Preah Khan Reach hold onto their position atop the CPL with a 2-0 victory over National Defence Ministry on Saturday, while Spark upset Build Bright United
PREAH Khan Reach (PKR) flattered to deceive once again but, as has so often been the case this season, the military police backed team were able to grind out a result against a plucky National Defence Ministry (MND) in their Cambodian Premier League match Saturday.
A rather low key first half plodded along, with PKR on top without really making the most of their marginal supremacy. The first decent chance fell to the league leaders in the 16th minute, with captain Samel Nasa floating in a superb, swinging free-kick met by the head of Zila Seidu.
The burly PKR centre-half had strode up from the back but got too much on his header and sent the ball flying over when, from around eight yards, he should have at least tested the Spark keeper.
When PKR did take the lead it was new signing Michael Ekene who was the architect. The experienced Nigerian striker looked lively all game, and when he picked the ball up on the right in the 21st minute, the crowd held their breath. A couple of feints and a surge of pace helped him beat his man to fire in a low cross which his strike partner Olisa Onyemerea was on hand to tap into the net.
MND had offered precious little as an attacking force but were bitterly disappointed in the 29th minute, when the referee waved away their claims for a penalty after Pheak Rady's volley was clearly handled.
With the first half a somewhat tetchy affair with chances at a premium, the second period was its antithesis. Indeed, just four minutes in, Lorn Sotheara curled in a gorgeous free-kick from just outside the box. It had beaten Ouk Mich all ends up, but just as it seemed set to nestle into the top corner, the ball clipped the top of the bar and bounced over.
Within a minute, PKR had wasted a golden opportunity of their own, when Khuonla Boravy won a tackle on the edge of the box. The Cambodian winger needed only to stroll in on goal, but his second touch was heavier than Jimmy Page carrying an anvil, and the keeper was able to smother easily at his feet.
Just before the hour mark, Ekene went close twice from consecutive Samel Nasa corners. First, he saw a superbly struck volley turned over the bar by the keeper and then, from the resultant set-piece, his header was cleared off the line by Pheak Rady.
Half-chances followed at both ends but a second goal did not arrive until the last kick of the game, when Onyemerea latched onto a wonderful, defence-splitting pass from Tum Saray finishing coolly with the outside of his boot to wrap up the points.
Spark FC 2 BBU 1
In a game which neither side really dominated, Spark suddenly found themselves two goals to the good within 15 minutes in Saturday's second offering. The opener came with just seven on the clock when a raking pass from midfield picked out Prince Justine on the left. The pacy striker ran at the back four and, unusually for a striker in the battle for the golden boot, showed great vision to pick out Seng Kosen's surging run from midfield.
The pass was inch perfect and only matched by Seng Kosen's first touch, which set him perfectly to side foot the ball home with his right from just inside the area.
If that was a shock to Build Bright United (BBU)'s foundations, then a hammer blow was delivered on the half-hour, when Sun Sovanratha made it two. After intercepting a pass and advancing through the centre of the park, the defence backed off to allow the Spark holding midfielder to try his luck from 20 yards. With the aid of a slight deflection, Sun Sovanratha saw his shot whistle past Chea Zena and into the bottom-left corner.