National Defence Ministry needed a win against Build Bright to stay alive, but squandered several chances, giving Spark and Kirivong a better opportunity.
National Defence Ministry’s Khek Khemarin (below) slide tackles Build Bright United’s Augustine Ogbemi (above) during their Cambodian Premier League game Wednesday
NATIONAL Defence Ministry (MND) saw their chance of a 5 million riels (US$1,215) purse almost disappear Wednesday, with the Army side struggling to a 1-1 draw against Build Bright University (BBU).
MND had started the brighter, with the knowledge that only a win would keep the hopes of a fifth-place finish alive. The Army side nearly grabbed the lead inside the first five minutes, but squandered two glorious chances. A header from Um Kompheak went wide, followed almost immediately by a shot from Nov Sokseila, which did little to trouble BBU keeper Chhim Rotha.
BBU pushed back, but both Cliff Goodluck and Prum Puthsethy failed to connect with a beautiful cross, which cut through the MND six-yard box.
As the half wore on, both sides were guilty of surrendering possession easily, while chances went begging up front.
MND's Sin Dalin was gifted an opportunity to break the deadlock just before the interval, when a loose ball fell to his feet, but his shot was struck weakly.
MND started the second half in the same fashion as the first, missing two clear-cut chances from a header off the upright by stand-in captain Thong Oudom, and Um Kompheak's tame effort easily picked up by Chea Zena. BBU's Augustine Ogbemi was left cursing himself, after he chose to pass the ball rather than take the responsibility of shooting it himself on numerous occasions.
Eventually, BBU midfielder Kang Sopheak fired his side into the league, a grateful recipient of MND's lacklustre defending. The MND backs failed to clear their line off a corner kick, allowing the ball to fall to Kang, whose shot had Samrith Seiha beat, sailing into the bottom corner.
As they showed in their 3-1 comeback win a week ago against Post Tel, MND proved resilient to the core, and got their just deserts with 14 minutes left in the game.
A free kick just outside the box allowed Nov Sokseila to lift the ball into the area, causing pandemonium in the BBU defence, who barely managed to scramble it away for corner.
MND took it early to find Um Kompheak completely unmarked, and the lofty forward jumped above all to power home a deserved equaliser.
Hard as MND fought to find the winner, the chance fell to BBU'S Kang Sopheak to be a hero, only to see his shot punched away by Chea Zena.
As referee Oum Samnang's whistle signaled the end of the game, it became clear that the door for the other two fifth place chasers, Spark FC and Kirivong Sok Sen Chey, had been left wide open, with MND effectively ruled out and BBU needing results to go their way from the two remaining rounds.
Photos by Nick Sells (www.nicksellsphotography.com)