Sometimes the scoreline doesn’t reflect the story of a game. Port’s 0-0 with Buriram earlier this season for example, on the face of it a dull goalless draw, was one of the most exciting football games I’ve ever attended; whereas this 5-3 win over Super Power was one of the worst, exhibit A for the prosecution by those who think Thai football is an amateurish, corrupt joke. It isn’t of course, but if this was your first experience of T1, you could be forgiven for thinking it is.
On paper, it shouldn’t have been a contest. Port, riding high after Wednesday’s win away at Muangthong; Super Power, rooted to the bottom of T1 with a solitary point from 15 games and a goal difference of -36. However we know from experience that whilst Port’s players will happily turn it on against the likes of MTU, Buriram and Chiang Rai, there are several of them who simply can’t be bothered with games like this and so the minnows always have a chance against us.
Despite the gulf in quality, Jadet started with his tried & trusted 4-2-3-1 formation, understandable against MTU, incomprehensible playing at home against the T1 whipping boys. I was hoping that the 4-2-3-1 might at least morph on occasion into a 4-1-4-1 or even a 4-1-3-2, but no, Suarez kept playing far too deep and poor old Josi was, as usual, left up front on his own for long periods.
Nevertheless, with half an hour gone, thanks to some incompetent defending from Power and some equally incompetent refereeing, the game seemed done & dusted. On 13 minutes, Super Power coach Jason Withe’s concerns about dodgy reffing at the PAT were realised when Port were awarded a penalty for no apparent reason (and subsequent viewings still make me none the wiser). Cap’n Rochela (22) stepped up to score his first of the season and to open the floodgates for a 15-minute Port goalfest.
Three minutes later, Pakorn (9) was next to get his name on the scoresheet when his typically lame free-kick was fumbled into the net by former Port reserve keeper Narong, who had an absolute shocker of a game. Six minutes after that, a lovely ball from Josimar (30) fed Genki (18) down the left, and the Japanese winger’s shot was again helped on its way into the onion bag by a despairing Narong. Then it was Josi’s turn on 27 minutes, the big Brazilian bundling in his 8th of the season on the line after his initial chip was parried by Narong.
So, 4-0 after 27 minutes – game over surely. But this is Port, and several players took the big lead as an excuse to switch off. Pinkong frequently went missing and left huge amounts of space for Super Power to attack down the right, which they exploited on 32 minutes when Rodrigues (80), despite being surrounded by Port players, managed to find space to drive home a stunning shot from just inside the area; and then five minutes later, SP’s livewire forward Komeman (11) hit an absolute thriker from 30 yards into Worawut’s top right-hand corner. Goal of the season at the PAT so far, and Super Power were back in the game.
Over halftime beers the general consensus was that whilst we were winning, we really weren’t playing well and as usual struggling to dictate the play against weaker opposition, mainly because we’d set out with exactly the same players and formation who’d defended for most of the 90 minutes against Muangthong. Everything was going down the wings with nothing coming through the middle – you have to wonder how many goals Josi would get playing with a quick, skilful false 9 behind him (MARANHAO for example!!!), rather than Suarez who, as happens all too often, was having a very ineffectual game.
The second half continued in a similar vein, Port creating chances almost by accident with Josimar coming close with a header, Pakorn seemingly targeting one of the cars in the car park behind zone B with various shots, and Suarez being unselfishly put clear by Josimar and passing straight to the keeper. It was no surprise when the Spaniard was subbed and with Maranhao and Asdrubal waiting in the wings, he has more reason than most to feel nervous about the upcoming transfer window. Unfortunately his replacement was Tana, which effectively left Port with 10 men, though it wouldn’t be long before parity was restored.
On 65 minutes, the referee had another rush of blood to the head and awarded SP a penalty after one of their forwards tripped over a prone Rochela, the pen being converted by their no15. His joy didn’t last long though as just a few minutes later he was done up like a kipper by that master of the footballing Dark Arts Wuttichai (14), who artfully drew a foul and a second yellow, which meant SP were also now down to 10 men.
Port huffed and puffed to try and restore their 2-goal advantage, with Pakorn continuing to aim for the stars and Josi having a shot cleared off the line, before the referee once again came to their aid with another highly dodgy penalty. Nitipong was tackled (fairly) by an SP defender, and as he lay on the ground – OUTSIDE THE AREA – pointing with his finger into the area in a desperate claim for a penalty, the ref complied and pointed to the spot. Absolutely ridiculous. Up stepped Rochela to score his second of the game, but many of us didn’t bother celebrating as it was such blatantly bent refereeing.
And so it finished, 5-3 to Port, an 8-goal thriller on the face of it but in reality a desperately poor game between a team who didn’t know how to attack and a team who didn’t know how to defend, officiated by a man who didn’t know how to referee. It’s a win however, and it takes Port up to 7th (and a mere 7 points off top spot!) However, Port remain incapable of dictating the play against smaller teams and there is clearly work to do in the transfer window, with several players looking either not interested or simply not good enough for this level. The thought of a Josi-Maranhao partnership is one that really whets the appetite and will have opposition defenders shitting their shorts, so let’s hope common sense prevails and Jadet makes it happen, because we need a bit of guile, creativity and pace up front.
Man of the Match
Port were average throughout, so my MOTM award this week goes to the Super Power fans. To follow your team away from home when they’ve managed only 1 point all season, to sing and wave your flags for the whole 90 minutes, really takes serious commitment and loyalty, so hats off to them. Their team, whilst obviously lacking in quality, did them proud and never stopped battling, and deserved more than they got, and but for the worst refereeing performance I’ve seen all year they may well have doubled their tally for the season.