Port performed a dramatic 14-second heist against Navy, with victory keeping them level on points with Chonburi. The Sharks now lead the Futsal Thai League from Port by a single goal. With three games left to play, and a final-day encounter between the two championship contenders looming large, there is still all to play for. Seven time consecutive champions Chonburi did the business in emphatic fashion at home on Saturday, winning 5-1 against Samut Sakhon, which meant that the pressure was on Port to take all three points off 9th place Navy. They left it until the last 14 seconds, but ultimately came through in front of a packed Kodang Stadium, whose already fragile roof was nearly taken clean off in the celebrations.
Port took the lead early on after a slip from a Navy defender left Watchara (3) clear though on the keeper. He finished calmly to put Port 1-0 up, but Navy soon seized the initiative and put the pressure back on the title hopefuls. They leveled the score with a superbly worked move in the 10th minute. Navy played the ball down the right, with 3 players bringing defenders with them, but a quick switch of play found their fourth player unmarked on the edge of the area, and he arrowed the ball in to the top corner.
Navy continued to impress, but it was Port who re-took the lead, with Man of the Match and Thai national team star Lertchai (6) scoring from close range. Noppadol (13) showed fine technique to drive the ball towards Lertchai with the outside of his boot, and the big man just about reacted quick enough to get a touch on it from less than a yard out. It may have been the goalkeeper who actually directed it towards goal, but Lertchai’s desperate lunge on the line ensured that the ball couldn’t be cleared.
At half-time the general feeling was that Port were probably a tad lucky to be in the lead, and Navy set about making that point early in the second half. Navy’s captain and best player put on an exhibition in close control on the edge of Port’s area, dragging the ball this way and that before firing a vicious toe-poke past Kanison (18).
At 2-2 with 10 minutes left on the clock, the onus was really on Port to go and win the game. Port showed the spirit of champions, taking the game by the scruff of the neck and peppering the Navy goal. It was a series of corners that ultimately did the business, and Port’s all-action coach must take some of the credit for the creative set-pieces that finally broke Navy’s resistance.
The first was a howitzer of a cross which smacked Lertchai full in the chest and bounced harmlessly behind. Lertchai, unmoved by a contact which would have sent most T1 players to the treatment table, gestured to his teammate to keep it down next time. With the next corner, he did just that and Lertchai showed incredible control to direct the lightning-fast cross towards goal, although it cannoned off the post and out. With Navy wising up to Port’s tactics, they changed tack once again. From the opposite side, a chipped delivery was intended to be volleyed back across goal, but was smothered by some attentive Navy defending. Finally at the fourth attempt, Lertchai pulled further back towards the touchline and attempted the same trick again from greater distance, striking the ball as cleanly and powerfully as you’ve ever seen on the volley. The ball was past the Navy goalkeeper and in to the top corner before anyone could react, and the fans behind the goal went absolutely wild, as did Lertchai himself.
A lead is never secure in futsal though, as the team in arrears invariably takes the goalkeeper off and plays a 0-0-5 formation. Navy looked dangerous with their extra man, although Kanisorn in the Port goal had a chance at an empty net which would surely have put the game out of reach. Navy’s extra attacker came through for them, though, applying the finishing touch to a mesmeric spell of futsal. The ball zipped from one player to the next with incredible speed and precision, eventually finding a man right next to the goal who took two defenders out of the game by squaring it for his teammate wearing the goalkeeper’s jersey to turn in from point blank range.
With just 152 seconds remaining on the clock, it seemed like Port were destined to drop two crucial points in the title race, but they showed incredible heart to turn the game on its head once again. Navy could certainly had been forgiven for trying to play the last couple of minutes out for a draw, but they opted to take their goalkeeper off again, and go all-out for the win. They came close, but it was Port’s final attack that would decide the game.
With Navy eventually going back in to defensive mode for the final seconds, Port had a compact unit to break down. 20 seconds were left on the clock, and the players knew that any error would put an end to their chances, but under immense pressure they displayed inch-perfect precision to open up their opponents. A risky switch of play just about evaded a defender to find Port’s rush goalie Nattapol (8) in a bit of space. He played it forward to Thananchai (17), whose square ball across the area was crying out for a heroic finish, which Brazilian Marcos (10) duly supplied. Port hearts were in mouths as Marcos slipped just as the ball reached him, but he managed to keep his effort on target from close range, and Kodang Volcano erupted. Scenes! Marcos celebrated with Cantona-level arrogance, strutting around the area while the crowd, his teammates and the bench went barmy. Port recomposed themselves to survive the last few seconds, and the final whistle was once again greeted with a deafening Khlong Toei roar.
Chonburi may have retaken the lead on goal difference, but Port will have renewed belief that they have the guts and the nerve to win with the pressure on. They will need all of that belief to overcome Surat Thani away on Wednesday, who recently secured an upset victory over Chonburi. The Sharks also have a tough test away at third-placed Bangkok BTS.
Port will be be playing at home again next Sunday, and after last night’s drama, it is something you do not want to miss!