Naga World brought Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng’s nine-game unbeaten streak to an end with a 3-1 over the Metfone C-League leaders at the Svay Rieng Stadium in Saturday’s marquee matchup.
In the capital, a resurgent Ministry of National Defence battled back from a two-goal deficit to down Phnom Penh Crown at Old Stadium for a remarkable shake-up of the standings before the final round of matches in the first phase.
Away in Siem Reap, Cambodian Tiger got past Electricite du Cambodge 1-0 on the strength of Okereke Timothy’s 23rd minute goal.
Attention was equally divided between two venues as Svay Rieng hosted Naga and Army faced Crown on their own turf.
Naga unleashed their African strikeforce of Ugandan-Rwandan Atuheire Kipson (pictured, Sreng Meng Srun) and Nigerian George Kelechi. Kipson struck a brace before the break, while Kelechi made sure that the 2013 champs left pointless.
Svay Rieng’s late goal from substitute Chigozie Prinwill was too little too late to save the team’s unbeaten record this season.
Svay Rieng suffered their first defeat at the hands of Naga in some time, having beaten the casino-backed side three times between February 2015 and April 1 the following year.
While Naga were making merry in Svay Rieng, Army were one down against Crown after only 20 minutes when Keo Sokpheng’s cross was driven in by Brak Thiva.
Nine minutes later the pair were back to torment Army again but this time the roles were reversed, with Thiva shaking off a couple of defenders to find Sokpheng, who expertly slid the ball under the advancing Army keeper.
North Korean Choe Myong-ho found the mark from a Khek Khemarin pass four minutes before half-time.
Crown created several chances without making them count, but Army were relentless in their pursuit of an equaliser and it came in the 71st minute when Reung Bunheing exploited a corner that was left loose by Crown, who were soon dealt another blow when Chreng Polroth scored a long-range free kick.
Army’s hard-earned win took them level with Svay Rieng at the top of the table with 21 points.
Naga, with 18 points, leapfrogged Crown into clear third place and lead Boeung Ket Angkor by one point, though the defending champions have a game in hand against CMAC United.