Port will entertain the Dolphins at PAT Stadium this Saturday, where they will be favourites to take all three points. Port have defied pre-season expectations and sit at 7th place in the table, whereas their opponents are more or less where they were expected to be in 14th. Port have only lost once with the raucous home crowd cheering them on this season, so against a weaker team the pressure will be on for Port to come out and play like a top-half side.
Players to Watch
Pattaya have only two players who have scored more than one goal this season. One of them is Milos Stojanovic (18), whose 6 goals account for nearly half of Pattaya’s pretty meagre total of 14. His big bald dome is easy to spot on the field, which could explain why Pattaya’s players aim at it so often. Stojanovic is 6 foot tall and has an excellent jump on him, meaning that he wins a lot of the hopeful long balls and crosses aimed in his direction.
Pattaya’s other multiple goalscorer in 2017 has been 24 year old Thai attacking midfielder Peeradon Chamratsamee (8). Formerly of Muangthong and having represented Thailand up to under 23 level, Peeradon can carry the ball forward at pace and shoot from distance. Two of his three excellent goals this season goals have come from outside the area. His little-and-large partnership with Stojanovic represents Pattaya’s only real attacking plan, so if Stojanovic can be neutralized in the air and Peeradon on the ground, Port will have little to fear from Pattaya.
At the back, Pattaya have height, strength and experience, but it hasn’t stopped them conceding 24 goals so far in 2017. Brazilian midfielder Wellington Priori (6) stands at 6 foot 3 and looks like a useful player, and behind him in central defence 36 year old captain Lee Won-young (3) tries manfully to hold things together. He was successful for the first time this season on Wednesday, when Pattaya kept their first clean sheet against Thai Honda. They even managed to snatch a 1-0 win in bizarre fashion when the Honda keeper booted the ball at Stojanovic, allowing his teammate Chayawat (13) to nip in and score a lucky winner.
The Insider View From Robin Lennon
The Sandpit asked Pattaya fan Robin Lennon to contribute to our preview, and he sent us this fantastic segment on their season to date…
After seven games Pattaya United were sitting comfortably mid-table with ten points, one behind Port and a potential sixth place. Wins were as expected and our losses against the big boys were competitive and by no means one sided, our new young team were playing attractive football. Optimism was high, a couple of near home capacity crowds against Chonburi and Muangthong and positive initiatives from the new owners such as season tickets, a supporters bus to away games, a new social media platform, a club shop planned for Central Dept store on Beach Road this month, stadium improvements and an all round better match day experience. Fast forward one month, and whilst Port have continued to go from strength to strength, Pattaya have gone backwards on the pitch with four defeats on the bounce and three at the hands of teams I consider around our own level. Wins against Suphanburi and Navy with a point against Ratchaburi and mid-table competitiveness could have been expected, as it is the possibility of a nervous season long relegation battle rears its ugly head.
So what has gone wrong in April? It would be easy to blame an injury crisis that has slowly built up week after week and which undoubtedly hasn’t helped the cause, however the facts show that in the last two home games Pattaya were leading going into the final stages. Against Suphanburi three goals were conceded in the last eleven minutes and even more disastrously two goals were conceded in the last five minutes to go down against Navy. No, our problems have stemmed from an inability to finish teams off by adding a two goal cushion when in the ascendency, and tactically sitting back and trying to defend a one goal lead putting pressure on a shaky and perhaps tiring defence. The coach has to take a measure of blame for the negative approach which plays against our strengths and highlights our weaknesses. A self-inflicted goalkeeping blunder of epic proportions, “bouncegate”, by our reserve goalie and a subsequent missed penalty cost us the Ratchaburi game but the less said about that the better.
Which brings us to the Port game and what to expect. Well, a match I was relishing I’m now travelling to with a feeling of distinct nervousness having watched Port’s impressive performances on the TV when they haven’t coincided with attending our own fixtures. Amidst the expected PAT stadium cauldron the need to keep our defensive discipline and not concede early is essential, luckily our first choice keeper Somporn Yos (24) is back after several weeks out due to a nasty car accident requiring 38 stitches to his face. He has been a breath of fresh air between the posts given the comical goalkeeping we witnessed last season and unfortunately what we’ve seen in his absence over the last few games. I would assume our talismanic captain and all round cult figure Lee Won-young (3) given his physical stature will be assigned the job of containing the powerful and equally strong Josimar (30). Lee is a joy to watch, commanding in the air and calm and assured on the ball so it should be an interesting duel. In midfield keep an eye on Peeradol (8) our blond midfield playmaker who is definitely one for the future, confident, skillful and three goals to his name so far this season. Upfront Milos Stojanovic (18) with six goals in nine starts has been outstanding often plowing a lone furrow, my player of the season so far. A proven finisher in the Serbian and Korean leagues I believe he was signed up on Lee’s recommendation. We can only speculate what might have been if our tasty Serbian “M&M’s” partnership had materialised. Alas the Scarlet Pimpernel of Pattaya United, Milan Bubalo (7), is still MIA and will be replaced should he not appear before the end of the first leg of fixtures. A hugely costly error and much will depend on finding an effective strike partner for Milos for the second half of the season. Finally if you want a bit of opposition Brazilian trickery Wellington Priori (6) has the ability and skill to conjure something out of nothing, it all depends where he is played as he has deputised in virtually every position bar goalie so far this season, but hopefully attacking midfield for this fixture.
To conclude, for Pattaya United survival in the top flight this season is critical, we have a refreshing new ownership team clearly intent on developing the club on and off the pitch, their actions thus far are clear to see and impressive, however an extremely poor Friday night derby crowd against Navy of just under 2,000 demonstrates that they have a huge job ahead of them to try and expand the fan base in the long run. An unlikely win against Port would certainly help restore the early season optimism amongst the die hard core of loyal supporters, personally I’ll take the point.
El Capitan David Rochela (22) and Tana (99) return from suspension on Saturday to bolster Port’s chances of securing another home win. Unfortunately, Nitipong (34) is the latest player to reach 4 yellow cards, meaning that he will very likely be replaced by Meechok (20) at right back. The only question in Jadet’s first choice XI continues to be whether he chooses Tana or Genki (18) on the left. Against weaker opposition, Jadet could well decide to give Tana the nod, as his brand of direct, creative wing play can at times offer more going forward than Genki’s naturally disciplined, hard-working game.
After a tough midweek game with only a couple of days to recover, Jadet could also consider resting players. Whilst it’s impossible to predict just how Jadet might choose to do that, I would guess that hard-working midfielders Adisorn (13) and Siwakorn (16) are possibilities, with Tatchanon (39) and Piyachat (88) leading candidates to come in as replacements. Jadet could also give Kaludjerovic (10) another chance to prove his worth to the squad if he thinks that Suarez (5) needs a break. Personally I think that professional footballers should be able to play two games a week without needing a rest, but many managers seem to like rotating their squads in times like these.
Port are expected to score goals on Saturday, and Josimar is the main threat. Despite drawing a blank against Chonburi, Josimar still has 5 goals in his last 6 games and will fancy his chances against 36 year old Korean defender Lee Won-young. Whilst they are a similar height, Josimar will likely be able to out-muscle and outpace the Pattaya captain, who will have to use all of his experience to contain the Brazilian.
The match will be shown live on True4U and True Sport HD2 at 19:00 on Saturday 6 May, 2017