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Sandpit April Player of the Month: Josimar Wins But UN Observers Claim Irregularities

 

Voting closed last night in our April Player of the Month poll, and as Tuesday wore on it became apparent to the Sandpit’s admins that shenanigans were afoot. Normally our POTM polls get around 2-300 voters; this month we had over 1800 (that’s more than many T1 teams get at home games) and our hit count went through the roof.

Initially Josimar, deservedly so as he scored 5 goals in April, took the lead, only to be pegged back by perennial favourite and commander of a loyal social media army, El Capitan himself David Rochela. At which point the voting went into overdrive with a suspicious spike in traffic from, of all places, Brazil. Then Worawut and Sivakorn suddenly shot up in the voting too.

By 9pm, I was sitting at my desk waiting for the brown envelopes to show up and planning to buy a new house, but sadly it seems any skullduggery was of the purely digital kind, with tech-savvy voters using all manner of hacking skills to support their favourite players. Rest assured that we at the Sandpit take a dim view of such things, especially when we aren’t benefiting from them financially in any way, and so next month’s poll will be tightened up and there will be a heavy military presence at the booths to defend our integrity.

Anyway, the people have spoken, and I suspect the result is the same as it would’ve been before the hackers showed up, so here are April’s top 3:

 

Josimar Rodrigues – 39% (733 votes)

With 5 goals in April – and a memorable interview with the Sandpit – Josi was favourite to win April’s POTM and he didn’t disappoint. After a promising but goal-free start to his Port career, the likeable Brazilian got his season rolling with the winner against Ubon and hasn’t looked back since, scoring 5 in 5 games. Port finally have the Scary Foreign Striker we’ve been craving for the last 3 years.

 

Siwakorn – 25% (477 votes)

It was very tight for 2nd place with only a handful of votes in it, but the Skinny Genius just shaded it. Whenever we meet Port players and ask them who their best teammate is, they invariably reply “Siwakorn”, and the tiny midfielder is really coming of age this season with a string of dynamic, creative and destructive performances.

 

Worawut – 25% (472 votes)

The recent injury to Rattanai means Worawut has regained his place between the sticks and has taken the chance with both hands (rather than punching it away like he usually does). His penalty save at Chiang Rai particularly sticks in the memory – not only was it a great save in itself, but it arguably turned the game. At 2-0 down Port would’ve been dead; instead it was 1-1 a few minutes later and the momentum completely changed in Port’s favour.

 

Here are the final results in full:

 

Thanks to all who voted, and look out for May’s POTM vote!

 

Shark Week! Chonburi FC vs Port FC Match Preview

 

One of Thai football’s oldest – and friendliest – rivalries resumes this Wednesday as Port travel down the coast to play Chonburi. With both teams somewhat unexpectedly sunning themselves on the upper slopes of T1, it should be a hard fought game between two sides whose original ambitions have been somewhat revised in the light of very encouraging starts to the season. Port will be playing to hold onto their 5th place, or even move up into 4th; Chonburi will be aiming to leapfrog them into the top 6.

After two poor away performances Port have won twice on the road – including THAT win at Chiang Rai – and are starting to play like a team who believe they belong in the top 6. They’ll need to show all that confidence in what is likely to be a tough test.

With both teams scoring – and conceding – plenty of goals in their first 11 games, entertainment is most definitely on the cards, though given Chonburi’s dwindling home crowds, and the difficulty for Port fans of getting there & back on a Wednesday night, there may not be a huge crowd there to see it. However, the Sandpit will be there so look out for a dozen or so farangs piling out of two minivans and come & have a beer with us!

Port Lineup

Imagine The Smiths without Morrissey. Or Fawlty Towers without John Cleese. Or a bacon sarnie without the bacon. That will give you an idea of the prospect we Port fans are facing on Wednesday because – and you may want to sit down when you read this bit – David Rochela will not be playing. The captain – a pretty much permanent fixture in the Port starting XI since he joined from Buriram in June 2015 – picked up a ridiculous yellow card against Police Tero on Sunday, and as it was his 4th of the season, he’s suspended for one game. Ohhhh the humanity.

The Sandpit’s sources at the club (yes, we do have sources, and not just the ones we put on our pre-match chips) suggest that young Thai-Swede Niran Hansson will be called on to replace Rochela and make his first competitive start for Port alongside his compatriot and best mate Elias Dolah. Niran looked very impressive in the one friendly appearance he’s made so far and his pace would be very useful in dealing with Chonburi’s livewire striker Renan Marques (9 goals already this season), though there is still a nagging feeling that the somewhat conservative Jadet may go for the more experienced Anisong.

 

Will young Niran finally make his Port debut on Wednesday?

 

Elsewhere, Elsie Tana is also suspended, and whilst he had one of his better games against Police, in a game like this, where Port will likely be doing more defending, it will be reassuring to see Genki take his place. Tana’s attitude towards tracking back is rather like my own towards doing the washing up – I’m aware of the basic concept, but I certainly don’t intend to get involved in it & would rather leave it for others – whereas Genki’s balls-out (not literally, I hasten to add) energetic wing play would make Port a lot more resilient.

 

Elsie Tana celebrates Sunday’s win with Jadet

 

Reliable LB Pinpanpong Pinkong Pingpong was stretchered off against Police so if he is unfit to play tomorrow, expect Nitipong to switch to LB and Meechok to come in at RB.

Otherwise I expect the lineup to remain the same, with Siwakorn and Adisorn harrassing Chonburi’s midfield like a pair of Jack Russell (no relation) terriers, Suarez hopefully playing like he did on Sunday, and Josimar continuing his run of 5 goals in his last 5 games.

 

 

The Opposition

For a look at Chonburi FC, who better than the legendary Dale Farrington, founder of one of the original English-language Thai football sites? Take it away Dale!

Chonburi v Port or Port Authority of Thailand or Thai Port or Singhtarua or any variation on the above, will always be a fixture that resonates with older Chonburi fans, as this was our first ever game in the top flight, way back in 2006. Much has changed for both clubs since that historic occasion – which was then a local derby and cost B30 to get in – and, even though Wednesday’s match isn’t as eagerly as anticipated as our TPL debut all those years ago, there’s still plenty surrounding it to pique our interest. Most notably, the return of our most successful head coach.

The current Port boss, Jadet Meelarp, has had three spells in charge of the Sharks (and would anybody rule out another return at some point in the future?) during which he delivered the League title (2007), the FA Cup (2010) and the Kor Royal Cup (2008). He also led us to a second place TPL finish in 2008. “Sir Ded” is still very highly regarded by the local fans and will receive a tremendous welcome when he takes his seat in the dugout, or his standing position in the technical area – I’m not really sure which he favours these days – before kick off (Ded is definitely a dugout guy these days and leaves the touchline stuff to others – Ed).

On the flip side of the coin, the home team’s ranks will probably include two former Port favourites – Chonburi loanees, goalkeeper Chanin Sae-Ear and midfielder Kroerkrit Taweekarn – both of whom are still very fondly remembered at their old club. However, as regular readers of my website or my Twitter account will know, I’m not a fan of either of them, and would gladly drive them back to Klong Toey myself, at the earliest opportunity – I wouldn’t even charge them for petrol. The former is too small to be a keeper and is prone to making silly mistakes – his distribution is generally terrible too. Whilst the latter has to rank as one of the most over rated footballers I have ever seen in over fifty years of following the sport. He offers nothing to the team – other than a pretty face for the girls to scream at/squeal over – and how he is an established Thailand international will remain a mystery to me as long as I live – hopefully another fifty years! You can guarantee that I will be paying particular attention to both their performances (if selected) tomorrow night.

Whilst history is most certainly on our side – since that opening day 3-1 defeat over a decade ago, Chonburi have won six and drawn two of the eight subsequent meetings – this match isn’t easy to call. Both teams have had an erratic start to the 2017 campaign and it would take a brave pundit to forecast Wednesday’s result. However, the two sides go into the match on the back of impressive weekend victories, which should see the Sharks and the Lions (who are currently sitting 5th) brimming with confidence. In fact, I’m reminded of Alan Partridge holding a hot apple pie and threatening to squeeze it when confronted by a rival; “A jet of molten Bramley apple will squirt out. Could go your way; could go mine. Either way, one of us is going down”. 0-0 draw, anyone?

On a final note, I will be keeping a close eye on the attendance at this game. Our crowds have dropped alarmingly in recent weeks and the club appears unwilling or unable to address the slide. There was a token effort at the last home match, with tickets being issued to a group of about 25 schoolchildren, but this isn’t enough. Traditionally, Port don’t bring that many fans, and midweek turnouts are generally low, so the onus is on the Chonburi management to try and fill the home stands. I wonder what they’re doing to put things right? No. Don’t bother trying to answer that. I know exactly what they’re (not) doing! Another sub 3,000 turnout will be an embarrassment – it looks particularly cringeworthy on  TV – and it will now be very hard to attract those stay away supporters back to Chonburi Stadium. Worrying times indeed.

 

Matchday programme from the first ever top-flight meeting between Chonburi & Port in 2006

 

 

The Sandpit’s Port FC Player of the Month for April – 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 April Port secured 4 wins from their 5 games, catapulting them up the table in to 5th place. Their first victims at PAT Stadium were Ubon, and they followed up their impressive 1-0 victory with a stunning 3-1 win away at Chiang Rai. Port then slumped to a 0-3 loss at home to Bangkok Glass, before a rollercoaster of a game away at Sukhothai where Port just about held on for a 3-2 win. The final game saw Port host Police Tero who they outplayed and outfought for a hard-earned 2-1 win.

Here are the nominees in order of squad number…

 

Elias Dolah (4)

 

Sergio Suarez (5)

 

Pakorn Prempak (9)

 

Adisorn Daeng-rueng (13)

 

Siwakorn Jakkuprasat (16)

 

David Rochela (22)

 

Josimar Rodrigues (30)

 

Nitipong Selanon (34)

 

Worawut Srisupha (36)

 

ร่วมโหวตที่นี่

 

 

 

We Fought the Law (And the Law Lost): Port FC 2-1 Police Tero FC

 

Port FC stormed out of the tunnel with guns blazing in the second half to finish off Police Tero and record a comprehensive 2-1 win at the PAT. There was only one change from the squad that travelled to Sukhothai last weekend as Siwakorn (16) returned to the lineup after suspension to replace Genki (18).

The home team started the game attacking the famous B end and wearing their familiar blue and orange. The visitors, wearing battleship grey, looked more like cadets on a 5am run and the atmosphere at kickoff could have reflected that early start.  Sluggish was the word flying around the stand as Port set the tempo at a light jog in the early minutes.

 

 

The first chance of the game came to the visitors in the 3rd minute when Datsakorn (7) sent a long ball down the right wing that was quickly crossed to the six yard box and narrowly miss by the opposing striker.  Port quickly regrouped behind the midfield leadership of Siwakorn who played Tana (99) into the box but he lost the ball after one too many stepovers.  

Barely able to string two passes together, Port had their first real chance when a misdirected clearance landed at the feet of Pakorn (9).  He danced into the box from the right side only to boot the ball to the top of B stand with his attempt on goal.  Several minutes of sloppy play from both teams was interrupted at the 15 minute mark when Police Tero earned their first corner.  Datsakorn sent a curling ball to the back post that was brilliantly cleared by Josimar (30).  Siwakorn took the clearance and raced down the middle of the pitch, feeding Pakorn on the wing. Pakorn’s cross landed at the feet of Tana but his attempt on goal was blocked.  

The speed of the game really picked up when Sergio Suarez (5) charged down two consecutive throw outs from the keeper and possession and pressure was now in the opposition end.  Port were on the attack and the midfielders were dominating play.  In the 25th minute Suarez intercepted a pass at the halfway line and played Josimar through by dissecting the center of the Police defense.  Josimar took the ball on his left foot and ran at the keeper, calmy finishing to give Port well deserved lead.   

With the crowd now in full voice Port continued to dominate the midfield with creative passes and hustle from Suarez, Siwakorn and Adisorn (13).   Port had the momentum but couldn’t increase their lead as Dolah (4) failed to get on the end of a free kick from Pakorn at point blank range.  Police Tero then equalised completely against the run of play as Port goalkeeper Worawut (36) misjudged a laser by Wichan (4) from 35 yards out.  The first half finished much like it started with both teams playing out the final minutes and retreating to the locker room with the score level at 1-1.

 

 

Port manager Jadet must have said something special at halftime because the boys came out with a sense of urgency supporters have not seen for a long time.  Port’s midfield, that played so poorly against Bangkok Glass, was now the leading force behind a second half assault on the Police goal.  Wave after wave of attack down both wings excited the crowd but could not produce a second goal for Port.  

In the 51st minute Tana galloped down the left wing cutting into the box and was chopped down by the Police right-back but no penalty was given.  However, Port kept up the relentless pace and the pressure. Their hard work was finally rewarded when a Pakorn (9) cross was headed down by a defender and Siwakorn smashed the ball into the center of the goal from just behind the penalty spot.  More of the same followed as Port continued control the game until the final whistle. In the end they were deserved winners.  

 

Man of the Match: Sergio Suarez

Sergio’s hustle, nifty footwork, well timed tackling and crisp passing was the biggest difference on the day.  He had his best game of the season season complementing Siwakorn and spraying passes to Pakorn, Tana and Josimar on the attack. Let’s hope he can continue this good form.

 

Photos by Tim Russell