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.

The Action

Prachuap hosted Chainat in Friday night’s game, which served up some excellent entertainment. Caion started the party with a textbook downward header after fantastic work from Matheus Alves on the right wing, and the duo continued to give Chainat problems throughout. Alves has been looking far more dangerous this season than he did for Chonburi last term, with his jinking runs and dangerous crosses proving the perfect foil for Caion, who has mastered the art of sticking it in the onion bag by any means necessary. He did so from the spot just before half time to put Prachuap well and truly in the driving seat. Ricardo Santos’ delicate finish kept the game interesting, but after Gorka succumbed to an injury which was at first hilariously dramatic and soon after worryingly serious, there was no way back for Chainat. Chitpanya Tisud volleyed in the rebound from his own freekick, and Prachuap deservedly returned to the summit. It would be wrong to continue without also briefly mentioning Prachuap’s other top performers, though. Orahovac in defence and Filiposyan in midfield were once again formidable.

 

 

Moving on from overperformers to underperformers, Saturday’s clash between winless Chonburi and winless but unbeaten Suphanburi was a big one for both teams. Unfortunately a power cut meant I missed most of this, so I’m relying on highlights and Twitter. Both sides started fairly brightly, creating chances but misfiring quite comically in front of goal. That was until Jonatan Reis, who has been a massive let down so far in 2019, finally found his range with a sumptuous curling finish from outside the box. Chanin then did his best to spoil my ‘T1 goalies had a decent week’ narrative by dropping his customary clanger at the feet of Cleiton, who extended Suphanburi’s lead, before Reis added his second and Suphanburi’s third. They might have had even more if not for a disallowed goal and some poor finishing. Worrying times for bottom of the table Chonburi, who had an unhappy day out made even worse by their former star midfielder Adul Lahso apparently running the show in midfield to really rub salt in the wound. First managerial casualty of the season: coming soon!

 

 

But it may well not be Chonburi who get there first. Notoriously volatile Ratchaburi suffered a surprise defeat to newcomers Chiang Mai. I didn’t hold back in my criticism of Ratchaburi’s new stopper Pairoj last week, but this time out he really proved me… absolutely right, he’s awful and I stand by everything. His flailing attempt at collecting an early cross he was never going to reach allowed Eliandro the simplest of headers to put Chiang Mai a goal up, and big defender Evson Patricio added a second inside 15 minutes to set up an embarrassing defeat for The Dragons. To their credit they did put up a fight. Kang Soo-il was involved in most of Ratchaburi’s chances, but although he got them back in to the game with a smart finish just after half time, Ratchaburi couldn’t find their way past Nont in the Chiang Mai goal a second time.

The headline match of the day was Muangthong’s visit to Chiang Rai. This was a real cracker. I had to watch the first half on my phone, but even on the small screen this was gripping stuff. Describing the goals won’t come close to doing the game justice, so I strongly advise you to watch the highlights if you missed the game. What you might not see on the highlights was just how much pain was dished out to Muangthong star man Heberty, and how well he responded to Chiang Rai’s typically underhand tactics. He played a key role in all 3 of Muangthong’s goals, with his driving runs from deep providing assists for Korrawit and Teerasil in the first half, and then Adisak at the death, who hit a stunning left-footed finish when I fully expected him to spoon it high and wide. On the Chiang Rai side it was Thin Bill who looked most threatening, as well as scoring a smooth opener for The Beetles. Lee Yong-rae, AKA The Korean Uncle (just look at him, you’ll see why) also scored an excellent goal. Chiang Rai have had a tough start to the season, but have been competitive throughout, utilizing their grit and falling back on rough house tactics when necessary. Muangthong have finally rediscovered their scoring touch with 5 goals in the last 2 games, 4 of which have come from Thai strikers. That’s more like the Muangthong of old.

 

 

Korat and Trat played out a 0-0 draw, despite Trat suffering a red card early in the second half and having to suffer for most of the match. Promising young midfielder Tatchanon Nakarawong, who you may remember was very unfortunate to be overlooked in his time with Port, made his first start for Trat, helping to add a bit of discipline to what has been a pretty wild Trat side in previous weeks. It was goalkeeper Todsaporn Sri-rueng who has to take most of the credit for the clean sheet, though. His excellent first half penalty save from Leandro Assumpcao kept Trat in the game, and he made a few more stops throughout to help his defence earn a creditable point.

 

 

So, on to Sunday, and it will not be a surprise to anyone that I didn’t watch any of these games, as I was too busy shouting at Victor and drowning my sorrows in the Sandpit. I don’t seem to have missed too much in the Samut Prakan City vs. Sukhothai clash. Strikers from both sides were poor where it counted, with Sukhothai forward Orlandic extending a goalless run which has featured a particularly egregious number of missed opportunities.

After Port failed to break PTT Rayong’s resistance at PAT Stadium, the door was open for both Bangkok United and Buriram to join or surpass Port on 8 points. In a tight game, it was to be the champions who prevailed, with Brazilian striker Pedro Junior finally putting in a performance suggesting that he may have what it takes to fire Buriram to another league win this year.  He looked sharp throughout, and scored a clinical winner with just minutes left on the clock, but Buriram’s defence, and in particular Siwarak Tedsungnoen in goal, also deserve immense credit. Mike Havenaar was introduced late on, and immediately inspired a late charge by The Angels, but it was too little to late. Siwarak’s unbelievable late save from point blank range sealed the deal, as unbeaten Buriram really appear to be finding their feet after a slow start.

 

Public Enemy Number One

 

 

As this competition is open to all non-Port players, I’m going to have to put Victor Cardozo in the mix. His defensive performance for PTT Rayong was magnificent, with numerous blocks and headers keeping a rampant Port at bay and securing an unlikely point for his team. His constant cheating was annoying to say the least but, as he has done with both Ubon and Chiang Rai in recent seasons, he has made Rayong difficult to beat by using everything at his disposal, whether legal or not.

Forwards Jonatan Reis, Matheus Alves and Pedro Junior are also on the longlist after impressive attacking performances, while Todsaporn Sri-rueng, Siwarak Tedsungnoen or Rayong’s Peerapong Ruenin might have scooped the award on another day for their outstanding goalkeeping.

It had to be Heberty, though. It might seem bizarre to pick a non-scoring striker in a relative goal fest, but Heberty’s assists and his temperament won a huge match for Muangthong, and the Brazilian will surely continue to be the key figure for his team throughout 2019.

 

Results and Highlights

 

Prachuap 3-1 Chainat

Chiang Mai 2-1 Ratchaburi

Suphanburi 3-0 Chonburi

Chiang Rai 2-3 Muangthong

Korat 0-0 Trat

Port 1-1 PTT Rayong

Samut Prakan City 0-0 Sukhothai

Bangkok United 0-1 Buriram

 

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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