Tom’s Transfer Talk – Dropskovic

 

Port have continued to shake things up in the mid-season transfer window, making some bold and shocking decisions on both players that have arrived, and players who have been let go.

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Halfway to Paradise? Port’s 2019 Season So Far

 

With last night’s defeat at MK Dons marking the end of the first leg of 2019 T1 fixtures, it’s time to look back at the first half of the season and share our best (and worst) moments. Port led T1 for much of the season but the recent, and entirely expected, mid-season slump has seen them win only 1 in the last 5 games and slump to 4th, 4 points behind leaders Buriram who are looking ominously like champions again. Port have been good at bullying weaker sides and grinding out wins against half-decent ones, but have shown their usual inability to beat the top teams, losing to Buriram and Samut Prakan and drawing with Bangkok Utd and Chiang Rai. They are, once again, a collection of very talented players who look like they’re being thrown onto the pitch without a plan and told to get on with it, and whilst that will get you 3 points most of the time in Thailand, things fall apart against better prepared, better organised teams. Playing 4-6-0 every week due to Boskovic’s refusal to play as a striker doesn’t help either, but we bang on about this every week. Clearly noone at the club can see it.

Anyway, despite the above moaning it’s been a thrilling season so far with Port playing some swaggering, often breathtaking football, scoring some great goals and winning some exciting games. Here are our team’s picks of the best – and worst – of the season so far…

 

Best Game

Tim Russell

The 3-2 win over Suphanburi was a thriller with an ecstatic finish, and the 1-1 draw with Bangkok Utd was quality mixed with some fine displays of the dark arts from both teams. But the pick of the season so far for me is the 3-2 win at Chonburi. It was a gritty, determined performance in which Port, roared on by the noisiest away following I can remember, came from behind twice to win the game. The look on Arthit’s face when he scored the winner will live long in the memory.

 

Shenanigans in the away end at Chonburi

 

Tom Earls

We’ve won some impressive games this season, but I’m not going to go for the 6-0 cup win against Samut Sakhon, the 5-0 thrashing of Prachuap or the 4-1 drubbing of Trat. Close games are what really get the blood flowing, and the 3-2 away win at Chonburi was as close as they get. Plus, any game featuring a late winner from Arthit is always going to be up there for me.

Dominick Cartwright

Chonburi Away has never been a happy hunting ground for us so even with us off to a great start and Chonburi looking average I wasn’t that confident. Possibly our first ever Friday away day? Definitely the only one in the last 8 years, Friday Football a good way to finish to the week. Go scored a cracker showing us he’s not just a great passer of the ball, he knows where the goal is too. Equaliser at 2-2 was picked out the net and run back to the centre circle, Port with all the momentum are not settling for the point today. There’s something nerve wracking and brilliant about falling behind twice then coming back and winning the game 3-2..…. And I managed to avoid falling in the shark infested pond.

 

Best Goal

Tim Russell

Only one contender here – Suarez’ sublime first-time chip against Trat. An absolute masterpiece of a goal, had Messi done it it would’ve reverberated around the globe in minutes. Honourable mentions for Boskovic’s late winner against Suphanburi and Bodin’s THRIKER at Muangthong.

Tom Earls

Am I going to play favourites on every single answer? Quite possibly. It may not have had any of the technical mastery of Suarez and Nurul’s chips, Pakorn’s dead ball strikes or Bodin’s thunderbastards, but Dolah’s glancing header against Bangkok United, immediately dedicated to the Port fans who had tragically passed away earlier in the week, was one of the more emotional PAT Stadium moments in recent memory. It also put us up 1-0 against a team we never beat. Shame we switched off about a minute later and allowed them to draw level. Still, the most meaningful goal of the season when it went in.

Dominick Cartwright

After crowd silencing thunder strike from Trat back to make it 1-1, Port are looking a bit quiet so is the crowd. But wait what’s this ……..Is it going ? It’s over the bar surely. He’s never just, oh yes he has. Suarez has chipped the keeper from the edge of the area. Toby created the platform for the move by going for  beer, then a lovely quick pass from Nittipong, no question of Suarez fluking it, he was only trying to do one thing. Zone B in shock and awe behind the goal and everyone goes nuts, back to 2-1 normal home service resumed Port back in the lead.

 

Best Player

Tim Russell

A few contenders here. Bodin has been a revelation, Go Seul-Ki has been the DM we’ve been crying out for for so long, and Dolah continues to impress everyone apart from Thai national team coaches. But the star for me so far as been Siwakorn. After a poor 2018 season for him, and with the arrivals of Go and Sumanya, I fully expected to see very little of the Marlboro Man this year. But he’s risen to the challenge, put in 110% week in week out, and been Port’s most valuable player. And he’s even cut down on the yellow cards too.

Tom Earls

This is really tricky. Suarez has weighed in with a more than decent number of goals and assists, as always. Bodin has been a revelation on Port’s left hand side, and finally put to bed worries about his ability to produce in terms of stats. Both Go and Siwakorn have been excellent in the centre of midfield, with their consistency in particular standing out. But never mind, I’ve decided to play favourites again. Dolah has been a rock for Port, providing leadership from the back, and notably making it in to practically every single team of the week this season. The loss to Samut Prakan City was perhaps the moment when it really became clear how much weaker the defence is without him in it.

 

Elias Dolah

 

Dominick Cartwright

For me Go has been the big difference between Port 2018 and Port 2019. Port have always needed a solid midfield player to link up from defence and to tidy up the loose ball. Go is this and then a whole lot more. He does this role and then provides the platform for Bodin, Pakorn and Nurul to supply what we need. Port have a stack of talent in this side Go has been the catalyst for this talent to challenge for the top spot. Before the Buriram game I was more worried about us not having Go than us facing Buriram, that says it all.

Most Improved Player

Tim Russell

Without a doubt, Bodin. A player who had lost his way last season came back into the team in week 2 due to Nurul’s injury, and hasn’t looked back. He looks fitter, more confident, and just…better, and is playing his way back into Thai NT consideration. Watchara also deserves a mention – after 3 seasons in which Rattanai and Worawut unconvincingly fought it out for the GK position, the answer was under our noses all the time, and W-Hot made the leap from T4 to T1 with consummate ease to become indisputably Port’s first choice keeper.

Tom Earls

With Dolah’s improvement probably mostly happening in the second half of last season, this is a battle between Watchara and Bodin. Watchara was barely an afterthought until he was charitably given three games at the end of last season to strut his stuff. Since then, he’s proved himself to be the most complete player among Port’s three goalkeepers, and has deservedly nailed down the number 1 shirt. It’s not enough to get him the award ahead of Bodin, though. This lad has been an absolute revelation. Having shown potential but failed to really reach the highest level at Bangkok Glass, Chiang Rai, Buriram and then in his first season at Port, it was looking like Bodin would never quite become the player he should be. Well, those worries have been assuaged with 7 goals and 2 assists, as well as countless moments of exceptionally smooth Bodinness.

Dominick Cartwright

Difficult one here Dolah has made big improvements in his game. He’s now the definite first choice to partner Rochela in the centre . Siwakorn has taken a step up this season getting the captaincy has provided a bit of a spur for him and he’s been rewarded with a national team call up. But I’d have to give it to Bodin, not sure what he did pre season but he’s looking like a different player this year.

Best Away Trip

Tim Russell

My first trip to Sukhothai in March wins it for me. The game may have been awful (see below), but we had a fantastic weekend biking around the Historical Park, drinking in Chopper Bar and meeting the locals, who were so friendly & welcoming that Port’s defeat quickly ceased to matter. Already planning next year’s trip, if they stay up.

Tom Earls

 Chonburi away, without a doubt. Ratchaburi away is coming up though and that’s always a cracker, so expect to have some competition for away trip of the season.

Dominick Cartwright

This is very much the trip not the game. Sukhothai somewhere I’ve been meaning to get to for ages. Nice old city ruins more than enough to do for the weekend. 10 or so of us up there piling into a Songteaw. There’s no running track at the ground, they have an ok away section. What could possibly go wrong? Sumanya decides to hit the ref all downhill from there. Great away would recommend it, bring your own points because you are unlikely to get too many from Baggio n Co.

 

All smiles despite the worst performance of the season

 

Worst Game

Tim Russell

See above. As is so often the case a great away trip was ruined by the football, as Port behaved like spoiled brats, Sumanya getting an early red for hitting out at the referee. You know it’s a bad day when Petr Orlandic, one of the worst foreign strikers ever to appear in T1, scores against you. Twice.

Tom Earls

Probably the 1-1 away draw with Korat. A very long rain delay, not much in the way of quality, and we threw away a win. Poor old Arthit missed a great chance late on, then we compounded his misery by conceding a late equalizer. Awful.

Dominick Cartwright

Has to be Samut Prakan the recipe for all that’s wrong with Port, giving up cheap goals Boskovic was all over the park. Suarez decides this is the day to start taking penalties. Port were playing against a team that wasn’t gifting them anything, this was really telling. Most teams in the Thai league will give you something in any given match and Port can punish them not today Port. This match has thrown us back into one of the chasing pack with Chiang Rai, Samut Prakan and Bangkok United looking like it will be yet again a battle for second.

Biggest Disappointment

Tim Russell

The expensive signing of Sumanya seemed strange at the time and a string of very average performances haven’t solved the mystery of why Port paid so much money for a 32-year old. But the ‘winner’ here has to be Boskovic. After a late run of goals in 2018 Bosko looked back to his best, but that form hasn’t continued into 2019 and he looks a shadow of his former self. His performance against Buriram summed up his season – no shots on target, and drifting from left wing to right wing instead of playing up front where he’s most needed. Josimar can’t arrive soon enough.

 

A rarely-seen sight this season

 

Tom Earls

I let him know my feelings last Sunday with some pretty colourful expressions of disgust hurled at him from the stand behind the goal. Boskovic was absolutely awful on that day, and he’s barely (if at all) produced a decent 90 minutes all season. The late winner against Suphanburi was his only redeeming moment, and that just isn’t enough for a player making as much as he’s making.

Dominick Cartwright

I think we need to even up the question, compared to most seasons at Port this has been a great start.

Highlight

A SIX game winning streak outscoring the opposition 23 goals to 4, ending with a 3-0 away win at Chainat putting all the Chainat demons to rest. Surely it’s a triple trophy season for this Port side?… Well maybe not.

Lowlight

Seeing the players crowding round the ref after Sumanya had just shoved him, he didn’t deck the ref but there was shove there. Come on boys he’s just shoved the ref he’s got to go off for that. Calm down a bit and get on with the game.

Where Will Port Finish?

Tim Russell

I said that if Port were to win the league they’d need to take at least 4 points from the games with Buriram & Samut Prakan. They took 0. With Buriram and Bangkok Utd hitting peak form, the title already looks lost and Port are now battling it out for third with Samut Prakan, which is where I suspect they will finish. IF Josimar can bring his T2 form into T1, and IF Tanaboon can form a good relationship with Dolah at CB, Port can still turn things around; but T1’s top teams already have Jadet’s number and you really can’t see this team going to the two BUs and getting 6 points, which is what they need to do to win the league. The FA Cup is a more realistic target, but again, on current form do you see this team winning at a revitalised Muangthong?

Tom Earls

I think we’ll finish third. Buriram will do the business and clinch the league as usual, Bangkok United will probably find enough form to finish second and we’ll be the best of the rest. I was never convinced we had a shot at the title this season, and whilst I was caught off guard by how poor Bangkok United were, I’m now willing to retract my previous prediction that we looked good enough to take second place ahead of them. I’ll be more than happy with third. And the FA Cup.

Dominick Cartwright

When Go is playing well linking up with attacking players we look like a great team. I still think we have a good team, with some wrinkles shown up by a well drilled side last week. Will the Josimar experiment work? This is the big question. If Suarez pushes up to provide some support between the Josimar as the target man and the midfield it can work.

 

A welcome sight?

 

So where will we finish?…. 1st, The Josimar experiment will work, Port players will finally have a target to hit. Kevin, Nittipong, Bodin, Pakorn and Nurul will all be blasting balls into him all day long, he will look like a man in the middle of a pinball machine, he will rack up 20 goals. Pakorn will track back. Suarez’s arm will finally heal. Jadet will start jogging. Port will be champions and all will be well with the world.

 

Meet the Cheatles!: Port FC vs Chiang Rai Utd Preview

 

The second half of the season begins with Port in somewhat of a slump. Having gone into the Buriram match top of the table and for the first time feeling like we did so not as underdogs but as genuine rivals to the champions, we have twice been undone by well organised teams that got a lead and sat back, as the Port game plan was reduced, as so many times before, to get it wide and hope for the best.

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“I Really Missed the Port Fans!”: The Return of Josimar

 

As we speculated on 3 June, 2017 top scorer Josimar Rodrigues has now officially returned to Port on an 18-month deal taking him to the end of the 2020 season. With Port on a poor run and Jadet’s preferred 4-5-1 regularly becoming a 4-6-0 for obvious reasons, Port need a known quantity who can play as a lone striker, and Josi certainly fits the bill. Opinion seems to be divided on whether a player who hasn’t played at the top level in Thailand for two years is the man to rekindle Port’s title ambitions, but if he can bring his 2019 T2 form with him, he will surely get goals and do a good job of holding the ball up for his teammates. And most importantly in the current climate, he’ll actually play as a striker. Just imagine that.

I had a quick chat with Josi yesterday on his return, and found him very happy to be at the PAT again. “I’m very happy and excited to be back” he told me. “I really missed the Port fans – in Thailand there are no other fans like Port fans.” He’s also happy for more practical reasons – “There is no traffic between my home and the PAT!” he laughed – obviously a much easier commute than Police Tero. And he has big ambitions for his second spell at Port: “My goal is to help the club become champions and enter into club history.”

You couldn’t meet a nicer guy in Thai football, so all of us at The Sandpit wish Josi every success in his return to the club and hope to see him starting against Chiang Rai on Sunday.

 

Samut Smash and Grab: Samut Prakan City FC 2 – 1 Port FC

 

 

Judging by its ramshackle condition, the pet shop opposite the away end of The SAT Stadium has been around a lot longer than Samut Prakan City. Well, we all know SPC is actually Pattaya in disguise, unceremoniously uprooted at the end of last season by a “local businessman” and depriving us of one of our favourite away days. I’m guessing the owner of the pet shop must have been rubbing his hands in glee; specialising in rabbits, it’s the perfect place for irate football fans to pacify themselves after watching their team lose. The “Sea Fangs” (no, I don’t have a clue) are riding high in the league and judging by their performance yesterday many away fans are going to be running to those rabbits.

 

Here Hares Here

 

This includes Port fans, the latest victims of SPC, who watched their team concede 2 goals in the first 10 minutes, miss a penalty and generally play without any cohesive game plan. The absence of Dolah from the back four spoke volumes and, with no striker leading the line, Port suffered their second consecutive defeat and now find themselves in 3rd place in the chasing pack behind Buriram. Our rivals seem to be moving through the gears and grinding out victories while we seem stuck in neutral with no clue how to get out of this rut.

 

Big turnout from the Farang Army

 

Let’s deal with the first half. SPC took the game by the scruff of the neck and on the sixth minute took the lead with a well worked corner. Jakkapan’s near post corner was flicked on by Tapla and Brazilian forward Ibson Melo was at the far post to head it in. Worse was to come a few minutes later when a swift counter attack stretched Rochela and Todsapol out of position and Melo provided the low cross for Yoryoei to tap home. Both goals were clearly rehearsed on the training ground, with the coaching staff looking to disrupt our defensive shape and take advantage of our best defender’s suspension. SPC would have scored a third were it not for Watchara’s instinctive point blank save.

Port huffed and puffed but created only a few chances; Suarez with 2 headers and Bodin screwing his shot wide. Watchara saved at the feet of Melo to keep us in the game and then Suarez had an excellent curling shot saved by Patiwat. Then a lifeline; Suarez is tripped in the box by Sarawut and the ref awards a penalty. Both our regular penalty takers, Rochela and Boskovic, didn’t step up and gave the responsibility to Suarez. His effort was poor, a tame shot straight down the middle of the goal and saved by Patiwat’s legs. A miserable end to a truly wretched half.

The concept of “Toby Time” is well known on the terraces and, with no hope in this Port team, I set off for an ale with some mystical goal-getting juju. Pakorn almost provided this with an audacious long range lob and Bordin tested the keeper from distance. Sarawut then compounded his evening with his second yellow, a reckless challenge on Pakorn. In conclusion, Toby Time can work in other transcendent ways. So with wind in our sails and the opposition down to 10 men surely Port could pull this one back from the brink?

 

 

Errrr no. SPC were happy to play conservatively and Port were limited to long shots and arcing crosses which means headers cannot get any power or placement. Only once did we fashion a chance on the floor which Boskovic, putting in yet another lacklustre performance, prodded wide. Port finally made a breakthrough in the 89th minute; Nurul racing to the byline and squaring the ball for Suarez to smash into the roof of the net at close range. Sadly there was no more momentum after the goal and SPC closed out the 4 minutes of injury time largely untroubled.

So Port find themselves at a crossroads with this latest defeat; teams are starting to suss out our tactics; Go or Siwakorn bring the ball forward then play out wide and try to influence play around the edge of the box. The lack of a striker means opposition centre backs can set their positions with no disruption and just have to deal with balls into the box. Our creative players don’t have an outlet for their final balls and no one wants to play upfront. Sacrificing a defender or a midfielder would have been the obvious thing to do in this match but Jadet decided to bring Kevin on for Panpanpong which is frankly ridiculous. For me the signing of Josimar is good but not enough; he can certainly bang in the goals in T2 but will he do it every game in T1? I’m not so sure but I hope to be proved wrong.

 

The Sandpit Man of the Match: Watchara

Some fine saves to keep us in the match and more fighting spirit than the rest of his teammates combined.

 

The Cup that Cheers: Port Draw Muangthong in Chang FA Cup

 

The draw for the round of 16 in the Chang FA Cup just took place, and to the obvious excitement of all involved, Port have been drawn away at deadly rivals Muangthong Utd. We said we wanted an easy draw and whilst this isn’t the T3 or T4 team we could’ve drawn, it’s at a ground where Port haven’t lost since 2015 and where they’ve won on their last three visits. Striker Josimar Rodrigues, who absolutely loves scoring against MTU, will be back at Port by then giving us additional hope of a place in the QFs.

The game will take place on Wednesday 17 July, KO time to be confirmed. As yet there is no word on whether Port fans will be allowed to attend but, based on our experience of the away league game, we’re guessing it’s no. But it’s another chance for the players to get more stamps on their SCG Nightclub membership cards – surely 4 stamps entitles you to a free bottle of champers?

 

 

Samut Prakan Pity: Samut Prakan City vs. Port FC Preview

 

Port travel to The M Power Stadium on Sunday looking to round off what has been a superb first leg. The opposition haven’t done too badly, either. Port sit in second place, just a point behind leaders Buriram, whilst Samut Prakan City, sit just 3 points and 2 places further adrift. A win would see them leapfrog Port in the table.

Unfortunately, the build up to this game has been dominated by a series of conflicting and confusing reports on the number and availability of tickets for away fans. We’re hearing that less than 600 will be available to Port fans, and that no extra space will be opened up once that allocation is inevitably sold out. If that is the case, Port fans wearing Port shirts will not be allowed to buy tickets for the home end, so to be sure of getting in one way or another come in neutral colours and be prepared to sit in one of the home sections. Also keep an eye out for further news, as things have already changed several times at the time of writing.

 

Samut Prakan City

SP Dons

 

Samut Prakan City have come in for a lot of stick since their owners uprooted Pattaya United and dropped them a hundred odd kilometers down the coast. Understandably so; The Dolphins’ fans, of which there were a sizable number, have been left club-less. Whilst I share the disdain many have expressed towards Samut Prakan City on social media for this reason, I think there’s more than one good reason to dislike T1’s latest homewrecker.

The M Power Stadium, in which Samut Prakan City are guests, has been home to Samut Prakan FC since 2016, but the club has been playing in Samut Prakan for about fifteen years. They have a small but loyal local fan base, turn out very attractive shirts year after year and have one of the better websites I’ve seen outside of T1, providing all of the information prospective Thai fans could wish for, as well as a forum for fans to share information, lyrics to the club’s songs and so on. Their fans are known as The Fortressians.

 

 

Samut Prakan FC have been as high as the second tier, but currently languish in T4. Their squad featured the Laotian national team captain in 2017, and they were a playoff win away from getting promoted. They ran in to JL Chiang Mai on that occasion, who went on to secure a further promotion in to T2 the next season.

Unfortunately the arrival of Super Power in their backyard in 2017 led to a decline in attendances which continued through 2018. I don’t have their attendance figures so far in 2019, but I’m going to guess the new boys in town throwing around free tickets on the streets of Bang Phli hasn’t helped. Samut Prakan United, another club founded about a decade ago, sank in to the regional leagues and ultimately out of existence last year.

The plight of small, friendly, well-run clubs like Samut Prakan FC are the lesser known victims of the regular comings and goings of clubs who are (if Wikipedia is to be believed) literally run by a country club. They’re actually run by a well-known *ahem* businessman, but people in glass houses and all that!

As Port fans, we all know the importance of a strong connection between the club and the fans in the local community. Clubs like Samut Prakan FC have that, and it’s a shame that when someone who sees the potential for a club in Samut Prakan can simply move their T1 license from one province to another, rather than investing in a well-established club with more than a decade of history.

Anyway, that’s my rant over. Let’s see what these MK Dons are all about.

 

Players to Watch

 

We start with our customary Brazilian. Ibson Melo (71) has been the key man in Samut Prakan’s attack all season, providing the spark and more importantly the goals. 7 of them so far this season. He’s not the tallest or the strongest, but from his position just behind the striker he has scored some key goals both from running at defenders and making late runs in to the box. Since Brazilian lump Carlao (83, who you probably don’t remember from an unremarkable stint at Ubon) has been let go The Sea Fang have had to make do with a Thai striker Chayawat Srinarong (55) ahead of the Brazilian maestro. He’s scored once in 12 appearances, proving for the 798th time that the level of Thai strikers in T1 is utterly appalling. Let’s just say he’s no Arthit. He’ll likely be replaced by Burmese forward Kyaw Ko Ko (10) later in the game. Don’t worry, Burmese strikers are rubbish too.

 

 

My secondary concern from this Samut Prakan team is Thai left winger Picha Autra (37). When I’ve seen this guy play his style has reminded me of Park Ji-sung. He’s slight of stature, but more than makes up for it with tireless harassing of full-backs. He’s not the most talented player you’ve ever seen, but he’s not half bad, and Nitipong should be advised not to try anything too fancy at the back with this fella nipping at his heels. He’s got 3 goals and 3 assists this season, which isn’t too shabby at all. Surprisingly, his return is bettered by attacking midfielder Teeraphol Yoryoei (19). He doesn’t look up to much on paper, and I haven’t particularly noticed him when I’ve watched them, but he must be doing something right.

 

 

The captain is the man who has got a lot of the recognition for this season’s surprise run to the upper reaches of the table. Peeradon Chamrasamee (8) has broken in to the Thai national team in recent months, making some late substitute appearances in central midfield. That shouldn’t be a surprise, he’s got all of the necessary Muangthong credentials. In 3 years with the scum he only managed 8 appearances though, being repeatedly loaned to Pattaya United before permanently signing this season. Peeradon is a very talented player, but I’m not too concerned about Samut Prakan outplaying or out-fighting Siwakorn and Go in the middle of the park.

 

 

They’ve got a pretty decent foreign centre half: Slovenian Aris Zarifovic (27). I didn’t think much of this guy from his early performances, but he’s adapted well to Thai football, winning almost everything in the air and taking an effective if at times agricultural approach on the deck. In short, he’s my kind of defender! Versatile Korean Kim Tae-Yeon (14) will also be a key man at the back, whether as part of the back 3 or in defensive midfield.

 

 

There isn’t a lot of individual talent to worry about here, but Samut Prakan’s strength this season has been continuity. They’ve basically picked the same team all season, and they haven’t had many injuries. Likely this will catch up with them later in the season, but for now they are a fit, well organized, cohesive unit with good team spirit, and they’ll take some beating.

On the plus side for Port, Samut Prakan’s over-performing coach Surapong Kongthep shocked the Thai football community by quitting his job at The Sea Fang a couple of weeks ago, meaning the main reason they have so far performed so well is no longer at the club. This wasn’t exposed against bottom club Suphanburi last time out, but could well be on Sunday.

 

Form

 

They’ve had 4 wins in their last 6 league outings, only losing against Bangkok United and drawing against Prachuap. All 4 wins were secured with clean sheets. Tidy.

  • Samut Prakan City 1-0 Chainat
  • Muangthong 0-3 Samut Prakan City
  • Samut Prakan City 1-1 Prachuap
  • Bangkok United 2-1 Samut Prakan City
  • Samut Prakan City 2-0 Korat
  • Suphanburi 0-1 Samut Prakan City

 

Port FC

A Dolah Short

 

The headline team news is that Port will be without Elias Dolah (4), with the big man having picked up his fourth yellow card of the season against Buriram. Go (8), who picked up a knock against Sukhothai, is expected to be fit to play, while Kevin (97) is also back training with the first team, although we’re not sure if he is match fit just yet.

 

 

This ought to mean that we see the same XI who started against Sukhothai, but with Todsapol (6) partnering Rochela (22) at the back in place of the man who hasn’t missed a minute of T1 action as yet this season. Jadet’s Rochela experiment, which comes up once or twice every year, once again failed against Buriram, with the Spaniard looking predictably out of place in midfield. Quite why the Spherical Supremo thought that he was going to do a better job in there than either Adisorn (13) or Anon (20), who were both available for selection, is beyond me. Still, it’s behind us now, and we can look forward to a return to normality, and with any luck a return to winning ways in the league.

 


 

The match will be shown live on True at 19:00 on Sunday 23 June, 2019. For those who can’t make it, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match on a big screen with sound. Don’t forget to wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount on drinks.

 

Port Four Play Leaves Bats A-Flutter: Port FC 4-1 Sukhothai FC (Chang FA Cup R32)

 

 

When Port were drawn against Sukhothai in the FA Cup round of 32, the tie had the look of a potential banana skin about it – despite their lowly league position, the Firebats have one of the best defences in T1, and until Buriram’s visit last Sunday were the only team to have beaten Port all season. Fortunately for Port, but unfortunately for those of us who were hoping for a competitive game, Sukhothai are clearly prioritising T1 survival and put out a second string side, making this little more than a training exercise for Port’s first XI.

The floodgates opened as early as the 8th minute, when Pakorn (7) hit a freekick from the left of the penalty area, which former Port keeper Wanlop helpfully palmed into the net; but then Sukhothai sat back and defended resolutely, holding out against intense Port pressure until the 34th minute, when Pakorn curled in his second freekick of the night. The Midfield Monk loves playing against lowly opposition, but I wish he could find this kind of form when the big boys are in town. On the stroke of half time Bodin (10) scored a third but I’d already gone out for a cleansing ale by that point so can’t tell you what happened.

Predictably, the second half began with the usual Toby Time goal. Nurul (31) was upended in the area and Cap’n Rochela stroked home the pen to give Port an unassailable lead. Sukhothai got a consolation goal with a 75th minute penalty, but that was it for second half action and the gentle workout was just what Port needed before Sunday’s tricky trip to face MK Dons. The only black cloud was Go (8) going off late in the game with a knock, closely followed by the arrival of an ambulance at the stadium. Let’s hope it was just a precaution, as the last thing Port need now is to lose their midfield general.

**UPDATE**

Go suffered a bang on the head & the ambulance was just a precaution – he’ll be fit for Sunday’s game at Samut Prakhan.

 

The Sandpit Man of the Match: Pakorn

Two fine goals. No contest.

 

SukhoCupTie: Port FC vs. Sukhothai FA Cup Preview

 

Over the years as a Port fan I’ve been so used to saying that Port’s best chance of a trophy is in one of the cups that it’s been a disorienting season. Until the weekend, Port had enjoyed a healthy lead atop the T1 table. Consensus was slowly forming, not just among the Port faithful but the wider Thai football community, that Port were really in with a shout of toppling the Thunder Castle. Many were even calling us favourites, and by the time we kicked off on Sunday the bookies had us the more likely to win on the day. Then there’s the cups. We’d already made a low-key exit from the League Cup, with a team of second stringers going down to Nongbua Pitchaya, and there are still 32 teams in the FA Cup.

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Reality Bites: Port FC 1-3 Buriram Utd

 

Until now, Port v Buriram has always been very much a David v Goliath affair, but this season, with Port top of the league and Buriram struggling for consistency, it had the feel of a T1 title summit, a game that would tell us whether Port’s title bid was the real deal, or whether we were just the lucky – and temporary – beneficiaries of slow starts by the big boys. Sadly the answer wasn’t the one we were hoping for…

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