Just as the hour-mark approached, National Police Commissary had home side Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng by the scruff off their neck with a two-goal advantage, but that was just the kind of adversity to bring the best out of the Metfone C-League leaders, with the province side snatching a thrilling 3-2 win deep into injury time at the Svay Rieng Stadium on Saturday evening.
After a barren first half, the odds of Svay Rieng making a fight of it lengthened after Police overseas signings Shane Petersen and Baldwin Ngwa scored within four minutes of each other, setting the 2013 champions a stiff target.
But the Police were to be stunned with the fightback that followed. As the home players refuse to be bowed, they got back into the game with the bustling Sok Samnang first striking in the 64th minute before levelling in the 83rd.
With the winds of change clearly behind them, it was Svay Rieng who went all out for a match winner.
Despite Thit Dina’s powerful free-kick clearing the bar by mere inches close to the whistle, Svay Rieng managed to grab their fifth win on the trot when Nigerian Chidera Ononiwu found the mark with a tidy finish in stoppage time.
The victory helped Svay Rieng retain their top position in the table with 14 points, two ahead of the chasing Ministry of National Defence, who took CMAC United apart at the Army Stadium in a 6-1 win.
It was a procession of North Korean talent as the consistent Choe Myong-ho led the charge with a first-half brace and compatriots Kim Kyong-hun, Tang Son-hyok and Ri Hyok-chol chipped in with a goal each.
The only relief for CMAC from the constant barrages, especially in a first half that saw five goals, came in the 75th minute when Michael Tu Tu pulled one back.
Boeung Ket win
While the league leadership battle garnered most attention on Saturday, defending champions Boeung Ket quietly moved up to third in the table, at least for the night, after beating winless Kirivong Sok Sen Chey 3-0 in Takeo.
Kirivong surprisingly forced Boeung Ket to take the break goalless, but it was to be a different story in the second half. Brazilian Maycon Calijuri scored a brace and Esoh Paul Omogba the third as Boeung Ket reached 11 points, enough to leapfrog Phnom Penh Crown, who were scheduled to meet Cambodia Tiger the next day.
The Boeung Ket-Kirivong tie was originally scheduled for yesterday but was brought forward a day to give coach John McGlynn’s team greater preparation time as they ready to travel to Myanmar for the AFC Cup Group F second leg against Magwe FC on Wednesday.
Playing on their own turf, Western Phnom Penh defied their current low standing in the table by sharing the points with two-time champions NagaWorld 1-1, the casino-backed side’s second draw in as many games after sharing the spoils with Cambodia Tiger last week.
Naga shot into the lead in the 13th minute through Atuheire Kipson, but Michael Aboidun equalised for Western 12 minutes later. It was to be an extremely frustrating second half for Naga, who saw several decent chances blocked by Western.