VAR for the Madding Crowd: Port FC 1-0 Ratchaburi FC

 

 

The first home game of the season is always an event to anticipated by the faithful for the entire off-season. We look forward to familiar faces in familiar surroundings with familiar sights, smells, and sounds. The day of the first match seems to drag on as we wait for the trip to the stadium. Driving the familiar route we reminisce on outings past and concurrently envision what the new season will bring. Arriving at PAT and crossing the bridge we hear the first sounds of this year’s pageant. The rumble builds as I walk through the gate and see and hear the Khlong Toei faithful eating, drinking, and laughing together. An excited calm encompasses me. The time draws near.

 

On a beautiful early March evening after a searing day, a breeze from the south east cools me as I take my place at the top of Zone A an hour before the match. The stadium is beginning to fill and the sounds of Paradox echo without the confines of the PAT. The tattered flags and signs have been replaced with new ones. The pitch, well, it’s the pitch. As the teams take the field one is taken by the size of Ratchaburi’s foreign contingent. Some “mighty big dudes” there and one, Boli, has already proven he can score. Without Go and Rochela the D will have to stand tall. Dolah and Todsapol will have to be in very good form. And tonight’s captain? Sivakorn, which is a bit of a surprise. Lined up next to him in the midfield is Sumanya, with the rest of the team exactly as one would expect.

 

Both teams appear relaxed and loose during the warm up and as they head to the dressing room, PAT begins to fill and fill. By the time the teams take the field the stadium is heaving with 7k plus fans awaiting that first kick. Port’s new kits are very nice, perhaps the nicest home kits I’ve seen since I began following in ’10. Ratchaburi appear in what can only be described as puce tops and white shorts.

 

In contrast to the relaxed warm up the game began with a very tight physical midfield centered contest. Ratchaburi were content to let Port posses a bit into their half before attacking the ball. With Boli and the equally speedy Langil, their hope seemed to rest on playing the long ball counter attack to catch the Port defenders flat-footed, which was not to be as Dolah and Todsapol were glued to the Ratchaburi strike force.

While looking quite lively and creative in the midfield, Port were having a tough time hitting crosses and passes into the box. All attempts were either too long or into the feet of a Ratchaburi defender.

Chances in the first half were few. VAR came into play in the 41st minute when the official reviewed a possible handball against Port. To the relief of the 7,000 plus, VAR did not overturn the decision on the field.

With the first half coming to an end, Port were indeed the better side in a very tight and cagey 45 minutes of football. The feeling for me was; first goal wins it.

 

The second half began as a continuation of the first with Port controlling possession and very few good opportunities until the second VAR incident that saw Port awarded a penalty shot for a handball in the box. Lingal was incensed and a fracas ensued at midfield with ended with Boli on the ground after allegedly receiving an elbow to the face from Sumanya. Both saw yellow and then Dragan B converted the penalty shot to put Port up 1-0. Down a goal, Ratchaburi were forced to open up their game.  Bringing on their Ko….wait for it…rean, Kang Soo Il (no relation to the best of our knowledge) gave them another attacking option and put even more pressure on the Port defense. By the 70th minute, Port were having fun and playing like they were up by 3.  Corner after corner and shot after shot, Port were the dominant team. I fully expected that second goal, but it never came. The two best chances being Bosco from point blank and a Nittipong rocket from 20 yards that forced Pairot to make a most acrobatic save.

Ratchaburi’s two chances of the game came on a shot low to the right from Boli that was saved by Worawut and a blast from the left by the Kang that was also saved by Worawut.

Jadet’s three subs were all made quite late and neither Bodin, Pingkong, nor Anthibodee had an impact on the match.

After nail-biting 6 plus minutes of extra time the referee finally blew the whistle and the faithful celebrated a well earned home victory.

 

Port were good tonight; very good considering how young the season is. The fitness level is better than it was last year, the team appears a bit more disciplined and together, the defense is stout even without Rochela and Go, the midfield keeps its shape, Sivakorn has given two good performances, Worawut looks confident and comfortable between the pipes, Suarez is trying to create, and well, I’m hopeful. What’s lacking? Well, there is that goal-scoring thing. Two games with only a penalty shot to show for it and you could say the finishing is far less than crisp. Maybe, hopefully, if the team keeps playing the way they did against Ratchaburi, it will come.

After a short recap in The Sandpit, I’m walking amongst the fans, happy with the three points gained, and I head over the footbridge to my bike. The sounds of PAT fade and the din of the street rises to meet me and I think about how glad I am that football’s back!

 

The Sandpit Man of the Match: Elias Dolah

My man of the match is Elias Dolah. It was another gritty ballsy performance from the man who is the best Thai defender in the country at this point. Honorable mentions go to Selanon and Todsapol who were both solid.

 

Tommie Duncan

Tommie Duncan

Tommie Duncan is from Fort Worth, Texas, USA and a latecomer to football, or 'soccer' as the Yanks call it. He’s been in Thailand for 17 years and an avid Port supporter since 2011. He can be heard shouting at the opposition, the officials, and occasionally the home side from the top of Zone A on matchdays.

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  1. […] another clean sheet and scraping past Ratchaburi thanks to a Boskovic penalty. Our report is here. Unfortunately Port suffered yet more injury woe, with Nurul picking up an injury that is going to […]

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