Josi’s Back! Port to Face PTT Rayong in Chang FA Cup

 

The draw for round 2 (last 32) of the Chang FA Cup has been made, and Port have been drawn at home to T2 side PTT Rayong. This means a reunion with 2017 top scorer and Sandpit favourite Josimar Rodrigues, who joined PTT in the June transfer window. PTT currently lie 3rd in T2, 2 points off the top spot with a game in hand, so Port won’t be taking the game lightly and we can expect Jadet to put out – or at least be told to put out – a strong XI for the game.

The match will take place on Wednesday 4 July, 19:00.

 

Sandpit Songs of the Season: Week 21 – Ubon UMT Utd (A)

 

Port make the long trip to Ubon this weekend for an away clash against a team who already look doomed to relegation. They’re 11 points from safety with 14 games to play, and with 5 teams going down the writing would appear to be on the wall for the Eagles. Port meanwhile are on a run of 4 consecutive away T1 wins and will surely be hoping to extend that sequence.

Following their performance at the PAT earlier this season, few Port fans will have much sympathy with their opponents, with the mighty Elvis Costello succinctly summing up the Eagles’ tactics that night.

 

Ubon…and On and On? Ubon UMT Utd vs Port FC Match Preview

 

What a difference a year makes in 2017 Ubon and Port were trading blows in the middle of the T1 table challenging each other to be the best of the promoted teams. 2018 sees a dramatic shift in fortunes. While Pang has splashed the cash Ubon’s owners have slashed their budget.

The View from Ubon

Things looked so bright in 2017, with Scott Cooper at the helm and a new stand built. So what has happened? I asked Ubon Fan Gary Jones, What’s up, up country?

What we are seeing this season is the aftermath of Scott Cooper leaving. We had a shambles of a pre-season where we didn’t know who was taking over. Mixu arrived three weeks before the start and although we started off well, our form quickly deteriorated. Poor recruitment (although as I understand some of these players were sanctioned by Scott prior to his leaving) is also significant. Defensively we’re not good enough, often unable to deal with high balls into the box. The void left by Victor and his headed goals hasn’t been filled by Brinner. We’ve been good in patches, but switching off at the end of games has cost us. This combined with poor decision making, being unable to manage games when in winning positions.  

Having spoken with the owner of the club on several occasions his commitment and desire to keep the club up and see the club progress is clear, but a lack of organisation and preparation going in to the 2018 season has made this extremely difficult. Scott Cooper wasn’t just the coach, he pretty much ran the club and thus his departure has caused chaos. Staying up is possible but I think it’s becoming more and more unlikely.

50% Rested

Port did rest Rattanai, Rochela, Kim, Suarez, Nurul and Kevin for the FA Cup game on Wednesday. But still the other half of the team might well be flagging come the last 20 minutes of this game. The bad news is Arthit Boodjinda (29) looked poor even against weak midweek opposition. In other positions it would to bring in a back up player, but we are really missing another centre forward. Suarez has had a great season getting goals from midfield, but that’s where we need him, attacking from midfield. With Boskovic suspended for the Bangkok Glass game you would think we’d have brought in our other centre forward in. It shows how little Jadet thinks of him that Suarez was pushed up front and Arthit Boodjinda was only brought on in the last third of the Bangkok Glass game. When he came on you can see why he was on the bench, he was largely ineffective and he looks out of place in T1. The transfer window closes on the 9th July and I really hope someone breaks into the safe at Madam Pang Mansion and rushes out to buy us another Thai striker. It is difficult to find a striker in the transfer window, but surely we can do a bit better than this.

Hold the line

The Starting 11 for Ubon Away should revert to type. I might have suggested Bodin starting but he started on Wednesday so Jadet Me“Like”Larb is unlikely to break up the status quo this weekend.

 

 

Ubon’s Key Weapon

As we well know from the game at PAT Stadium, if Ubon get their noses in front the most dangerous weapon they have is a lot of shoelaces that come undone very quickly.

The Best of a Bad Bunch

Brazilian, Brinner Henrique dos Santos Souza, let’s call him Brinner (6) is a competent central defender who has ended up in Thai football by way of the Turkish 2nd Division here to do a job but not likely to stay much longer.

Antonio Verzura (16), 26 year old Italian/Thai player has made the step up from Jumpasri last year. He’s become a fixture in Ubon’s midfield and has captained the team in the last 4 league matches. With one win, two draws and a loss while he has been in charge he could make an argument for inspiring a bit of form.

Time to face the Musik

Somsak Musikaphan (17) Thai centre forward has just come in on loan from Ratchaburi. With 6 goals and 2 assists in 4 matches he looks like he’s on fire at Ubon. But we have to remember 5 of those 6 came in the cups and vs an ailing Air Force team. Although not as dangerous as stats might suggest, you have to worry about a player who has been banging in goals for fun in his first four outings for his new club. As he’s shaping to take a shot one thought that may comfort you is this player was being kept out of the side and even on the bench by our old friend Sompong at Ratchaburi.

More New Faces

Ubon have also brought in Serbian/Bulgarian attacking midfielder Srdjan Dimitrov from Birkirkara F.C. Yes Birkirkara! This was the fellow who scored a hat-trick against Senglea Athletic F.C. this year. Anyone ? No ? Birkirkara are in the top tier of…… Maltese football.

Athatcha Rahongthong (71) Ubon’s new left back is in on loan from Bangkok United B. He came straight into the starting 11 and off the pitch in the 80th minute. Athatcha managed to pick up two yellow cards in Ubon’s recent win against Air Force. But I’m not sure whether the yellow cards ensured the win or jeopardised it.

In Summary

They don’t look that impressive but together with Antonio taking over as captain and a few new faces Ubon do have a bit of momentum going into Saturday’s match. I still think Port have too much going forward for Ubon to handle. Port need to take control of the game early and snuff out any growing confidence this improving Ubon side are showing. Although they were very frustrating on their visit to PAT it would be a pity to lose Ubon to T2. Ubon Away is one of the best trips of the season.

Gary’s View

Just controlling your forward line and midfield threat will be a handful. I think Ubon will be able to frustrate Port for large periods, but I can see Port getting late goals to win it.

And Also… Gary’s Ubon Beer Trip Advisor

Near the stadium it’s pretty much Thai style. Behind Big C is a large entertainment area (football screens, food and music). These are the easiest options as they are nearby. “Take Care Ubon” behind Big C is good, there will be live music there, not necessarily great music but live music, possibly Hotel California live. There’s good selection of beer and Thai food with 1 large screen and a smaller TV. (Do we get a free beer for that plug?) The Irish Pub, N-Joy Bar and Wrong Way are the farang options if you are heading into town.

 

5.45 p.m. Saturday 30th June 2018, live on True Sports 2 and True 4U. If you can’t make it up to Ubon the game will be shown live as always at The Sportsman on Sukumvit Soi 13.

 

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Livin’ it Up at the Hotel Kanchanaburia: Thamuang FC 1-5 Port FC (Chang FA Cup R1)

 

 

“I’m going to stay up & watch Argentina v Nigeria” Linny tells me the night before. “I’ll be OK, I can sleep in the van”. Ten minutes into the van journey, with ‘Singh Chao Ta’ blasting out of the speakers and the Thai fans in good voice after a Full Khlongthoey Breakfast (two big Leos), sleep is clearly an impossibility. There are 16 people crammed into the van (along with several iceboxes full of Leo and a drumkit), most of whom started drinking before they brushed their teeth this morning, and as the Port songs are replaced by Blondie, The Clash, The Scorpions and three different versions of ‘Hotel bastard California’, there’s little alternative other than to crack open a bottle and sing along, which we do (and Linny even manages to get some sleep, further proving that the Vietnamese can sleep literally anywhere).

 

The Party Bus in full swing

 

Yes, we’re on the Port Fanclub bus to Kanchanaburi to watch Port take on T5 minnows Thamuang FC in round 1 of the Chang FA Cup, and spirits are high. Toilet stops are frequent (we make four in two hours, beating the now infamous Saraburi farang van in 2015), and even being pulled over by the traffic police fails to dampen the mood; it seems our van is missing its number plates, and when questioned as to their whereabouts, our driver – a man who has already shown that he cares little for traffic laws – produces one from behind his seat and makes an excuse about having to respray it and the paint still being wet, whilst the rest of us chant “WE ARE TARUA!” behind him. The cop sensibly decides that a bullshitting driver and a van full of drunk Port fans are the last things he needs to be dealing with on a quiet stretch of road at 11am on a Wednesday morning, and waves us on.

We arrive in Kanchanaburi and head straight to the Bridge over the River Kwai, one of the biggest con jobs in Thai tourism (albeit a very scenic one) for group photos and a visit to the nearby pagoda (even walking around the temple I can hear chants of “TARUA!” from the bridge above). Tim and I have a chat with the local tourist police, whose leader speaks excellent English, asking me “May I ask why you have come to Kanchanaburi to watch football?” and, upon hearing that I’m from Coventry, informs me “Your team was in the Premiership for many years, but they are now in the third divsion I believe”. Truly a credit to the force.

 

 

After an underwhelming lunch by the river, we head to Kanchanaburi Sports Stadium which, if you stand at a considerable distance and squint, looks a little like the old Wembley and has clearly been spruced up for the arrival of footballing royalty (apart from the gents’ toilets, which don’t appear to have received any attention since the Japanese bailed out in 1945). Tickets are a bargain 50BHT, beers are allowed inside, around 50-60 Port fans have made the trip, and the local fans are clearly treating this like their own cup final.

Port are taking it pretty seriously too, starting with a strong XI including Boskovic, Pakorn, Bodin, Nitipong and Dolah. But they sit back for the first 15 minutes, letting a very young Thamuang side (apart from the keeper who looks about 70) have the ball, sizing them up & seeing just how good they are. “Not very” quickly becomes the obvious answer and so Port release the handbrake, and are 3-0 up within 15 minutes thanks to the quickest – and easiest – hat-trick that Boskovic (23) will ever score, with two tap-ins and a penalty. Port, clearly intent on despatching this game with a minimum of effort, then sit back and even manage to concede a goal, when a speculative Thamuang shot deflects off Todsapol (6) and loops over the keeper’s head into the goal, to ironic cheers from the away end.

 

 

3-1 at half-time, and after braving the swamp that is the gents we bump into our old friends the tourist police again who, intrigued by our talk of Port FC, have decided to come & check out the game themselves, their leader greeting me with a Bond villain-esque “We meet again! It is, as they say, a small world”, before launching into a lament about his love life. “This lady you see here” he says, indicating a female colleague, “has broken my heart. Many times I have pledged my love to her, but she rejects me. I believe her heart is promised to another, and I am sad.” Quite why he’s decided a random Leo’d-up farang football fan is the shoulder to cry on he’s been looking for is beyond me, but I make sympathetic noises and give him a manly hug before returning to the away end for what is a fairly uneventful second half. Pakorn (7), who has looked uninterested throughout, scores 6 minutes in and then promptly sits down and makes it clear he wants to come off, and is replaced by Terens (28), who runs about a lot but fails to make much of an impression (note to Pakorn: when 50 people – who’ve taken a day off work to travel for 3 hours to watch you – chant your name, you might at least acknowledge them). On the hour mark Todsapol taps in a 5th from close range, and from then on it’s an exercise in damage limitation for the hosts and energy saving for the visitors.

 

Caught by the tourist fuzz

 

5-1 it finishes, face saved by both sides, and after the whistle Boskovic, clearly the big draw for the local fans, stays out on the pitch for a good half an hour posing for pictures & signing everything that’s proffered to him (apart from Tim Walker’s sweaty sock, which gets thrown back at him – at least it wasn’t Tim’s blue underpants, which everyone got a good view of just before half-time). The Port fans hand over scarves and flags to the local kids, winning hearts & minds; and we also chant tributes to the Moo Paa kids and hope for their safe return.

We make a quick beer stop and then head home, and the big difference between Thai & farang away trips becomes apparent – whilst we’re usually quiet on the way to games the Thais are boisterous, on the return journey the opposites apply and it is a very quiet van that arrives back at the PAT, just in time for us to get home to watch South Korea dump Germany out of the World Cup and provide the perfect end to a wonderful day. Big, big thanks to Spiderming & friends for their wonderful hospitality and beer service, and to all at Thamuang FC for the warm welcome.

 

The Sandpit Man of the Match – Dragan Boskovic

A hat-trick and a one-man diplomatic mission for Port FC – there can be only one. Hats off to Bosko. He even gave Linny her pen back.

 

Bosko signs his 785th autograph of the day

 

Magical Mystery Tour: Thamuang FC vs Port FC Preview (Chang FA Cup R1)

 

Ahh… the magic of the FA Cup. Minnows against giants isn’t it? Shocks. Surprise. Last minute winners hmm? Reassuring.

Port’s chase for silverware now begins on two fronts (three if the outrageously optimistic/bonkers amongst you believe we have any sort of shout in the league) with a trip to Kanchanaburi to face Thamuang FC. They are an amateur side plying their trade in some corner of T5 and as you can probably imagine, information on them is scarcer than a blemish on The Radiant She of Pang’s porcelain, milk-bathed skin. (The team picture above suggests they have Nick Cave playing at right-back – Ed)

Sadly then, there is little I can tell you. Their Facebook page is awash with impressive photos of the tickets for Wednesday’s clash, and seemingly photos of the players giving these tickets to school children – lots of school children each one individually photographed at the handing over of the ticket ceremony. The club, or some local Del Boy, has also rattled up quantities of merchandise for the game which have limited runs – hopefully much like their cup run this year. Place your orders now! It is understood that the match will be played at Kanchanaburi Municipal Sports Stadium, which has an ambitious capacity of 13,000. The stadium also looks nearly fully roofed for those seeking shade or shelter.

 

 

How about Port? Well, we do want to take these cups rather seriously as they are the most likely route to seeing a return of silver for all of Pang’s gold she laid out at the start of the season. Playing a T5 side should allow some of the less used players to get a run out, and given this, I am loath to try to second guess any line up (and it is fair to say, a touch ‘tired and emotional’ from England’s show against Panama, and therefore lazy). This should be a stroll in the park for Port, so expect a 1-0 loss. I still can’t shake the feeling of imminent destruction, despite the season we are having so far.

Seriously though, this should be double figures regardless of who we put out.

All this without a single railway, bridge or river pun. Things are improving.

 

Walking on Broken Glass: Port FC 3-2 Bangkok Glass

 

“It’s a funny old game, Saint” Jimmy Greaves would opine to his co-presenter Ian St. John in almost every show of their longing running football programme “Saint & Greavsie” during the 1980s and early 90s on British TV. Saint would flash one of his trademark grins and with a light chuckle concur “Sure is Greavsie, sure is.” This classic exchange got me thinking during Port’s match with Bangkok Glass; here I am standing on the terraces of PAT Stadium in Bangkok watching a feisty and chaotic football match while thinking about obscure 80s television and another football match being played thousands of kilometres away in Russia.

 

 

Every 4 years we are blessed to experience what is essentially a second Christmas with the family bollocks replaced with glorious football, and in the midst of this the Thai football season is in full swing. So with a vibrant Port enjoying a thrilling season and England kicking off later, the pre-match atmosphere was especially enthusiastic. The news of Bodin (10) replacing the banned Boskovic (23)  greeted well and there was very little concern about our bogey team opposition who are going through an tortuous season in the relegation zone.

 

Credit: Nig Dammusig

 

Port started brightly and Pakorn (7), realising that Glass are a bottom half team this season, decided to go on the offensive and terrorise his markers from the off. In the fourth minute Suarez (5) sent over a great cross and Bodin forced a sharp save from Narit (1). Glass resorted to some crunching tackles to break up our play and cling onto the game but it was only a matter of time until the next chance. Kim (8), much better in an advanced role, dinked the ball wide to Kevin (97) and forced Narit to come off his line. Kevin expertly squared the ball to Nurul (31) but his shot was not fierce enough and Glass captain Matt Smith (4) calmly headed to ball back to Narit. A lucky escape.

Then confusion reigned, with the referee using VAR to award Port a penalty for handball off a Pakorn freekick. Chalermsak (3) was the culprit, with his arm raised to around head when he made the block. He saw yellow, but Rochela (22) stepped up and crashed the spot kick against the post. Port, to their credit, didn’t let their heads drop and continued to work hard. Their tenacity was rewarded in the 26th minute. Bodin, receiving the ball from Kevin, powered across his marker and unleashed a speculative low shot towards the bottom left hand corner. Narit got himself behind the ball but inexplicably allowed it to pass through him and into the net. Bodin respectfully didn’t break out the Fresh Prince moves against his former club, but he must have been delighted to have doubled his tally for the season!

 

 

As if the match wasn’t chaotic enough already, it then descended into farce in the final 5 minutes of the half. Nurul, played clean through on goal by Suarez, was clattered by Chalermsak, who received his second yellow and the following free kick lead to an unmarked Suarez slotting the ball into the net only for it to be unfairly ruled out for offside. Suarez, raging from this injustice, insisted the ref check with VAR but even after consulting the television and viewing a clearly onside goal he decided to stand by the linesman’s decision. Several farang fans, clearly dismayed by this and with the lure of England kicking off in 20 minutes, decided to vote with their feet and bugger off. Justice was finally served seconds later in first half injury time; Bodin seemed to have over-complicated his running into the box, but the ball broke loose and a lucky flick from Kim found Nurul, who made no mistake from a few yards out.

 

 

As is customary, your intrepid reporter missed Glass’ comeback goal at the start of the second half, too busy enjoying his halftime Leo (this season’s total currently stands at 8 goals missed). Glass moved the ball forward quickly and Ariel Rodriguez (7) took advantage of Port’s lack of concentration, making his way into the box and squaring the ball to Anon (27) who couldn’t miss from just outside the 6 yard box. These slips in concentration are something that needs to be worked on during training (as does my drinking speed) as more teams are becoming aware of how fragile we can be from the restart.

Port then edged closer to victory with a pearler of a free kick from Suarez over a less-than-10-yard wall into the top right hand of the goal in front of the Zone B faithful. El Mago is clearly brimming with confidence, ignoring Pakorn to sweep the ball into the net, after which the Midfield Monk had a quiet word with with captain Rochela. We can only speculate as to what as said! The second half continued to be a scrappy affair, punctuated with some hard work from Todsapol (6) and Kevin. Nurul kept making a nuisance of himself but it was obvious Bodin was struggling with his fitness, and Glass tried to take advantage of our fatigue and lack of shape. Their second goal in the 67th minute was scored with ease; Pichit (19) with time and space sent a cross into the box and new signing David Bala (10) sent a header into the bottom corner. Rattanai (17) slipped while trying to readjust his body shape but Bala’s header was too good to keep out.

Jadet sensibly sent on Dolah (4) and Arthit (19) to add some steel in the back line and up front, but Arthit wasted a glorious opportunity in the 80th minute, justifying his non-selection to the starting line up. Port continued fighting up to the final whistle and held on to the three precious points. By now the English contingent was buzzing with news that the Three Lions were 5-0 up and, with the inaugural Rat Bar Dash cancelled due to lack of facilities, we then embarked on a Wacky Races style race to The Sportsman (sponsors of this fine match report, folks). Sadly my car was more Slag Brother’s Boulder Mobile than Peter Perfect’s Turbo Terrific but we managed to make it for the final 20 minutes.

 

The author makes his way to The Sportsman

 

So what to make of Port’s performance? It was workmanlike and full of endeavour, but the goals conceded were terribly sloppy and the opposition should have been played off the park in the first half. Nevertheless, to Port’s credit they hung on and the improbable dream continues. Jadet clearly favours skill over power but in the second half several of our team were suffering from fatigue and this, plus the concentration issues, needs to be addressed swiftly. Also, while VAR may be effective at the world cup finals with an elite team of officials in a TV room with multiple screens and all the technology available at their fingertips, the Thai equivalent is clearly not working and as the level of officiating is still dire I can’t see this being a success anytime soon. Anyway, let’s not worry about this and instead bask in a glory of a wonderful day of football and the joyfulness of sleep deprivation and hangovers at work.

 

Man of the Match: Kevin Deeromram

 

 

In an ugly encounter punctuated with brief moments of skill it would be unfair to give the award to the attackers, although Nurul gave the Glass defenders a torrid evening and almost nicked the award. Honourable mentions must go to Nitipong (34), Siwakorn (16) and Kim but they all faded as their legs became leaden. Kevin’s workrate and quality has been questionable over the last few months but his performance against Glass was of the highest order and one of the main factors in getting his team over the line.

 

Glass Clowns: Port FC vs. Bangkok Glass, 24 June 2018

 

We’ve passed the half-way point in the season, so surely perennial top-halfers Glass have slid in to place in mid-table by now… Wait, what?! They’re still in 15th place, 4 points from safety? The Same Glass who left Port double glazed at Leo Stadium in March? The same Glass with a bullet-proof league record against us? Well, yes, as it turns out cracks have opened up this season, and not even a religion-inspired paint job has been able to revive their fortunes. There is of course still time for Glass to avoid relegation and all the pain it brings, but they will have to turn things around sharpish. Their window of opportunity is quickly closing.

Then there’s Port, who are still sitting pretty in third place, having put on a master-class last weekend, smashing Ratchaburi to pieces. The league table and the form table both point towards a Port victory on Sunday, but that was also the case when Port were cut to pieces by Glass back in week four, and things didn’t turn out the way they were supposed to then!

 

Bangkok Glass

Players to Watch

 

The utter disaster that was Frederic Mendy is no more, and Port will be one of only a few teams to be happy to see the back of him. Mendy reserved one of his only decent performances of the season for us, pouncing on a defensive lapse and firing in a superb goal which Port would never recover from. The goals quickly dried up, though, and once Mendy had been hauled off after just 20 minutes against Chiang Rai (the hysterical laughs of the commentators as a bemused Mendy trudged off was one of the comedy moments of the season so far) it was clear his days were numbered.

Anyway, replacing Mendy is Ariel Rodriguez (7), an excellent little player who has been at Glass for a few years now. The signing of Mendy, however, saw him loaned back to Deportivo Saprissa in his native Costa Rica, where he hit a rich vein of form just before his loan spell ended. Surprisingly since his return, Rodriguez has not gone straight in to the starting XI but has come off the bench twice. Considering that both of those games finished in defeat, it would seem likely that Rodriguez is given his first T1 start of the season against Port.

 

 

The other key man in Glass’ defeat of Port was star agitator Mario Gjurovski, but he has also ended his short, unhappy stint at Leo Stadium. Cue Port fans being partly glad that the bastard can’t score against us again, but partly disappointed that we don’t get to shower him with abuse for 90 minutes. Taking on more creative responsibility, then, will be Glass’ first big-name signing of 2018 and my favourite Thai footballer Thitipan Puangchan (8). Actually, in my previous preview I had some less-than-kind words for Thitipan, who looked like he had spent most of the off-season embarking on a competitive eating career. He’s back to looking more like a sportsman now, though, although in a struggling team his performances have not quite maintained the levels his reached last season.

 

 

Probably partnering Thitipan in midfield for the first time this season will be highly rated (read: overrated) and highly paid (read: overpaid) defensive midfielder Tanaboon Kesarat (5). Poor old Tanaboon picked up a very nasty injury on his last trip to PAT Stadium at the hands, or more accurately the studs, of former Port midfielder Atthipol, and the 24 year old is just now returning to fitness. With regular defensive midfielder and semi-pro Shaggy impersonator Peeraphong Pichitchotirat (23) suspended, it would seem to be the moment for Tanaboon’s return, although facing one of the form players in the league – Sergio Suarez – will be quite a reintroduction to T1 football for the national team regular. Also having just picked up his fourth yellow card is Matt Smith’s (4) central defensive partner Piyachanok Darit (34). This is certainly the time to be playing Glass!

 

 

There are also a couple of new signings worthy of mention. If I’m feeling generous. New Brazilian striker on loan from Khon Kaen David Bala (10) quite frankly looks bang average. For T2. Either BG know something no one else does, or they were really desperate for a cheap striker. Right-winger Sarawut Masuk (14) played a key role in some of Zico’s national team squads a couple of years ago, scoring a couple of important goals against ASEAN opposition. He soon fell out of favour though, presumably when it became clear that he lacks the skill or strength to prosper against high quality opponents. Glass have signed Sarawut from Korat, where he basically did nothing for the first 16 games, then scored twice in the final game of the first leg and secured a transfer. I told you I was feeling generous.

Usual suspects Daniel Toti (20) and Captain Matt Smith (4) need no introduction after their excellent performances against Port in the past, so expect more of the same from these fellas. Glass may not be what they once were, but there’s still quality in this side…

 

 

Form

 

Is this the most underwhelming BG team I’ve seen in my time following Thai football? Quite possibly, and their form doesn’t really give them much hope either. 2 wins and 2 draws in their last 6 doesn’t sound too bad, but they’ve followed that up with 2 losses on the bounce, including a soul-destroying 1-0 defeat to Navy. Yes, Navy. How do you not score against Navy? Ask Bangkok Glass.

 

Port FC

Boskoless

 

Port will have to manage without suspended star striker Boskovic (23) for the first time this season. So, what’s the plan of attack likely to be? Well, there are a few possibilities…

  • The Straight Swap – We do have a hungry young striker waiting in the wings who will be chomping at the bit to lead the Port line on Sunday. Arthit Boonyachinda (29) has just the one goal – a match-winning header against Ubon – to his name, but the powerful forward has put in a few encouraging performances and could easily be chosen to start.
  • The False Nine – Well, Boskovic isn’t your traditional number 9 anyway, but Jadet could decide to replace him with Bodin Phala (10), and have Bodin or Suarez (5) as a kind of false nine. I’m not going to lie, that doesn’t really sounds like Jadet, does it? He could also just bring in Bodin to play in Suarez’ position and push Suarez further forward.
  • The Korean Offensive – Adisorn Daeng-rueng (13) put in another excellent performance against Ratchaburi, and the little man could yet keep his place if Jadet chooses to push Kim (8) in to the attack, with Adisorn and Siwakorn (16) manning the midfield. This was trialed against Air Force and worked well for 45 minutes, so could easily be what Jadet opts for on Sunday.

Elsewhere, Port will welcome Rochela (22) and Siwakorn back in to the team, although neither was really missed in the 4-1 win over Ratchaburi. Todsapol (6) and Dolah (4) both had excellent games, but Dolah will probably keep his place alongside El Capitan. Adisorn was excellent in place of Siwakorn, but have we ever seen the Thin White Duke dropped? No, and we’re beginning to suspect we never will!

The rest of the team picks itself, with Rattanai (17), Nitipong (34), Kevin (97), Pakorn (7), Nurul (31) and Suarez assured of their places in the team.

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 

 


 

The match will be shown live on True Sport 6 at 18:00 on Sunday 24 June, 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.

 

Sandpit Songs of the Season: Week 20 – Bangkok Glass (H)

 

Port bogey team Bangkok Glass are the visitors at the PAT this Sunday. Whilst Port knocked the Rabbits out of the FA Cup in 2016, they haven’t beaten them in the league since 2014 and, even though Glass are struggling this season, they still managed to beat Port 2-0 at the Leo Stadium back in March.

But with Port on a roll at the moment and coming off a quite spectacular demolition of Ratchaburi last week, and with Glass surprisingly stuck in the relegation zone, we will be expecting a home win on Sunday – and pondering the wisdom of Glass chairman Pavin’s decision to change the team’s colours from their traditional green to a new shade of blue for this season, on the advice of a fortune teller. A decision nicely summed up by this bit of disposable country fluff from Keith Urban.

 

 

Dragan’s Boys Crush Dragons: Ratchaburi FC 1-4 Port FC

 

After consecutive defensive collapses against Muangthong and Sukhothai, Port responded in the best way possible by turning on the style and absolutely destroying Ratchaburi at the Mitr Phol last night. Solid in defence, dominant in midfield and absolutely unplayable in attack, this was by far the best Port performance I’ve seen in 4 years of following the club – and by far the best away following too.


The Sandpit crew rolled up to Ratchaburi to find that things have definitely improved since our last visit. No, the Dragon Bar still isn’t open, but they’ve added a new food & drink zone, and the chicken & chips immediately took pole position in the Sandpit Best Away Ground Food Awards for 2018. The scene was further enlivened by the presence of two leather-clad dancing girls, one of whom immediately endeared herself to us for two particular reasons. Never let it be said that the Sandpit doesn’t keep you abreast of the important matchday incidents, and this is one that will live long in the mammary memory.

 

“They’re real…and they’re spectacular”

 

This was potentially a banana skin for Port, with Ratchaburi just 5 points behind in the league and Rochela & Siwakorn both suspended. In came Todsapol (6) and Jack Russell Adisorn (13), and, in an inspired move, the captain’s armband was given to Boskovic (23), who provided the on-pitch leadership & motivation Port so often lack.

Banana skin? Bollocks to that said Bosko, and after just 45 seconds the big striker dodged a  Ratchaburi midfielder and floated a delicious ball up to Nurul (31) which was just a little bit too quick for the Midfield Marmoset to latch onto. But Ratchaburi had been warned, and on 8 minutes the floodgates opened. Kim (8), enjoying playing in a more forward role in the absence of Siwakorn, set Kevin (97) free down the left, and the young defender, inspired by the boos of his former fans at Ratchaburi, skinned a defender with some lovely footwork before driving the ball into the box where it was met by the inrushing Suarez (5), who couldn’t miss.

 

The best stadium in Thailand

 

Port were happy to let Ratchaburi have the ball for long periods, comfortable in the knowledge that they didn’t have the strikers to hurt Port’s defence. New signing Mark Hartmann is a real Brent McGrath of a striker, whilst big new Lithuanian striker Nerijus Valskis is so wooden and immobile one can only assume they picked him up at IKEA. Surprisingly, failed moustache grower Kang Soo-Il, who has already scored 10 goals this season, was left on the bench. Even when they did break through, they found Todsapol and particularly Dolah (4) in defiant form.

Port doubled their lead on 33 minutes with one of the best team goals you’ll see all season. In a move that started on the edge of their own box, Port worked the ball out to Boskovic, who left Ratchaburi’s left-back on his arse and fed a lovely through ball to Suarez; the Spaniard crossed into the box for Nurul whose sublime first touch took out the one remaining defender and left him with an easy chip into the far corner. We’re not used to seeing Port play on the counter-attack but they’re seriously bloody good at it, and Ratchaburi just couldn’t handle them.

It could’ve got much worse for the Dragons before half-time, with Suarez volleying wide when picked out by a lovely cross from Kevin, and a Pakorn (7) free-kick stinging the keeper’s palms; but 2-0 was a pretty fair reflection of the first half and it was a very happy bunch of Port fans who headed down to the concourse for half-time beers.

If the first half was good, the second half was simply stellar. Once in a blue moon teams suddenly get in the zone and reach a level of football previously thought impossible (England’s 4-1 win over Holland at Euro 96 for example), and that’s what Port delivered. Ratchaburi simply couldn’t get near them and it was as good a display of attacking football as you’ll see in Thailand this season. Kim shaved the post after being nicely teed up by Cap’n Bosko, and then fired narrowly over from 20 yards; A Nurul cross/shot was almost turned in by Suarez; a superb Nitipong (34) cross was almost headed in by Boskovic.

It was only a matter of time until Port went further ahead and on 76 minutes it was that man Suarez again, picking up the ball on the halfway line, running unchallenged into the box & smashing it in off the crossbar for 3-0, sparking mayhem in the away end. And it got even better 9 minutes later – Bodin robbed a Ratchaburi attacker deep in his own half, ran the ball up to the edge of the box and fed Boskovic, who curled a sublime shot into the top corner. The best goal of the night, and cause of some ecstatic scenes in the away end, including a certain Port fan waving a seat in the air.

 

Throw ya seats in the air/Wave ’em around like ya just don’t care

 

It wouldn’t be Port without a bit of late drama of course, and a defensive mix-up between Port debutant Worawut (24) and keeper Rattanai (17) allowed Ratchaburi’s MOTM Yannick Djalo to tap in a consolation goal. Clean sheets? Who needs ’em.

Understandably, the drive home was 2 hours of drinking, singing (including a couple of ditties for absent friends who had inexplicably chosen to go to Chonburi for the futsal) and improving Anglo-German relations – “I just want you to know I don’t mean any harm” said a well-oiled Keith to the backseat German contingent, after a chorus of ‘Two World Wars & One World Cup’. “I’M A GLOBAL CITIZEN!!!” Hands down the best away trip I’ve done in 3 years of travelling with Port.

As for the football, what can I say? This was a stunning win for Jadet’s team, and one of those nights when everything comes together. Dolah & Todsapol made a mockery of our worries over Rochela’s absence; Adisorn & Kim are a much better midfield pairing than Kim & Siwakorn; Nurul & Kevin tore the full-backs so many new arseholes that the proctologists of Ratchaburi will be doing a roaring trade for weeks to come; and Bosko & Suarez were just unplayable, their race for the Port golden boot becoming increasingly fascinating viewing. This wasn’t a 7-1 win against a joke team like Navy; this was a composed, organised, dominant dismissal of serious top 6 contenders, and sets Port up nicely for what should be a thrilling second half of the season. And a special note about the Khlong Thoey Army who turned up en masse tonight, filling the away end and creating a deafening din throughout. “Absolutely amazing support today!” Dolah messaged to me after the game, commenting that they couldn’t hear the Ratchaburi fans at all. One of those nights when being a Port fan is simply the greatest feeling in the world.

 

THIS IS KHLONG THOEY!

 

The Sandpit Man of the Match: Sergio Suarez

So many excellent performances I hardly know where to start. So let’s do a top 5 (with honours also going to Adisorn, Dolah & Todsapol). In 5th place, Kevin, who shoved the home fans’ boos right back up their arses with a fantastic performance. In 4th, Nurul – the little winger was at his cheeky best and scored a lovely goal. In 3rd, Boskovic, clearly revelling in his role as captain and scoring one of the goals of the season. In 2nd, Kim, who is a much better CM than he is a DM, and one can only hope that the Adisorn-Kim pairing becomes Jadet’s default setting.

 

Men of the match

 

And in 1st, yet again, it’s Suarez. The Spaniard has had his critics this season and last, myself amongst them, but when he focuses on playing football he’s one of the best players in T1 and tonight Ratchaburi just couldn’t get near him. I had a very tasty serving of humble pie on the bus home.

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk – Mid-Season Roundup

 

OK, so Tom’s Transfer Talk hasn’t been particularly talkative so far this season. It has been a shockingly quiet transfer window by Port’s recent standards, but there have been a fair amount of low-key moves and juicy rumours, so let’s get up to date with exactly what’s been going on at Port in recent weeks.

 

Departures

First and foremost let’s get the bad news out of the way. Despite his exemplary commitment to training and his tenacious attitude on the pitch, Thai national team star and fan favourite Tana Chanabhut has been shockingly allowed to leave PAT Stadium. To add insult to injury, not only are Port being deprived of the services of one of the finest moustaches in world football, the forward has been sold to T2 team Nongbua Pitchaya FC, a side so far below his level I’m shocked he agreed to the move. No, wait a minute…

 

 

HAHAHAAAAA SCREW YOU TANA, YOU OVERRATED, LAZY GOOD-FOR-NOTHING WASTE OF A SQUAD NUMBER! NEVER, EVER, EVER COME BACK!

Ahhh, that’s better. Anyway, Port have also allowed young right-back Meechok Marhasaranukun to move on. After signing from TOT, Meechok broke in to Port’s starting XI in 2016 at the age of just 18, but was displaced by Nitipong at the start of 2017, and has spent the vast majority of the last season and a half on the bench. Now 20, it makes sense for Meechok to move on to a club where he can get more regular football, but surprisingly he has chosen to move to Suphanburi, where he is not expected to be getting an awful lot of playing time, either. Still, we wish Meechok, a good young player with a bright future ahead of him, all the best.

 

 

Port have surprisingly not moved to replace Meechok, so either versatile defensive midfelder Adisorn or left winger Chakrit Rawanprakone are expected to fill in if first choice Nitipong is injured or suspended.

Speaking of versatile central midfielders, Athibordee Atirat has also secured a transfer away from PAT Stadium, although his move is not permanent. Athibordee joins Navy on a 6 month loan, where he is expected to play a key role in midfield. He’ll need to perform miracles to keep Navy up, mind you. This move surprised me a little, as Athibordee had been seeing pretty regular action in midfield and defence, but he is obviously seen as surplus to requirements in the second half of the season.

 

 

There have been some other loan moves too, although it’s mostly players who were already out on loan moving on to different clubs.

Left back Yossawat Montha, who made 9 starts for strugglers Ubon UMT, has moved to Prachuap, where he will compete for a starting berth for 2018’s surprise success story. Unfortunately for Yossawat, he will likely be behind 37 year old Prachuap captain Adul Meunsamaan in the pecking order, whilst former Port teammate Piyachart Tamaphan will also provide competition.

 

 

Bajram Nebihi has also moved on from Chiang Rai, with Chonburi securing his services on loan for the second half of 2018. The big German didn’t strike up much of a partnership with under-performing star player Cleiton Silva, so it is no surprise that ambitious Chiang Rai are looking to rebuild their forward line without Nebihi. It was also no surprise that the player who had such a strong impact for Ubon in 2017 had numerous suitors. Talk of a move to Navy was rife, before he eventually signed for The Sharks.

 

 

Now we starts to get in to the weeds a little. Two players who, as far as I was aware, had already made permanent their moves away from PAT Stadium may still be on the books. It’s of little consequence that Thanakorn Saipunya is still a Port player, as he wasn’t given a squad number and was confined to training with Port B in pre-season. His move to Khon Kaen is apparently only a loan, but he will surely leave on a permanent deal at some point, without getting a sniff of first team action.

 

 

The other player in limbo is midfielder Tatchanon Nakarawong, who everyone including Chonburi seemed to think was a Chonburi player, but is now apparently on loan at Army from Port. Tatchanon arrived at Port from Army a couple of seasons ago, and despite impressing in pre-season was grossly underused by Port before being shipped out on loan to another club where he was very unlikely to see significant game time. Indeed, the youngster played just 7 times for The Sharks. He has finally done the right thing in joining a team where he is likely to be first choice, although with Army recently announced that they will be folding, he will likely have to move on again before long.

 

 

 

Arrivals

Now, I know I said things had been quiet, but I do actually have a couple of confirmed arrivals for you. This could be good…

Port have signed two young players who had been part of King Power’s ‘Fox Hunt’ project. Anon Samakorn and Somprasong Promsorn are the two players in question, and they look pretty promising. Anon, nicknamed Boat, is a 19 year old midfielder who has been on the books at both Leicester City and OH Leuven’s youth setups. Somprasong, nicknamed Toto, is a 21 year old right winger who has also been with both Leicester and Leuven. He looks pretty nifty in this video, playing for Leuven’s under 19 team in a 4-1 victory over Bierbeek, and showing some impressive pace and trickery. The video of Anon’s performance from the same game looks less exciting, although he does notch an assist with a clever through-ball.

 

Anon (l) and Somprasong (r)

 

Both players have been given first team squad numbers, with Anon taking number 20 and Somprasong number 14, although it is thought that both will start out with Port B before joining the big boys.

 

Rumours

Now for the rumours. We’ve been hearing Ratchaburi’s Thai-German right wing back Philip Roller’s name over and over again in recent days. He has been linked with both Port and Muangthong though, in a situation eerily reminiscent of the saga that led to Kevin Deeromram signing for Port. Roller is a superb player, but would find very stiff competition for a place in Port’s team. I do think that he’s a better player than Nitipong, but there’s certainly no guarantee that he would nail down a starting place, whilst his ability to play further forward would be of little value to Port, who already possess a surfeit of right wingers. As much as it pains me to say it, I think a move to the Theatre of Corrugated Iron makes sense for Roller, with Tristan Do having moved on to the wing and midfielder Wattana Plainum currently playing out of position at full-back.

 

 

We also heard numerous rumours that Port’s third choice goalie Watchara Buathong was on the way out, but as far as we know the perennial back-up to the back-up is still kicking around at PAT Stadium. He must like the easy life.