Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Saviour Hem Simay returns

Saviour Hem Simay returns

Saviour Hem Simay returns

Build Bright United’s star goalkeeper Hem Simay came back after a year-long injury layoff to deny Phnom Penh Crown all three points Sunday with a 1-1 draw


Prek Pra Keila’s Sos Hanaphy (number 14, yellow) tussles with National Defence Ministry’s To Vanthan (number 19, white) during their Metfone C-League match Sunday.

STILL without a point so far this season, Kirivong Sok Sen Chey finally clicked into the right gear in their fourth game of the Metfone C-League campaign Sunday, and it was the Chhma Khmao team from Svay Rieng that were made to suffer.

In this first versus third place Metfone C-League encounter, Phnom Penh Crown were looking to extend their lead at the top of the standings whilst Build Bright United (BBU), with three wins already under their belt, were keen on putting a dent in the title favourites’ charge.

Hem Simay returned in goal for BBU after a year on the sidelines and turned in a man of the match performance, almost single-handedly denying Crown with a series of spectacular saves.

Without their top scorer Uche Prince Justine leading the line, Crown relied on their attacking midfield quartet to put BBU under pressure, but Hem Simay was equal to their early dominance. Within minutes of the start he had turned a shot from Sok Pheng onto the post and brilliantly tipped aside a great strike from Keo Sokngorn.

On 15 minutes, BBU caught Crown with a sucker punch when Prum Putsethy eluded the attentions of his marker Sani Saidu and threaded his shot inside the post to give his team a shock lead. Hem Simay and some woeful finishing by Crown kept BBU’s advantage until the break.

After the interval, the in form keeper continued where he’d left off with a point-blank double save from Oscar Mpoko and Friday Nwakuna that was simply world-class.

However, even Simay couldn’t account for an offside flag that never came when Srey Veasna put Oscar Mpoko in with a clear run on goal on the hour mark. The BBU defenders hesitated, Mpoko slipped his shot wide of Simay, and despite the protestations, the goal stood. It was rough justice on the goalkeeper and his plucky defence.

The woodwork then came to BBU’s rescue with Srey Veasna heading against the crossbar and substitute Chan Chhaya also hitting the frame of the goal before referee Thong Chankethya blew for full time.

Crown will see it as two points dropped, especially with their dominance, but everyone else will remember the game for the outstanding performance of one man, Hem Simay.

Prek Pra Keila 2 MND 4
Prek Pra Keila surprised everyone with their dogged determination and combative spirit to give the National Defence Ministry (MND) team as tough a game as they’ve had so far this season. Though the Army eventually ran out winners and moved above Phnom Penh Crown into pole position in the Metfone C-League, it wasn’t without a few scares from the league’s new boys, who’d lost their previous four matches.

MND took a third minute lead and looked odds-on to go onto win the game at a canter. Chhin Chhoeurn broke away down the right flank and his cross was turned in by Phuong Soksana at the second attempt, who was granted time and space to pick his spot.

Prek Pra rallied, with Wilson Mene causing the Army defence problems through his bustling style. Then on 25 minutes, the bottom-placed team were back in it when their central defensive lynchpin Philip Ali found himself unmarked from a Sou Souhana corner to head in the leveller.

With two minutes left before the half-time break, MND caught Prek Pra with a body blow. Khim Borey’s 25-yard free kick seared inside the near post, with everyone expecting a cross including goalkeeper Yok Ary, who was caught in no-man’s land.

Army substitute Sin Dalin extended their lead on 57 minutes when he escaped his marker and headed in a Pheak Rady center with ease. On the hour, Prek Pra gave their opponents a scare and their supporters something to cheer with a headed goal from Wilson Mene. As a free-kick sailed into the box, Army stopper Sou Yaty made a rare error of judgement and Mene capitalised to put this team back in the hunt.

Ten minutes on, and another run and cross from the marauding Pheak Rady was dropped by Yok Ary onto the toe of substitute Suong Virak, who made no mistake from eight yards out to ease MND into a commanding lead.

There was still time for Prek Pra’s Mat Hasan to roll his shot inches wide of the target, but it was too little too late for the league’s newbies who had given MND a run for their money but had came out second best on the day. The Army now sit atop of the Metfone C-League, two points ahead of Phnom Penh Crown.

Photos by Nick Sells (www.nicksellsphotography.com)

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