The headline for this report is derived from the title of the debut album of British indie rockers British Sea Power. A band with more than a passing similarity to Port, at its best a night spent with BSP is a near riotous evening of beautiful noise, with a band of likeminded souls. Its noisy, oddball (random stuffed animals replace Japanese guys in fancy dress) and you’re left with the sense that all those who have forgone the show to consume more mainstream fare (be it Coldplay or Man United at West Ham) have missed out. At their worst you know the people you are watching are professionals, you know they’ve performed together numerous times before, its just you question if since the last time you saw them if they’ve bothered to get together and maybe give it a run though and discuss how the 90mins they’ll be stood in front of their crowd should unfold. Saturday in Sattahip Port put in a performance very much in the former category. As the swagger the team played with though out May and June returned and Navy were gunned down 5-0.
Navy’s recent relegation, alongside Air Force having fallen though the trap door some time previous and Army finishing mid table in the second tier, means next season there will be no military representation in top level Thai football for the first time since records began (well as far back as Wikipedia goes and Hockers remembers, which is good enough for me). However, the weekend’s news from the second tier was generally good as PTT Rayong were crowded champions and Trat and Chang Mai took the other two promotion spots. So, three good away trips should the fixture computer be kind next season. PTT’s arrival will be applauded by the culture vultures who will had feared that the loss of the Navy away trip would mean the end of the annual cultural exchange to Bang Chang. Thankfully it is equally well positioned to act as a base for matches in Rayong as Sattahip so will remain on the calendar.
And it was from Bang Chang that the Sandpit representation arrived, thanks to that rarest of things an honest taxi driver who asked for less than the quoted fare. We made our way around the stadium past what looks like a great little bar overlooking some water that could be worth a visit should Navy return to the big time or draw us in a cup game with an early kick off. And moved past a boule pit similar to our own sandpit, now I’m not saying Navy lack fans, but this place was still being used to play weird French games an hour before kick off rather than as a make shift pub garden. Before reaching the away end where we were met with, thanks to the various thunderstorms of the past few days, a mud pit to enjoy prematch refreshments. The afternoons tour and cultural debate had moved on to when a chain of events is just a series of random events involving a pleasant end and when those events are “serendipitous”. (I think we may have imbibed a little too much holy water whilst on the pre match tour of temples in Bang Chang). Before this debate could be concluded however Ming’s party buses arrived, blasting their theme tune and those who piled off showed us what arriving at the game after one too many really looks like. The majority of those on board had attended the futsal earlier in the day and seemingly drank at a pace more suited to only seeing Port play once in the day.
The Navy stadium is a classic Thai affair with a running track leaving the away fans positioned in a corner about as far from the pitch as possible. Thankfully it does have a roof so had the thunderstorm that put on a more than impressive show of lighting passed over. Jadet made two changes to the starting line up with Dolah (4) replacing Todsapol (6) and Pakorn (7) in for the suspended Bodin (10). Meaning what is generally considered Jadet’s default outfield selections started. What followed was brutal, had It been a sea battle (come on they’re called Navy) the capitulation of the home forces would have taken much less than the 90 mins this one sided affair was drawn out for. You knew something was afoot when within a minute Pakorn had made a run, attempted to beat someone and reacted to being tackled by not sulking for a few minutes but rather making himself available to receive a pass from Boskovic (23), who the ball had broken too, who himself having made the pass darted into the box looking for a return ball. However the midfield monk decided to play the ball to Siwakorn (16) who had taken up a position on the edge of the box and unleashed a shot that was neither high or wide nor was it handsome but at least he had a go, inside 3 minutes Pakorn had rattled the cross bar from a fair distance with a free kick, Suarez (5) was also looking somewhat back to the level we saw a few months ago. Port were buzzing and it was the players who have been most blamed for the dip in form who seemed to have upped their game. Pakorn would show his ability to strike a ball like few in this league in the 13th minute, playing a ball from just inside our half perfectly for Suarez to run onto in the opposition box, the Spaniard played a first time ball across goal to the on coming Boskovic who finished from 3 yards. 1-0 Port and realistically game over. Pakorn would strike the post with a further free kick (which looked more likely to have been diverted by the keeper than the wood work) before the second duly arrived via Siwakorn who beat a man before firing from the edge of the box into the corner of the goal and beyond the hapless Navy keeper. Five minutes later a third was added as Siwakorn, who again looked great against the fodder at the bottom of the table, played a neat though ball for Nural (31) that dissected the heart of the Navy defence and the little man dinked the ball past the on coming keeper from near the penalty spot. There was still time for a fourth before half time as Boskovic found an unmarked Pakorn in an ocean of space who made his way into box and cutback for Kevin (97) to finish from a similar spot to Nural just moments before.
The second half was played out with a sense of merely going though the motions, the little dots at the far end had chances here and there but with the result assured the intensity of the game faded. Suarez was denied the goal his efforts deserved as a small dot in white a few kilometres from the away end cleared off the line. By this stage it was more entertaining to watch trainer Rod warm up Adisorn (13), Terens (28) and “Digger” Arthit (29), who in that order, were one by one recalled to the bench and sent on. It was particularly pleasing to see Terens “running around like a Labrador getting a first taste of the beach after a two hundred mile car journey, turning somersaults, biting his own tail, chasing squirrels up trees”, as Barney Ronay of The Guardian once wrote of David Luiz. With a little more than 10 minutes to go the biggest dot in orange and blue (Dolah (4)) met a near post corner and flicked the ball inside the far post for a fifth. There was time for Vitor Junior (10) to clip the Port cross bar before the end. However even with Port well clear it would have been more than this poor Navy team deserved. As they were seen off across the season 12-1 on aggregate. It’s hard to place the value of playing that well against a team as weak as Navy. However, it was considerably better than the recent showings and with both Chonburi and Pattaya more than safe, hopefully if we can find the same level twice more we’ll have done all we can to take third spot.
The Sandpit Man of the Match: Sergio Suarez
A tough one. Most of the team played well but Suarez gets the nod for a welcome return to form.