Three is the Magic Number: Port FC 3-2 Ratchaburi FC

 

Saturday 24th February saw Port in a strange scenario. What’s the scenario? Top of the league and two wins from two games. We all know two games into a season you can’t tell that much about a team, but more important than the two wins has been the style of the victories. Port have fought and looked good in both matches. PAT all too often a field of screams is turning into some sort of Klong Toei gangsta’s paradise for Jadet’s geto boys.

The immediate pre-match talk was about the absence of Kim Sung Hwan (8). When I heard the news, I was definitely thinking oh shit I’ll be missing you, and our midfield will be missing you too. Against Muangthong, Kim showed he can marshal the midfield and give Siwakorn (16) the freedom to distribute the ball and sett up Port’s attacking moves like a grandmaster of Chessboxin’. So the team news saw Port’s first knock back of the day. Fitting on a day that was to see Port switch from Jim’s high enthusiasm to Hockers’ high anxiety every other minute.

I thought we might see a defensive Ratchaburi tie up Port and try a Whodini escape from PAT with a point. So I was shocked by the frenetic pace of the first five minutes. Port were impressive, but Ratchaburi were raising their game as they were out to impress. They were all well aware that their new coach was in the stands and everyone was trying stake a claim for their spot in the team. The first shock came with the first shot from Ratchaburi. It came on 12 seconds with the ball being blasted into a defender. Ratchaburi had come here to play. 25 seconds later Nitipong (34) was scythed down by Satsanapong (35). The ref chose not to go for a yellow and waved away the Port protest delegation. This terrible decision set the tone for the game and saw 10 minutes of players thinking “Well if he’s not going to give a yellow for that, what will he give a yellow for?” Tackles flew in like it was the wild wild west and each player pushed the definition of the phrase ‘shocking yet legitimate tackle’.

Unfortunately the number 1 chief shocka of the first 10 minutes was Suarez (5). After being fouled by Sami (3) he seemed to slap the hand of the referee away. Was Suarez trying to point something out to the referee with his hand and just ended up hitting him by mistake? Or was he saying, I’m gonna knock you out? This could be seen as a mistake, or assault. With this ref no one was sure which way he would go. The only thing to come Suarez’s way was a rebuke and an audible sigh of relief reverberated around me in Zone B. As the game unfolded, most fans would see a gentle slap of the arm as scant punishment for a refereeing performance that could generously be called erratic and honestly be called slapworthy.

On 6 minutes Rosima Amancio (90) who goes by the name of “Bill” showed Port he has a few South American skills, even if his nickname is more South London. An interesting character with moves as smooth and deadly as Bushwick Bill’s rhymes, but in sporting terms his physique was more mid 70’s snooker legend Bill Werbeniuk. His jinking run was desperately blocked by Dolah (4) hitting him high and Rochela (22) hitting him low. The run set off more alarm bells in the Port defence, with some thinking maybe we could just shoot em up. I’m sure the ref would only give a yellow for that today.

Port and Ratchburi both continued creating and missing chances: Boskovic (23) scooped the ball high into Zone D and Ratchaburi hit a shot straight at Worawut (36). Finally about 10 minutes in the number 16 clattered into a player and he went flying into the air. To the surprise of everyone it was the Ratchaburi  number 16 Gionata Verzura that managed to get his name in the book first, with waiflike Siwakorn being the one upended. Role reversal for Siwakorn who has been a lot more careful with his fouling in 2018: Kim is a good influence on him.

Port’s best early chance came on ’13 with a Pakorn (7) free kick drifted in to Suarez (5). He trapped and turned sweetly to beat the keeper, but not the post. 3 minutes later Pakorn would hit the woodwork again with a trademark inswinging corner that swung too much too soon.

Hitting back, Philip Roller (33) drew a spectacularly exaggerated, yet still needed save from Worawut. The following corner was put over the bar and another shot from a corner was blasted wide of Port’s goal soon after. Port might rue their chances going astray, but they could be equally happy Ratchaburi were squandering their chances too. The attacking right back vs. attacking left back, Kevin (97) vs Roller, was a one of the mini battles going on all over the pitch that made this game so fascinating, the two young players sniping at each other for 90 minutes.

The game saw another one-two punch of missed chances with Menezes (20) putting the ball over the bar and Boskovic having a one on one with the keeper. He tried to drill it in, but only found the keeper’s outstretched leg. Next it was the ever industrious Nurul (31) having a go. Rather than the keeper Nurul managed to hit Siwakorn’s head and the crowd wondered how on earth this game was still 0-0.

On ’35 Kang Soo-il (10) went for a theatrical dive trying to get hardworking Adisorn (13) booked. When a yellow card didn’t come he cupped his ear and asked Zone C for a bit more noise. I’m sure Kang grew sick of the constant booing that followed him around for the next hour. You asked for it Kang, so you got.

Two more Port free kicks resulted in nothing and it felt like this half didn’t want a goal. Then an exquisite move saw Bill (90) tap the ball with the outside of his boot, dissecting 3 Port defenders on the edge of the box. Then a sweet back heel from Chuitpol (7) to cue up Pathomchai (31), and he slotted it into the bottom corner past Worawut. At least it was a great goal that spoiled Port’s 220-minute clean sheet.

Speaking of exquisite goals, after a ricocheting free kick fell to Chutipol (7) I’m sure he thought all was well with the world, and he would just hoof the ball away. Not so when you have Ninja Nurul next to you. Nurul picked Chutipol’s left pocket and tapped him on the right shoulder, and before Chutipol knew which way to turn Nurul was guiding that ball into the far corner. As the keeper fell to the ground Nurul was completing his celebration somersault, handing out notes to novice ninjas, stamping fans tickets as they left for half time and posting Ask Nurul Ninja videos on Youtube. This little man can do everything. It’s great to see Nurul putting in an early claim for goal of the season. And it’s no more than he deserves. Nurul works his arse off, somehow channeling the spirit of Genki’s work ethic and Saruta’s ball skills and then sprinkling in some ancient Ninja magic. He is the Nine Carat Gold Ninja – is that a thing? I don’t know. If it isn’t it should be.

For readers who would like to make their own “Nine Karat Gold Ninja” flick book we have provided pictures.

 

 

1-1 at half time, and everyone walked out thanking god for Nine Carat Gold Ninjas. Everyone also knew Port and Ratchaburi were going to come out looking for more goals in the second. The second half started with Ratchaburi trying to take back the initiative with a few chances.

 

The Shook Ones Part II

The Kevin vs. Roller battle that had been raging all day was set off again by a good quick throw in from Pakorn down the left wing. Roller tussled with Kevin hacking at his ankles and pulling his shirt. Kevin held him off, then strong-armed him just enough to give himself some room. He fed the ball through Roller’s legs onto Suarez running in at the near post. Suarez thumped the ball in. On a day when players needed to stamp their authority on their part of the turf Kevin and Suarez delivered the perfect counter punch to their opposite numbers. Port up 2-1 and Roller left scratching his head as to how to stop a player who doesn’t fall down at any given opportunity. Kevin stood up and looked Roller square in the eyes and said “it’s my turn, I demand my respect, Give me my burn, or get slammed in your neck” (yes, he definitely said that, I heard it).

Before the next corner with Chutipol receiving treatment, Suarez wandered over to drink some of the water by Ratchaburi’s goal. He picked up two bottles, one for himself and one to throw into Zone B. It’s often small things that turn a crowd for or against a player. Kang Soo-il (10) had cupped his ear and was still getting boos every time he touched the ball. With Suarez’s gesture he managed to deprive Ratchaburi of some water, and give the crowd a laugh and one kid a souvenir of the game.

 

 

As more space opened up for Pakorn on the right Suarez picked him out twice with brilliant cross-field passes. One move did create a chance for Nurul, with the ball looping up in the air the whole crowd held its breath. Nurul tried an audacious Ninjaesque bicycle kick. Surely he can’t score such a goal? Yes, you’re right he couldn’t – it went wide proving he is a ninja but still human.

 

 

Always a bright sign the crowd saw Bodin (10) warming up on the sidelines. I thought Pakorn was coming off, but it was Suarez who would eventually make way for Bodin. Then Boskovic broke through the midfield and Port had a great chance. Even with two defenders chasing yards behind him and one coming across to meet him I would still have put money on Boskovic shooting and indeed scoring with such a good sight on goal. However Boskovic looked up and played the percentages. He calmly squared it to a wide open Suarez who sided footed it causally in to the back of the net making it 3-1 to Port. Time for everyone, bar Hockers, to relax and breathe a bit easier knowing a two goal cushion was in place.

 

 

As I was explaining to Hockers that a two goal lead with 20 minutes to go was something to be enjoyed with carefree happiness, he explained joy has no place in football ’til the final whistle. As I was mid speech extolling the joys of life, Ratchaburi hit the post, reminding everyone, bar Hockers, this lead could still fall apart. Chances continued coming ten a penny, but fortunately none were going in.

On ’72 Suarez exited to cheers from all zones and even Tim (just polite applause from me – Ed). Bodin entered into the fray with Ratchaburi having another pot shot at the Port goal, and Hockers tutted at the other 7,999 fans who had happily thought this match had been put to bed. Menezes who had created so many chances for Ratchaburi found Kang Soo-il to deliver his own dose of My Medicine to Port. 3-2 and the thought that Port might let a good lead slip away like so many 2017 games reared its ugly head.

At the restart the ref called Captains Sami and Rochela into the centre circle. He made them shake hands to try and foster a bit of peace in a tense game. As they were shaking hands I’m sure they were both shaking their heads too, thinking this game would be a lot more peaceful with a decent ref.

The last ten minutes of the game saw both teams slow down a bit, looking like two prize fighters who had been beating the hell out of each other for 127 rounds. Nurul had a good shout for a penalty on ’86. After re-watching it oddly the ultra-biased Port eyes had it spot on. 100% nailed-on penalty. As Port ran out winners today it will be forgotten pretty quickly, but had Ratchaburi scored a late equaliser this report would have been a 3000 word dissertation on the incident and the sad tale of how Port were robbed of 3 points. It wasn’t, we weren’t. The last minutes saw the Grandmaster Flash himself Terens Puhiri (28) make a two minute appearance. It would be good to see the Flash for the last 10 minutes of a game to see if he can convert his pace into some genuine chances for Port. I hope Jadet gets the message.

At the end of the day it was three that was the magic number for Port: 3 goals tonight, 3 points in the bag again, 3 wins in a row.

Maybe you can subtract it
You can call it your lucky partner
Maybe you can call it your adjective
But odd as it may be
Without my 1 and 2 where would there be my 3

 

Sandpit Man of the Match: Sergio Suarez

My 3 of the night would be Suarez, Nurul and Kevin. Siwakorn also had a great game, the defence held up well against a tough attack. As it’s man of the match not men of the match, I’ll have to go with Suarez. On a day when Port needed battlers he battled and delivered two goals. He also delivered a free bottle of water for Zone B – nice touch.

 

(Just in case you wondered, it’s the Kool Moe Dee’s wild wild west, not the Will Smith version, just so you check yourself before you wreck yourself.)

 

Dominick Cartwright

Dominick Cartwright

Originally from London, Dominick has been teaching English in Bangkok since 2006 and has been following Port FC since 2011.

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