narith in the sixth minute to fire Crown to an unexpectedly swift lead, the muscular hitman’s three somersaults in celebration being equally breathtaking.
After some incisively sharp thrusts and several near misses during the first half, the ever agile Khuon Laboravy’s airborne header restored parity for PKR early in the second session.
A clean break on the right by linkman Chan Chaya then left the PKR defence in disarray as he placed a firm grounder into the net to help Crown retake the lead.
But for the second time in the match, PKR found the right answers when Phany Rotha made the best of a maze of confusion to scramble home the equaliser.
It was a game of equal opportunities and quite disturbingly spurned chances on both sides where neither could assert themselves on the pitch for long.
The contest between two of the best teams in the business was pockmarked by Chan Chaya’s sending off five minutes before regulation time for a second booking. The first 20 minutes earlier had been for an intentional dive, a decision that the Crown camp clearly resented.
With tension running high at both ends, Chan Chaya and Moul Daravorn got into a verbal dual following which the PKR player responded with a chest-bump. Referee Thong Chanketya quickly took control of the
situation, flashing a yellow to both the players, inevitably ending Chan Chaya’s part in the game.
Both camps were quite expressive in their displeasure over some of the officiating issues. Interestingly, both managements felt that it was more a case of two points dropped than one earned.