After last week’s less than stellar performance against Ratchaburi, where Port were fortunate to salvage a point, expectations going into a match against a strong Suphanburi side were tempered to say the least.
Trepidation crept in when the starting XI headed out onto the field for the warm-up. Certainly Meechok (20) with his strong defending would be at right back and Tatchanon (39) or Wanchalerm (40) would be given the holding midfielder role against a big, physical Suphan squad, right? But no, Nitipong (34) was given the start at right back and Adisorn (13) in center midfield.
From the opening whistle it was apparent that the match would be much more lively than last weeks rather boring affair. Port were the better side for much of the first half and moved the ball through the midfield with relative ease for the first 25 minutes. Kaludjerovic (10) opened his Port account with an empty netter after receiving a gift in the form of keeper Sinthaweechai’s (18) deflection while he was attempting to stop Panpanpong’s (19) cross. Port 1-0 Suphan
Not to be outdone, in the 27th minute Rattanai (17) failed to hold onto the ball after a collision with Rochela (22) and the ball dropped right into the path of Dellatorre (9) who popped it into an empty net. Port 1-1 Suphan
After the goal Suphan were the superior team for the rest of the first half, constantly pressing the attack, while Port played the defensive game. The aggression paid off in minute 36 when Dellatore (9) headed home a well-struck corner. Soon after, Port should have had a penalty for hand ball, but it was ignored by the official. The first half ended Port 1-2 Suphan
No changes were made by either side at half time. Play was again lively with both teams pressing the attack. Jadet replaced Kaludjerovic (10) with Tana (99) and moments later at the 56th minute Adul Lahsoh (19) saw red for his dangerous challenge on Adisorn (13). Up a man Port dominated possession, play, and chances. 5 minutes later Tana (99) rifled one home after receiving a nice soft-footed Ozil style pass from Genki (18). Port 2-2 Suphan
8 minutes later it was Sergio Suarez’s (5) turn when he slotted home a cross from Nitipong (34). Port 3-2 Suphan
The last 20 + 5 saw Port dominating for all but a few minutes. During stoppage time there was an anxious moment when it appeared that a Suphan attacker was taken down in the box, but fortunately the ref did not see it or did not consider it a penalty. You could feel the crowd’s relief when the final whistle blew giving Port their first victory of the season.
Although a much better effort than last week’s the team still has work to do. Overall play and flow is headed in the right direction but the team really has yet to gel and there still seems to be lack of focus and not much of a game plan.
Defensively, especially on set plays, the marking is not great. Dellatorre’s (9) goal was a perfect example. Dolah (4) should be matched up against the opposing team’s big man every time and he needs to stay with his cover.
Midfield play is a bit sloppy and the team still does not have a steady holding mid-fielder to direct and control the play. Although Adisorn (13) had a good match, it is far from given that he is the man for that spot. Jadet should give serious consideration to Tatchanon (39) and Wanchalerm (40) who both did well in pre-season.
Nitipong (34) had a very good game and was awarded man of the match by the press. However, Meechok (20) is superior defensively and against the league’s best wingers might present a better starting option. Nitipong (34) has also been fantastic off the bench and his speed can be deadly late in games if he is fresh. Definitely a change I would consider.
Hopefully Rattanai’s (17) failure to hold onto the ball is a one off mistake. He has been quite reliable during his tenure with Port. That being said, I think there still have to be some concerns about his size, stature, and strength. It will take a few more mistake free matches for me to be convinced.
Panpanpong (19) was quite good against Suphan, both defending and pressing forward. Improvement over last week was quite substantial. At this rate he might earn that left-back position.
Kaludjerovic (10) is a target man. Get him the ball in the box and he will put it on net. In order for the team to get the most out of him, they are going to have to provide him with a bit more service. This also underscores the need for Port to add another striker/scoring winger to the squad. We are still waiting to see if it will be Josimar (30) or Heberty.
Pakorn (9) had a great match. With a bit more experience at this level and some good coaching, he should be one of the better Thai wingers in the league.
Port FC Man of the Match
Sergio Suarez. Creative, fast, all over the pitch, and netted the winner.
We were better tonight. Progress was made over the last week. Hopefully it will continue, but it’s not going to be easy. A mid-table finish will require some doing.
I for one am glad we are playing many of the better teams at the beginning of the leg when they are not quite at top form. Makes it far more likely for us to grab a point or three. Bangkok Utd have not been ripping it up in their first two matches, we just might steal one from them as well.
See you guys in Pathum Thani!