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
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.
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’
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
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.