WAT Phnom ended their four-game losing streak in fine fashion Wednesday, inflicting a 3-0 thrashing on Khemara Keila at the Olympic Stadium. Wat Phnom scored two goals in the first half from open play before converting a penalty in the second which became shrouded in controversy as Khemara’s Sophal Oudom got his marching orders for assaulting the referee during his protest of the decision.
Assistant coach Sun Bunthoeun had stepped in to lead Wat Phnom after head coach Men Sorphorn was taken ill after their weekend loss to Chhma Khmao. Going into the game, things were looking bleak for the side, who’s only victory had come against league debutants Prek Pra Keila. Khemara, meanwhile, had just suffered a 2-0 defeat by Kirivong Sok Sen Chey, and were widely expected to bounce back with an easy victory in this midweek fixture. However, once again they came undone by poor finishing to heap more disappointment on their teeming fans.
Playing without their talismanic skipper Kuoch Sokumpheak, Khemara started the game with great intent and purpose, and could have taken the lead in the tenth minute when Hou Sambo was clear on goal. However, the midfielder picked the wrong option to pass as the chance went begging.
Khemara were made to pay for their wastefulness when Put Savuth fired a screamer from outside the box that whistled past keeper Ly Sokheng and into the net on 21 minutes.
Buoyed by the goal, Wat Phnom pushed forward, and seven minutes later doubled their lead through captain Phloung Chanthoun. Henry Asonibe sent a killer pass which split the Khemara defence wide open. For a moment Phloung Chanthoun hesitated, but the offside flag never came and he raced forward to pick his spot beyond the reach of the goalkeeper.
Khemara were undaunted by the deficit and tried to claw their way back, but encountered a resilient Wat Phnom back line led by Nathan Nwaiwu simply too strong to penetrate.
Six minutes before the break, Khemara missed a glorious chance to reduce the tally when Ek Vannak saw his shot deflected off stopper Seun Pisal for a corner. At the other end, Wat Phnom could have furthered their advantage after a goal mouth scramble had Khemara defenders clear off the line, but they instead took a two-goal cushion into the break.
The match came alive in the second half, although Khemara continued to squander a myriad of chances with Ek Vannak the tormentor in chief.
Twice in a space of two minutes, Seun Pisal was forced to make telling saves, once from a shot outside the box by Ek Vanak and another from a low drive by Sophal Oudom, who had shrugged off his marker on the hour mark. Two minutes on, and Seun Pisal acrobatically punched away substitute Ly Sok Hour’s rising effort.
At the other end, pint-sized Pheourn Saorum sent Ly Sokheng stretching at full length to parry away his shot, with the resultant corner kick headed wide.
There was more drama to come, and with quarter-of-an-hour left the Khemara defence made a half clearance to see the ball fall between Khemara’s Sok Vannak and Wat Phnom’s Sun Meng Hout.
Both players jumped into a 50-50 challenge but, despite Vannak clearly making contact with the ball, referee Sang Sopheak awarded a penalty for Wat Phnom. Khemara midfielder Sophal Oudom was infuriated and showed a complete lack of self-control in charging down the referee at full force. After a quick intervention by the assistant referees and players of both teams to restrain him, the player was justifiably shown a red card.
Play eventually resumed, and Pheourn Saorum stepped up to send Ly Sokheng the wrong way.
With one man short and three to the bad, Khmeara had a mountain to climb and it proved insurmountable with Wat Phnom content on seeing the game out. At the end Wat Phnom were jubilant and will go into this weekend’s fixtures against Kirivong with increased confidence, while Khemara suffered their second straight defeat but may pounce on Prek Pra Saturday, who are still mourning the tragic loss of Wilson Mene.