Nott A Moment Moa
Birds Had Sambath
Cambodian Division Two club Nottingham Po took some attention off their league woes with a 7-2 thumping of the visiting Birds, who returned to their Southeast Asian neighbours for the first time in almost thirty seasons. That considered, this was an improvement from the 0-9 drubbing that DLM Cambodia dealt out that time, which was thankfully before any of the current squad joined up.
Despite his steadily-eroding fitness, the coaches apparently felt it necessary to commit Chan Ze Han
to two games each week, and one could almost sense his weariness as he led the team out. Mohammad Ramli Saliman
, while improving, was in no condition to hold the Nottingham players off either, inspired as they were by the formidable Soriya Khoeun.
An inconclusive early game ended when Khoeun bent in a magnificent free-kick into Dan Seng
's top corner in the 21st minute, that no keeper in the world was likely to have saved. The Birds were still going at it, though, and Chu Xin Lee
would equalise some eight minutes later, as a bandaged Prokop Mottl
slipped past David Ledoux with a nice nutmeg, and delivered into the centre.
The match would swing Nottingham's way after that, as deserved, and Rachana Siv would put them ahead 34 minutes in, with an unhesitating strike from the edge of the box, immediately once presented the ball by Khoeun; Khoeun was positively electric, and after dragging another fine shot barely wide himself, he was booked for catching Kalki Parvathaneni
just a split-second late.
Grilled were unable to do anything with the free-kick setup that ensued, however, and their packing of the opposition box in anticipation instead left them wide open to Nottingham's counter. Veteran winger Chakriya Mao had lost little of his considerable pace, and he sprinted all of fifty yards, to slip a third goal past Dan Seng
Half-time saw forgotten man Leong Wan Kang
get an outing in place of the largely-anonymous Pompeo Bellamoli
, but in truth he fared no better against the elusive Sambath Moa. Small but inexorable, Moa had been a lower-key contributor in the first forty-five, but this would change with an explosive charge and goal in the 54th.
The Birds had all but conceded the wings by this point, but save for a few interesting forays by Iman Eshrafi
, they made no headway with their supposed strengths either. Nottingham were content to sit and wait for their turn, which came 69 minutes in. Khoeun dangled a free-kick over the assembled players' heads, Anchaly Chim glanced it ostensibly wide... and French veteran Virgil Lesage arrived on cue to snap it up for 5-1.
would go off for José Luiz Velho
with the goal celebrations as a backdrop, with the Czech youngster having bravely soldiered on for the last five minutes, despite a recurrence of his ankle tweak. It was all hands to the deck now for Grilled, and Iman Eshrafi
would be carded for bringing Chin Chhay down on the retreat - which didn't avail Grilled, as Men Sok scored after a little more pressure.
Nottingham were not without their vulnerabilities, and Ledoux's fading legs were perhaps the most obvious of them. Chu Xin Lee
had been engaging the wingback with his in mind, and the pieces were thus in place for when Grilled finally had a break down the right. Substitute José Luiz Velho
was just the right guy to take advantage, as he barged past brusquely, while goalie Sotearith Sak took himself out of contention by rushing out way too eagerly to intercept.
The hosts had one more in the tank, as they kept railing up their own right flank. Sambath Moa might have missed an open goal after Anchaly Chim split the Birds defence in the 83rd, but he wouldn't make the same error when presented with a similar chance a minute later, as he held off Jérémy Tarin
to make it seven.