Pangdemonium! Port FC 2-2 Chonburi FC

 

 

Port’s off-field chaos spilled over onto the pitch and the terraces last night as the team played out a pitiful 2-2 draw against struggling Chonburi in an increasingly poisonous atmosphere. Port were simply dreadful in the second half and their cause wasn’t helped by three of the most ludicrous substitutions I’ve seen all season, and their fading title hopes are now surely all but extinct.


 

Back in the day there was an expression “ten-to-twos” – you’ve gone out to a nightclub hoping to cop off, but suddenly realised the club is closing in 10 minutes, so you run around approaching anyone who looks vaguely female in the hope you might salvage the evening. This week has seen a definite case of the ten-to-twos for Pang, with some desperate last-minute transfer activity resulting in her paying 10mBHT for Chenrop and bringing in a classic Carlos Kickaball from the Bolivian league in the shape of Rolando ‘Tony’ Blackburn, with skipper David Rochela unceremoniously and shamefully dumped from the T1 squad.

Neither Chenrop nor ‘El Toro’ (approximately the 537th Hispanic sportsman to have the nickname El Toro) started, with Josimar (30) recalled to the starting lineup and Todsapol (6) replacing Rochela. There was also a new face on the bench in the form of former Premiership player Spencer Prior, who previously worked with La Pang as coach of the Thai women’s team and who has joined the club as Sporting Director.

As is customary these days, Port went a goal down early in the game. In the 7th minute, a beautiful long ball found Worachit on the edge of the box and with Port’s defenders getting into their Keystone Cops routine early in the game, the young striker had time to cut inside, put the kettle on and make himself a brew before slotting the ball past Rattanai (17). Chonburi almost doubled the lead 3 minutes later when a sublime through-ball from Worachit put Phanuphong totally in the clear, but thankfully impressive new Port LB Martin Steuble (15) got back quickly and just did enough to put him off, with his shot bouncing off the post.

This seemed to spark Port into life and they dominated the following 20 minutes, drawing level on 17 minutes when a cross from Pakorn (7) found Josimar, whose delightful cushioned header picked out an unmarked Siwakorn (16) and the Marlboro Man headed home. But Port were unable to convert their dominance into goals and paid for it in the 41st minute, when the defence stood by and watched as some nice interplay on the edge of the box between the excellent Worachit and former Port winger Kroekrit picked out Brazilian forward Caion, who curled the ball into the net to put the Sharks ahead.

At which point I headed out for a much-needed beer, and in a reversal of Toby Time, missed Port’s second equaliser, only realising they’d scored when a drunken half-naked man hugged me as I exited. I’d missed an excellent far-post cross from Steuble being hooked home by Suarez (5) for an equaliser Port just about merited.

Not a first half for connoisseurs of quality football or the art of defending then, but thoroughly entertaining stuff for any neutrals watching. Sadly that was pretty much the end of the action for the second half was most definitely a damp squib, played out between two poor teams who both seemed happy to settle for the draw. So I won’t talk about what little action there was, and instead focus on three substitutions and one incident that sum up the chaos and incompetence that have destroyed Port’s hitherto excellent season.

Substitution 1: Nurul (31) for Bodin (10)

If ever a substitution summed up the Port bench’s cluelessness, it was this one. The point of footballing substitutions is generally to change things on the pitch and address problems; at Port, substitutions are there just to give everyone a game regardless of the match situation. Bodin had arguably been Port’s best player up to that point, so withdrawing him for a player who runs a lot but who delivers little end product was simply inexplicable, and the crowd voiced their discontent.

Substitution 2: Sumanya (11) for Josimar (30)

It’s 2-2 at home to weaker opposition, so what do you do? Well, what you don’t do is take off a striker who is having a decent game (including an assist) and replace him with a perennially disappointing midfielder. But that’s what Port did, taking off Josi and, despite there being two strikers on the bench, replacing him with Sumanya and, in theory, moving Suarez, a midfielder, up front. It’s never worked before so why they expected it to work now is a mystery, and of course it didn’t, with the no11 contributing virtually nothing.

Substitution 3: Tanaboon (71) for Siwakorn (16)

In the future, whenever men gather together to discuss the most fuckwitted footballing substitutions of all time, a poignant silence will fall upon the room as they remember that time when Port, drawing 2-2 at home to Chonburi with about 20 minutes to go, took off a midfielder and replaced him with a DM/defender. Seriously, who in their right mind would make a change like this? I couldn’t hear what was going on on the bench but it looked as if Spencer Prior was arguing against this change and being overruled by Pang. Tanaboon came on and did what Tanaboon does – pass the ball sideways – when what Port needed was a striker, two of whom were watching from the bench.

Pakorn Loses It

Late in the game, the atmosphere went from disgruntled to poisonous thanks to some utter stupidity from Pakorn. Steuble played a pass to him which the portly winger didn’t bother to chase and, after most of zone B quite rightly barracked him for it, he gave the finger to the fans and then suggested we come on the pitch and play instead of him. For any player to show such disrespect to the fans would be unacceptable, but for a lazy, arrogant and complacent player like Pakorn who is getting picked on reputation alone these days, it was simply disgraceful. Pakorn later apologised but frankly as far as I’m concerned he can piss off and play somewhere else, and I say that as one of the few people who’ve continually defended him over the last couple of years.

Basically this was the worst 45 minutes I’ve seen from a Port team since the dark days of 2015, and whilst we could point the finger at certain players for not performing, or at the coach, the buck has to stop with the chairwoman who, panicked by the run of three defeats and traumatised by the Women’s World Cup humiliation, has totally destabilised and demotivated the team with her random and unpredictable recruitment policy. There’s no plan, no tactics, no clue about how to prepare a winning team, and that leaves us with the spectacle of one of the best collections of footballers in Thailand clinging on for a 2-2 draw against Chonburi. Next up – a resurgent Muangthong in the cup on Wednesday. I fear the worst.

 

The Sandpit Man of the Match: Sergio Suarez

Once again SS tried to take personal responsibility for dragging Port to victory and worked his balls off for the whole game, despite spending a third of it being asked to play out of position yet again, and being crowded out of his usual position by Sumanya. Honourable mentions for Go Seul-Ki (8) who tried to rise above the chaos around him, and Martin Steuble who made an impressive full debut.

 

Tim Russell

Tim Russell

The founder and editor of The Sandpit, Tim has been in SE Asia since 2003 and in Bangkok since 2012, where he runs a travel tech business. Tim has followed Port FC since 2014, and is also a fan of his hometown club Coventry City, and French club AS St-Etienne. He has written for the likes of Football365, ITV.com, NME and The Quietus, and is a regular contributor to God Is In the TV. He's a keen photographer and his work can be seen on his website.

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2replies
  1. Andrew
    Andrew says:

    I wasn’t in my usual place on the upper tier of zone C, as it is now called zone C2 and as I merely asked for zone C, I wasn’t allowed up there. This did provide me with the opportunity of being around totally different fans, and I was surprised and shocked by their suatained cheering of the Sumanya and Tanaboom changes, as if it was somehow a good thing and not the utter stupidity, so maybe there are fans who leave the stadium content with that shambles. Bizarre.

    Also I can’t agree with the assessment Go’s performance, he seems to follow the tradition of being similar to all our desperately limited Korean midfielders, except he shouts and points a lot and also berates fellow players far more, I thought he was going to assault Rattanai during one tirade.

    Reply
  2. andrew
    andrew says:

    I couldn’t stand where i normally stand, as Zone C is now divided and I ended up in Lower C instead of Upper C, and it gave me the opportunity to be around a different bunch of Thai fans, and I have to say that most of the fans that surrounded me inexplicitly cheered enthusiastically to both the Sumanya and Tanaboon substitutions. And I also have to disagree with the verdict on Go. He seems to me to follow our long standing tradition of having an ineffective average Korean midfielder, he does the usual things, pointing, shouting, jogging but he excels at berating his colleagues, as i thought he was going to physically assault Rattanai at one point.

    Reply

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