Know Your Enemy: Ariel Strikes

 

With a catch-up game between Chiang Mai and Chainat scheduled for Wednesday, I decided to delay my run-down of gameweek 9’s results. Unfortunately that means my memory of almost two-week old games is less than crystal clear, but I’ll do my best!

 


 

Friday’s game appeared to have ‘draw’ written all over it, with 7 draw Sukhothai hosting 4 draw Chiang Rai, but as has been par for the course in this mental T1 season, what should have been a boring bore-draw ended up being a cracker. Sukhothai defender Narongrit Boonsuk starting the silliness in just the third minute, spooning a wild clearance over the head of his unsuspecting goalkeeper and in to the back of his own net. As always, The Firebats turned to their bat-sized firebrand to level proceedings, and it took John Baggio just 3 minutes before he played a one-two and fired in to the bottom corner of the right net to level the scores. Sukhothai kept pushing, and looked the better team, but a last-man block on the line from Baggio’s shot and an appalling miss from arguably this season’s worst foreign striker Orlandic kept things level going in to the break. The introduction of veteran Kabfah Boonmatoon, who has made a big impact whenever I’ve seen him this season, led to yet more chances. Sukhothai could have had 5 if not for some wasteful finishing, as well as brave and lucky last-ditch Chiang Rai defending. So obviously Chiang Rai took the lead with 5 minutes left, then made it 1-3 with a minute left on the clock. Both goals were almost identical, with William providing two superb assists for Kritsana and Bill. Baggio, apparently only able to score with his team in arrears, curled in a gorgeous free kick in added time to keep things interesting, but the referee had had enough, and didn’t fancy a home comeback, calling time on the game with 40 seconds of added time still to go.

 

 

Saturday’s first kick-off was an intriguing encounter between mid-table PTT Rayong and strugglers Muangthong. New Muangthong manager Yoon Jong-hwan really needed a win to kickstart what has so far been a shocking campaign, but Rayong showed at Port what stiff resistance they can provide. You have to earn the points against these boys. Rayong immediately set about justifying their higher league position, drawing a crucial save from Dang Van Lam and hitting the post. Ariel Rodrigues was once again the spark, coming close from two further solo runs. It was third time lucky for the Costa Rican, who finally gave Rayong a deserved lead before half time, this time cutting in from the left and firing home a fine finish. Unfortunately, a stupid mistake midway through the second period let Muangthong back in to the game. A daft foul on Heberty gave up a penalty, which the star man smashed home himself, but as is becoming routine this season Muangthong threw away their ill-deserved parity by gifting Ariel his umpteenth run at poor old Dang Van Lam. Ariel needed two bites at the cherry, but eventually headed the ball in to restore the home advantage. Rayong didn’t account for the introduction of a true T1 great, though. Kept out of the side through injury up ‘til now, Super Mario Gjurovski has been a frustrated bystander as his team have sunk to the bottom of the table, but he showed he still has something to offer by equalizing with a deflected effort with about 10 minutes left on the clock. Typical Mario. On current form a draw isn’t bad at all for Muangthong. That point could be crucial in keeping them up.

Next, Samut Prakan City hosted Chainat in an encounter that I wouldn’t have remembered even if I had watched it. To be fair, one of the revelations of the season Picha Autra did score a fine winning goal for Samut Prakan City, but it’s still not enough to inspire more than a couple of sentences out of me.

A big relegation six pointer was being played simultaneously, and once again Trat showed that on their day they can be a real force to be reckoned with going forward. Chiang Mai meanwhile added further evidence that they possess a defence so bad it almost rivals that of record-breaking Super Power in 2017. 128 goals conceded was the benchmark, in case you’re wondering. Trat added 4 to Chiang Mai’s total in this clash, with a deflected cross from former Port left back Sathaporn Daengsee starting things off. Lonsona Doumbouya added a second after a mad blunder by Nont, and then in the second half Chiang Mai got a red card scything the big man down on his way to what would have been his second goal. After a header from massive Singaporean centre half Baihakki he did eventually get his brace, tapping in after a fine passing move from The White Elephants. No one will be fancying playing Trat when they’re on their game!

Port’s rollercoaster 3-2 triumph of Suphanburi rounded off Saturday, putting the pressure on champs Buriram to get Sunday off and running with a win over inconsistent Ratchaburi. If the Port game was everything we love about football, this encounter was everything we hate. I don’t even want to comment on the game itself, as the actions of the players were clearly irrelevant to the outcome, which had been decided before the game even kicked off. What started off looking like an interesting encounter gradually sunk in to that well-known routine of a match which is only going to end one way, and after some highly questionable officiating, finish that way it did. Ratchaburi 1-2 Buriram. Sigh.

Two good old thrashings finished the week off, handed out by Nakhon Ratchasima and Bangkok United to Chonburi and Prachuap respectively. Nakhon Ratchasima were up first, against a Chonburi side who had somehow managed to concede 5 goals and win the week before. Korat only managed to stick 4 past them, but they did also manage to keep a dangerous attacking side featuring the league’s top scorer Lukian at bay, so all credit must go to them for a fine all-round performance. Henry opened the scoring with a run that showcased pace, power and finishing, and Leandro Assumpcao added a second before half time with a precise finish from the edge of the box. Chonburi were being beaten in every duel, and just didn’t seem to want it as much. Assumpcao added another with 20 minutes to go, and rounded off his hattrick with a penalty late on. A superb performance from the Brazilian, who alongside Henry and Amadou constitutes a seriously potent attacking force this season.

 

 

Bangkok United hosted Prachuap next. This was only ever likely to go one way. Prachuap have lost 4 consecutive games on the road with a goal difference of -13, ruining what had been a very promising start to the season. If the only team you can beat away from home is Muangthong, you’ve got a problem. Saranwat Dechmitr smashed home a fine opener in the 5th minute, but Prachuap showed some resilience in leveling the tie just a couple of minutes later through a Matheus Alves header. A smart run and finish from Nelson Bonilla restored the home advantage, and it was a miracle that Wisarut didn’t add a third after the restart. One of the misses of the season from the youngster. Prachuap’s inept defending was getting more and more exposed, and a red card for young Thai centre half Nattapon Malapun meant that things were only going to get worse. Bonilla added two more to complete a simple hattrick, Sanrawat set up Thossawat to add a fifth and reliable super sub Theerathep Winothai rounded off the scoring late on to make the score 6-1. A deserved victory for Bangkok, although Prachuap really threw in the towel when they went a man and two goals down.

The week’s action was over, but a catch-up game between two scoreless losers from the previous round was played this Wednesday, so here’s a brief account of the action. Both teams can attack a bit, but have shit defences. Eliandro opened the scoring for Chiang Mai – this powerful Brazilian has been useful this season, but I don’t think he’s quite in that top tier of T1 strikers – before Nont once again blundered to allow Chainat back in to the game. Not a good couple of weeks for a goalie with a lot of potential, but a propensity to drop the odd serious clanger. It’s goal of the week time. There was only one game, but this screamer would have pretty much won any week. Chatri Rattanawong took a touch before leathering an unstoppable volley in to the top corner to put the away side ahead. Their lead almost saw them through to the final whistle, but after a succession of Chiang Mai chances, a mishit strike from young prospect Ekanit Panya dribbled home to secure the draw. Fair enough.

 

Public Enemy Number One

 

 

There were two hattricks this week, so both Leandro Assumpcao and Nelson Bonilla can count themselves a little hard done by, but I was more impressed by Ariel Rodrigues’ all-round performance, as well as his two goals. When he arrived at Bangkok Glass a couple of years ago it was clear he was one of the top talents in the league, but injuries have preventing him kicking on after a fantastic opening season. Until now, that is. He’s PTT Rayong’s main goal threat, meaning that JET has been having to park his substantial posterior on the Rayong bench. Other honourable mentions go to Sanrawat Dechmitr, who has been poor at times this season but showed the level we’re used to seeing from him in T1 this week, Doumbouya and Baggio once again, and finally William for Chiang Rai.

 

Results and Highlights

 

Sukhothai 2-3 Chiang Rai

PTT Rayong 2-2 Muangthong

Samut Prakan City 1-0 Chainat

Trat 4-0 Chiang Mai

Port 3-2 Suphanburi

Ratchaburi 1-2 Buriram

Korat 4-0 Chonburi

Bangkok 6-1 Prachuap

Chiang Mai 2-2 Chainat

 

Table

 

 

 

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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