National Defence Ministry’s Um Kompheak scores his second of the game in stoppage time to help take his side to a 2-2 draw against Kirivong Sok Sen Chey
NICK SELLS nicksellsphotography.com
National Defence Ministryâ€™s Um Kompheak (centre, number 8) celebrates his last-gasp equaliser with teammates during their game against Kirivong Sok Sen Chey.
NATIONAL Defence Ministry (MND) picked up a surprise draw in the most dramatic of circumstances against second-placed Kirivong Sok Sen Chey Saturday when Um Kompheak grabbed a last-gasp equaliser in injury time.
An entertaining first half at Olympic Stadium saw MND make all the early running, and after just nine minutes they took a deserved lead through an Um Kompheak penalty. Thong Odon was played through with Kirivong's Samuel Oseika missing his tackle before keeper Kem Makara had a typical rush of blood to the head. His rash challenge left the referee no option but to point to the spot, and Um Kompheak confidently sent the keeper the wrong way.
However, MND soon confirmed the age-old adage that you are most vulnerable just after you've scored, by conceding an equaliser within five minutes. A corner was swung in from the left by Mim Sophal, and Kirivong's classy Nigerian centre-half Samuel Oseika was allowed the freedom of the six-yard box to direct a diving header past the keeper.
Both sides then lacked a final ball of sufficient quality to add to the score before halftime, most notably Um Kompheak who wasted a golden opportunity when electing to round the goalkeeper rather than pull the trigger, and the ball trickled out of play.
The second half was slightly more subdued, and again it was MND who made light of their league position to provide most of the early pressure. Tu Vanthann had the first real effort of the half, but his blast from 20 yards was comfortably saved by the Kirivong keeper. Um Kompheak dillied and dallied in front of goal when well placed, squandering another chance, and in the 72nd minute Phuong Soksana hit a vicious volley that was only just kept out by Kem Makara.
Straight from the resulting goal kick though, Kirivong took the lead. The hoof upfield found Julius Chukwumeka, who twisted up two defenders inside the box before calmly slotting home with his right foot. With game rapidly expiring, Chukwumeka's goal looked to be the winner but for a dramatic twist at the death.
Um Kompheak made the most of some poor defending to latch onto a long ball and lob the keeper superbly with the last kick of the game to see the teams in with a share of the points.
Photo by: NICK SELLS
Phnom Penh Crownâ€™s Keo Sokngorn powers forward during their CPL game against Phouchung Neak Saturday.
Phouchung Neak 1 PP Crown 2
The reigning champions seemed to be suffering from a Kyrgyzstan-induced hangover in Saturday's second game, as they made hard work of seeing off a resilient Phouchung Neak side.
A first half, woefully short on quality, was dominated by Phnom Penh Crown, but Makara Be's side found it difficult to turn their possession into goals. Tunji Ayoyinka, a big, lumbering ox of a centre-forward for Crown, was particularly guilty of careless finishing; his piece de resistance coming near the end of the first half when he somehow managed to head wide from three yards out when completely unmarked.
Fortunately for Ayoyinka, teammate Chan Chhaya had already opened the scoring with a wonderful solo effort in the 30th minute. The nippy forward burst past both of Phouchung Neak's defensive twin towers, Nigerians Oghenekevwe Auwara and Kenneth Nwafor, showing an awesome turn of pace before lifting the ball over the advancing keeper with his left foot.
However, there was to be a sting in the tail from Phouchung Neak when they helped themselves to a shock leveller in the final minute of the half. Heng Sokly had three defenders around him when a long ball dropped into the Crown box, but the diminutive striker somehow managed to get it under control and show even greater skill to lob the keeper with the outside of his boot to make sure the league's bottom club went into the break all square.
It didn't take long for the game's deciding goal to come, though, as Crown were awarded a penalty in the 53rd minute. Ayoyinka chased a long ball over the top, getting there before defender Auwara, who gave the bungling forward a clumsy nudge in the back to upend him, with the only question whether the infringement was inside or outside of the box.
The referee got it just about right in giving the penalty, and Crown's boy wonder Keo Sokngorn stepped up to fire a confident penalty into the right hand corner.
Seven minutes later and the skilful 17 year-old forward almost doubled his tally but shot weakly at the keeper after a delicious feint had got him away from the defender.
That was as close as Crown came to adding to their ‘goals for' column, but Phouchung twice came close to nicking an unlikely point. Firstly, a was header cleared off the line by captain Keo Nyso, and then Pouv Ratha hit a 20-yard volley with 11 minutes to go, which flew agonisingly wide with the keeper at full stretch.