The Eagles Are Landing: Port FC vs. Ubon UMT, 3 April 2017

 

In my five years supporting Thai Port, 2017 is consistent with following this fantastic football club. The sheer level of apprehension in not knowing which eleven players will take to the park and what levels they will perform to. We have had the heroics of Buriram, what a performance, to a good old-fashion spanking at the hands of our friends from Thai Honda, a team who have been our menaces for two years now. To be totally honest we wouldn’t have it any other way. Supporting this club is about the experience, making friends, enjoying a few beers and witnessing at first hand the passion displayed by the Khlong Toei Army. Hockers’ hat, Ackhim’s Brummie accent (he is German), Linny’s smile when we score, Keith’s iron man adventures, and Tom’s in depth knowledge of the Thai game, we are certainly never bored!

Our summer signings definitely brought a wave of optimism and discussion amongst the Sandpit faithful, whether Mr. Meelarp has any control over these remains a mystery but one thing for sure is it has been a mixed bag. Tana (99) has gone from being a Thai international to a bit part player at Port due to the arrivals of Josimar (30) and Kalu (10), although I am far from convinced by both of them! Sergio Suarez (5) (he even sounds class) looks the deal and I am convinced he will come into his own and establish himself in our Captain Fantastic’s league. Then we had their compatriot Asdrubal who vanished (Ed – Are you sure?), along with our young Patrick Bentley (29). I was excited as he sounded Irish and had freckles. Then, to my utter disgust – as the boys in the supporters club will know – we lost Maranhao (92) who had looked head and shoulders above everyone else in pre-season. I just hope he doesn’t come back to haunt us! Dolah (4) has a presence and a bit of class but he has had a dip in form and is still young so I am hoping optimistically he will become a Virgil Van Dyke.

Nitipong (34) has looked like a full back who could become an established and accomplished member of the team in a position we notoriously sign donkeys in and Todsapol (6) has come into the centre and looked every bit of the player we know he can be. Adisorn (13) looked the real deal against the Thunder Castle, his tenacity and commitment is what we as fans thrive on, and we are crying out for those performances more consistently. If we can get the Pakman (9) from drifting in and out of games we have the makings of an awesome midfield.

The Eagles

Our visitors today are Thai Premier league virgins Ubon UMT and by Jaysus they have made an incredible introduction in their short history sitting in fourth place, five points shy of The Smelly Thongs with only one defeat so far that being an away defeat by the odd goal at Navy. Their foreign legion have delivered and with their Thai talisman Siroch (35) they look a formidable proposition.

Siroch (left), Kenta Yamazaki (right)

The have made just short of one hundred signings in close season (joke, but not far off) and managing to keep hold of Siroch was a massive coup. I attended three international games last year and he was the stand out player in all three apart from Tana’s cameo seven minute appearance. In the Suzuki cup final he bullied and harassed the Indonesian defence. Right, forget about international football as I don’t want to talk about that **** Neil Taylor!

This is a team we beat 3-1 last season in one of our last home games before unforeseen circumstances brought the league to a premature halt. To be honest I vaguely remember it as I went to London Pie at 09:30 and arrived at the Port via Herrity’s, The Kiwi, Hanrahan’s and then Stood in the Sandpit for two hours with Keith and Del. This season their team is virtually unrecognizable and they have an Albanian claiming to be German banging them in from midfield called Nebihi who is getting rave reviews and played at a very decent level in Germany. He is joined in Midfield by an uncompromising Japanese player called Yamazaki – every team should have one – and Argie Berriex, who played most of his career in Chile playing for a team called Rangers, hopefully this one didn’t pledge loyalty to a monarch and then proceed to forget about HRMC rules and regulations!

Anyway it will be great to be back after three weeks of spending Saturdays with my eight week old daughter and as much as I love Tarua it just isn’t that good.

Slan go feoil

For those going to PAT Stadium, the game kicks off at the unusually early time of 17:45, and for those who can’t make it it will be shown live on True Sport 2.

 

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AsdruWho? Exciting New Info Emerges On Port’s Forgotten Foreigner

 

Port fans found themselves rubbing their eyes, telling themselves that their hangovers were not inducing hallucinations and taking a second look at the touchline on Wednesday evening, as the forgotten figure of Asdrubal Padron was seen training, and in remarkably fine fettle for a man who was thought to be out for the season. He was also thought by most to have left the club completely after his horrific ligament injury, so it was quite a surprise when Nig, the creator of Humans of Thai Port, informed me that the Spaniard is in fact still on the books receiving 50% of his original wage. The way he looked just a couple of months in to his recovery, he could well be an option for the second half of the season.

Asdrubal was working with fitness coach Rodrigo Pellegrino, who had him running through some obstacles before side-footing or heading balls that were thrown to him. He seemed to be moving very well, although his coach seemed keen to restrict how much he was jumping. After working with the ball for a while, Asdrubal jogged around the pitch where he also seemed to me to be moving pretty comfortably.

Asdrubal’s return could be a key moment in Port’s season, as he could add that bit of pace that has been lacking going forward. The Spaniard was the most high-profile of Port’s signings – having played in La Liga for his former club Las Palmas – but his Port career looked to be over before it had begun, as he suffered a nasty-looking knee injury in training, having only participated in one friendly. Initial reports suggested that Asdrubal would be out for the whole season, but it would appear that those estimates were wrong, as the tough Spaniard is looking far ahead of schedule in his rehab.

Other Injury News

Centre half Todsapol (6), who started his first league game of the season before the international break against Buriram, was also not fit to start against Samut Songkhram. He was on the sidelines in his playing gear, but was doing fairly light training, making his inclusion for Monday’s clash with Ubon UMT doubtful.

Pakasit (2) was also in light training, recovering from a knock he picked up against Bangkok Utd last week. As he is third choice at best in the right back pecking order, this shouldn’t effect Jadet’s squad selection on Monday.

Port’s most under-appreciated player this season – by the management at least – was nowhere to be seen at training. Tatchanon (39) has been chronically underused so far this season, and now injury appears to have caught up with the youngster. We hope he has a speedy recovery, and that he is considered for first-team selection when fit!

Pinyo (21) seems to have suffered another setback in his recovery that has been going on since early last season. Pinyo looked near full fitness in the run up to the season, when he got a few minutes of game time in pre-season friendlies, but Pinyo is back doing rehab work now, and does not look anywhere near full training. Pinyo was restricted to throwing a ball against the wall and tentatively volleying it back to himself, but was not doing any running.

The only other player who wasn’t seen at training was young goalkeeper Rattanai (17), but he is on his way back from a successful international break in the UAE, where he started 2 games as the Thai Under 23s unexpectedly captured
the Dubai Cup. Rattanai started against the two toughest opposition sides – UAE and China – indicating that he is now first choice for the Young Elephants as well as for Port. Well done, Rat!

 

Lions Fail to Digest Raging Mackerels: Port FC 2-2 Samut Songkhram (Friendly)

 

Port were held to a surprising draw by T2 side Samut Songkhram. Despite being in 8th place in T2, the Raging Mackerels made a good account of themselves, although from early on in the game it looked as though Port may win by a convincing margin.

Jadet chose to start with something very close to his starting XI. Worawut (36) started his second game in a row between the sticks, still deputizing for first choice ‘keeper Rattanai (17) who is just now returning to Khlong Toei after helping the Thai Under 23 team lift the Dubai Cup. In defence, Meechok (20) and Panpanpong (19) retained their starting places at full-back, and Dolah (4) came back in to the side at the expense of the injured Todspol (6) to partner Rochela (22). Adisorn (13) was once again given the nod in central midfield where he partnered Siwakorn (16), with Suarez (5) and Josimar (30) ahead of them charged with leading the attack. Pakorn (9) continued on the right wing, and at left wing Jadet gave Genki (18) a chance to impress and make the spot his own.

It took Genki just 6 minutes to open the scoring, but it was the intricate move to set up the chance that was most impressive. Meechok made an enterprising run forward which was picked out well by Pakorn. Meechok had the presence of mind to pull the ball back to Josimar on the penalty spot, and rather than shooting Josimar nudged it out wide to Genki, who showed composure to side-foot it home with his right foot.

Port were playing well and attacking at will, but The Mackerels came raging back just 3 minutes later, swimming against the tide to score a fine goal on the break. The ball came forward through the centre of the park, and a particularly irate Mackerel struck a pinpoint finish right in to the bottom left hand corner which Worawut at full stretch couldn’t quite reach.

After the equalizer the game seemed to slow down, with Port allowing their opponents a foot hold in the game. Surprisingly, the ‘first half’  came to a close after just 30 minutes, indicating that it was going to be one of those games with 3 periods rather than 2 halves. Excellent preparation for the next T1 game, I’m sure you’ll agree.

At least Port did stick with the majority of the first choice team in the second period, although Tana (99) came on for Genki (18) on the left and Piyachat (88) replaced Suarez (5) in attacking midfield. Whilst Piyachat played a more withdrawn role than the bombastic Suarez, Tana was far more attack-minded that the man he replaced, looking threatening from the moment he came on.

It would be The Mackerels who struck first in the second period, though. A chipped through-ball from inside the area struck a Port arm, and despite the defender not seeming to know much about it, the referee pointed to the spot. Another onlooker who must have had his goggles on informed me later that it was most definitely ball-to-fin. Regardless, the now not-quite-so-uppity Mackerels took the lead for the first time. although Worawut very nearly kept the low strike out.

Port began to raise their game, with Tana (99) in particular looking to make something happen very time he got the ball. Tana was having mackerel on toast every time he got the ball, and it was no surprise when he dropped his shoulder a couple of times to lose his defender and curled in a stunning finish in to the top right corner. The strike was reminiscent of the stunning free-kick that earned him third place in The Sandpit’s Goal of the Season competition in 2016. It’s Goal 7 if you want to relive the moment with Kenny’s fantastic video!

With the scores level, Port started to reel their opponents in. Josimar (30) had a header from point blank range kept out by a combination of post and defender, then Kaluderovic (10), who replaced the Brazilian midway through the period, suffered a very similar fate. Port could not find the breakthrough, though, and the second period came to an end with the scores still level at 2-2.

In the third period Jadet reverted to type, picking an entirely different XI to play out the final 30 minutes. The only interesting selection was Hansson (33), who was again given a chance to play right back, where he looked lively. The rest of the game was largely uneventful, meaning that The Raging Mackerels claimed a creditable draw at PAT Stadium, whereas Port will be slightly disappointed that they made such a meal of their lower league opponents.

As Port will experience next week, there’s always a bigger fish, and the visit of Ubon UMT to PAT Stadium on Monday will provide a much sterner test than The Raging Mackerels.

Port FC Man of the Match

It was a battle for the starting berth on the left wing, and although both found the back of the net, Tana impressed more than Genki on the night. Tana dribbled, passed, crossed and finished with aplomb, creating uncertainty in the opposition defence and exploiting it with a stunning finish that would undoubtedly be a contender for Goal of the Season if it had been scored in a competitive game.

 

The Sandpit’s Port FC Player of the Month for March – Voting Closed

 

Voting opens today!

Every month, The Sandpit is going to choose the Port players we think have played the best, and let our readers decide who should be named Player of the Month.

In March Port secured their first clean sheet with a 1-0 win at home to Navy, before succumbing to a miserable 1-5 thrashing away at Thai Honda. The final game of the month saw Port host giants Buriram at home, where they upset the odds to hold on to a 0-0 draw.

Here are the nominees in order of squad number…

 

Pakorn Prempak (9)

Siwakorn Jakkuprasart (16)

Rattanai Songsangchan (17)

David Rochela (22)

Nitipong Selanon (34)

 

ร่วมโหวตที่นี่

 

 

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Fallen Angels: Port FC 3-3 Bangkok Utd (Friendly)

 

Port recovered from a 1-3 half time deficit to secure a 3-3 draw against a strong Bangkok Utd team. As usual, Jadet stuck to his non-serious approach to friendlies, picking his Second XI for the first half, and his First XI for the second half. Port were outclassed in a one-way first half, but played a storming second 45 minutes to rescue a draw, with Meechok the stand-out performer.

Port started with their second string. Weera (1) was in goal, with Suchon (11), Dolah (4), Anisong (15) and Prakasit (2) making up the defence. Just back from injury, Piyachat (88) partnered Ittipol (7) in central midfield, with Piyachart (23) out of position on the left wing and Maranhao (92) on the right. Stand-in captain Wuttichai (14) supported Kaludjerovic (10) up front, as Port looked to continue with the 4-4-2 formation that worked so well against Buriram.

Port started off on the back foot, with Bangkok Utd’s foreign attacking trio of Jaycee John (22), Mario Gjurovski (20) and Dragan Boskovic (7) causing all sort of problems going forward. It was no surprise then when Prakasit was beaten for pace and strength by Boskovic, who was clear through on goal when Prakasit hauled him down inside the area for a clear penalty. Boskovic himself converted the spot-kick, although Weera guessed right, but didn’t quite get a strong enough hand on it to prevent it going in. Prakasit went off injured to be replaced by youngster Niran Hansson (33), who was given his first chance to impress at right-back. Port 0-1 Bangkok Utd

In the 19th minute Port drew level against the run of play. Maranhao (92) – industrious as ever – dispossessed a Bangkok Utd defender and squared the ball to Kaludjerovic (10), who rounded the keeper and slotted the ball past a covering defender the give Port an unexpected life-line. Port 1-1 Bangkok Utd

Port’s recovery lasted just two minutes though, as Jaycee John (22) restored The Angels’ lead with a stunning piece of skill that was applauded by all in PAT Stadium. John received the ball with his back to goal, but in one motion flicked, turned and fired the ball in to the top right hand corner, in a similar vein to this this outrageous effort from Thierry Henry. Port 1-2 Bangkok Utd

Bangkok Utd were enjoying all sorts of space down their right, with a combination of Piyachart (23) – out of position at left wing – and Suchon (11) at left back hapless against their constant attacks. It was a cross from the right that led to their third goal, with John (22) beating Weera (1) – who looked a touch slow off his line – to prod home a simple goal. Port went in to the break 1-3 down, but this was to be game of two very different halves. Port 1-3 Bangkok Utd

Port’s second half line-up was what looked like Jadet’s first choice XI, minus Rattanai (17) who is on international duty with the Thai under 23 team. Weera (1) was the only player to complete the 90 minutes, surely meaning that Worawut (36) was suffering from an injury. We didn’t see him on the bench, but have to assume that he was unavailable for selection. Meechok (20) returned at right back, with Rochela (22), Todsapol (6) and Panpanpong (19) completing the back four. Adisorn (13) continued alongside Siwakorn (16) in midfield, after his man of the match performance against Buriram. Pakorn (9) and Genki (18) were on the wings, with Suarez (5) behind Josimar (30) up front.

Port’s changed line-up immediately took control of the game; creating chances at will. A dynamic passing move put Suarez clear through on goal, but the Spaniard wasted the chance with a frivolous attempted chip which drew groans from the fans behind the goal. Those groans soon turned to cheers though, as Josimar (30) notched a well-deserved first goal for Port. Meechok (20) – who was outstanding down the right – did well to reach a through ball, and pulled back an excellent cross which Josimar bundled in to the bottom corner. It wasn’t particularly pretty, but Josimar won’t care. He’s off the mark now, and will look to carry his goal-scoring form in to the upcoming competitive games. Port 2-3 Bangkok Utd

Port continued to press, with a Suarez (5) cross from the left being flicked over the bar from close range by Josimar. Soon after, Pakorn (9) rattled the post with a clever free-kick which caught-out the Bangkok Utd keeper, then when Rochela (22) knocked the rebound back in to the danger zone Todsapol (6) looked certain to score, but couldn’t keep his header down. Port’s non-stop pressure eventually paid dividends though, with Meechok (20) getting the goal that his second half performance deserved. His forward run was picked out by Josimar, and the young right-back finished like a seasoned striker, steadying himself and shooting with power and precision into the bottom corner from a narrow angle. Port 3-3 Bangkok Utd

Port comfortable held on to draw 3-3 draw, maintaining their unbeaten run in Fortress PAT and showing that they can be a match for absolutely anyone at home.

Port FC Man of the Match

Meechok (20), replacing the injured Nitipong (34), was outstanding at right back. With Port largely controlling the game in the second half he managed to get forward and cause all sorts of problems down the right, assisting Josimar for the first goal, and scoring the second one himself. We’re certainly happy to see the youngster back in the team, and on top form to boot!

 

Some Friendlies

 

Starved of football during the international break? Help is at hand, as the club have just announced three friendly games against Bangkok Utd (hopefully not a repeat of the recent 6-2 away drubbing), Ratchaburi, and our old friends the Raging Mackerels of Samut Songkhram. Hopefully a good chance for Jadet to have a good look at the likes of Tatchanon, Pinyo, Meechok and Hansson, all players who should in my opinion be getting more game time than they have so far.

All games are, as far as we know, free to attend, and you can see the full details below:

 

Weds 22 March 17:00: Port FC vs Bangok Utd (H)

Sat 25 March 17:00: Pattaya vs Port FC (A)

Weds 29 March 18:00: Port FC vs Samut Songkhram FC (H)

 

Due to work commitments I’ll be unable to attend any of these so if anyone wants to write reports, please let us know!

 

 

Come On Feel the Moise!

 

23 October 2009 was my first Thai Port game. I had previously seen Muangthong United play Chonburi during that season but the striking similarity of image and presentation with Man U really put me off. So when I went to watch the FA Cup final between Thai Port and BEC Tero, I was unattached and ready to be wooed. I made my Dad become a BEC Tero ‘til he died fan as I couldn’t possibly support a team in a rip-off Arsenal strip, so I was left with the team in the Shrewsbury Town colours. While the Brazilian Port striker Edvaldo probably garnered much of the attention and headlines, for me it was the Cameroonian man-mountain in Port’s central defense that impressed me – the one and only Moudourou Swa Moise had caught my attention!

Now if you were to ask the question, who the hell is Moudourou Swa Moise? I would strongly suggest you don’t ever do so within my earshot as it would likely result in a deeply embarrassing hissy fit of epic proportions with lots of crying and insane accusations. For me, Moise is a club legend, a behemoth, an icon, the best player to have pulled on the orange and blue (or blue and orange) ever. Whether it’s his majestic swaggering running style that seemed to make it so easy for him to gracefully glide around the pitch with such speed at almost no effort, or his (as far as my memory recalls) having nearly never put a foot wrong in any of the 30 games he honoured us with during the 2010 and 2011 seasons that I saw him play in. Or maybe it was his thighs that would have made Roberto Carlos envious (alright calm down Andy – Ed).

While I understand that many present day fans regard David Rochela as one of our finest defenders, and yes I would agree he is certainly up there on the list, I would say sorry David and all his supporters; Moise was and will always be my first name on any Port team sheet (he is still only 31 you know). There have been other central defenders who have glittered, maybe sparkled but mostly faded from the memory, but Moise still holds firm.

To provide some examples; there were players like the South Korean Whoo Hyun from the 2012 season, who seemed solid and competent. Also Moise’s long-time defensive partner, the (overrated, in my opinion) Brazilian Mario da Silva, who certainly got way more plaudits than Moise ever did, probably largely due to his playing to the crowd and his attempting to not only play in games but referee them also, which were lapped up by the Khlong Thoey army. But while Mario never looked as assured without Moise, Moise could always take Mario’s absences easily in his enormous stride.

While Todsapol Lated’s initial performances for Port would often provoke such anger within me, almost to Kim Ba-We levels of vitriol, his development into the solid defender we have now has pleased me, but again, he’ll never fill the coloured boots of Moise. Jerry Amari in the 2013 season was injured too often to be fairly judged. And the quite frankly mental Lee Sang-Hoo in 2014 was way simply way too mad to adequately fill Moise’s calm eminence. I still remember him being dragged off the pitch during a loss to Chonburi only for the changing room door to fly open and him to reappear and then be subsequently re-restrained and manhandled from view. A moment of comedy gold! A few other Thai centre backs have impressed along the way, such as Narat Munin-Noppamart (2013) Suradej Saotaisong (2014), and Natanchot Pona (2015) but none looked as assured as Moise.

Maybe my respect and reverence of Moise is also partly because I also managed to meet the great man on two occasions and on both he was a mild-mannered and humble individual, certainly nothing like his fellow countryman Ulrich Munze, who was, how shall we say, slightly more bombastic in his approach with fans. I met Moise after a Toyota Cup 1st Round game against Ayutthaya in 2011, and he very kindly allowed me to take a picture with him, which I still venerate with almost religious high esteem. The second time I met him was at a game at Airforce (I think) after he had left us for Suphanburi, and he (unbelievably) may have been between clubs and was slightly less dignified. While chatting with him, unashamedly and totally lacking in any sense of self-respect and in gushingly sycophantic manner, which even a One Direction teenage fan meeting their idols may have dismissed as over the top, I begged him to rejoin Port, maybe even going down on my knees at one point. Moise, with all the class he amply had, politely glossed over my desperate request and continued the conversation.

So, when it comes to discussions about club legends I will continue my fight to have the name Moudourou Swa Moise immortalised and remembered for the great player he was. His name and the number 36 are still the only ones I can ever think of putting on the back of my Port shirt. I would wear it with pride and dignity, in the way that Moise did on countless occasions.

 

The Season So Far: The Pit Pundits’ Picks

 

Following my recent review of the season so far, the Sandpit team got together and selected our highlights of the first six games – best player, best match, best goal. Here are our choices – feel free to share yours in the comments or on Facebook.

 

Dominick Cartwright

 

Best Player: Rattanai (17)

Not my first choice for keeper at the start of the season. I would have gone with Worawut (36). But Rattanai has proved me wrong, and Tom right. Even in our dismal away games he has offered a sterling last line of defence. Those dismal defeats could have been even worse. He’s really shown his mettle not letting his head drop in defeat, and being there to shore up the points when we have a chance at some.

Also Keith has come up with a song for him, so I want him starting every game to give us a chance to sing a new song:

Rattanai’s in the goal, what is he gonna do?

Rattanai’s in the goal, what is he gonna do?

He’s gonna save that shot, That’s what he’s gonna do

He’s gonna save that shot

 

(To the tune of Rat in me Kitchen by UB40)

 

Best Match: Suphanburi Home (3-2)

Why do I love football? It’s unscripted drama. If you wrote this game as a script, it would not be convincing at all, just not realistic enough. 1-0 up and the Port faithful are celebrating 3 points already. Then the home crowd are stunned by 2 Suphan goals. Then Tana’s great equaliser. (See best goal pick for a description). Then my favourite moment of the game – all the other players were celebrating the excellent equaliser, meanwhile Suarez was running to the net, he picked up the ball and brought it back to the centre circle for the restart. He wasn’t happy with 1 point; he wanted the win. Then the man who has shown he wants it most, steps up and gets the winner. You couldn’t write a better ending.
 
 

 
 

Best Goal: Tana vs Suphanburi

Tana (99) is not everyone’s favourite striker; he has his faults. But for me I’d give him 45 minutes of any game – he can create chances when there’s not much on, and he always seems to be in the right place. Against Suphanburi he was loitering outside the area, Genki (18) saw him and teed him up well. Tana deftly curled the ball into the top corner, giving us a chance of 3 points in that game. I’m biased on this one, because I was standing right behind the top corner of the goal in Zone D. I genuinely had a moment of disbelief as the ball sailed in. Was that in or just over? Oh it’s in, lets go fucking mental!

 

Tom Earls

 

Best Player: Rattanai (17)

This is a tricky one, but I’m going with the man who I voted for in February’s Player of the Month competition. I was in the minority then, and expect I’ll be in the minority again here, but I just can’t get enough of Port’s baby-faced boy wonder Rattanai. Yes Rochela has been excellent, and yes he brings more to the team with his leadership and guidance than anyone else, but Rattanai has come up with some outstanding performances which have undoubtedly been worth a few points to Port already this season. One mistake against Suphanburi (which fortunately ended up not costing Port) aside, Rattanai has caught everything that has come anywhere near him, shown excellent decision making and has made some lightning-fast reactions stops.
 
Probably the best example of Rattanai’s importance to the team came when he was dropped for the 5-1 drubbing at Honda. Whilst comparing him to Weera would be about as useful about comparing him to a boiled egg, it gave Port fans a glimpse of what it would be like not to have a reliable keeper between the sticks. Scary stuff. Please don’t leave him out again!

 

Best Match: Buriram Home (0-0)

It may not have had the twists and turns of the epic 3-2 win over Suphanburi, or the last minute drama of the 1-1 draw with Ratchaburi, but this was a high intensity, high quality game where Port proved they can compete with anyone on their day. It was Roy of the Rovers stuff. Man of the Match Adisorn couldn’t get a game in central midfield in Division 1 last season, yet had probably the best game of his career, coming out on top against Buriram’s star-studded midfield. Todsapol came in to the side having not played a minute of competitive football in 2017, and looked outstanding against two of the most dangerous forwards in T1. Port, who flopped to a 5-1 defeat at Thai Honda just 4 days earlier and got thumped by the same scoreline last time they hosted Champions Buriram in 2015 were not expected to even be competitive, but defied the odds with a performance full of heart. Port could even have won if not for a miraculous point-blank save from the Buriram keeper. All in front of a sell-out crowd of *ahem* 6,900 people who turned PAT Stadium in to a cauldron where Port just refuse to lose in 2017!
 
 

 
 

Best Goal: Siwakhorn vs Bangkok Utd

For me, there can only really be two candidates here. Siwakorn vs. Bangkok Utd and Tana vs. Suphanburi. Siwakorn’s screamer came at 3-0 down in a 6-2 mauling whereas Tana’s thunderbastard drew Port level in a game they ended up winning 3-2. The skinny wizard’s moment of magic may have been to no avail, but I’m giving it to him for the way he glided past the defender before curling it over the keeper’s head. Tana’s was an outstanding goal, but I think he had slightly less to do when he picked the ball up.
 
 

 
 

Tim Russell

 

Best Player: David Rochela

When Spit claimed in a pre-season article that Rochela was underrated, we scoffed. How could the guy who’d won the 2016 Player of the Year award with a landslide possibly be underrated? But now I think I know what he meant. Rochela is so good, week in week out, that we take his excellence for granted and barely notice it any more. So far this season he’s been as consistent as ever, mopping up at the back, reading the game well and intercepting header after header, and his performances against Ratchaburi and Buriram in particular were little short of heroic. God help us if he ever gets injured or moves on.

 

Best Match: Suphanburi Home (3-2)

If Ratchaburi was a relatively gentle reintroduction to the delights of T1, Suphanburi was a classic all-action balls-out thriller, the kind of game we missed during our brief sojourn into the lower leagues last season. Yes, Port rode their luck at times and benefitted from Adul, who had been Suphan’s star player up to that point, getting a red card; but the intensity and workrate of the Port players was something to behold, particularly Suarez, who grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck in the later stages and scored the winner in what was his best performance so far in a Port shirt. Simply one of the most exciting games I’ve seen at the PAT.

 

Best Goal: Genki vs Ratchaburi

OK, technically and aesthetically it may not be Port’s best goal of the season, but in terms of determination and timing it was perfect. 0-1 down after 94 minutes in their first game back in the TPL – and their first home game for nearly 6 months – Port won a free kick to the right of the Ratchaburi box. Pakorn swung it into the box and Genki threw himself at it Keith Houchen-style to head it in, sparking scenes of utter delirium on the terraces and the first ever airing of the Human League “Genki Nagasato” chant. Best moment of the season so far.
 
 

 

Port’s 2017 Season: A Progress Report

 

With six games of the season played, the powers that be have decided it’s time for a three-week break for international fixtures. Quite why Thailand need three weeks off to prepare for a dead rubber with Saudi Arabia, and quite why our next game is a 17:45 Monday evening kick off (vs Ubon, 3rd April), god only knows, but as flies to wanton boys are we to the fixture list compilers; they piss us around for their sport.

So now seems like a time to pause for breath and reflect on Port’s season so far, the wins and the losses, the dizzy highs and the desperate lows, the champs and the chumps. On a purely statistical level, Port are 9th in T1, exactly halfway, with 8 points from 2 wins, 2 draws and 2 defeats. 8 goals scored, 14 conceded. But of course, there’s a whole lot more behind those numbers…

 

The Games

Your opinion of Port matches this season rather depends on which matches you’ve watched. If you’ve only seen home games, you’ll be very happy – Port appear pretty much unbeatable at the PAT, even by the mighty Buriram, and play with an intensity that is exhausting to watch, and the games against Suphanburi and Buriram in particular were the kind of full-on, balls-out performances that make you proud to be a Port fan. If you’ve been to the away games, and seen Port ship 11 goals (including 5 to the somewhat less than mighty Thai Honda), you’ll probably have a more realistic view of the team’s chances this season.

Basically, if Port are to have a successful season, by which I mean anything other than a relegation battle, they need to sort out their hangup about playing away from the PAT. Whereas they begin home games by steaming into the opposition with gusto, they begin away games looking like condemned men. Yes, the PAT atmosphere is a huge home advantage, but given the number of Port fans who travel to watch the team, and given the poor home crowds at many Thai stadiums (particularly our first two away opponents, Bangkok Utd & Honda) playing away shouldn’t be the calvary that it has so clearly become for the team. Time to bring in a psychologist!

 

The Team

Given that coach Jadet (or whoever it is who picks the team – opinion seems to be divided) has been out-tinkering Ranieri this season, we’ve yet to see a settled Port side. Most of us seem to have a similar opinion on what the best starting XI is, but we’ve yet to see them play together. Jadet seems to think he’s coaching a kids’ Sunday league team, intent on giving everyone a chance, rather than picking his best XI for each game, and so results have been somewhat mixed. There were rumours before the Buriram game that his position was under threat, and whilst that performance – and his courageous 4-4-2 selection – means he’ll probably still be around after the break, any repeat of the Honda debacle could see him getting his cards.

In goal, young Rattanai (17) has built on his progress last season and made the keeper’s jersey his own, culminating in a dominant, authoritative performance against Buriram which will have made the rest of Thai football sit up and take notice of a major talent. Quite why he was dropped, and for Weera of all people, against Honda will remain a hopefully not-to-be-repeated mystery.

With 14 goals conceded in 6 games, it’s clear that Port’s problems lie in defence. Whilst cap’n Rochela (27) has been magnificent as ever, he’s often been left defending almost singlehandedly as Jadet struggles to put together a cohesive back four. Rochela’s new centre-back partner Dolah (4) has so far struggled to make the step up to T1, particularly when faced with pacey forwards running at him, and it was no surprise to see Todsapol (6) restored against Buriram. Panpanpong (19) has made the left-back position his own despite not really impressing so far, and whilst Nitipong (34) has had a newsworthy start to the season, his attacking instincts mean he too often neglects his right-back duties. His natural replacement Meechok (20) didn’t help his own cause with that performance at Honda last week.

In midfield, Jadet inexplicably continues to ignore the claims of Tachanon (39) to the DM slot; in the one game he started, at home to Navy, he put in a MOTM performance and seemed to be exactly what Port had been missing all season, so it’s insane that he hasn’t appeared since, unless he’s injured. Admittedly, Adisorn (13) has done a decent job filling in for him, particularly against Buriram.

Siwakhorn continues to work his balls off in midfield and lead by example, but his much-hyped midfield partner Suarez (5) hasn’t quite lived up to expectations and needs to calm down and focus on playing football rather than committing, and claiming he’s been on the receiving end of, fouls. Currently there is no link between central midfield & attack, meaning there’s no threat down the middle and the strikers are often stranded. If only there was such a player – a quick, skillful, committed Brazilian perhaps – on the club’s books…

On the wings, Pakorn (9) and Nitipong have both made excellent contributions on the right, whilst Genki (18) continues to run himself into the ground on the left, though what with neither he nor Panpanpong being particularly great crossers, Port’s threat down the left side has been minimal.

Up front, Port continue to lack a goal threat. Kaludjerovic (10) is clearly still acclimatising to the heat and has looked off the pace so far, contributing just one goal (a tap-in against Suphanburi). Josimar (30) looks more like the real deal, but in his first 3 games he’s been somewhat starved of service. You get the impression that when he does finally score the floodgates will open. Veteran Tana (99) has scored twice without contributing anything else and in this writer’s opinion it’s time he was put out to pasture.

 

The Summary

The club’s target is a top half finish and, so far, they are on course to achieve that. I think before the start of the season most of us would’ve been happy with 8 points from the first 6 games – an average of 1.33 points per game which, if maintained over the rest of the season, would give Port 45 points, which would’ve been enough for a mid-table finish last season. And I don’t think anyone can complain about the entertainment on show – if you’ve attended every game so far, you’ve seen 22 goals in 6 games, which is great value.

If Jadet can start picking his best team, if the defence can play consistently as well as it did against Buriram, if Suarez can play to his potential, if our strikers can find their shooting boots, and if the team can overcome their fear of away games, then a top half position could and should be maintained. Whatever happens, the evidence so far suggests that it’ll be a lot of fun to watch.

 

Not Waving but Drawing: Port FC 0-0 Buriram Utd

“Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.

Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he’s dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
They said.

Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.”

– Stevie Smith

That has got your attention now hasn’t it? Doing a modern day match report is a thing of desperate ugliness. Like when you live in an isolated place with a dying pet. It is a task nobody wants to do and yet it needs to be done. And when the deed is done it carries little thanks, acquires little thoughtful scrutiny and at best encourages a response of “well, yeah, obviously”. Everybody knows the result. They’ve seen it all before. They’ve even seen the replays. Tweets have been twittered to death and the hivemind has already spoken as you plonk yourself down to take aim at the sorry carcass. You can’t shock, inform or even blag your way to any great extent. We’re all fucking experts now.

And so there remains the scraps of a game to report on. The macros are all covered. (It was 0-0 by the way if this looks like it might imminently veer off into tangents.) What is left is the minutiae. So what do you give the football fan in your life that has everything?

This match report will thus come at you through the prism of the word “wave”. Much like a Sesame Street episode near the end of a tired season, run out of letters, it is the best we could come up with. Put up with it.

Ostensibly the most important wave of the night was from the dead king. His hand raised out and up over PAT stadium giving us permission to wear the colours we all shouldn’t be wearing. And his own yellow robes were a foreshadowing of things to come.

Buriram started confidently and had the best of the opening exchanges. The more familiar looking line up at PAT Stadium today soon matched them after some early jitters and some sky-rise clearances. Todsapol replaced Dolah in central defence. Even if Dolah has unfairly been labelled as a scapegoat for the midweek disaster at Thai Honda, the decision to bring Todsapol in looked the right one as he played a crucial role in holding the Buriram attack at bay. Rattanai reclaimed his entirely rightful place in goal and lets never speak about how he didn’t play last Wednesday night again. Although clear-cut chances were few and far between for Port they weren’t without some genuine goal threats. Josimar had an excellent shot from distance saved late in first half. Adisorn was a ball of energy and surely must have inspired all Port shirts around him. He certainly did in Zone B. He only improved as the game went on.

But this was a game of waves, lest we forget. The referee in the opening minutes had cause to wave a card or two but chose not to in the spirit of “not in the first wave”. Following his waving on of play, a wave of aggression seemed to flow over both teams. His lack of disciplinary action was a waving red flag to a bull and tackles began to fly in. A wave of yellow cards then followed and half time sandpit talk broached the beloved topic of Thai referees’ extreme temperance in showing more than one yellow card per player. Half time talk does what it often does and finds itself completely wrong mid way through the second half as Buriram’s star striker found himself on the receiving end of a second wave of the yellow. The travelling team lost the services of one of their most potent threats in Diogo. His long cross-field walk was met with appropriate shock and of course, delight. Wave off.

It was like the second half was reset and this time we were the favourites. A wave of a wand and the 6,900 strong crowd were suddenly louder and lighter on their feet. Thai Port’s intermittent counter attacks from the opening hour became, simply, attacks. Zone D first suggested, then exampled and finally imposed a Mexican wave on Zone C and so it flowed round the stadium in reverse alphabetical order. Even Madam Big Bird must have been impressed with this orchestrated spontaneity. In the last twenty minutes Port played with abandon and Buriram, now playing on the counter, could have stolen it but for some great last ditch defending. Rochela back to his usual self at the heart of the defence. Much time wasting and the new wave of yellow in the yellow-uniformed medical staff carried them to the final result everyone didn’t see coming; a victorious draw for Thai Port.

At full time in the far far away away section the away fans tragically waved confetti in the air. Futile. Too much, too early. Their sweaty anticipating palms unburdened of their presumptuous load. They had waited 94 minutes to see a goal that never came. Fifteen times in five games they had already seen their team score this season. But not at PAT Stadium. Not tonight. No fucking wave.

 

Man of the Match – Adisorn

Even amongst plenty of good performances, Adisorn was a clear man of the match. Often seemingly outnumbered in midfield on the ball, he rarely lost it, won it back more than he had a right to expect to and generally drove the team on with his energy. A welcome show of professionalism in midfield.