You couldn’t have had a more perfect evening for football. Cool December weather, a stunning red sky over the PAT, and the Sandpit posse clad in santa hats and knocking back festive Leos. Unfortunately Port took the concept of goodwill to all men somewhat too literally and gave their T2 opponents Rayong rather too many presents, in what turned out to be a fairly unremarkable friendly.
It was a Thai-only affair, with Port’s foreign contingent being given some Christmas time off – although Boskovic was watching from Zone A and I also spotted someone looking suspiciously like Kim Sung Hwan worriedly scrutinising the half-time sausages.
Port kicked off the first half with a largely second string XI, including a couple of unknowns – a tall, balding centre back (no55) who didn’t impress at all, and a youth team player taking over Tana’s 99 shirt, which hopefully means the Moustachioed Assassin is on his way out.
The first half hour was largely uneventful, the only action of note being Rayong’s constant and highly entertaining physical assaults on an increasingly pissed off Wuttichai (14). They’d clearly not done their homework and thought that the best way to stop Port is to stop Wuttichai, when in fact the best way to stop Port is to simply give Wuttichai the ball, stand back and let him get on with things. Foul after foul was committed on the no14, and had it been any other player we’d have been howling in outrage, but in this case we were cheering every one.
The game finally came to life on the half-hour mark when a cross from the left was nodded past Watchara (66) to give Rayong a deserved lead, and five minutes later a similar move put the visitors 2-0 up. I can’t tell you the exact details as I was busy topping up my Leo. Port almost pulled one back when a trademark Pakorn (7) curler (a free-kick, not a turd, just in case you were wondering) was acrobatically tipped over the bar by the Rayong keeper.
Port started the second half with a stronger side, with Worawut, Todsapol, Nitipong, Siwakorn and Adisorn all joining the side. The impressive Pummared, Pakorn, Meechok and Bodin all stayed on, though depressingly Panpanpong replaced the excellent Yossawat at LB.
Pakorn started the siege of the Rayong goal on 52 minutes when his shot was narrowly tipped over the bar, and then on 10 minutes a lovely through ball put Nurul (31) through on goal only for the balding linesman to raise his flag for offside, which led to him getting considerable abuse from a certain santa hat-clad section of the crowd, which he took in good spirit and engaged in a bit of BANTZ.
On 60 minutes, a Bodin (15) pass found Nurul who was scythed down from behind and the ref pointed to the spot, Pakorn stepping up to convert. 1-2 and the momentum was now definitely with Port, with both Nitipong (34), Pakorn and Nurul coming close to equalising. Sadly though the next goal went to the visitors, thanks to a lovely 25-yard curler into Worawut’s top corner, and they nearly made it 4 five minutes later but were denied by a brave Worawut (36) block.
Port did pull one back late on, when a Pakorn free-kick picked out Bodin on the edge of the box who fired into the bottom corner, but it was too little too late, and Rayong ran out deserved 3-2 winners.
What Did We Learn?
- Yossawat is an excellent young LB – quicker and stronger than Panpanpong and with a good cross on him, and most importantly he gets back into position quickly when the opposition has possession. He should be Port’s first choice in this position next season
- Jadet is going to have fun trying to accommodate Pakorn, Nurul and Bodin, all of whom were excellent. Pakorn played as a striker in the second half and looked less comfortable there than he does on the right, but it’s hard to make a case for Nurul playing anywhere else than on the right so the Midfield Monk may find his game time limited next season. Bodin looks like he can comfortably play just about anywhere
- Over both halves, Pummared was my MOTM and showed that he deserves to stay as backup for Hwan at DM. Calm on the ball, accurate with his passing and reading the game well, he’s a better option than Adisorn’s headless chicken routine
- Port’s lack of Thai strikers is a concern. Yes, Boskovic will get a hatful of goals with the service he’s going to receive, but if he’s injured or suspended there is literally noone to replace him and Port need to bring in reinforcements in this position ASAP