Port romped past two pre-season opponents early this week, scoring 8 goals and showing plenty of attacking promise. On Monday, Jadet’s first choice XI took on J1 side Sanfrecce Hiroshima, who have signed Muangthong striker Teerasil on loan, and recorded an excellent 5-2 win. Then on Tuesday, the second string faced off with Samut Sakhon – AKA The Proud Junk Ship – and cruised to a 3-0 victory.
First up were Sanfrecce Hiroshima, who ought to have presented a very tough test for Port. A J1 side – albeit one who struggled to a 15th place finish – would be expected to have the upper hand against Port, but Port showed a lot of attacking intent and some improved finishing to take a decisive first-half lead.
The first goal came courtesy of an appalling error by an opposition centre half. In attempting an ambitious pass forward, the defender only succeeded in finding Siwakorn’s (16) stomach, or where his stomach would be if he had one, and the ball fell kindly for Suarez (5). The Spaniard, whose selection with the First XI was surprising given that he started a riot in his last appearance, laid it off to Boskovic (10), who calmly side-footed home from 12 yards.
Next came two goals which upon further review I still have absolutely no idea who should be credited with. Both came from Pakorn (7) crosses which were delivered right in to the danger zone by Port’s dead-ball specialist. The first, a corner from the left, was turned home by either Suarez, Rochela (22) or a defender from a couple of yards out, then the second, an inswinging free kick from deep, was directed goalwards by either Suarez or a defender.
At half time Hiroshima made some changes, and seemed to have brought some quality off the bench. They got right back in to the game with a quick-fire double, with both goals following a very familiar pattern for Port defensively. Two crosses from the Port left, neither under any real pressure from a defender, found teammates in the middle who found the back of the net. For the first at least the goal-scorer was being marked by Rochela, although he couldn’t stop the ball being poked towards goal. Worawut (36), who looks certain to start the season as Port’s first choice ‘keeper with Rattanai (17) seemingly still not 100% after a string of injuries last season, will be disappointed not to have kept it out.
The second was a free header, with the attacker peeling away from Todsapol (6) in to far more space than there should have been just 8 yards away from the Port goal. Are Port ever going to address their painfully obvious left-sided issue? Four goals in two games have been conceded from there, with neither Panpanpong (19) or the left-sided midfielder taking responsibility for stopping crosses coming in. Last season it was clear there was a problem, although with Genki ahead of Panpanpong the damage done by his positional indiscipline was perhaps not as bad as it could have been. This season Port seem likely to be lining up with either Nurul (31) or Pakorn on the left hand side of midfield, and as much as they bring to the team on the creative side, they will not immediately be thinking about filling in for their left-back when they see him bombing forward. With pre-season almost at an end, though, Port have given very little game time to either Yossawat (28) or Jetjinn (51), who ought to have been given the opportunity to make a case for first-team inclusion.
Port were soon back on the offensive though, with Siwakorn once again putting enough pressure on his opponents to force a mistake. A loose pass in midfield was pounced on by the Thin White Duke, who rode two challenges before releasing Suarez who played in Boskovic. The Montengrin had the beating of the centre halves, who both simultaneously brought him down in the area. The referee pointed to the spot, despite the utterly ridiculous appeals of the defenders, and El Capitan Rochela stepped up to do the business. If pre-season is anything to go by Port will not be bottom of the penalties-awarded list this time around!
The final nail in the Japanese coffin was created by another typical Nurul incursion in to the box. Nurul had been busy throughout, often being on the receiving end of some robust challenges, and on this occasion was just about to pull the trigger when he was fouled. After being fed by Nitipong (34), the diminutive Southerner turned smartly in the box and his swinging boot was impeded from behind. The referee once again awarded Port the spot-kick, but this time Kim (8) was determined to show off his goal-scoring credentials. The Korean’s penalty kick looked well-practiced, meaning that in Rochela, Boskovic and Kim, Port seem to have three very capable options.
In Tuesday’s game, which your correspondent didn’t make it to by the way, Port faced off against T2 side Samut Sakhon FC. The ambitious Proud Junk Ship, who have finished first in their division for 3 consecutive seasons, were facing Port’s second string, with Jadet taking the opportunity to give a final audition to those still looking to break in to the First XI before the season opener two weekends from now.
The man most in need of a star turn was of course German Bajram Nebihi (14), who is locked in a head-to-head battle with Suarez for a place in Port’s 2018 T1 squad. Other contenders are Bodin (15), who is pushing Pakorn (7) and Nurul (31) for a spot on the wing, Dolah (4), who is in contention with Todsapol (6) in central defence, and Jetjinn (51), who purely by virtue of the fact that Panpanpong (19) is still in the team must not be far behind.
With the only video posted by the Port Facebook page today being a clip of Terens Puhiri attempting to sing, we have nothing to go by other than the list of goal-scorers and a couple of comments from those who watched the game.
New striker Arthit (29) opened the scoring, getting on the end of a pass from Bodin and putting Port one up just before the interval. About 5 minutes after the restart, Nebihi got the goal he desperately needed. He converted a freekick from about 20 yards out, and according to our sources it was the least he deserved for an excellent all-round performance. All we know about the final goal was that it was scored by Dolah and assisted by Chakrit (9), who had replaced Bodin just a few minutes earlier.
So, Nebihi did what he needed to do, and it will be very interesting to see who Jadet chooses for Friday’s final friendly against Suphanburi. Bodin will be pleased to have notched an assist, and Dolah will also be happy with a clean sheet and a goal to his name.
Port conclude their pre-season campaign against Suphanburi on Saturday 3rd February at 17:00. See you there!