Today I am going to talk as much about the away day experience as I am the game. By the way for any of you that missed it, we lost.
The day started with me having to get up at 04:00 to put a bit of a shift in at DKSH towers to enable me to bonk off early for an “offsite meeting” yeah that old chestnut, the perks of being the boss. Remember always, family, football and work in that order.
As I sat in the departure lounge at Don Mueang I noticed a few familiar Port faces – Achim my German buddy and Big Bubba, who were to become my trusted lieutenants. I also noticed a small chick in Adidas trackie bottoms with an entourage – it was our owner Madam Pang, who greeted me on the way on the plane with a huge smile, having spotted I was in her team’s colours. On arrival at Buriram Airport, my tenth time there, we were informed that the club had hired a car and Madame insisted we get in. We were staying at The Amari, and if you ever get a chance put this on your bucket list, it is one of the best hotels I have ever stayed in and I’ve been to a few. Its simplicity merged with a real hospitable friendliness made the defeat a lot easier. Off to Paddy’s for some beers and a throw of arrows and then back to the game. We shook hands with every single Port fan before the game: we had about ninety in total.
Both teams adopted the exact same formation, our now familiar 4-4-1-1.
Kalu (10) was always going to have a tough task in that lone striker role against the league leaders complimented by Suarez in the hole, they did OK to be fair. Buriram on the other hand had a samba double operating these roles and again they did OK.
First twenty minutes they came at us strong, our midfield battled hard. Ittipol (7) and Siwakorn (16) knew straight away they were in for a tough time and they weren’t helped by the Thunder Castle full backs who had the pace of thoroughbreds.
In the 27th minute one of the aforementioned Brazilians broke the deadlock in unbelievable circumstances. Well unbelievable to anyone who hasn’t watched Thai football before anyway. A kick out from Rattanai (17), who has now established himself as our number one stopper in my opinion, fell straight to the Buriram center midfielder who hooked a right footer over the top to Coelho who was two yards offside and to our disbelief ten seconds later the ball was in the onion bag, Rattanai on his arse!!! 1-0 Buriram. That said if you watch the goal our defensive positioning would not be out of play at the red arrows display at Duxford air museum. How the hell Rochela was ten yards from his partner Dolah and the two fullbacks I’ll never know. Think back to the Invincibles – you would never see Tony Adams two yards from the high line never mind ten.
The second half Zico, my friend, you earned your corn. We were fantastic in every department and my team put in a display worthy of my trip and the expense and as a football fan if you come away from a midweek away came having ticked those boxes then you have done well. We had a couple of half chances, Pakorn (9) started pulling the strings and was assisted ably by Nitipong (34) down the right. Listen to me here, when these two bring their A-game there is no better right hand side in the league. Defensively we were solid although we rode our luck at times but we were playing against the league leaders. Adisorn (13) and Tana (99) entered the fray and performed admirably and Genki, though substituted, put in his usual shift. In the 81st minute Pakorn fizzed in a free kick that took paint off the crossbar but it wasn’t to be but we yet again proved one point, on our day Thai Port are a match for anyone. Onto Ubon where I am that convinced of a victory I will be discussing as serious investment with my compatriot Paddy Power. Peace out my fellow sandpit members, boarding has been called!
Tim’s Man of the Match – Pakorn
As with Sunday’s win over Honda, Port put in a much improved performance with a greater degree of intensity, better organisation and crisper passing than seen during the last days of Jadet, and as such there were several contenders for the coveted Sandpit MOTM award. Rattanai, who loves playing against Buriram, bossed his area and made some superb saves when needed; Nitipong for once managed to combine both attacking and defensive duties; and the midfield duo of Siwakorn and Ittipol didn’t give Buriram a moment’s peace.
But my MOTM this week is the Midfield Monk himself, Pakorn, who has come back from the Wat with a new lease of life. His corners and free kicks could, if there had been anyone on the end of them, given Port the win, and when he moved into a more central role – as our own Tommie Duncan has long advocated – he looked even more of a threat. If he can keep up this level of performance in the next few weeks, Port will be hard to beat.