Port Pluck Three Points from the Eagles: Port FC 1-0 Ubon UMT

 

 

After Port’s glass was shattered by the Rabbits last week the faithful were hoping for a decisive win in this week’s match against Ubon to cement our case as contenders.

With health scares for all three first team keepers, it was great to see Worawut (36) starting with Rattanai (17) in reserve. One surprise in the lineup saw Athibordee (35) lineup at center back next to Rochela (22). With Wuttichai (8) out injured and Yossawat (32) on loan, Piyachart (99) was the only ex-Portman in the Ubon lineup.

 

Game Summary

 

From the opening whistle Port were the aggressors, with Ubon managing very little possession. The Ubon keeper was tested early with Kim (8) ripping a shot at him 3 minutes into the game. Soon after Bole (23) fired a great cross that was just a bit too far for Suarez (5) to reach. Within a few minutes we had our first use of VAR at PAT where a play was reviewed for might have been a possible handball offense. [Ed – someone in Zone B suggested that a Suarez elbow was under review, but we’re not sure either.] After about a minute of review time the crowd began to get a bit restless. Guess they share Tim Russell’s view of VAR! And after the delay… nothing happened and the game resumed.

Port’s dominance continued with Ubon conceding a few corners, one coming when the Ubon Keeper flubbed a kick that was intended to give possession back to them after one of the first of many feigned injuries. The rest of the first half was more of the same; Port dominating possession, taking it wide, attempting a cross, and coming away with nothing.

Ubon’s one opportunity came at the 40 min mark when Worawut was forced to make a save from an on-target Aguinaldo (9) header off a Piyachart free kick.

The second half started with more of the same with the addition of endless time wasting due to “cramps” and other assorted “injuries.” For Port it was again possession, cross, miss and corner, miss. At 70 min Bodin (10) replaced Bole and immediately created a chance, which was of course again missed. Two more subs were made before injury time, Panpanpong (19) for Kevin (97) and Arthit (29) for Nurul (31). With the 5, minutes, which could have been 10 with all the Ubon “injuries,” of injury time running out Arthit electrified the home crowd with an on-target header into the top left corner of the net off a Pakorn (7) corner. The joy and relief among the PAT faithful was immense.

 

 

My Observations

 

Athibordee was a pleasant surprise at center back. A midfielder by trade, he was drafted this week to try and shore up a rather shaky back line and he did quite a nice job.

Ubon were abominable. As our resident Rottingham Crotchspur supporter Tim Walker observed, Ubon started wasting time from the 27th minute. Faking injuries, enough cramps to reanimate Lux Interior, the keeper delaying the kick, etc., etc. And to add to it, we allowed them to do it by kicking the ball out of bounds when one of their players went down. I am still flabbergasted that teams choose to kick the ball out of bounds before the ref blows the whistle. I really think if teams stopped doing this we’d see less of these incidents that occur all too much in Thai football. Port were not totally innocent as Nurul and Suarez each had a few dives during the match. Nurul goes to ground way to easily and would do far better staying on his feet, especially in the box. No wonder so many potential local fans shun the league in favor of the EPL. Watching a poor English side park the bus for 90 min is preferable to the mess we saw at PAT.

A win is a win. We’ll take it. Good teams win or draw when they don’t play well. But in this case, well, we kind of did play well, but were unable to capitalize on our many opportunities, which was a replay of last week’s second half. In all honesty the Port offense is very predictable; take the ball outside, cross it, try to score. Lather, rinse, repeat. And just a few matches into the season, I am sure other teams know our style and are prepared as Ubon was to defend against it. We are winning, but it is our superior talent that is carrying us, not our teamwork or our game plan. We can ride this only so far as we saw last week. We should have been up 2-0 at the half this week and scored another two against this very poor side in the second half, but instead we were left waiting for the miracle that occurred in the last minute, which truthfully is not a very convincing way to play and does not inspire confidence. For a talented squad, creativity is very low and I really don’t see that changing under the current regime. We’re a good team in a league with lots of mediocre teams. We can stake out a high finish on talent and individual effort alone, but if we want to get to the top, we’re going to have to play a different brand of football; one that we have never seen from a Port side. One that the top teams play. After watching two of those teams, BU and Buriram play each other Saturday night, I think Port have a ways to go before we can really consider ourselves contenders for the throne.

 

Port FC Man of the Match

 

 

Man of the match should go to the player who made the difference in the game, and that could only be one player, Arthit Boodjinda, the only Portman who was able to hit the target against a dismal Ubon side. It was a very good header.

 

Song of the Match

 

From The Cramps!

 

 

Bouncebackability: Port FC vs. Ubon UMT, 11 March 2018

 

 

Port will look to bounce back from last week’s disappointing defeat at Bangkok Glass with a victory against mid-table Ubon on Sunday. Ubon has become a bit of a home for abandoned lions, with The Eagles swooping in for precocious yet unwanted cub Yossawat Montha (32), preening lioness Piyachart Tamaphan (99) and the one and only Scar: Wuttichai Tathong (8).

Both Port and Ubon have started the season decisively; neither have yet to register a single draw. Whereas Port leaped out of the gates with three consecutive wins before being pegged back at Leo Stadium last week, Ubon have bounced alternately from defeat to victory, both winning and losing 1-0 and 3-1 in their opening four fixtures. Their latest game saw them overcome a lackluster Air Force 1-0 at UMT Stadium, securing the win in the 80th minute thanks to substitute Thaweekun Thong-on (28).

Whilst Port are clear favourites to take all three points at home, they can expect to face a tough test against Ubon, who have got their points the hard way: with gritty, battling performances. With former Scottish top-tier manager Mixu Paatelainen in charge, don’t be surprised if Ubon set up like British underdogs, put 10 men behind the ball and try and frustrate Port. It will be interesting to see what Jadet has planned if Ubon do try and park the bus.

 

Ubon UMT

Players to Watch

 

Left footed Port loanee Yossawat, who has curiously played three of Ubon’s four games on the right hand side, is ineligible, but both Piyachart and Wuttichai are in contention to start. Piyachart, who really impressed when joining The Eagles on loan in the second half of 2017, has scored already this season, but was dropped last week. With Yossawat unable to play though, he’s probably favourite to start on Sunday. Wuttichai picked up a knock after a T1 Team of the Week performance in attacking midfield against Prachuap and has missed out in the last two games, but Scar is now back in training, and looking to add to his tally of two yellow cards in two games. On that front, I have absolute faith in his abilities.

 

Ubon’s Mane Man and Scar

 

Now on to some actual talent. Angolan forward Aguinaldo (9) will lead the line, and although he has just one goal to his name in his opening four games, he looks pretty useful. Although he’s got the height to do damage in the air, Aguinaldo’s best work is done with the ball at his feet, so Port will need to come up with a much better defensive performance than they managed next week to nullify him. He may be backed up by ASEAN quota player Mark Hartmann (20) – an English-Filipino forward with the likes of Wessex League heavy hitters Blackfield & Langley on his resume.

 

Aguinaldo and Hartmann

 

Ubon’s big team news this week is the return, for the first time in 2018, of Japanese wing wizard Kenta Yamazaki (14). Kenta has been at Ubon since 2015, and has performed at a consistently high level for the last three seasons, with jinking forward runs being a hallmark of his game. With Kevin and Nurul coming at him down Port’s left hand side though, Kenta – who lacks match-fitness – may find himself doing less jinking and an uncomfortable amount of defending.

 

Kenta Yamazaki

 

Ubon have struggled to replace a few of last season’s top players, but they haven’t missed anyone as much as Victor Cardozo. The new foreign defensive player is Brinner (6), who hasn’t done an awful lot wrong, but will be very hard-pushed to match Victor’s excellence at the back or his incredible goal haul, let alone both. The big man netted 20 times in 72 games for Ubon. From centre back. Also in the defence is Thai national team legend – now 35 years old – Suree Sukha (25) who, whilst technically excellent on the ball, could struggle for pace against Port’s free-flowing attack, assuming it turns up this week.

 

Suree and Brinner

 

Port FC

Bouncebackability

 

It’s time to see what this Port squad is really made of. After an abominable first half display against Bangkok Glass, Port came out for the second half and showed that they were capable of out-playing their opponents, but it was too little too late. Now Jadet really needs another decisive win to get Port back on track. Whether he does that by making tactical alterations or simply demanding better performances from his players we shall have to see. First things first, a fit goalkeeper would be nice!

Port have been hit by their first injury crisis of the season, which saw all three first team goalkeepers making simultaneous hospital visits. Thankfully, there has been footage of Rattanai (17) bouncing around the goal in training, although he was later pictured with what looked very much like clingfilm adorning his dodgy shoulder. With the fitness of Worawut (36) and Watchara (1) still in question, Port B stopper Anipong Kijkam (81) could make it on to the bench for the first time, after he was left out in Port B’s last game, presumably as a precaution.

 

Anipong Kijkam

 

Assuming that Todsapol (6) has returned to full fitness (a wildly optimistic assumption by all accounts), it is safe to say (no it isn’t) that he will be lining up alongside Rochela (22) in defence, with Nitipong (34) and Kevin (97) as full backs. It’s set to be a big month for Kevin, who has been called up to the national team for the upcoming King’s Cup, but will have to play much better than he did against Glass to usurp Theerathon in the first XI. The less said about Dolah’s (4) defensive performance the better.

Kim (8) was another of Port’s major under-performers, and will have to put it another authoritative display if he wants to prove that his performance against Muangthong was the rule, not the exception. Siwakorn (16) will, as always, sit alongside Kim in the heart of the midfield.

With Pakorn (7) once again getting overlooked in Thailand’s King’s Cup squad – while Nurul (31) and Bodin (10) were selected – it begs the question… what does Thai boss Rajevac see that we don’t? It’s certainly not a wildly surprising decision that he would choose Nurul ahead of Pakorn on the right, whilst Bodin is competing for a different position altogether on the left, but how is sharp-elbowed Police Tero winger Mongkol Tossakrai still getting in to the squad ahead of Pakorn? To be fair to him, he does have an impressive goal-scoring record at international record, but to compare Mongkol and Pakorn since the start of last season is to compare a player with 9 combined goals and assists to a player with 23. Maybe Rajevac watched Pakorn last week. He was truly awful, but along with Nurul will probably keep his place on Sunday, with Bodin continuing on the bench.

Boskovic (23) and Suarez (5) are dead certs in the attack, and something tells me the Montenegrin is going to be hungrier than ever for a goal this Sunday. After failing to find the net in three games and passing up a huge chance late on last week, it’s time for Boskovic to remind PAT Stadium just what he can do in front of goal.

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 


 

The match will be shown live on True Sport 2 at 19:00 on Sunday 11 March, 2018. For those who can’t make it to PAT Stadium, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match with sound if you ask them nicely. Mention the Sandpit or wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount.

 

The Portlist 4: Reality Check

 

Port overcame Ratchaburi at home, before succumbing in worrying fashion to Bangkok Glass away on Sunday. After spending the first 3 weeks of the season in pole position, it’s now time to see what this squad is really made of. Port B also slipped to their first defeat of the season, giving them 6 points from their opening 3 games.

The main feature of this list, though, is a mad goalkeeping scramble, with Port’s three first team ‘keepers all injury doubts for next week’s clash with Ubon.

 


 

1 (4) Sergio Suarez

It’s impossible to ignore Port’s top scorer right now. He’s scoring the kind of goals that seasoned strikers make a living off, using the movement of Boskovic to find space and punish the opposition. His miss against Bangkok Glass was a reminder that he’s not a natural striker, but with 4 goals in his first 4 games, we can hardly complain. Keep it up, Sergio!

2 (1) Dragan Boskovic

Dragan hasn’t kept up his scoring form, but he has undoubtedly made a huge contribution to Port’s early success. In occupying the opposition defence Dragan has allowed Suarez to flourish, and has a goal and two assists to his name. He really should have buried that late chance against Glass, though.

3 (3) David Rochela

Not particularly at fault for goals in either of Port’s last two games, but not at his vintage best, either. Nevertheless, Port’s captain is and will continue to be the key man at the back.

4 (2) Kim Sung Hwan

Kim has only played two out of the first four games, and only one of them was a performance of merit. As good as he was against Muangthong, Kim needs to stay fit and stay on form if he’s going to have the impact on Port’s 2018 season that we know he can.

5 (6) Siwakorn Jakkuprasart

He’s been very consistent, and he seems to have kept the work rate up, while turning down the aggression.

6 (5) Pakorn Prempak

That first half corner against Bangkok Glass was indicative of Port’s performance as a whole, and particularly Pakorn’s. Needs to keep working hard and keep producing if he wants to stay near the top of the Portlist, and keep himself in Port’s first XI.

7 (7) Kevin Deeromram

Kevin was magnificent in his duel with Phillip Roller against Ratchaburi, but had an absolute stinker against Bangkok Glass. Still likely to be a big player for Port though, with his superb raids forward providing a balance to the team that hasn’t been seen for some time.

8 (8) Nitipong Selanon

Still performing consistently. Must have been quite a shock to have found himself as part of a back 3 for 15 or so minutes against Bangkok Glass. He was primarirly a winger just a couple of years ago!

9 (9) Nurul Sriyankem

Once again it’s one performance out of two for Nurul. His fantastic curling finish just before half time against Ratchaburi was the key moment in the game for Port, but he has largely anonymous against Glass, and did less than his fair share defensively.

10 (11) Todsapol Lated

Todsapol ought to have been sliding down this list after picking up the injury we all knew was coming and missing the last two games, but we really missed him against Bangkok Glass.

11 (12) Bodin Phala

In putting Bodin in 11th, I’m not saying the Fresh Prince is favourite to start, just that he’s coming off the bench first in every game, and I have absolutely no idea what’s going on with Port’s goalkeepers.

12 (15) Rattanai Songsangchan

Rattanai got his chance in the second half against Bangkok Glass, and didn’t have much to do. He made a couple of regulation saves and his distribution was pretty lackluster, and then – surprise surprise – he picked up a knock after a clash with Frederic Mendy. All three of Rattanai, Worawut and Watchara are supposedly injury doubts right now, so with all 3 equally injured, I’m picking Rattanai because… well, read on and find out.

13 (10) Worawut Srisupha

Four goals conceded in two games, and a frankly outrageous display of selfishness in Port’s defeat to Bangkok Glass. Worawut should have been off the pitch the first or the second time he was treated. The bench indicated to him that he should come off, but he stayed on, clearly unable to move freely. In the highlights he can be seen telling the bench that he’s indeed not able to continue just as a tame shot, which he got nowhere near, rolled wide of his post in the 43rd minute. If his selfishness had cost Port a goal, he would be much lower on the Portlist.

14 (14) Adisorn Daeng-rueng

Put in an excellent performance against Ratchaburi, before Kim put in a poor performance against Bangkok Glass. He’s very unlikely to win his place back if Kim stays injury free, but he’s giving himself the best possible shot.

15 (16) Arthit Butjinda

Got a few minutes against Bangkok Glass, indicating that he’s one of Port’s go-to men when a goal is needed.

16 (13) Elias Dolah

Played well against Ratchaburi, but didn’t look like himself in the first half against Bangkok Glass. Dolah struggled for balance, didn’t use his strength as effectively as usual and looked nervous on the ball. That’s not the way to make a claim for a starting berth.

17 (20) Worawut Namvech

Dolah’s shakiness could open the door for this young man to push for a starting place if Todsapol doesn’t return to fitness in time for Ubon next week.

18 (17) Terens Puhiri

After writing about Port’s new Indonesian winger last week, I want to see this guy succeed more than ever. Unfortunately, all Terens has had in his first month with Port is a couple of injury time run-outs and no touches of the ball. #PassToTerens

19 (18) Meechok Marhasarunukun

With Nitipong performing so consistently, Meechok is a distant second choice at right back.

20 (19) Panpanpong Pinkong

As is Panpanpong at left back.

21 (20) Athibordee Atirat

Athibordee came on to shore up the midfield against Ratchaburi, and din’t do much wrong. He gets told to warm up an awful lot, indicating that Jadet feels comfortable sending him on.

22 (25) Watchara Buathong

I’m not sure if Watchara should be higher or lower on this Portlist. Both goalkeepers ahead of him are struggling with injuries, but at the same time he is struggling with an injury. Terrible timing for Watchara.

23 (NE) Anipong Kijkam

Port B’s young goalie could just be in line for a shock call-up this week against Ubon, with all 3 first team stoppers being injury doubts.

24 (23) Chakrit Rawanprakone

Scored in a Port friendly, although he was with the second string and playing out of position up front. Still, he scored…

25 (22) Pummared Kladkleep

Quiet times for Pummared.

26 (24) Jetjinn Sriprach

And Jetjinn.

27 (26) Chaowala Sriarwut

Chaowala continues to impress for Port B, and played nearly a full half of football alongside Port’s first team in a friendly. He looked pretty damn useful, too!

28 (27) Partchya Katethip

As did Partchya, who got an assist in that game.

29 (29) Chanayut Jejue

From the last Portlist: “Will need to rack up some goals to stay on the Portlist.” Chanayut scored for Port B, although they slipped to a 2-1 defeat last week.

30 (28) Danudet Treemongkonchok

Port B’s captain is the next one who is going to have to show something special to keep his name up here.

99 (99) Tana Chanabut

You know what Port’s criminally awful first half performance reminded me of? Tana.

 

Glassed: Bangkok Glass 2-0 Port FC

 

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to say goodbye to Port’s 100% start and in turn their first loss. It was great fun while it lasted and we will remember it fondly… OK, enough doom and gloom; this report won’t be fun to write but before I begin to analyse the subpar performance I’d like to remind you naysayers that Port are still 3rd in the table and this report will be far from a eulogy for our hopes for this season.

The journey up to Rangsit was punctuated with bison grass vodka and a book (novella) salesman pitching his latest effort to us. Thankfully the journey was swift and we were at the stadium with plenty of time to enjoy the local hospitality. As we walked back from the away ticket office, some of us noticed the sprinklers were liberally watering the pitch; this will have an effect on our performance later but I’m not going to blame some gamesmanship on our weak showing. More on that later. The rest of the afternoon was pleasantly spent at The Rabbits Bar screaming “TARUA!” at Glass’ film crew and me breaking a beer tower without even trying.

 

“3 stands! You’ve only got 3 stands!”

 

So let’s get down to the shitshow. Port lost the game in the first 8 minutes due to terrible defensive errors and positioning, a general lack of focus and woeful decision making from several players. In the second minute a cute touch from Mario Gjurovski (70) in front of Dolah (4) found Mendy (10), who up to now had done sweet FA all season, and his first touch put him through on goal. With Dolah already nullified, Nitipong (34) tried to make up the ground but was already too far away and Kevin (97) tried to cut off his run but it was too late; he finished low across Worawut (36) into the bottom corner. The back 4 was made to look like a bunch of mugs and before you ask about Rochela (22), he was already taken out of the game for pushing up too high to cut out the initial pass to Gjurovski.

So far so bad, but it then got worse. In the seventh minute a simple ball over the top found Gjurovski. His first touch was reminiscent of Gazza over Colin Hendry, making Dolah a spectator, and then after letting the ball bounce he fired a quality finish under Worawut, who really didn’t look like the world-beater we saw against Pattaya and The Scum. I’ve watched this goal several times for the benefit of this report and think it would be too easy to point the finger at just Dolah and Worawut; Kim (8) could have easily have got his body in the way of the pass to Gjurovski and Rochela once again had pushed too far upfield to offer cover. Mario had to work for the goal, but the manner in which we gave it to him is more than frustrating.

 

That escalated quickly

 

I’ll sum up the rest of the first half briefly; it was the worst I’ve seen Port play this season and probably since the failed Zico experiment. Glass had multiple chances and hit the post in the 21st minute, and as the half went on it was clear that Worawut was injured. Port showed a lack of cohesion and wasted ball after ball; no shots were registered in the first half let alone chances made. While we were misplacing passes we also had to struggle against the waterlogged flanks which hampered us on many occasions, clearly demonstrated when Pakorn (7) took one of the worst corners I have ever seen and left a sizeable divot in the pitch.

The second half was a little better and real hope was offered when Glass’ keeper Narit (1) played a very weak goal kick straight to his defensive line. The defender’s first touch back to goal was short and Suarez (5) sneaked in to cut out the ball but his first time shot with the outside of his boot went wide. Next, Pakorn had a shot from outside the box which hit the side netting before Mario had a chance to put the game to bed for Glass in the 63rd minute, but also shot wide. Aside from a tame Siwakorn (16) effort our only real chance for a goal came in the 90th minute when Kim acrobatically latched onto a header, his shot was parried away by Narit and Boskovic (23) was first to the loose ball but his shot cannoned off the post across the face of goal. Even with 6 minutes of extra time it was clear it wasn’t going to be our day.

So hats off to Josep Ferre and Glass; he got his tactics spot on and his players didn’t have to go the extra mile to win today. Knowing that our best attacking play comes down the flanks he made sure the pitch would stop us, and by compacting the centre of midfield he made Kim, Siwakorn and Suarez have little effect on general play. In Mario Gjurovski they have a quality playmaker and Matt Smith (4) was assured in defence. They clearly don’t belong in the bottom half of the table and they won’t be there for long.

Enough praise; lets pick away at the corpse of our defeat. The players clearly didn’t turn up to this game and with no focus or concentration they gave the game to Glass on a silver platter. At 2-0 down their shoulders dropped and it wasn’t until half time (and hopefully after some strong words in the changing room) they decided to make a game of it. We had 2 chances that Suarez and Boskovic would usually bury and we could have escaped with a 2-2 draw, but they didn’t and we didn’t. Our captain was not his usual calm, dependable self and this filtered into the rest of our back 4. I’m struggling to think of any player who gave 100% yesterday; they looked lost at times and didn’t seem to have a Plan B.

So what is Plan B, Jadet? At the moment Plan B is the same as Plan A but with different personnel; bringing Bodin (10) on when it’s clear for all to see that the pitch isn’t true will result in the same problems. It was commendable to take off Kevin, who was having an absolute shocker, and replace him with a striker, but Boskovic wasn’t getting any service so how will Arthit (29) make a difference? Jadet stands on the touchline and studies his clipboard intently like a hungry drunk looking at the menu in a Chinese takeaway only for his players to come over and inform him what’s actually going on. He needs to come up with some real tactical alternatives because the opposition is wising up fast about us, and Madame and the fans have high expectations this season.

Next week Port has a chance to pick themselves up, dust off this defeat and redeem themselves against Ubon, before a tricky away fixture to the other surprise package of the season so far, Sukhothai. With the improved squad we have to look at both matches as winnable, but will the bad habits of last season and the dreaded Operation Fuckup creep back into our play? It shows how much we have already improved that we are asking these questions and not just accepting poor performances as par for the course so I for one am hopeful. TARUA!

 

Men of the Match

The Fans

 

Some spectators greet the men of the match

 

There is no way on God’s green earth I was going to award any player MOTM after what I saw. No one remotely earned this accolade so when I was informed I could award it to the fans my decision was made a lot easier. We came in large numbers, sang our hearts out and basically brought Khlong Toey to Rangsit for a couple of hours. Well played everyone.

 

Top Of The Glass: Bangkok Glass vs. Port FC, March 4 2018

 

Port FC will look to continue their reign atop the T1 Table when they take on Bangkok Glass on Sunday. Nope, it’s still not getting old. We are top of the league, say we are top of the league!

Although the 2018 season is barely up and running, both Glass and Port seem to be slipping in to routines that they are far from familiar with. Remarkably, Port – in recent years notoriously poor at the back – have kept 2 clean sheets in their first 3 games, whilst Bangkok Glass – usually among the league’s most attractive teams to watch – have failed to register a single goal. Both sides were very busy in the transfer market, but some new arrivals have fared better than others.

Port brought in – among others – Dragan Boskovic, Nurul Sriyankem and Kim Sung Hwan, whereas Glass signed Frederic Mendy, Mario Gjurovski and Thitipan Puangchan. Boskovic has scored or contributed to 3 goals, Nurul 2 and Kim won our Man of the Match award against Muangthong; Mendy on the other hand has been dropped, Mario has been dividing his time evenly between missing chances and looking annoyed, and Thitipan looks like he spent the entire holiday in Sizzler. And he wasn’t eating from the salad bar, either!

 

Bangkok Glass

Players to Watch

 

Wherever he goes, Mario Gjurovski (70) leaves his mark. His team’s fans love him – scoring roughly a goal every other game from attacking midfield will generally have that effect – but the 32 year old has a rare way of provoking opposition fans’ ire. Whether it’s his affiliation with Port’s best enemies, an ego more commensurate with the achievements of Cristiano Ronaldo than a 12 time Macedonian international or his constant histrionics on the pitch, it’s impossible to ignore Super Mario. It’s fair to say things haven’t started well for him at Glass – he could have had a hattrick against Navy, but ended up drawing a blank – but Mario’s match-winning quality is still there, and he does have a record of turning it on against Port.

 

Mario Gjurovski

 

Behind Mario will be Spaniard Daniel Toti (20) and 30 million baht signing Thitipan Puangchan (8). Port fans should probably remember former La Liga midfielder Toti from when he ripped the Port defence to shreds last season, and for those who don’t yet know much about Thitipan, he will undoubtedly introduce himself to Port’s midfield with his studs within the first 5 minutes. I can scarcely imagine two players with styles as different as these two; Toti with his cultured Spanish technique and graceful style on the ball, Thitipan with his niggly, dirty fouling and gamesmanship. He can play a bit too, mind you, and this really ought to be among the most effective midfield partnerships in the league. In what is set to be one of the key battles, Thitipan and Port’s fouler-in-chief Siwakorn are separated by just a centimeter in height, but what I can only guess is about 15 kilos. Who ate all the pies? It was Thitipan.

 

Toti and Thitipan

 

 

Matt Smith (4) has a new defender alongside him this season: Spanish-Malaysian Kiko Insa (30). Kiko has played for more teams in more countries than I can bring myself to list, and the big, strong 30 year old made his debut for Glass last week, replacing Mongkol Namnuad (18) in the starting XI. Considering that Glass kept a clean sheet and won their first point, we imagine that the back 3 of Smith, Kiko and Piyachanok Darit (34) will remain unchanged.

 

Kiko and Smith

 

Things are not going according to plan for French-born Bissau-Guinean Frederic Mendy (10). He may well start on the bench against Port as he has looked horribly off the pace so far, and was dropped for the 0-0 draw with Navy. He was replaced by young Thai-French winger Jakkrit Laptrakool (17) who I’m struggling to find any information about. As far as the forwards go, let’s just say that the stats read 3 games, no goals.

 

Mendy: He shoots, he misses.

 

Port FC

One Change

 

There is only one likely change from Port’s hard-fought 3-2 win over Ratchaburi last week. It has been reported that Todsapol (6) and Kim (8) are both back in training, but only Kim is fit enough to be available for selection on Sunday. Adisorn (13) should find himself dropping to the bench, with the Korean returning to the first XI. Adisorn acquitted himself well against Ratchaburi, but up against one of the strongest midfields in the league, Kim’s return is certainly a timely one.

 

Kim Sung Hwan

 

Besides the injury concerns, why change a winning formula? The defence is looking all the better for having a quality new left back in it, the midfield is stronger when Kim is in the team and the attacking quartet of Boskovic (23), Nurul (31), Pakorn (7) and goal-machine Suarez (5) has proved unstoppable so far.

 

Predicted XI

 

 

Perhaps the only thing that can stop Port this year is themselves. We know Port have a bad habit of getting complacent when things are going well or weaker opposition come calling. All we can hope is that new arrivals like Kim and Boskovic will continue to hold their teammates to the highest of standards and demand continued excellence from everyone on the field.

Speaking of the field, Glass have played their first 3 games away while the artificial surface so many opposition teams have struggled on has been resurfaced. The Glass Rabbits, having leveled the playing field, welcome their first visitors to the newly blue Leo Stadium on Sunday, and must be looking to make a fresh start in their new-look home. Amazingly they’re probably the underdogs this weekend, but call me a pessimist, I’d take a point if it were offered right now. Glass may not have clicked just yet, but when they do it’s sure to be devastating!

 


 

The match will be shown live on True Sport HD at 18:00 on Sunday 4 March, 2018. For those who can’t make it to Leo Stadium, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match with sound if you ask them nicely. Mention the Sandpit or wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount.

 

Sandpit Songs of the Season 2018: Week 4

 

Port take their 100% record to Rangsit on Sunday for possibly their toughest fixture of the season so far, away to Bangkok Glass. Port somehow managed to come away from the Leo Stadium with a goalless draw last season, thanks to their only decent performance under Zico, but were hammered 3-0 at home by the Rampant Rabbits earlier in the season, and whilst the Blue Bunnies have got off to a poor start this time around, Port won’t be taking anything for granted.

So, onto this week’s song. Visitors to the Leo this season will notice something a bit…different. Where once it was an oasis of green in the middle of grey Rangsit, this season everything has turned blue. The story is that a fortune teller told Glass’ owner that green was an unlucky colour, and that he should change the club’s colours to blue, so during the close season the club, team and stadium have been completely rebranded. Should you wish to consult this fortune teller yourself, you can find him at Somchai’s Blue Paint Supplies Ltd, Rangsit.

Anyway this story is by way of an introduction to this week’s song. We could’ve taken the lazy option & gone for one of the hundreds of songs about glass, and I almost went for Chas & Dave’s 1981 classic ‘Rabbit’, but eventually I plumped for this 1983 B-side by Derry’s finest.