This game took place on International Women’s Day, and Port’s players honoured the occasion by playing like girls. Actually that’s a bit harsh – girls would’ve put up more of a fight. For make no mistake, this was a clueless, gutless performance from a disorganised, confused, underprepared team hampered by some utterly baffling team selections.
Firstly, if it was Jadet who picked this team, he needs to go now. If it was someone else, they need to step back and let the coach get on with his job. Weera in goal? If Rattanai was unavailable for whatever reason, why not Worawut? Weera hadn’t pulled on a Port shirt for 2 years and proceeded to spend the game showing exactly why. Siwapong for Tachanon? After Tachanon put in one of the best midfield performances of the season against Navy? I said at the start of the season that whilst I didn’t feel Jadet was the right guy to turn Port into a top-half T1 club, he deserved a chance based on encouraging performances in pre-season friendlies and the very obvious buzz and team spirit around the club. But if he was behind last night’s team selection, then I’m sorry big fella but your time’s up.
Port started the game like they always do away from home, ie looking as if they’d rather be anywhere else but here. Guys, I get it. I know you love the PAT. We all love the PAT. We have the best fans and the best atmosphere in Thailand. But sometimes WE HAVE TO PLAY AT OTHER STADIUMS. That’s football. Port’s timidity in the opening exchanges essentially told Honda that we were here to lose, and they grasped the game accordingly.
The rout began in the 13th minute, when Honda’s no7 Lima (man of the match and the best opposition player I’ve seen all season) latched onto a through ball into the area, only to have his heels clipped by Panpanpong. The ref pointed to the spot immediately, up stepped Honda’s SFS Jesus, and whilst Weera Duckworth went the right way (the first and last thing he got right all evening), the ball nestled into the corner for a goal.
Following the goal Port had their best spell of possession but were unable to do much with it, due to utterly pitiful performances from every single player in the midfield, particularly Siwapong who resembled a 14-year old boy thrown onto the pitch without ever having seen a football before. Josimar was left stranded up front whilst Honda’s midfield, the same strong, organised and occasionally dirty unit we came up against last season, bullied our players at every turn, aided in no small part by the referee who, when he failed to at least book Honda’s no40 for a shocking tackle from behind on Suarez, sent out a signal that they could be as physical as they liked. Suarez, never one to let things lie, exacted his revenge on Honda’s no19 a few minutes later, and was swiftly replaced by Wanchalerm before he got the red card that the ref would almost certainly have given him eventually, such was his clear dislike of all things Port, and whose performance was frequently critiqued by the Khlong Thoey Army via the medium of song.
If we thought the departure of Suarez, whose all-action style and occasional pretty flicks do a good job of masking the fact that he actually contributes very little, and the arrival of Wanchalerm would shore up the midfield, we were wrong, as Honda doubled their lead on half-time. Some utterly pathetic defending by Siwapong on the edge of the box gave the ball away, leaving no40 Ardchom with only Weera to beat, which is basically as good as an open goal. 2-0.
Jadet made a change at half-time, taking off the pitiful Siwapong and bringing on Elsie Tana. Now, bringing on a player like Tana when you’re 2-0 down is rather like…I was going to say bringing a knife to a gunfight, but knives are sharp and dangerous and offer some kind of threat. So let’s say like bringing a courgette to a gunfight, and so it proved, with the veteran striker wandering aimlessly about for 45 minutes and contributing the sum total of fuck all.
But Port started the half in lively fashion, Josimar finally getting some service and firing a header straight at Honda’s keeper. However, within 8 minutes it was 4-0. Firstly, in the 48th minute, three Port defenders stood awestruck at the feet of Jesus giving him time to turn and slide the ball back to our old friend Ardchom, who fired home via a Dolah deflection; and then on 53 minutes, that man Lima passed to an unmarked Tannamit who again had only Weera to beat, and we all know what happened next. 4-0 Honda. Honda had clearly done their homework on Port’s defence, Dolah in particular, and so avoided Navy’s tactic of putting high balls into the box, instead adopting the devious strategy of PLAYING THE BALL ON THE GROUND. I seriously fear for the big Thai-Swede against Buriram on Saturday.
The introduction of Pakorn for the ineffective Ekkapoom sparked Port into life with several chances being missed, before the talented no9 pulled one back in the 69th minute via a delicious curling free-kick. But any hopes that it might spark an unlikely comeback were snuffed out on 84 minutes, when Weera, in hopefully his last ever act in a Port shirt, made a complete tit of himself dealing with a corner: firstly he palmed it into the path of Jesus, who bundled it over the line; then, realising he’d conceded a goal, he thought he’d better at least act the part of a goalkeeper and did a bizarre comedy dive. Quite what the watching Worawut and Rattanai made of it all is anyone’s guess.
And that was that, 5 goals shipped to a team in 14th place in a performance of such utter ineptitude you struggled to believe you were watching the same team who’d taken 7 points out of 9 at home. With 14 goals conceded in 5 games (11 of those in 2 away games) it’s very clear where Port’s deficiencies lie, and likewise it’s very clear what Port’s best starting XI is; but whoever is picking the team seems to think this is some kids’ Sunday league team and that every boy, even the rubbish ones like Weera and Siwapong, deserves a turn. If this tinkering with the squad continues, and if the obvious psychological issue of away games isn’t addressed, we are in for a long, hard season.
Port Man of the Match – THE FANS
I thought long & hard about the MOTM award. Josimar did his best without any kind of service; Rochela tried singlehandedly to put out the various fires that broke out every time Honda crossed into Port’s half and has my sincere sympathy for having to corral a defence of such staggering inadequacy; and Pakorn, when he came on, did more than anyone else to salvage a bit of pride. But it’s impossible to give awards to anyone on the pitch. So the award goes to the fans who, as always, turned out in numbers, even on a Wednesday evening game at one of Bangkok’s least accessible football grounds. They sang and cheered the team throughout, and quite reasonably made their dissatisfaction with the performance known. They’re the reason we all love Port so much, why so many of us farang fans have found a home here, and they deserve much, much better than the shit that was served up to them tonight.