We’re hanging on in there. Just when we thought we were out of it, Muang Thong prove once again that they are just as shit as we are when it comes to sealing 3rd place, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory at Chainat, which makes Saturday’s humbling defeat at the hands of a resilient Suphanburi even more galling.
This fan-torment from Jadet’s Jesters is almost Shakespearean, “As flies to wanton boys, are we to th’ Port, they kill us for their sport”. And so, with spirits raised and brimful of eternal optimism, we work out the permutations once again: three ‘winnable’ games while Muang Thong face tricky Sukothai and Bangkok Utd in their closing run.
Talking of which, Sukothai’s 3-2 win at Bangkok Utd featured a classic hat-trick from Salvadorean international Nelson Bonilla, the first from a seemingly impossible angle and well worth watching – the other two the kind of finishes we have come to expect from the League’s second highest scorer: 24 to Diogo’s 29, but in a much inferior team. Now this is a proper centre forward and one I would willingly swap for our currently flailing Montenegrin. You can see Bonilla’s hat-trick here – it helped to brighten up my Sunday, anyway.
So what are our chances at Navy? Our record at the Sattahip Stadium is poor; in fact I don’t recall ever witnessing a victory there in the League, with last season’s fixture ending in a disappointing 2-2 draw, after Port went in at half-time 2-0 up. And I seemed to have written so many Navy previews and match reports that I have run out of nautical puns and quips, so this will just be a straightforward assessment – even the delights of nearby Ban Chang, featured so prominently in last season’s preview, will have to take a back seat.
The corresponding home fixture ending in a pulsating 7-1 victory but this was in the middle of a run of 11 wins in 12 games with only the freakish, mad 3 minutes at home to Muang Thong spoiling the fun. We now go into Saturday off 3 wins in 13, one of those against lowly Trat in the F.A. Cup. The reasons for this slump are discussed ad-nauseum in the Sandpit: lack of fitness, the International break, injuries and suspensions, poor coaching and selection (what has happened to Anon?), lack of motivation, loss of key players’ form; maybe it’s a bit of all of these.
But football matches hang on such fine margins and Saturday was a good example. Port were actually not that bad in the first half, having more of the lion’s share of the game and creating several good chances, some of which would have been converted had it not been for some astounding saves from the Suphanburi keeper. The second half opened in the same way and Cleiton Silva’s headed goal was so out of the blue and against the run of play that it left everyone in stunned silence. The second, shortly after, came as a result of the War Elephants’ new found buoyancy and Port’s sudden deflation. In fact, the first half was scarily similar to recent ones against Chainat and Nakhon Ratchasima, but in the latter we were gifted an early second half penalty which turned the game in our favour.
There was to be no second half redemption this time. Plus, we had brought on Pakorn, who, after early promise, became, well, Pakorn. It didn’t help either that players who had such an impact early in the season were poor – Kevin being a prime example.
I have just become one of the 63% that want to see Jadet gone at the end of the season and I firmly believe, at last, that the time is right. Even if he now ‘inspires’ us to a third place finish, it will be more down to other teams’ failings than our own brilliance. A top four finish, although not our best ever (we actually came second in the top flight in 1999) should satisfy even the most pessimistic pundit after the recent yo-yo years, and should prompt further investment, especially if next season is the Madame’s final fling and she wants to go out with a bang, as it were. But I don’t think Jadet is the man to take us that further step.
Back to Saturday: Navy are down already, but with consecutive draws against Port’s top six rivals Prachuap and Chiang Rai, they will be no pushovers. Sailors do have some pride, even if the only young tars present will be those watching from the free seats.
Port, and Jadet, have three games left to make some kind of statement – will it all end in a bang or a whimper?
I am not highlighting any Navy players to watch because I won’t be watching them; this week, I am only interested in how Port perform, although Amadou Ouattara (81) looks to stand out from the crowd with 11 goals and 6 assists. I don’t even have the enthusiasm to poke duck orientated fun at Gabriel Quak (22), who incidentally got the only goal at Port – hopefully he won’t be ruffling our feathers this week. Oh dear, I’ve gone and done it.
For my Port line-up I have gone for the eleven (injuries and suspensions willing) that I sense that the Sandpit would like to see:
Rattanai (is he fit?) [Ed – he’s been back in training this week, but probably not match fit.]; Nitipong, Dolah, Rochela, Kevin; Anon, Kim, Siwakorn (or Adisorn – it’s a toss-up); Nurul, Suarez, Boskovic.
It would be great to see Terens and Sammy Slot on the bench with Arthit. Let’s have a bit of fun at least – Navy is a long way back when you’ve lost. [Ed – Bodin is suspended having picked up his 4th yellow card last week, so there’s a good chance we’ll see at least 2 of these fellas come off the bench.]
The match will be shown live on True4U, True Sports 2 and True Sports HD2 at 20:00 on Saturday 29 September, 2018. For those who can’t make it to Sattahip 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.