China Crisis: Port FC 0-3 China U21

 

Port’s first pre-season match of the off-season ended in a disappointing 0-3 defeat to Guus Hiddink’s China under 21 team. Port fielded a second XI in the first half, before fielding a stronger XI in the second half. Whereas Port played at a pretty sluggish pace – understandably considering that the players are coming back from their holidays – China played at a high tempo with plenty of intensity, and although they were not the most talented team to grace PAT Stadium they were effective and clinical where Port were anything but.

 

 

Port’s starting XI featured one new face, alongside a host of squad players and returning loanees. And Elias Dolah, who for some strange reason was included with the second string, despite being one of Port’s best performers in the second half of 2018. The new face was young Fox Hunt left back Nutchanon Sojit, who looked a little off the pace on his debut.

With Nutchanon starting in his favoured position at left back, Sandpit favourite but clearly not Jadet favourite Yossawat Montha was pushed forward on to the wing, and was Port’s most threatening player in the early going. In the 17th minute, his wicked free kick from the right beat the goalkeeper, before cannoning off the bar and then the post before being hacked away by some desperate Chinese defending. Two minutes later, Arthit almost latched on to a ball through the middle, but couldn’t quite gather the ball under pressure.

 

 

Port were soon punished for not taking their chances, with China being rightly awarded a penalty after a clumsy challenge from right back Adisorn. Adisorn has been used regularly in central midfield in recent seasons, but started several games at right back in 2016. Jadet seems to be considering having Adisorn as his backup right back next season, as there aren’t as yet any rumours linking Port with a replacement for Meechok, who left midway through last season. Adisorn will want to iron out mistakes like the one he made here though, if he is to convince Port not to go looking for a specialist full back. Caught out of position, Adisorn made up ground on his opponent, but a change of direction caught him unawares, and he clearly upended his opponent in the box. The Chinese forward sent Worawut the wrong way to give his side the lead against the run of play.

The rest of the first half seemed to have passed without incident before more Port mistakes in added time handed China a simple chance, which they took. Nutchanon – the lone defender back after a Port corner had been cleared – misjudged a high ball, allowing an attacker to ghost past him and get a clear run on goal. Worawut obligingly stayed on his line until the last second, by which time the ball was already past him and China were celebrating a 0-2 advantage.

 

 

Port fielded an entirely new XI in the second half, with the one big selection shock being the other new Fox Hunt addition Jirattikan Vapilai. He must have impressed in training to have been included with the first team, although it looked like he would rather have been playing in a more withdrawn role than the one he was handed. Boskovic was in the stadium but didn’t make it on to the pitch, meaning that either of Suarez and Jirattikan had to try to lead the line. Neither did so to much effect, although Suarez did show some lovely touches.

China struck first once again with a goal coming down Port’s right hand side, but although the result was now beyond much doubt, Port were by far the dominant side. Anon looked excellent in the middle of the park, but Suarez and Bodin were Port’s most threatening attackers. In the space of two minutes, both broke through down the left, but failed to find a teammate from promising positions. In the 77th minute, Jirattikan found Nitipong with an inviting layoff, but Nitipong blasted the ball wide. A minute later Siwakorn skied a similar effort after some good work from Suarez. Port were well on top, but the goal was not to come and Port’s visitors ended up securing a victory far more comfortable than the scoreline suggests.

Still, results in friendlies mean little, and having played a well-drilled team who have just had a military-style training camp, Port shouldn’t be too worried about the score in a game they looked on top in for long periods.

 

Tom Earls

Tom Earls

Having moved to Thailand aged 10, Tom has been playing or watching football in Thailand for more than 18 years. A keen follower of the Thai National Team and an avid fan of Port FC, he is a regular contributor to The Sandpit.

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