Like most people I had this nailed on as another away loss against an in form Pattaya United. I had not reckoned on Jadet “the miracle worker” Meelarp. I thought he’d done a competent job at Port, but just saw him as a safe pair of hands.
So on to Sunday with Pakorn (9) hobbling around PAT Stadium and Nittipong (34) suspended due to a red card on Wednesday Jadet had to shuffle the team around. He started with 5 defenders: Meechok (20), Dolah (4), Todsapol (6), Rochela (22), and Panpanpong (19). I thought the main aim of this team was to stop the rot, and maybe sneak an away point. Port played with a back four and had Rochela sitting in front of them as a very defensive midfielder
Without Pakorn and Nittipong our options going forward were always going to be limited. So this was not the expected start. 25 seconds into the game we had a shot on target and within 90 seconds we’d scored. Panpanpong floated in a corner, and Josimar (30) fought his way through the crowd to head in from 6 yards out. A great start, but this was the same heady optimism that greeted the first goal against Chonburi only to be sadly snuffed out. 88 minutes to go in the game, it can’t be that easy, it never is. However Panpanpong only needed 3 more minutes to turn provider again from a free kick. Central defender Todsapol craftily got in between two defenders and headed in, then celebrated like all his birthdays had come at once. Five minutes, two goals, the new manager bounce turned into some sort of magic trampoline act.
After more settled play Pattaya started making some headway down the left side. Dolah was dispossessed after a cheeky nudge in the back from Stojanovic (18). Dolah then tried his best to pull him back by the shirt and keep Stojanovic and the foul outside the area. There was minor contact, but the shirt pulling followed by a handy dive convinced the ref to go to the spot. Lee Wonyoung stood up to take the penalty, went for the chip right down the middle and it was 2-1.
Port came right back two minutes later, with what can only be considered the gift of the season. The Pattaya keeper took a fairly easy high ball, then proceeded to release it as his hands came down. The ball dropped at his feet to be met by a wide eyed Todsapol, who was running towards goal to catch the chance of a rebound. I don’t think he could believe it, I had to watch it 3 times before I did.
Mongkol had been enjoying harassing the young Meechok for most of the first half. Just before the break he came a cropper as he picked up his second yellow. Port 3-1 up and playing against ten men in the second half. Surely we have to ….. I can hear Del’s words “Don’t say it Dom, you know what happened last time. Don’t jinx it.”
Port started the second half well, looking to go forward not just to settle. Pattaya brought on two subs trying to cancel out being a man down. One of the subs Jevtic (30) seemed to be intent on falling over any time the ball came near him in the box. Unfortunately on his third trip to the ground the referee bought it. Dolah was standing next to him, but this time he can feel incredibly hard done by as Jevtic managed to pull a dive out of thin air. Jevtic slotted the penalty home in the 72nd minute. Suddenly all the ghosts of games past seemed to loom large.
Those ghosts materialised before Port’s eyes as Stojanovic was bearing down on the Port goal with only Worawut(36) in front of him. Worawut pulled off an excellent point blank save.
Minutes later Tana(99) found himself with tons of space in the box, but in a shock move unselfishly set up Josimar with a golden opportunity. Josi, please don’t just stand there like Cantona, from that reaction I’d thought you’d hit the side netting! It was 4-2 to Port and time to celebrate. Suarez (6) polished off the night with a great run at the end. He shrugged off one challenge, beating the next then booted home the 5th ! yes 5th ! Port goal. Is that the most we’ve scored all season? It must be, it might be, I don’t care.
This result along with the home draw against Buriram and the win, yes a win against Muangthong, provide proof of Meelarp’s miraculous powers. Let’s see how many more miracles Jadet has left in 2017.
Port now sit in 11th with 37 points, 14 points clear of ailing Sisaket on 23 points in 16th. 5 more games to go this season 15 points to play for. A win against Korat at home, or even just another loss from Sisaket would see us mathematically assured of a place in T1 next year.