The Chainat Ten Prompt Previously Pathetic Port to Rousing Victory: Port FC 2-1 Chiang Rai Utd

 

After an abject, midweek defeat at the hands of, at the time, cellar dwellers
Chainat, Port badly needed to demonstrate that their early season promise was not
just another false dawn. They also needed, as vehemently expressed by the
travelling farang support (more on that later), to show some fight, a quality badly
lacking at recent away fixtures.


The conditions were perfect: a cool night, the pitch sodden after a day of incessant
rain, demanding a quick passing game and lots of high energy pressing. Chiang Rai,
recent victors over Buriram, would be a genuine test of Port’s nerve.

This morning’s report in the Bangkok Post described the game as being played at a
pedestrian pace in front of sizeable crowd. I was obviously not inside the same
stadium as that particular reporter because by kick-off time the attendance was
disappointing (it would later build up) while the game quickly settled into a
cracking pace. Port, seemingly stung by the invective hurled their way on
Wednesday night (they were) tore into the Beetles from the start, driven on by the
impressive Bodin (10), whose early trickery and constant involvement drew a number of
fouls from the harassed Chiang Rai defence. At one point, the speed of play, flying
tackles and unforced errors resembled, as Tim and I agreed, a Sunday League game
between two pub teams who had changed out of the back of their cars and were
looking forward to their half-time orange segments. The referee played his part in
all this mayhem by waving play on at every opportunity, only producing yellow
cards for obvious signs of GBH, of which there were more than a few.

 

 

In the midst of all this, Port had taken the lead on ten minutes when goalkeeper
Chatchai dropped the ball from a corner straight at Rochela’s (22) feet and the skipper
duly obliged from six yards. Port continued to press with Kevin, Nurul (31) and Boskovic (23)
showing a threat that was sadly lacking in midweek. Kim and Adisorn were keeping
things nicely ticking in midfield, while at the other end Rochela and Dolah (4) coped
coolly with the Beetles’ breaks. Boskovic, especially, was trying to prove that whilst
he might not be able to do it on a Balmy Wednesday in Chainat, he could certainly
raise his game on a Pissing-down Saturday in Podgovica.

The half-time Sandpit verdict was that this was probably Port’s best single half
performance of the season, if not for a very long time.

The second half could not quite match the ferocity of the first and at times settled
into a mid-field stalemate. Chiang Rai continued to probe, but Rochela and Dolah, as
a team, read the play well to keep the goal threats down to a minimum. On 65
minutes a rare error of handling from Rattanai (17) allowed the Beetles two chances at
scoring, one hitting the post and the other bringing a redeeming save out of the
young goal-minder.

 

 

With fifteen minutes to go Suarez (5) replaced Bodin, who was beginning to tire after
his early efforts but he surely did enough to warrant another start. In the 83rd
minute Rochela was adjudged to have handled in the box from a corner; the penalty
converted by the previously ineffective Cleiton Silva.

Just three minutes later, Nurul was fouled for the umpteenth time in the game, one
of which was absolutely shocking and should have resulted in a red card. This time
it was in box and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. With all in
Zone D anticipating another Rochela masterclass in spot-kicking, the altruistic
captain bizarrely offered the ball around and while Boskovic declined (he clearly
didn’t want to spoil a good day) Suarez had no hesitation in confidently accepting
the ball and just as confidently stroking it home, sending the keeper the wrong way.
There was just time for Nurul to hide himself amongst the supporters in Zone C to
avoid being substituted (it was for Tana so one could hardly blame him) and finally
receiving his own yellow card for the pace of his procession off the pitch. During
what seemed a ridiculously long 5 minutes of extra time Arthit (29) came on for Pakorn (7)
but the Beetles posed no more threat and Port wrapped up a well deserved victory.

There then followed quite an extraordinary episode played out behind the goal in
Zone D, for which there should be some background. Although I wasn’t there on
Wednesday night, it was reported that the usual end of game tribute to the Port
players by the loyal Thai travelling support was interrupted by boos, jeers and
derogatory comments by the ten travelling farangs. Now, I have commented on this
previously in my report after the equally abject late loss to Air Force in the League
Cup last Year, under the heading, ‘True Devotion or just Blind Faith?’ Sometimes the
players do need a right proper bollocking if they have let the fans down by their
attitude and lack of spirit. It would be a given on the terraces in the UK. Port fans go
to great lengths to support their team all over the country and the players need to
give something back. On Wednesday night, they failed miserably. Boskovic, in
particular, caught the ire of most of our fans, most especially Sandpit guru, Tim, to
which the bearded Montenegrin responded angrily.

 

Russell-Boskovic, the PAT equivalent of Frost-Nixon

 

So, when the players lined up to receive our well-earned applause, I was watching
Boskovic in particular and was delighted to see him pick out Tim in the crowd, put
on a broad smile and wave him forward for a chat. There was a nervous few
moments while we waited to see if Bosko offered a clenched fist or an open hand
(fortunately it was the latter) and then followed a 5 minute exchange in which Bosko
basically said that what happened on Wednesday was what the players needed,
although the Thai players were shocked, never having been booed before, but it was
that criticism that stung them into action today. So, well done to Tim and the rest of
the Chainat Ten! Whether it will cause the Thais to be more critical after the next
feeble away defeat remains to be seen but at least it might change the players’
attitude.

There was an amusing aftermath to all this brotherly love when a Thai fan asked if
Boskovic was Tim’s son. Now, this is a lovely example of simple Thai logic. Bosko has
a beard, Tim has a beard. Tim, although I know this sounds ridiculous, is older than
Boskovic. They had a long, warm conversation. Ergo, Bosko is Tim’s son. So is Lionel
Messi.

 

 

This win puts Port, for the moment, in 3rd place with the closest rivals likely to move
above them, Muang Thong and Ratchaburi, playing each other today. Port now face a
couple of tricky away trips to Nakhon Ratchasima and Suphanburi before returning
to home action against Navy on Sunday, May 20 th . Port fans, farangs especially, will
watch Port’s performances and attitude in the two away games with a critical eye.

 

Sandpit Man of the Match: All of ’em

I am not going to single out any player for man of the match as this was a fine,
collective team effort to temporarily eradicate the memory of Chainat. The joint-
winners, of course, are the Chainat Ten.

Sandpit Songs of the Season: Week 13 – Chiang Rai Utd

 

Dedicated to certain players who decided to take the night off on Wednesday.

 

 

Money Can’t Buy Me Love: Port FC vs. Chiang Rai Utd, 28 April 2018

 

Port and Chiang Rai have both had stop-start campaigns so far in 2018, and both will be looking to bounce back after dismal defeats on Wednesday. Port put in their worst performance in over a year in surrendering 2-1 to relegation fodder Chainat, while The Beetles ended a streak of 4 clean sheets and 4 victories in their 4-2 loss to Prachuap. Whilst Chiang Rai have some recent form and one of the best defences in the league to give them belief, however, Port are churning out abysmal performances like they’re going out of fashion. Jadet increasingly looks like a dead man walking, and his players are showing absolutely no willingness to get him out of trouble by, you know, trying.

For the first time since I’ve been watching Port, the players were booed off the pitch by a vocal minority and it was plain to see that certain players were extremely unimpressed by what they were hearing from the stands. Well, us fans have been extremely unimpressed by what we’ve been seeing on the pitch for the last few weeks. Here’s why…

It’s not as if we’re not used to seeing abject performances by Port teams. It’s not as if we’re not used to seeing defenders who can’t defend, midfielders who can’t pass and strikers who can’t score. If players just don’t have the ability then that’s one thing, but what we’re not used to seeing and what we won’t accept is players who don’t try. Sure there have been a few lazy individuals over the years, but on Wednesday I could count the players who put in an acceptable shift on one hand, and still have a few fingers to spare. This team is the most talented assembled by Port in recent memory, but if the players don’t care enough to bother putting in the effort, then us fans would happily take hard workers like Genki and Maranhao back in place of prima donnas like Pakorn (7) and Boskovic (23). Why am I singling out Port’s two most productive players of 2018? Well, they are two of Port’s most talented players, but we just don’t care unless they look like they give a fuck. Make forward runs, track back when we lose the ball, go in to challenges like you want to win the ball and we will support you. We don’t care that much if you misplace passes, miss chances or trip over the ball. Work hard for the team, show passion and commitment and the fans will support you. It’s as simple as that. If you want to stand up in front of PAT Stadium on Saturday night with your head held high and the supportive voices of thousands of appreciative fans ringing in your ears, then earn it! If you want to jog around aimlessly for 70 minutes until you’re replaced with players who actually try like Terens (28) and Arthit (29), then prepare for more boos. Those players may be less talented, but I’d rather support them than players unwilling to do the work. Rant over.

 

Chiang Rai

Players to Watch

 

Victor Cardozo (5) is the best centre half in the league, but even that title barely does him justice. The 28 year old man-mountain has also netted 4 goals, and every time he has scored his team has won without conceding. Victor’s defence was the stingiest in the league before Wednesday’s 4-2 defeat against Prachuap, and even now have conceded just 12 goals. Chiang Rai’s three-man back line has not been set in stone, though. Victor has been joined regularly by excellent youngster Shinnapat Leeaoh (36), but the third centre back spot is anyone’s guess. Former Port defender Artit Daosawang (2) could feature, although he appears to have fallen out of favour just as Chiang Rai have got in to their stride in recent weeks. Goalkeeper Chatchai Budprom (1) is also one of the better stoppers in T1.

 

Victor and Shinnaphat

 

Experienced South Korean former international Lee Yong-Rae (8) and the diminutive but solid Thai 23 year old Phitiwat Sukjitthammakul (6) offer the back three excellent protection, regularly displaying the positional discipline that T1 midfielders (and Port midfielders particularly) so often seem to lack. Built on that strong foundation, though, is one of the poorest forward lines in the league.

 

Lee and Phitiwat

 

Cleiton Silva (23) is one of the finest foreign players to grace Thailand’s top tier, but his return to his old stomping ground has not gone to plan. Cleiton has just 3 goals and 2 assists to his name in 2018, and chances that the Brazilian would have dispatched without a moment’s thought a couple of seasons ago are all of a sudden going begging. The ability is there, there’s no doubt about that, but the confidence that propelled him to over 100 T1 goals is nowhere to be found. In other words, he’s Chiang Rai’s Boskovic.

Of Cleiton’s usual partners in crime, Bajram Nebihi (7) is unavailable as he is on loan from Port, so the responsibility for supplying the chances falls mostly on talented young winger Sivakorn Tiatrakul (10). Sivakorn is one of those wingers who insists on playing on the wrong wing (he’s left footed but operates almost exclusively on the right), and whilst he has a lot of talent, his decision making and final ball have, for the most part, let him down in 2018. He has a goal and an assist, but in the advanced role he plays that’s just not enough. The same can also be said of Chaiyawat Buran (18) who has buckets of pace but the touch of a drunk Carlton Palmer.

 

Cleiton and Sivakorn

 

Form

 

Chiang Rai’s last 6 games have seen a run of 4 victorious clean sheets sandwiched between 2 absolute stinkers. After losing 2-1 to Chainat, Chiang Rai bested Bangkok Utd (1-0), Pattaya (1-0), Air Force (2-0) and Buriram (1-0) before slipping to a shock 4-2 loss in Prachuap. Their form is still a darn sight better than Port’s though.

 

Port FC

What’s Less Than a Thread?

 

I said in my Prachuap preview that Jadet was hanging by a thread. Well, I will be somewhat surprised if that thread hasn’t snapped under the weight of Jadet’s laughable decisions by Saturday. I’m sorry, but who the fuck brings on Tana (11), who has been back with the squad for just a couple of weeks, whilst the likes of Bodin (10) and Terens are sat on the bench? A man who is crying out to be giving his marching orders, that’s who.

On Saturday Jadet will be without Suarez (5), unless he recovers from injury sooner than expected, and Siwakorn (16), who picked up his fourth yellow card against Chainat. Jadet will probably take the negative approach by replacing him with defensive midfielder Athibordee (35). Another option is to bring in Bodin (10), but if I know Jadet than just means that he will be shifted to the left and Nurul (31) to the right, while Pakorn (7) puts in an even more ineffectual performance than usual through the middle.

Sorry if I seem pessimistic. Watching 90 minutes of the garbage I was exposed to on Wednesday will have that effect! What would I do? Wholesale changes to the starting lineup, with Siwakorn (16) Pakorn (7), Nurul (31) Boskovic (23) and Todsapol (6) making way for Chaowala (57), Terens (28), Bodin (10), Arthit (29) and either Dolah (4) or Worawut (24). New blood like Port B’s best performer Chaowala is necessary to shake things up, and I would probably include Partchya (56) and Chanayut (99) on the bench for good measure. Buriram gave a debut to a 15 year old in their victory on Wednesday, so don’t tell me that one of Thailand’s top 5 youngsters is too raw to be given a chance. Has the thought even crossed Jadet’s mind? Has it fuck.

 

Suggested Lineup

 

 

 


 

The match will be shown live on True 4U at 19:00 on Saturday 28 April, 2018. For those who can’t make it to PAT Stadium, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match on a big screen with sound. Don’t forget to wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount on drinks.

 

Chainat Hornbill FC 2-1 Port FC

 

After last night’s gutless, embarrassing show by Port at Chainat, I’ve decided to show as much effort, commitment and respect for my audience in this week’s match report as the players did last night. So here it is, accompanied by a pic of two players who, whilst they may not have been as naturally talented as some of the current side, always showed heart and knew what it meant to wear the Port shirt.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sandpit Man of the Match: Tana

It was a shock to see that Tana, who appeared to have left the club late last season to become a policeman, was part of yesterday’s matchday squad. It was an insult to underused players like Terens and Bodin that he was brought on ahead of them. And it was an embarrassment to the rest of the team that he was Port’s best player on the night and had our only shot on goal. Millions spent on new players and we’re still relying on Tana? What a joke.

 

Sandpit Songs of the Season Week 12 – Chainat

 

Port travel to perpetual strugglers Chainat today for a must-win away fixture. As Dom pointed out in yesterday’s big match preview, the two clubs have considerable history and none of it is amicable, so we’re expecting a feisty encounter.

As for this week’s song, this swaggering acid rock banger from the mighty Spiritualized sums up the feelings of most Thai football fans about this worthless club.

 

 

T’Port – Chainat in Your Hand: Chainat Hornbill FC vs Port FC Match Preview

 

Wednesday 25th April Kick off 5.45 p.m.

Bloody Chainat Away

Port and Chainat isn’t a local derby, and it isn’t big meeting of ex-powerhouses of Thai football. However it does have a history to it.

Singing in the Rain

My first trip to Chainat saw our most important player our big Korean central defender Wo Hyun sent off for a very soft second yellow card offence. This sending off effectively ended Port’s chances of getting anything from the game. It absolutely pissed it down and the away section has no cover – there is a photo somewhere of people in raincoats and in the rain with the caption “we will support you”, or something like that. Chainat away in the rain has become a reference point, when talking about the worst games/away trips we’ve ever had to endure.

At the Death

My second away visit saw a dour 0-0 being played out at the home of the Hornbills. There wasn’t any trouble between the fans apart from a bit of jeering here and there. We watched 92 minutes of fairly uneventful football with two teams trying not to lose the game, when Watchara popped up unmarked. This is Watchara the old left back, so it wasn’t surprising he wasn’t being marked. What was surprising to everyone, even fellow port players, was Watchara having a glance up at the goal and releasing a rocket into the top corner. Cue crazy Port celebrations with only minutes of the game left to play. Port’s late winner was a complete smash & grab job.

23 July 2014 – Walk on, walk off, smile on, run off

The most heated match was at PAT and saw a disallowed Port goal protested by the Port players. After consulting with the linesman the ref reversed the decision. This incensed the Chainat team thinking the ref was just being persuaded by the intimidating atmosphere of the PAT crowd. After the referee reversed his decision it was time for the Chainat players to protest and they walked off into the dressing room, fully throwing all of their toys out of the pram. After gentle persuasion from the match officials they came back out, to a very hostile PAT reception. As is so often the case the ref. decided to even things up by giving Chainat a very soft penalty. They converted it to go 2-1 up in the 80th minute. Chainat time wasted for 10 minutes, and Port had a player sent off deep into injury time. The usual cheering of the home fans was probably not a good idea in this atmosphere – the Chainat players went over to Zone C, but their aim was more to taunt the beaten home fans joking and laughing at Zone C stands, which sparked off an assortment of plastic cups and random items being thrown at the Chainat players. They quickly stopped laughing and ran off into the away dressing room.

(Editor’s note – although the game was probably held up for around 20 minutes, the ref only added on 6 minutes and then blew up after 4, further enraging the Port fans. He ended up barricaded in his dressing room for 2 hours)

Who was in charge of the Hornbills leading his players off the pitch? A Mr. J. Meelarp. (J. for Jadet). So if anyone knows how things work at Chainat and how to beat Chainat it should be our very own forward planning Fat Cat. After the match Port were fined and netting was put up across Zone C for the first time, and since this game beers have not been allowed inside the stadium. Yet another reason to hate the Hornbills!

Sticks n’ Stones

Rocks were thrown at the Port fans sitting in the away section when Port visited in July 2015. Not by a fan group but a bunch of kids. Considering what happened at PAT everyone saw this as an attempt to redress the balance after their players had stuff thrown at them.  Whether they were encouraged to do this by some at Chainat, or just bored kids doing what lots of bored kids do we will never know. With Cheating Chainat’s record we can have a good guess. Later the Chainat owner apologised for not ensuring the safety of away fans. Some of the kids involved were given new bikes, sorry typo, were severely reprimanded by someone.

So that’s the history we have with Chainat – what about this year?

Chainat Crisis

Newly promoted Chainat are now sitting in 16th place with 9 points and have a goal difference of -10. Those numbers are looking pretty worrying. Along with Air Force and Ubon UMT most people are tipping Chainat to go down. With 5 relegation spots this season it’s difficult to disagree with this prediction.

Their top goal scorer is Bireme Diouf (20) with 5 goals. The 33 year old striker from the Ivory Coast did manage to put 2 goals past a decent Chiang Rai team to give Chainat one of their best results of the season so far.

They also have the famous Florent Sinama-Pongolle (10), though this season he’s been proving rather less than the marvelous marquee signing we thought he was – he’s probably just about found his level at the tail end of his career. Turn up with your Liverpool 2004-05 season shirts to get a memento of Liverpool’s greatest ever player who sounds like somewhere to watch films, (oh no wait there was Dave Odean who played for them in the 1954-56 season). Florent’s 2004-05 record, 660 minutes 2 goals. Sinama you’re one in a million, or maybe one in 330 minutes.

More bad news for Chainat: they have their stalwart Korean Central defender Park Jong–Oh (3) out on 4 yellow cards.

Port’s lineup

Unlikely to be many surprises for Port. Only injuries seem to really change our oversized overseer’s team selection. Saying that Flash (A.K.A. Terens Puhuri) (28) did get a good run out on Saturday. Hopefully we will be using him more than in 20 or 30-minute bursts at the end of games. Prior to Saturday he was being criminally underused. I think the line-up will be pretty much the same as Saturday but with Kim (8) playing a more defensive role. Also I think Dolah (4) may start over Todsapol (6). I’ve always said there’s not much to choose between these two players but Dolah looked good coming on after Todsapol was tiring. There was a story in the Thai Press about Suarez (5) coming back into the squad but he was nowhere to be seen on Saturday. I think we are a better, more balanced team with him, but the last thing Port need to do is rush him back and cause a longer term injury as they have done too often before.

Rattanai (17)

Kevin (97), Rochela (22), Dolah (4) , Nittipong (34)

Nurul (31), Kim (8), Adisorn (13), Siwakorn (16), Pakorn (7)

Boskovic (23)

Subs but likely to see some time on the pitch.

Todsapol (6)

Bodin (10)

Terens (28)

 

Although Chainat are in the drop zone Port have only managed one away win this season. So sneaking a goal and trying to sit on it might well be the pre-match orders from the portly planner of PAT.

“Port FC – the home of Hockers, Thailand’s Number 1 expat football fan. He’s Thailand’s number one, and he’s one of our own.”

For those not going up to Chainat, the game will be shown at The Sportsman bar on Sukhmvit soi 13. Wear your Port shirt and get 10% discount on selected beers.

 

Prachuap Khiri Can’t: Port FC 1-0 PT Prachuap FC

 

 

After a run of three defeats in a row, Port got their season back on track with a hard-fought win over the high-flying Killer Wasps of Prachuap. It wasn’t pretty – Port rode their luck on several occasions and could’ve had no complaints if PT had sneaked a draw or even a win – and it wasn’t enough to hide the fact that Port’s chronic weaknesses are still present, but when you’re on a run like that, grinding out an ugly 1-0 is exactly what is required.


Before the game I had the honour of spending some time with Thailand’s No1 Expat Football Fan (The Big Chilli), Peter ‘Hockers’ Hockley. It is a measure of the man’s humility and modesty that he is still happy to spend time with us lesser mortals in the Sandpit, and to impart his footballing knowledge to those who sit at his feet, and I think I speak for all of us when I say how privileged we felt to be able to bask in the glow of his magnificence.

 

“Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!”

 

After the Adoration of St Hockers we had a football match to watch, and a very important one at that. With Port on a run of three defeats, the season – and Mme Pang’s expensive project – was in danger of going up in smoke, and coach Jadet staring down the barrel of a very stylish, limited edition diamond-encrusted gun (assuming Central Embassy has a firearms boutique). A win was required, and the Spherical Supremo (c Tom Earls) went back to his side’s last win (against Air Force) for inspiration, with Kim (8) taking the Suarez role in midfield. Otherwise it was as-you-were, Jadet keeping faith with the likes of Pakorn (7) & Boskovic (23) despite neither of them offering much in those last three matches. Jadet’s loyalty to certain players may well prove to be his undoing this season.

Port almost got off to a dream start on 3 minutes when a Pakorn (now sporting a Beatles-style moptop) free kick forced a spectacular save from the Wasps’ keeper (makes a change from beekeepers I guess). Despite the ball dropping at least 2 feet behind the goalline, the referee inexplicably awarded a goal kick, much to the Midfield Monk’s rage.

As is often the case (ie every bloody week) Port failed to turn their early pressure into goals and Prachuap got into the game. Whilst they’re a very fit, physical, well-organised side, they’re somewhat lacking in creativity, their sole tactic being to get the ball forward to foreign strikers Reis (big, skillful) and Doumbouya (very big, rubbish). Doumbouya was competing for and winning every aerial ball that was flung in his direction (Boskovic please take note), but thankfully he is a real 50p Head and his headers were flying off in all directions apart from Port’s goal. The big Frenchman’s diving is even worse than his heading as he showed on 20 minutes, earning not even a glance of derision from the ref for his efforts.

 

 

Five minutes later Port almost took the lead when Kevin (97) pinged a sublime cross into the heart of the Prachuap area. To the amazement of all of us, Brent McGrath, oops sorry I mean Boskovic, dived into a 50-50 challenge with the keeper and both ended up in a heap, which led to the Benny Hill-esque spectacle of nurses running around on the pitch. All that was missing was Jadet repeatedly slapping an old bald man on the head (and there were plenty of those in Zone B).

The game restarted, and on 32 minutes Port broke the deadlock. A sublime long pass from Kim, having his best game at the PAT so far, found Pakorn on the left, and the Bangkok Beatle skipped past Prachuap’s full-back and laid the ball on a plate for Siwakorn (16), who couldn’t miss from 8 yards out.

As any entomologist will tell you, wasps are at their most dangerous after, er, conceding a goal (I’ve not really thought this through), and Prachuap laid siege to the Port goal for the rest of the half, Reis almost taking out a couple of Sandpit regulars in Zone B with some wild long shots, and Doumbouya being denied by a heroic block from Todsapol (6) after Rattanai (17) spilled a shot he should’ve saved.

The Wasps came out for the second half like they’d caught a whiff of a jam sarnie or a Raspberry Mivvi, and continued to swarm around the Port penalty area as if it was an English pub beer garden in August. Doumbouya tested the Rat on 47 minutes, and then clattered into him a minute later, forcing Jadet to make a tactical change, taking off Todsapol and replacing him with the bigger Dolah (4). It is somewhat bizarre that it took Jadet 50 minutes to notice that Doumbouya is a big bastard – we pointed it out in our match preview two days ago, and it makes you wonder how much research Port’s coaching team do into the opposition.

 

“Deep pan Italian Sausage, extra cheese please”

 

The change made Port look a bit more solid at the back and they started to get back into the game, and on 67 minutes Nitipong (34) nearly raised the roof (if there was a roof) with a 30-yard thunderbastard which was acrobatically tipped over bar by the PT keeper.

Five minutes later it was real brown trouser time in the Port defence, the kind of moment where you can almost believe that some higher force (St Hockers perhaps) had Port in its divine protection. Some nice work down the right by a PT winger found Doumbouya in the box. His low shot beat Rattanai but bounced back off the post to Dolah, whose hurried attempt at a clearance bounced back off the crossbar. Prachuap are probably still wondering how the hell they didn’t score; Dolah is probably apologising to Port’s laundry staff for the state of his shorts.

After this very squeakiest of squeaky bum moments, Port settled back and closed out the rest of the game, and the final whistle was greeted with the kind of exhausted relief you feel when that wasp that got into your office or classroom has finally been guided out through a window or twatted with a rolled up newspaper. No, it wasn’t the kind of swaggering, swashbuckling win we like to see at the PAT, but Prachuap, as their record this season shows, are a very good side. Port’s old weaknesses remain, particularly up front where Boskovic is clearly struggling and needs to be replaced by Arthit ASAP, but the win takes them up to equal 3rd and, with a very winnable away game against struggling Chainat coming up on Wednesday, the season could just be getting back on the rails.

 

Rediscovering that winning feeling

 

The Sandpit Man of the Match: Adisorn

There were a few contenders for the hallowed Sandpit MOTM award. Kim had his best game at the PAT so far, looking fitter and more up for it than he has all season; Rattanai was unbeatable at the back and caught everything that was thrown at him; Rochela looked back to his best; and Siwakorn rounded off an impressive performance with his first goal of the season.

But this week’s award goes to the little man you just can’t keep down, Adisorn (13). His running battle against Reis, who is almost twice as big, was one of the most entertaining features of the game. Adisorn was ironically more wasp-like than any of his opponents, buzzing around them and stinging their ankles and not giving any of them a moment’s peace, and for his efforts he’s this week’s MOTM.

 

Sandpit Songs of the Season: Week 11 – PT Prachuap FC

 

Port face surprise package PT Prachuap FC at the PAT this evening, hoping to end a run of defeats that could see coach Jadet receiving whatever the Thai equivalent of a P45 is. Presumably a pat on the back & a case of Snail White.

Prachuap’s nickname is The Killer Wasps. Quite why you’d want to name your team after the biggest arseholes in the insect world – a creature so shitty it hangs around bins and can’t even respect the sanctity of the pub beer garden – is beyond me; maybe wasps have a more revered status in Thailand.

Understandably given their reputation there are very few songs about wasps, but there is of course a band called W.A.S.P (it stands for We Are Sexual Perverts apparently), so this week we’re going with their most famous song, a tender romantic ballad that hopefully describes what Dragan ‘The Beast’ Boskovic is going to do to their defence. But I doubt it.

 

 

Can Port Kill Prachuap Buzz? Port FC vs. PT Prachuap FC, 21 April 2018

 

KICKOFF HAS BEEN CHANGED FROM 18:00 TO 20:00.

 


 

Port come in to Saturday’s home game against surprise 2018 upstarts Prachuap with manager Jadet Meelarp hanging by a thread. Having lost three on the bounce and seen his side slide from top of the table to seventh in recent weeks, it feels like anything but a win will almost certainly spell the end for the spherical supremo. No fewer than nine T1 managers have been axed in the first ten weeks of the season, so it would certainly be in keeping with the rest of the loopy league to move Jadet back to his comfy chair upstairs and bring in one of the many free agents kicking around.

 

PT Prachuap

 

Hands up who picked Prachuap to be this season’s surprise package… No one? I didn’t think so! A team of bang average players – a couple of excellent foreigners aside – Prachuap have performed to a level far exceeding the sum of their parts so far this season. Bringing in eight players on loan and signing a crop of foreigners with no T1 experience is not usually a recipe for success, but somehow it has worked for The Killer Wasps. How? Let’s see…

 

Players to Watch

 

Unusually, I’m starting my players to watch segment with manager Thawatchai Danrong-Ongtrakul. Why? Well, he used to be a bloody excellent player for one thing, but mostly it’s because the lion’s share of the credit for Prachuap’s rapid rise since 2017 must belong to the former star midfielder. As part of a Thai national team which included Zico (unemployed), Therdsak (unemployed) and Totchtawan (unemployed), Thawatchai could have followed the lead of his former teammates and got a job at a top team with no experience behind him and high expectations.

However, with Zico having been sacked by Port, Therdsak being given his marching orders by Chonburi and Totchtawan the latest to have lost his job at Muangthong, Thawatchai has instead been quietly building his reputation with Prachuap. After signing 20 new players in 2017 his team finished third in T2, before miraculously surging to second in the T1 table this season.

Are they likely to stay there? No, but most had them down as mere relegation fodder this season, so they’re doing a darn sight better than they’re supposed to be doing.

Then there are the players. Striking duo Lonsona Doumbouya (21) and Jonatan Reis (10) have rightly grabbed most of the headlines for their performances so far. Towering Frenchman Doumbouya, who has been kicking around at bog-standard European clubs like Tubize, SKN St. Polten and Inverness Caldonian Thistle in recent years, is your classic number 9. Tall, powerful and with a decent finish on him, he will be the player Port’s defence will be most occupied with. Unfortunately that probably means that Brazilian Jonatan Reis will be in acres of space somewhere else. Still on the tall side but much more pacey and skillful, Reis has had lots of joy playing off the bigger man up front, and as a pair they have notched 11 goals and 4 assists thus far in 2018. Reis has a bit of form in Thailand too, having scored 28 goals for almost-relegated T2 side Kasetsart last season.

 

Prachuap’s Songkran photo shoot is a doozy. Here are Doumbouya and Reis starting us off with a pretty cringeworthy stadium snap.

 

Then there is surprise supporting act Amorn Thammanarn (17). This 34 year old left winger has somehow also managed to bang in six goals, although I’m not quite sure how. How can I put this kindly? He’s a fucking nutcase. Amorn started his season off by scoring Prachuap’s opening goal, throwing his head in to a goalmouth scramble and getting a boot in the face for his troubles. As he ran off in wild celebration blood started to pour from his eye, although he wouldn’t have had a clue unless his teammates had calmly but firmly showed him to the touchline. This has typified Amorn’s season so far, giving rather more than the average 110% for his team. Taking part in every game but completing 90 minutes just three times, watch out for this fella, whether he starts or comes off the bench.

 

The props have arrived, and Amorn is determined to do his best ‘There’s Something About Mary’ impression. As always, full marks for effort.

 

Montenegrin centre-half Adnan Orahovac (22) has a name I’m glad I’m typing rather than saying. He will be partnered by Korean Kwon Dae-hee (19). Prachuap have kept just two clean sheets, but big man Orahovac has also chipped in with a goal and three assists, which I assume have come from set-pieces.

 

Kwon and Orahovac take different approaches to looking uncomfortable. That’s why they’re a good partnership.

 

There’s a bit of a Port connection at Prachuap, too. Wanchalerm Yingyong (31) played a grand total of 45 minutes for Port in 2017, but he has become a mainstay in the centre of Prachuap’s midfield this season. Then there’s winger Yai Nilwong (13) who spent 2010 in Khlongtoey, and has chipped in with a goal and three assists. At 33 years old, this Ekkapoomesque (adj: former Port winger who gets in to good positions then arses it up) winger is one of many of Prachuap’s older players, including his 35 year old brother Sompob (3), 36 year old captain Adul (25) and aforementioned 34 year old winger Amorn, who are enjoying a surprise career Renaissance.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner. It’s most certainly not Wanchalerm though, who looks like he’s walking the plank. Death at sea may well be favourable to this photoshoot.

 

Form

 

On the whole, far better than expected. Prachuap’s last six games have seen them win four, including a stunning 6-1 upset against Muangthong and a 4-3 thriller against Bangkok Glass, draw one and lose one. Their only defeat came against Ratchaburi, and in the only really encouraging news for Port, that 2-1 loss was Prachuap’s most recent game. Even fat Bill managed to score for The Dragons!

 

Port FC

By a Thread

 

Oh dear, Jadet. Oh, dear. Three games, three defeats and ten goals conceded. Port managers don’t often survive runs of form like that. Saturday will likely be his last chance to turn things around, so what has the weighty wizard got up his sleeve?

Well, he will again be without top-scorer Suarez (5), although Kim (8) returns after serving a one match ban. Despite some highly questionable performances of late, Jadet will surely turn to the Korean in his hour of need, with Kim either being used in a defensive role as he has done for most of the season, or a more offensive role as was trialed against Air Force. Maybe the extra week off has allowed him to get back to something like full fitness!

There are many ways Jadet could go in an attempt to revitalize his team. One option that hasn’t yet been tried from the start is a two man strike force of Arthit (29) and Boskovic (23). A blind man could see that the set-up of the team doesn’t favour Boskovic, and Arthit – who has made some promising cameos – is a more natural number 9 who could give Boskovic the kind of service he has so far been lacking. If nothing else, it’s worth a try!

Terens (28) must also have moved in to contention for a start, although it is unlikely that Jadet will drop either Pakorn (7) or Nurul (31).

There’s also the possibility that Jadet will revisit the system he tried from the start against Buriram, with Dolah (4), Todsapol (6) and Rochela (22) as a back three. It worked pretty well, with Dolah being taken off with Port at 1-1 against the champs, so Jadet could reasonably give it another go.

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 


 

The match will be shown live on True Sport 2 at 20:00 on Saturday 21 April, 2018. For those who can’t make it to PAT Stadium, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match on a big screen with sound. We’re already booked in, so head upstairs and we should be easy to find. Don’t forget to wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount on drinks.

 

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Dolah Exchange Proves Costly for Port: Buriram Utd 3-1 Port FC

 

At the start of this month we said that April would be a decisive month for Port – six games after which we would know for sure if the club’s title challenge is the real deal or not. After just three of those games, we already know the answer – no it isn’t. And whilst defeat at runaway leaders and defending champions Buriram is no disgrace, the manner of it does not bode well for the rest of the season, nor for the future of coach Jadet, whose decision-making was once again highly questionable.


Thanks to the Thai FA’s genius for fixture scheduling, we convened at Don Muang at 10:30 on the day before the start of the Songkran holidays to fly to Buriram for a 17:45 kickoff. Truly great work guys. The sophisticates (Jim & Nigel) headed to Coffee Club for breakfast; the proles (AC and, er, me) hit McDonalds; the technically challenged (Tim W) got stuck in a long manual check-in queue.

 

Nigel leads the Port invasion

 

Around 90 minutes later we found ourselves at the Amari Buriram Utd, a very pleasant (if somewhat jerrybuilt – think 1970s student hall of residence with a pool in the middle of it) 4* hotel located within the stadium complex. Fellow Sandpitters Keith & Kev were already settled by said pool with a bucket of Heinekens and we very quickly stripped off (partially I should add) and joined them. Well, following Port isn’t all slums, dodgy sausages and drinking Leo in carparks. Sometimes you have to pamper yourself.

 

THIS IS KHLONGTHOEY!!!

 

Thankfully Keith reminded us that we were here to go to a football game, so we spurned the hotel’s kind offer of free tickets in the home end and went to buy away tickets, before joining Peter & the Buriram fans in their local (basically a little shop with a couple of tables outside and a friendly dog who, although named Judy, was male. Well, TIT) for a few pre-match Leos and a few crispy crickets, much to the disgust of AC, who was obviously pining for a currywurst. The bar works on an honesty system – you help yourselves to Leos out of the fridge and then pay for what you’ve consumed. This worked very well pre-match but got very messy when we returned after the game for more.

 

The Port/Buriram love-in

 

The game? Oh yes, the game. Calling what few brain cells I have left this morning into action I now remember we did see a game. Buriram’s stadium is a cracker, the closest Thailand has to a proper European stadium, complete with actual turnstiles, and whilst it was less than half full, the Port fans in the away end made a wonderful racket throughout and we didn’t stop singing for 90 minutes – not that it helped the team unfortunately.

 

 

Port lined up in a 5-4-1 formation, Dolah (4) joining Rochela (22) & Todsapol (6) in the back 3, and this rare show of tactical flexibility from Jadet paid off early doors – on 12 minutes, a deep cross from Nitipong (34) somehow found its way onto the head of the smallest player on the pitch, Nurul (31) who placed his header past the home keeper to spark mayhem in the away end. And things should’ve got even better for Port on 20 minutes when Tunez dived in on Nitipong and brought him down, but the referee waved away any appeals for a penalty. The bastard.

 

 

What should’ve been 0-2 quickly turned into 1-1, when that man Diogo “My Parents Couldn’t Spell Diego” Luis Santos fouled Kevin, then set up an attack, dawdled on the edge of the box, and then made a delightful run into space to slot the ball comfortably past Rattanai (17). A textbook display of the striker’s art (both dark and light) from a player who, when he cuts out the shenanigans and plays football, is simply untouchable – though it would’ve been nice if Port’s players had occasionally tried to touch him instead of standing back and watching in admiration as they did most of the game.

But 1-1 at half-time? We’ll take that, and as we said over our Changs, whilst Port weren’t playing particularly well, Buriram weren’t setting the game alight either and a draw was definitely achievable.

 

The magnificent Chang Arena. The only time you’ll see me write the words “Chang” and “magnificent” in the same sentence

 

Sadly Jadet had other ideas and committed football (and possibly career) suicide early in the second half, taking off the excellent Dolah and replacing him with Bodin (10), who had earlier raised hackles in the away end whilst warming up, when he acknowledged the Buriram fans but ignored us. The move made Port much more vulnerable at the back and completely confused up front, where only Nurul seemed willing or able to have a go at Buriram’s defenders. Pakorn (7) is still dining out on his performance at against Air Force, Bodin – as so often – didn’t look interested, and Boskovic (23) made me nostalgic for Brent McGrath. The biggest disappointment since The Force Awakens. The wind had been well & truly taken out of Port’s sails and they barely set foot in Buriram’s half from this point. There was also the somewhat undignified spectacle of the Buriram fans unveiling a big Euro Cake flag, to a chorus of boos from the away end. Not that we have anything against Euro Cake of course – their products are regularly washed down with a cup of tea chez Russell – but sponsored supporter flags? That’s almost as bad as the Yamaha Ultras Stand.

 

Buriram fans in Euro Cake shame

 

As on Saturday, Terens (28) stripped off to come on & was kept waiting on the touchline for almost ten minutes, during which time of course Buriram scored their second, Tunez nodding in unchallenged from an 81st minute corner. And nine minutes later it was all over, Diogo crossing to an (again) unmarked Edgar who made no mistake from a couple of yards out.

Another very poor performance from Port, let down by a coach who made an effective change in the system and then completely screwed it up again in the second half. Our defence remains chaotic, our midfield was toothless and simply too small, and our attackers seem to have lost the swagger & confidence of early season – far too often we saw wingers hesitate and overthink situations instead of putting balls into the box, and we still haven’t worked out how to play the ball through the middle to Boskovic. If he’s still in his job by then, Jadet will really have to up his game for the Prachuap fixture as Pang is already no doubt loading the bullets. As for Buriram, they’re tidy, solid, well organised and blessed with the finest footballer in Thailand; they’re not as much fun to watch as Bangkok Utd but they’ll go on grinding out wins and have the title wrapped up by August.

 

“HAHA YOU LOST!!!”

 

We troop disconsolately back to Judy’s Bar, to find said hound offering a warm welcome and more cold Leos, after which things become a little hazy. The bar owner tries to swap his old Buriram shirt for Kenny’s 2018 Port shirt and is politely rebuffed (you have to be polite when rebuffing drunk, half-naked Isaan bar owners). Attempts to calculate how many beers we’ve consumed come to nought and we simply give Kenny’s new friend 200BHT each and wish him a happy new year. He then points out that the stadium complex is now locked up for the night, before helping us over an 8-foot metal fence to get back in. Not easy when you’ve all been drinking for 6 hours. I vaguely remember another McDonalds. And during our last, utterly unnecessary beer at the hotel, the waitress, despite wearing a Buriram shirt, tells us she’s such a big Scum fan that she named her son Muangthong. We make our excuses and retire to bed.

 

“No fucking way am I wearing this!”

 

I find myself sharing the flight home with several Port players. Pakorn, hat & shades on, gives out serious “don’t talk to me” vibes whilst Rattanai & Worawut are engrossed in their WAGs (and who can blame them); thankfully Nurul is up for a bit of a chat after we land and turns out to be a very shy, likeable, laid-back fella. I congratulate him on his goal & he modestly points out that he can’t be too happy about it as we lost, before we exchange new year greetings and head home. A great end to a fantastic trip.

 

A rare opportunity to congratulate the MOTM in person

 

Sandpit Man of the Match: Nurul

Yeah, I know. I’m a sucker for a smile & a handshake. On the flight back I was debating who would get the MOTM award, and the little fella sealed the deal at the baggage carousel. Obviously his hard work and that goal helped, as did the fact that there were literally no other contenders, on a night when even Siwakorn was out of sorts.