Maranhao starred as Port eased to a 3-0 victory in Wednesday’s friendly with T2 side Nakhon Pathom. The Brazilian, as he so often has been in friendlies, was Port’s best player, scoring twice and gift-wrapping a third for Spaniard Asdrubal, who made another step towards recovering from his long-term knee injury. The game was played out over three thirds, allowing Jadet to experiment with lots of different combinations throughout the side.
The First Third
The first third saw a combination of the second and third string getting some much-needed action. Goalkeeper Watchara (37) has now returned to Port as his loan spell at BBCU ended with the dissolution of the club. He was not required to make a single save as Port dominated possession, but on one of the few occasions a cross came in to his area, he flapped at it rather unconvincingly. In front of him Hansson (33) was the most impressive defender, but he was also largely untested.
Wanchalerm (40) looked tidy in defensive midfield, but it was on the right wing where Port were really making an impression. Maranhao (92) had the beating of his defender time and time again, although with Siwapong (97) not doing much to support Kaludjerovic (10), there was little for him to aim for in the middle. When Port did finally make a breakthrough, Kalu bungled his chance. Clear through on the keeper, Kalu’s side-footed effort was saved, but the ball fell to Maranhao who blasted in the rebound from the edge of the area. Port 1-0 Nakhon Pathom
On the left hand side Port weren’t making as much progress. Asdrubal (27) – returning from an injury that was expected to keep him out for the full season – looked a long way off full fitness. The Spaniard did show some nice touches, but wasn’t able to get past his defender or contribute tellingly in the attack. Maranhao, on the other hand, continued to make his case for inclusion in Port’s second leg T1 squad. In a textbook Maranhao move, he beat his defender with a stepover, moved the ball inside and rifled a shot – this time with his left foot – into the near post bottom corner. Ahh, how we’ve missed that Brazilian spark. Unstoppable. Port 2-0 Nakhon Pathom
The Second Third
The second third saw some more established players coming in, as well as youngster Techin (25), who got his first outing since the very first friendly in pre-season. Techin played alongside Tatchanon (39) in midfield, while Jadet experimented with a front two of Tana (99) and Kalu.
Play continued in the same vein, with Port pouring forward and Nakhon Pathom offering nothing but desperate defending. Tana and Kalu were both off the pace, leaving it once again for to the wingers to create and convert the chances. Meechok (20) linked up well with Maranhao on the right, overlapping the Brazilian and then finding him in the box with a pinpoint cross, before Maranhao unselfishly squared to Asdrubal, who celebrated his return to the action by beating the keeper from close range to score his first Port goal. Port 3-0 Nakhon Pathom
The Final Third
Jadet used the final third to trial what will be very close to his Starting XI in Korat on Sunday. With Adisorn (13) and Suarez (5) suspended, Jadet looks like he will turn to Tatchanon (39) as cover for Adisorn, and Kalu (10) as a replacement for Suarez. The absence of both Worawut (36) and Siwakorn (16) from training is hopefully not an indication that either is not fit for the upcoming game!
The final third, which you would expect Port to dominate with their first choice players, was bizarrely the most even period of the match. The rain that came down midway through the period did nothing to inspire the players to attack, and indeed despite a couple of nice touches from Pakorn (9) there was little of note to talk about.
Man of the Match
Undoubtedly, the man of the match was Maranhao. The skillful, energetic Brazilian was involved in everything that Port created. Now back to full fitness, Maranhao must be playing himself into serious contention for a place in the Port’s squad for the second leg of the season. The spark he provided was in stark contrast to Kalu, who as usual looked sluggish and was unable to convert the chances that came his way.
Photos by Alisa Suwanrumpha