Is there any point writing these match reports any more? Once Port went 3-1 up the outcome of this game was so predictable it could have been written by Barbara Cartland. I may as well simply copy & paste any one of half a dozen match reports from this season. Anyway, to sum up, in what was undoubtedly an entertaining game for the neutrals (of whom there were plenty in Zone B – a night at the PAT seems to have become a leading Bangkok tourist attraction) Port drew 3-3 with struggling Sukhothai after being 3-1 up with 10 minutes to play, conceded a late penalty, blah blah fucking blah.
Zico made one change from the 0-0 draw at Bangkok Glass, a result that was celebrated at the time as if Port had won the League, the FA Cup and the Nobel Prize for Physics all in one evening, bringing in Panpanpong (19) for Yossawat (28). I can only assume Yossa was injured or otherwise unavailable as the change made no footballing sense, and seasoned Panpanpong watchers were not in the least surprised when, in the 4th minute, he fluffed a defensive header which went straight to former Port star Maranhao who, with a sublime backheel, set the miniature Madagascan John Baggio free down the right to cross right onto the head of an unmarked Boonma to put the visitors a goal up. Simply appalling defending from Port who have now conceded 48 goals in 26 games – the worst record of any team outside the bottom 3.
Port thankfully weren’t behind for long, and in the 9th minute a superb cross from Genki (18) landed right in the path of Suarez (5), and the Spaniard buried his volley in the bottom corner to put the home side back on terms. And it got better 4 minutes later when the Sukhothai defence failed to properly clear a corner, Nitipong (34) being first to the ball on the edge of the box and firing home through a crowd of players to put Port 2-1 up.
The early rush of goals led to a thoroughly absorbing first half with both sides going all out. Suarez hit the bar for Port, whilst Sukhothai’s front two of Maranhao and Baggio were causing all manner of problems for Port’s creaky defence. The former was clearly fired up on his return to the PAT and his skill, pace and guile, contrasted with Port’s moribund front line, sent out a clear message to the Port hierarchy and stung Worawut’s palms on several occasions; whilst Baggio, a man so small he makes Saruta look like Peter Crouch, was a continual irritant, as well as finding himself on the receiving end of some rough stuff from the likes of Pakorn and Nitipong, who were both clearly delighted to finally have someone smaller than them to pick on. Nevertheless Port were overall the better side and Sukhothai would’ve gone in at half time fully relieved to only be a goal down.
Their relief lasted just 13 minutes into the second half. Pakorn (9) broke into the box and was unceremoniously scythed down by a defender for the clearest penalty you’ll see all season, with El Capitan Rochela (22) dispatching the spot kick with his usual aplomb. 3-1 to Port, and with the home side largely on top, all those neutrals in the crowd were no doubt thinking it was game over. But those of us who follow the team week in week out know that Port are the last team you’d trust to walk your dog because…(drum roll)…THEY’RE INCAPABLE OF HOLDING ONTO A LEAD!!! I thang yew. And it was with a mounting sense of dread that we watched the inevitable disaster unfold, beginning with possibly the most inexplicable substitution I have ever seen at the PAT. Now I think it’s well known that I’m no fan of Sergio Suarez; however Port do look a much better side with him in it, he gives Josimar (30) someone to play off, and he was having one of his occasional good games, so why Zico chose to take him off is a mystery, and why he replaced him with the utterly dreadful Siwapong (97) is one for Mulder & Scully. It was the turning point of the game: it left Port toothless in attack and limp in midfield, and Sukhothai would’ve been delighted to see the Spaniard leave the field. The later removal of Pummared (41) for Adisorn (13) further weakened Port’s midfield and would ultimately have disastrous consequences.
True to the usual script, Port began to unravel in the 81st minute, Maranhao (again) feeding a winger down the right who popped a cross into the edge of the six yard box. Dolah (4) failed to track Baggio’s run into the area and the wee fella stuck it into the back of the net to make it 3-2. And seven minutes later, the prophecy was fulfilled. Baggio skinned substitute Jetjinn (51) on the edge of the box, only to be clumsily body-checked by Adisorn, and yet again Port had given away a late penalty. Maranhao grabbed the ball – clearly noone else was ever going to take this one – and buried it past Worawut to put Sukhothai level, celebrating joyously with the away fans as well he might.
So yet another late cave-in by Port against inferior opposition. It’s very fortunate that the team amassed so many points in the first half of the season because right now they’re playing like relegation contenders, with little creativity up front and a defence that is leaking goals and giving away penalties with alarming regularity. A win at Police Tero next Saturday is needed to calm the nerves, with tough games against Chonburi and red-hot form side Pattaya to follow, and one hopes Yossawat will return to the side. I’d also think about freshening up central defence by giving Dolah a rest and bringing in Tossapol or Pravinwat to partner Rochela, or even switching to a fashionable back 3, because with the amount of goals Port are leaking, something has to change. Whatever happens, the jury is still out on the Zico Revolution and I don’t think anyone can honestly claim that we’d be doing any worse under Jadet.
Man of the Match – Rodrigo Maranhao
Yes, I know this is supposed to be a Port player but fuck it, Mazza should still BE a Port player. Whilst there were some good performances in the home ranks – Nitipong, Suarez, Genki and Pakorn all deserve honourable mentions – this was Maranhao’s game. The young Brazilian had a hand in all 3 of Sukhothai’s goals and was a lively and creative presence throughout, the kind of player that Port’s attack has been missing all season. Whilst I was gutted at the late equaliser, I also enjoyed the sight of Maranhao giving the middle finger – metaphorically at least – to the watching Port management and once again reminding us how utterly clueless our club’s recruitment strategy is.