Port head off to Ratchaburi this Saturday looking for another three points in T1. With two wins and a draw over the last two seasons we can be fairly confident of getting something from the Dragons. Before we get too cocky, both of the Port wins have been hard fought 3-2 victories which could have gone either way. Port and the Port faithful have to be on a high after Wednesday night’s 4-3 display of what can only be called fantasy football.
Ratchaburi’s new stadium is purpose built – no running track nonsense just football here my friend. For me it’s one of the better away trips because of the stadium – it’s even got a dragon shaped into the corner of the ground. Rather disappointingly it’s call the “Mitr Phol Stadium” after the sugar sponsor, when it should be called something like the “Dragon’s Lair” or the “Fire Nest”. It will be interesting to see if they’ve finally finished the promised “Dragons’ Bar”, which was a roof top bar without the bar at the end of last season. Ratchaburi like the Thunderdome is a Chang-only zone so stopping off to stock up with Leos or high quality Amaretto is advisable. Its newbuild look is not to everyone’s taste – the shell of the ground looks a bit plastic, and I think it was Gareth who said it looks like the local Giant Kwik Fit store has screwed a Dragon and this is their bastard stadium of a son.
Ratchaburi have had a half decent season – they sit in 7th place looking like a side that will comfortably be in the top ten this year. They’ve had a similar budget to last year and put together a solid team. Kang Soo Il (10), Chutiporn (7) and Sami (3) all impressed me last time out. There’s quality through the spine of this team but they are lacking the all-round depth to put them in the top tier of T1 teams. Ex-Port player Sompong Solep (24) is still getting a game there so they can’t be that good (see Tom’s Frankenstein’s worst player comments).
This transfer window has seen a few changes down Ratchaburi way. Big Brazilian “Bill” has gone off to Chiang Rai. It’s being reported that the Thai/German Phillip Roller is not back training with the team after the international break. To make up for this and other losses they have brought in a clutch of new players. Praweenwat Boonyong, a Buriram regular in the first half of 2018 has come in and is being played as a defensive midfielder to offer a bit of protection for the reasonable but leaky back four. Nerijus Valskis is their new Lithuanian striker who comes from the Israeli League where he got 6 goals and 3 assists in 19 starts. Doesn’t look like he’s going to set the game on fire, but he might well get his first start on Saturday so he’ll be looking to impress fans on his debut. They’ve also brought in Yanick Djalo on the right wing from Guinea Bissau, and as their new Asean quota player Philippine/English striker Mark Hartmann. Hartmann has just come from Ubon where he got 5 goals 2 assists in 14 matches so he’s not just there to make up the numbers.
Difficult to know exactly what Ratchaburi 2.0 will be like. A slightly weakened squad were put out of the League cup on penalties by the sharks of Ranong F.C. on Wednesday night, so things are not looking good for the new bunch. Saturday will see them trying to make up for their loss in front of their loyal home support. Remember the old saying “Beware of a Dragon that’s just been screwed over by a Shark”. I think we’ve all heard that so many times before.
Well Wednesday, what can you say? There was everything – goals, drama, revenge, comically poor refereeing…it was all there. One thing it did show is this team looks a bit more confident, unfortunately at 2-0 up a bit too bloody confident. Port’s form has been top notch of late, but an inability to put a game to bed reared its ugly head again. 7 minutes vs Muangthong and letting Sukhothai back into the game on Wednesday show Port need to be more clinical when they are on top. Muangthong and Sukhothai are decent sides and we can’t give teams like that chances.
Port’s Starting XI
With four games in two weeks we might see some variation from our friend the ultra-consistent commissar of the cream pies. Jadet might give a couple of first team players a rest but I can’t see too much change happening. Rattanai, Kevin and Dolah should be back in the squad after a rest on Wednesday. Port have got four games in two weeks but the 4th match is against a T5 side Tha Muang, a team who shouldn’t put up that much resistance (famous last words).
Kevin, Rochela, Dolah, Nittipong
Nurul, Siwakorn, Kim, Suarez, Pakorn
Yet again Terens was passed over for a place on Wednesday. I really can’t see him staying if he’s not playing in the Cups. He’s shown he does have the skill to play in T1 at least in bursts. It would be a shame to see him head back to Borneo without really being given a chance to shine. If he’s not getting regular time on the pitch at Port I can see him heading home. He needs to be playing regularly for 10-15 minutes as an impact substitute to make his time in Thailand worthwhile.
Boonyong may well be told to shepard Suarez out of the game. It’s exactly the role he’s been brought in to do and he has the quality to trouble Suarez. Which of these midfield minders will stamp their authority on the game? We will see. Sami vs Boskovic could see a few fun tussles in the box, a bit of elbow fencing and arm wrestling. I like this matchup – both tough but not dirty players and both with a bit to prove to set themselves up as top T1 players in 2018.
2-1 win for Port with Dragan defeating the Dragons.
Ratchaburi FC vs Port FC. Saturday 16 June 17:45 at Mitr Phol Stadium and on TrueSport 2.