Shameonya: Sukhothai FC 3-1 Port FC

 

 

Port travelled north to face another unbeaten side in the form of Sukhothai FC yesterday, in a game which, on paper, should have been an opportunity for 3 valuable points. Sadly a combination of dubious refereeing, some appalling behaviour from certain Port players, and a bizarre second half substitution from Jadet handed Sukhothai one of the easiest wins they’ll have all season.

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Top of the Lake: Sukhothai FC vs Port FC Match Preview

 

Sukothai head into this game as only one of four teams unbeaten this season. To nicely balance things out, they are also one of only four teams not to have won this season, their four draws producing, on average, a goal a game, so whatever we get at the picturesque, lake-side Thalay Luang Stadium (Capacity 9,500) will be well earned.

Sukothai F.C. have only been in existence for ten years and in that time have had a remarkable rise from the Northern Regional League to be now competing at the highest level. They even had a dip into the AFC Champions League play-offs when they ‘won’ the F.A. Cup in 2016, by virtue of being drawn out of the hat ahead of two other semi-finalists, the competition having been cancelled due to the late King’s passing. Chonburi, the fourth semi-finalist, either in a fit of pique or protest, had earlier withdrawn from the lucky dip.

Today’s opponents met at a similar stage last season when the Fire Bats shared a top three place with Port but they faltered badly mid-season and, for a while, with five teams due for the drop, slipped into the relegation zone. They rallied to finish a respectable 11th, largely on the back of Nelson Bonilla’s 25 goals. Port, in particular, will be glad to see Bonilla shifted off to Bangkok Utd – he put 4 past us in League and Cup games last season.

Having watched highlights of Sukothai’s two home games, it is clear they will not be easy to beat, particularly backed by their usual, large and loud, partisan home crowd.

 

John Baggio

 

With Bonilla gone, the spotlight quite rightly falls onto their diminutive captain, John Baggio, or to give him his full title, John Baggio Rakotonomenjanarahy (10), a name, in length at least, reminiscent of some of those picturesque, rural Welsh railway stations, and not one to be included in any terrace chants, or on the back of your shirt for that matter. Baggio was also a thorn in Port’s side last year and this year he seems to have developed a good understanding with tall Montenegrin striker, Petar Orlandic (9). Bosko’s fellow countryman has good pedigree, having spent 3 seasons at Red Star Belgrade where he enjoyed a promising partnership with Serbian international, Luka Jovic. He certainly looks menacing: strong and powerful in the air, with quick feet, yet, despite getting on the end of numerous chances, he has yet to score. Philippine international, Iain Ramsay (7), makes up the front three while Joel Sami (3), Congolese international, acquired from Ratchaburi in the close season, should provide some physical presence at the back.

Port will look to come back from a disappointing and frustrating draw with PTT last week. Jadet’s experiment with his two full back clones operating down the left wing didn’t really work for me and it was only when Bodin came on in the second half and started to run at the retreating PTT defence that we started to create genuine chances. Our attacks now follow the familiar pattern of getting it out to the wings followed by a cross, which is fine as long as the crosses clear the first defender or actually end up in the box, and not sail into the crowd or over the opposite touch line for a throw-in. Kevin’s crosses of late have been particularly overshot, although to be fair, two nearly led to goals last week thanks to good retrieval work from Suarez and Dolah. On the other side, Nitipong invariably turns on to his weaker left foot giving defences that vital few seconds to re-organize. Bosko has become the great ditherer and should really have converted at least one chance last week.

However, luck was not on our side, with the PTT penalty box at times looking like the Alamo, with Victor, in full-blown John Wayne mode, repelling all-comers and, at one point, having denied yet another attack, standing in the box letting out a full throated roar of triumph like King Kong about to bite the cockpit off a passing plane.

On the positive side, we are still unbeaten, nobody is really setting a pace, although Buriram’s win over Bangkok Utd will have sent a warning, and a win at Sukothai should consolidate a top three spot.

Port will also be hoping that the injury jinx which has hit them since the beginning of the season will soon pass. Rochela and Nurul will most likely be missing but Sumanya is fit again and will be very useful against a solid Fire Bats team. It will also be good to see Kevin restored to full back duties. The defence picks itself really but there are numerous options ahead of them. Siwakorn has impressed so far this season while Go adds stability and a delightful range of passing. Bodin added much needed penetration last week but Jadet is likely to go for Pakorn, so Port may line up like this in a formation of Jadet’s choice.

Worawut: Nitipong, Todsapol, Dolah, Kevin; Pakorn, Go, Sumanya, Siwakorn; Suarez, Boskovic.

Subs: Watchara, Worawut, Panpanpong, Athibordee, Adisorn, Anon, Pinyo, Bodin, Arthit; but I’m just guessing now.

Prediction: A gritty 2-1 win for Port, surviving a last 5 minute blitz.

 

Sukhothai FC vs Port FC

Saturday 30 March 18:00

If you can’t join us in Sukhothai, please support our sponsors and watch at The Sportsman on Sukhumvit soi 13. Big screen, sound, and drink discounts for all Port FC fans!

 

4 Down, 26 To Go: Port’s Season So Far

 

With the first (mercifully short) international break of the season upon us, now seems like a good opportunity to look back at Port’s first four games of the 2019 T1 season and see what we’ve learned about the team’s chances this year. It’s been a solid start, with Port’s deeper squad able to deal with an unusually high number of injuries, and the swashbuckling football of 2018 gradually starting to reappear.

Port began with a goalless draw at Chiang Rai – a decent result at the best of times, made even more impressive by the fact that they finished the game with only 9 men and several walking wounded. The departure lounge at Chiang Rai Airport looked like a hospital waiting room and normally mild-mannered types such as Rochela and Dolah were raging at the home side’s physical approach and the quality of the refereeing. But the result showed a new, steely side to Port, a determination to get a result that got them a nervy 1-0 win at home to Ratchaburi in their next game, and a very impressive 3-2 win at Chonburi after that – the key performance of the opening games and one that showed this team is made of very, very solid stuff indeed. Ironically, the most disappointing result of the season so far – last weekend’s 1-1 draw at home to PTT Rayong – came after the best team performance of the season, Port raining shots and headers on PTT’s goal for 90 minutes yet being defied by some desperate defending, spectacular goalkeeping and the PAT woodwork. But the fact that the swagger seems to be back, allied to a steelier defence, bodes well for the weeks to come.

That Port have defended so well has been something of a miracle, given the casualty rate at the back. First to get stretchered off was, naturally, Rattanai, who barely made the second half of the first game of the season. Later that same game the normally indestructible captain Rochela succumbed to a knee injury (coupled with a red card) which has kept him out ever since, whilst Dolah, MOTM in that game, also boarded the plane with a heavily strapped ankle. Kevin also picked up a knock which kept him out of the trip to Chonburi. Backup players Worawut, Todsapol and Panpangpong have all filled in admirably and Port’s defence has a leaner, meaner look about it this season, with Dolah continuing to improve after a superb 2018 – though a couple of error-strewn opposition goals in the last couple of games are making us miss Rochela & hope he’s fit again soon.

It’s in midfield that the biggest improvement has been seen, which, given that Port seemed to recruit exclusively midfielders in the transfer window, is as it should be. Go Seul-Ki is a big improvement on Kim, a player who makes things happen rather than simply pointing at where he wants them to happen, and his steady presence is bringing out the best in Siwakorn. The Marlboro Man looked like being a peripheral presence this season after a disappointing 2018, but the competition for places has seen him stub out his fag and knuckle down, and he’s arguably been Port’s player of the season so far. And as for new AM Sumanya, WOW. Against Chonburi he was simply fantastic, the creative AM Port have been missing for so long, and if he can stay fit he could just be the missing piece in Jadet’s jigsaw.

It’s in attack that Port have struggled so far. Pakorn has been his usual frustrating self, pinging in superb crosses whilst sending countless free kicks into the Loxley car park (Loxley’s works football team probably have ‘PAKORN’ on the front of their shirts given that he effectively sponsors them with free footballs); Nurul started the season brightly but is now also on the injury list; and Bodin, whilst he was superb at Chonburi, still doesn’t seem to have Jadet’s confidence, though the failure of the Panpanpong-Kevin experiment last week should see him starting against Sukhothai. Boskovic, who was on fire in the latter stages of last season, is dropping back into midfield far too often and needs to be a lot more selfish – as a lone striker we need him up front. He’s only scored once – from a penalty – and Jadet’s 4-5-1 means that when Bosko isn’t in the box, usually noone else is either. Suarez, last season’s second-top scorer, has also looked somewhat out of sorts, only scoring once and not even getting into any arguments with opponents or referees (apart from a brief spat last week with Victor who, let’s face it, could start a fight with the Dalai Lama), and, with the arrival of Sumanya, is seriously playing for his place now. Arthit, aka Pele, has been his usual tireless self and his goal at Chonburi was an outpouring of pure joy from all involved, but whether he’s top 3 of T1 quality remains open to debate. However the second half against PTT showed that the swagger of 2018 is returning and someone – probably Trat – is in for a right hiding soon.

With eminently winnable games against Sukhothai, Trat and Prachuap to come before the big trip to Muangthong on 20 April, Port have the chance to convert their recovered attacking verve into goals and get some more points on the board, and with a solid defence, a dominant midfield and an attack that looks like it’s starting to gel again, we fans have good reason to be optimistic about what 2019 has in store.

 

Know Your Enemy: Buri Bury Bangkok

 

T1 fans enjoyed a breathtaking weekend of action this week in undoubtedly the season’s most exciting gameweek so far. The upshot of all the hectic action is that the cream is slowly starting to rise to the top, although The Killer Wasp once again defiantly refuses to adhere to the natural order of things. For once I have a longlist rather than a shortlist of players who impressed enough to be considered for player of the week, inspired by a small clique of T1 goalkeepers’ collective decision to finally do something besides flailing around and spilling crosses.

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Victor Immature: Port FC 1-1 PTT Rayong

 

 

There’s an old Irish saying that goes…An Irishman has an abiding sense of tragedy which sustains him through temporary periods of joy. Hmm, it sounds like that Irishman might be a Port FC supporter. The 13th place PTT Rayong were the visitors on St. Pats Day at St. PAT stadium. Ever since the Rayong side was promoted I have wondered aloud whether PTT stands for Pretenders to the T1 Throne or just Pretty Terrible Team?

(90 minutes before kickoff) Why the forlorn looks on supporter faces? Has the Madame re-signed Vincent to a multi year contract? No, rather it’s a ban on beer sales until kick off because it’s election day.
(60 minutes before kickoff) the forlorn aren’t so forlorn anymore. Did you know a popcorn cup can be used for more than just popcorn? Who knew?
(Kick off)…a near sell out again. The atmosphere is electric. The big change in the home side line up is #19 Pinkong filling in for an injured Sumanya. Right from the opening minute the pace is lively. Wait a darn minute! Could someone please tell #99 for PTT Rayong he’s in the wrong sport? Middle linebackers belong in American football. Yikes, J. Emmanuel Thomas or J.E.T. is one big dude.
(20′) Port strike first as Suarez delivers a lovely ball to Siwakorn in the box and he steers it over to Kevin who drills it home. 1-0.
(22′) one of the story lines of this match was how would the injury depleted Port defence handle the Rayong attacks. Pinkong thwarted the first probe by the middle linebacker, uh sorry, Centre Forward J.E.T. much to the applause of the near sell out crowd.
(33′) The newly acquired J.E.T. delivered a gorgeous advance ball (a jet) to blondie #9 Apiwat Pengprakone. He split the defence of Dolah and Nittipong and blasted it high to an open net. One for the highlight reels.1-1. Great support in the away stands. Rayong supporters are loud and proud. Good to have them up in T1.
(44′)…J.E.T. delivers another advancer to #7 Rodriguez but Worawat makes a great save.
(HT)…it’s a mad dash for the exits as the election beer ban has been lifted. I vote for more beer!
(45′) Bodin subs in for Pinkong and he makes an immediate impact. He and Siwakorn and Suarez penetrate the Rayong defence several times but keeper Ruenin was easily Rayong’s MOTM.
(53′) Port attack and attack again but nothing to show for it. #5 Victor is his usually pesty self.
(60′) Siwakorn header? No.
(68′) Go shot on goal? Sorry.
(74′) Nitti blasts one? High.
(77′) Siwakorn is subbed off for Arthit to give the Port attack more firepower. The Rayong keeper has the luck of the Irish on this St. Pats Day.
(85′) I count 7 scoring chances for Port in the last 20 minutes. Wow. The match ends in a 1-1 draw. Port deserved three points in a very entertaining St. Pats Day clash. Port are in 3rd place, just one point away from top o’the league. In closing, I have some good ole Irish advice for Rayong’s #5….Never iron a four-leaf clover, Victor, because you don’t want to press your luck.

 

The Sandpit Man of the Match: Kevin Deeromram

Many candidates but I’ll go with Kevin. Dangerous all match.

 

Gas Panic? Port FC vs. PTT Rayong Preview

 

The question following that fantastic Friday night trip to Chonburi is: shouldn´t we all just stay at home the rest of the season instead of diluting our glass of football with lesser experiences? Especially with Sunday being the first election day, and hence, a dry day in all of Thailand. Well, I for one am banking on the hawkers around the PAT figuring out that the polls close at about the same time the game kicks off and that therefore they should stay open for business. If you want to be sure, going to the shop before the weekend and getting a few cans to bring with you wouldn´t hurt though. But, with Pakorn (7) having a whole night of long shots to make up for after missing Chonburi due to injury, some throats in and around the Sandpit may be better off sticking with tea anyway.

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Know Your Enemy: Jumbo JET Lands

After an away day for the ages on Friday night, with Port provisionally going top of the league after a stunning comeback victory over Chonburi, it’s fair to say I was not that fussed what the rest of the league did for the rest of the weekend. Of course the ideal scenario would be the rest of the high-flyers to falter, preserving Port’s spot at the summit, with a couple of choice victories at the bottom sending Muangthong bottom. Let’s see what they had in store for us.

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Victorious Secret: Chonburi FC 2-3 Port FC

Port sealed a stunning comeback after going behind twice in a pulsating Friday night encounter at Chonburi. The hosts will feel a little hard done by but thanks to a wonder save from Worawut (36) and some sterling defending Port snatched all three points.

Jadet was forced to change personnel and formation dues to injuries to Rochela, Pakorn, Kevin and Nurul, selecting a midfield trio of Siwakorn (16), Go (8) and Sumanya (11) with Bodin (10) taking a wide attacking role. The pre-match conversation as we settled into our spot at arguably T1’s worst away end was a little nervy and unsure; Jadet clearly motivates his players but his tactical awareness, or lack of, sometimes lets him down. This was either going to go extremely well or very, very badly.

Chonburi started the first half a little brighter than Port with Kroekrit (10) flashing his shot across goal in the 11th minute after some lax defending from the Port centre back pairing of Dolah (4) and Todsapol (6). Nitipong (34) then sent a speculative long range effort towards the Chonburi goal which diminutive keeper Chanin (35) fumbled, then both Suarez (5) and Dolah wasted good chances from set pieces. Chonburi drew first blood, seizing on a short pass from Dolah, the ball was worked across the forward line to Lukian (91) who coolly finished the move. The lead didn’t last for long and Port drew level in injury time; a goalmouth scramble saw the ball loop to Go and he dispatched the ball on the volley for his first goal in Port colours. It was a deserved goal and a fitting end to the first half.

Regulars on the terraces and this website might know that I am ridiculed for missing goals but a second source of ridicule is my choice of bags. My choice for this trip was ripped apart even before the minivan left Bangkok (“Ethnic traveler bag. I’m surprised you’re not wearing trousers with elephants on it.”) but inside that bag was another; a Victoria Secret’s bag, the first thing I could find as I was leaving the flat. It contained a gift for one of the group (not lingerie). Now some of you might not know this brand so to help you out here’s a picture from one of their recent fashion shows:

 

 

The bag somehow made its way to the stadium and became a lucky charm, showing off its versatility by being held in either hand, aloft with both hands, or as a hat to ponder on the finer points of the beautiful game. Here’s a selection of us modeling said bag:

 

 

Port should have taken the lead at the start of the second half but Bodin’s shot was stopped on the line by child-like Chanin and then cleared. Chonburi retook the lead after Todsapol’s header went straight to Worachit (8) and he sent the ball into the bottom corner of the goal. A third goal for Chonburi was averted thanks to a great instinctive save from Worawut, diving in front of Lukian from a few yards out. Port continued to press and got the equaliser in the 66th minute; a peach of a cross from Bodin found Dolah who headed across goal for Suarez to flick in. This set up a great final 20 minutes. Both teams could have got a winner but in the 78th minute Boskovic (23), far more effective playing in a wide left position, sent a great ball over the Chonburi defense and waiting at the far post was substitute Arthit (29) who fired into the roof of the net. Young Pele wheeled off in delight but Chonburi urged the referee to consult VAR for offside. After a few nervous minutes the referee gave the goal and the Port faithful started the party. Port saw out the rest of the game and 6 minutes of injury time to claim their second victory of the campaign. Sadly, an attempt to get the Victoria Secret bag to the players failed but it sure did us proud tonight. You might see more pink and white carrier bags as the season progresses, just don’t give us any funny looks.

There is no need to look at the negatives today; this game was a rip-roaring thriller and Jadet should be hailed for his team selection, tactics and substitution. The midfield trio looked awesome together and Go worked tirelessly at the base of midfield to allow Siwakorn and Sumanya to flourish. Bodin showed that he is a team player with a dangerous range of passing and Boskovic plays with more purpose in his natural position. This will give Jadet a happy headache when the injured players return but, knowing his past track record, he’ll probably stick to his preferred formation and players. Anyway, three points on a Friday night makes for a very happy weekend. Now I’m off to buy some more lingerie.

 

The Sandpit’s Man of the Match: Sumanya Purisai

There he is, the player we’ve been waiting for. I hadn’t been overly impressed with what I saw in the previous games but tonight he was awesome; a swashbuckling performance which drove the team to victory. He brings more energy and directness to the team and interestingly it seems he has made Siwakorn raise his game as well which bodes well for the rest of the season.

 

Ernie Wais: Ernesto Says Goodbye to Port

 

We’ve been wondering these last couple of weeks what had happened to back-up left-back Ernesto, whom Port picked up from Bangkok Utd during the close season. He didn’t figure in the last couple of friendlies and didn’t travel with the team to Chiang Rai. Well, asking around it seems that the versatile Thai-Spaniard was unable to agree contract terms with the club, and has now left Port.

Whilst Ernesto was unlikely to supplant Kevin as Port’s first-choice LB, he would’ve provided solid back-up and can also play on the left wing and in midfield, so would’ve been a very handy addition to the squad. With the promising Yossawat obviously having run over Jadet’s dog or something, we are back to having Panpanpong as back-up at LB, a man who takes longer to get back into position after a forward run than I do to get to work in the mornings. Fingers crossed that the 2019 injury curse avoids young Kevin.

 

Friday On My Mind: Chonburi vs Port FC Match Preview

 

This Friday, yes Friday Port travel to Chonburi. I can’t remember Port having a Friday fixture before, so this is a vaguely historic occasion. Fake an injury, finish work early and get down to Chonburi, history or infamy awaits.

Port’s visits to Chonburi have been marred with losses of many varieties, one fan even lost his phone there after being viciously attacked by a predatory pond. Be careful people it’s dangerous down there. Port have only picked up one away win in the last ten trips to the see the Sharks. Fortunately that win did come last year, Suarez lifting the ball over a defender’s leg past a flapping Chanin(36). Put that together with a pre-season win and as far as form is concerned there has never been a better time to travel to Chonburi.

 

Chonburi: Impressive and Imploding

The fight shown in first match to get a point away to Buriram was massively undermined by last week’s 2-0  home loss to Samut Prakan. Chonburi’s defence have given up two goals in both of their opening games. The most worrying of the four saw Samut Prakan put a simple cross into the box and two Chonburi defenders fall over each other gifting a golden opportunity to the opposition. Defensively Chonburi look disorganised right and left backs have been chopped and changed. The lowlight being the bleach blonde mohican of Sujarit (63) against Buriram. His shocking hairstyle matching some shocking defending. Chonburi also have Chanin (35) in goal a good shot stopper who had a great spell at Port, but he has always been prone to at least one mistake per match.

Chonburi have some quality going forward, pre-season they bought Brazilian striker Lukian (91) from Pattaya. He knows his way around the Thai League netting 19 goals last year. Lukian served up an excellent ball for Chonburi’s second against Buriram, but also spent half his time throwing his hands in the air complaining about the service he was getting. You want your forwards to be selfish, but you also want them to be good. Lukian can look world class, then look like he’s in a kindergarten class.

A more worrying threat comes on the right wing with Patrick Cruz (46). Cruz has been subbed on in the second half of both games. Cruz showed his quality pouncing on a Tunez mistake setting up an easy chance for Worachit (8) to get Chonburi’s first goal at the Thunder Castle. So why is he not starting? He played in Malaysia for Pahang FC getting 6 goals in 7 games so should be used to South East Asian conditions. The coach is either blind or worried he’s not got 90 minutes of football in him, maybe a bit of both. It will interesting to see if he finally gets into the starting 11 on Friday. And of course there’s Kroekrit (10) the current Chonburi captain an excellent left winger who will be looking to set Cruz and Lukian free. For me Kroekrit will always be the one of the vital players in Port’s 2013 promotion season, who we rewarded with a massive banner at PAT for one of the final home games, on which the club misspelt his name.

 

The Doctor’s Re-Port

In my season preview I did say barring injuries Port have a great team. Well the injuries have come thick and fast. As expected Rattanai returned to his regular ward, Rochela (22) is out for 4 weeks, and now Nurul (31) is going to miss the next 4 to 6 weeks. Worawut stepped in well for Rattanai. I was very impressed with Todsapol (6) on Sunday; he looked more solid than previous seasons and he knows he has a regular spot now until Rochela gets back. The Nurul injury is more serious, Bodin (10) can play left wing but he has never really looked up to standard in decent T1 company. We could move Boskovic to the wing, but that means pushing up Suarez and playing with an even more midfield minded striker. I think it will be a straight swap Nurul for Bodin, but it won’t solve the same old problem we had last year. Boskovic is not getting enough service and he keeps drifting back. Sumanya (11) was meant to be the solution to this problem, but even though he’s linking well with Boskovic we are still not finishing our chances. Hopefully the return of Go Seul-Ki (8) to the midfield will give the team more  freedom to create attacking options.

The Matchstick Mauler vs The Ex-Angel

The return of Go will see the return of the  Siwakorn (16) vs Sumanya debate. Jumbo Jadet favoured the matchstick mauler over the ex-angel away to Chiang Rai. Will he choose him again? I don’t think he should. Port have created chances but been unable to finish, we need to be more positive and have more shooting opportunities. Having Sumanya in and around the box that’s a lot more likely to happen. I don’t think Jadet will do it, I think he’ll put Siwakorn on to shore up the defence in search of an away point. Siwakorn had good games vs Chiang Rai, and Ratchaburi, but the one area he really falls down in is the one area we really need to work on, taking our goal scoring opportunities.

 

My Predicted Lineup

Worawut

Nittipong, Dolah, Todssapol, Kevin

Bodin, Siwakorn, Go, Suarez, Pakorn

Boskovic

Jadet would probably be happy walking away with a point from this match but early on in the season with a dodgy defence Port should be looking to exploit this chance for three points.

On the new kit, it is ok but I would say having gold numbers and lettering on your shirts is a bit showy for a team that hasn’t won anything. Of course if we go on to win something this year the gold will become the perfect good luck emblem. With the injuries it hasn’t been that lucky so far.

Still it’s Friday night and the time is right, as Port have a magnificent unbeaten record every single time I’ve seen them play on a Friday.

 

Chonburi FC vs Port FC Friday 8th March 8.00p.m.

Live on True Sports 2 and True 4U

The game will also be shown live at The Sportsman on Sukhumvit soi 13, with drink discounts available for Port fans.