Port traveled to Air Force looking for a comfortable route to the quarter-finals, but it was not to be. Air Force had more chances on the night. Port looked like 3 different teams in an oddly disjointed match.
Start as we mean to go on
Air Force started brightly and looked more likely to score early on. They scared Port’s defence with a decent cross into the six yard box. Thankfully turned wide by Panpanpong (19), Air force failed to capitalise on the following corner. Port finally got a potentially dangerous free kick, but Nurul (31) put it a little too close to the keeper. And the only danger was to Air Force’s Alex (5) who collided with his own keeper and went down needing treatment, he didn’t look 100% for a while after that.
Stuck in the middle
Port set up with Rochela (22) in front of the back four in a 4-1-4-1 formation.
Nittipong(34), Todsapol(6), Worawut (24) and Panpanpong(19).
Nurul(31) Siwkorn(16) Kim(8) Bodin(10)
Possibly this was looking to free up Panpanpong(19) and Nittipong (34). Unfortunately it didn’t create anything, it tied up players in the centre of the pitch, with Boskovic(23) tracking back into midfield trying to pick up the ball.
Port had Worawut Srisupha (36) in goal and Worawut Namvech (on loan from Chiang Rai) (24) in front of him in the centre of the defence. Worawut’s debut as a central defender was up and down. He started off with a completely needless yellow for clipping a player he had no right to challenge. Later he snuffed out one of Air Force’s best chances with a strong, but fair tackle taking the ball off the attacking player’s foot. Right after that it was the other Worawut (34) popping up to save Port in goal turning away a shot from Greg Houla(19) who was looking the most threatening player on the pitch.
A pedestrian Port team didn’t see many chances a difficult header for Siwkorn (16) with the ball going away from him and a skied speculative shot from Boskovic(23). It says a lot that his first genuine shot came in the 39th minute.
A New Half, A New Hope?
The second half saw Bodin (10) off for Bunyinda (29). You could see the need for another striker but Bunyinda has not inspired much confidence in 2018. After I finished tutting at this selection Bunyinda made a decent run a won a corner for Port. Prove me wrong number 29 please prove me wrong. Along with him Pakorn was on for Worawut the 4-1-4-1 experiment is over and it’s now a 4-4-2 with Pakorn back on the wing and Bunyinda partnering Boskovic so it’s more a 4-4-1 and a half. Port definitely looked better with this change, but better is a relative term. Port’s best spell of the match encouraged some louder cheering from those fans who braved the cross town traffic jams to get to the Air Force Stadium. Along come a couple of Pakorn (7) free kicks only one of which the keeper needs to move for.
But the brief period of decent play is undercut as Bunyinda hobbles off, then hobbles back on trying to play through the pain. Now yet again it’s Air Force in the ascendancy with Port getting out of jail after a mix up in the box. Breaking up this dangerous phase of play Port create their own chance with Boskovic starting the move on the edge of the box, Nurul and Kim trade one-twos to set up Boskovic, but his shot is stopped by the keepers outstretched legs. This first 20 minutes of the second half is some rest bite on a poor night. In the 65th Bunyinda finally limps off. Port’s third sub of the night is midfielder Chakrit (9). Now Port look to be back to 4-5-1 with Boskovic yet again tracking back trying to bring the ball out of midfield to create something.
A Port free kick and Pakorn curls it,… the keeper staggers, … I think it’s gone in,… but it goes wide. On other nights this has been exactly the sort of thing that’s saved a poor Port performance, but not tonight. This game drifts back to it’s first half tempo, poor passing letting down both teams and it looks like it’s going to need extra time.
Late on in the match after what looked like an innocuous foul Nurul goes down, the Air Force player kicked his heel, but Nurul is on the ground holding his thigh. Could have been the way he fell or an old injury. Port players nervously look to keep the ball and a sense of impending doom spreads as they see Nurul being helped to the dressing room, with all subs used, Port are now down to 10 men.
Air Force press up with 11 and another searching long ball beats the Port defence and finds Greg Houla (19). He knocks it in and Rochela is stuck trying to mark two players, Nittipong is coming back to help but he’s far too late. Yodsak (9) leaves it for Wisarut (13) to smash it into the net.
Out of Time
The game gets a meagre 3 minutes of extra time in a second half that saw a lot of stoppages. In minute one of the three a strapped up Nurul re-enters the fray, fair play to him for attempting to return, but he is just one of the walking wounded hanging around the centre of the pitch adding moral support. In the last minute Boskovic has a volley in the box, but the defender gets close to him and it smashes into his back. Shoulders go down everyone is thinking that was Port’s last chance and seconds later the game is finally put to bed, or indeed put down.
Elsewhere in the cup the only good news of the night is Chonburi thrashing Muangthong 5-1. Ranong beat Bangkok United in a game played on a water logged pitch which ended with the 10 players of Ranong vs the 9 of Bangkok. They only had nine for the last ten minutes, but it was a decidedly dodgy pitch and a dodgy result. Buriram won 1-0, but they waited a while to do it, the goal coming in the second half of extra time at Trang.
The last 8 of the League Cup are,
Buriram, Chiang Rai, Chonburi, Bangkok Glass,
Ubon UMT, Ranong, Air Force and Korat.
The draw for the FA Cup is on Friday 13th, Air Force are already out of the FA Cup so at least we only face them in the league on Sunday. We won’t have another Air Force Cup nightmare this year.