Pahang FA held Port to a 1-1 draw on Sunday, but the result didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the home fans, who brought the noise to PAT Stadium for the first time since the stadium ban took effect in September.
Since then Port fans have been itching to get back on the terraces to cheer on their team, and yesterday they finally had their chance. A few hundred fans hungry for football – and a few dozen particularly thirsty for Leo – saw Port slip to a disappointing draw against a side they should probably have beaten.
Pahang FA play in the Malaysian Super League – where they finished 9th last season – but Port’s first half performance indicated that they were much the stronger side. The first half side was almost identical to the one fielded at Navy on Thursday. The only change was in goal, where Weera (40), who if we’re honest we had completely forgotten about, played a quiet but mistake-free 45 minutes. In front of him was a back four of Rochela (22), Dolah (38), Meechok (20) and a former Bangkok United player currently on trial at Port, the superbly named Panpanpong Pinkong (19). Suarez (4), Siwakorn (16) and a 20 year old tralist from Army – Tatchanon Nakarawong (27) – operated as a three in the centre of midfield, with Ekkapoom (8) and Pakorn (9) on the wings. Sene (40) once again started up front; determined to get on the score sheet after peppering the goal but failing to score against Navy.
Port started brightly, moving the ball through midfield with purpose. Suarez was the stand-out player, showing a nice touch and great vision. He controlled play and delivered some excellent passes out wide. His good work paid off 15 minutes in to the first half. Suarez found Pakorn on the right hand side, and Pakorn hung up an inviting cross which had Sene’s name written all over it. The towering French forward jumped so high that he actually had to stoop in mid-air to connect with the cross, but regardless he powered his header past the ‘keeper to make it 1-0.
Pahang rarely threatened the Port goal, but on one of the rare occasions they ventured forward new signing Dolah showed his strength and timing to win an important tackle and play a smart pass out in to midfield. The six foot five Thai-Swedish centre half looked calm and capable throughout the half, suggesting that he could form a formidable partnership with Rochela, although he was never really tested against the Malaysians.
Wholesale changes were made at half time again, with only Sene staying on the pitch. The second string were more evenly matched with Pahang, and they largely cancelled eachother out in a half where chances were at a premium. Genki (18) was industrious as ever, and Piyachart (23) made some enterprising runs forward, but Port couldn’t really find their rhythm. Matters were not helped when Sene was replaced by Wuttichai (14) and Maranhao (29) limped off the pitch after picking up a knock.
In the 75th minute Pahang found themselves back on level terms, and the game started to become a little feisty. Substitute Wuttichai was fouled and exchanged heated words with a Pahang defender, then seconds before the final whistle he was deservedly given his marching orders for an ugly foul, clearly an act of retribution.
Despite the not-so-friendly game ending on a sour note, the Port fans had a good day out, particularly the fans from Zone B who brought their drums and created a more upbeat atmosphere than we’re used to seeing in pre-season.
Port are yet to announce any more friendlies, but when they do The Sandpit will be sure to keep you updated.