Muangthanks: Muangthong United 0-2 Port FC

Port move in to the last 8 of the FA Cup after overcoming rivals Muangthong 0-2, but really it was Port’s opposition who we have to give credit to for the victory, with a couple of suicidal defensive acts swinging a pretty poor game which neither side particularly deserved to win. It’s not every day us Port fans extend heartfelt and genuine thanks to a club with whom we have had so many problems in recent years, but let me, on behalf of all Port fans, do so now: Thankyou, Muangthong.

In the spirit of friendship in which Muangthong so generously handed victory to us last night, I will endeavor throughout my report to treat our red-clad brethren with as much respect as they showed us last night. That’ll make for an interesting change of pace.

 

 

Port lined up in a curious formation which, despite minimal changes in perssonel, represented a significant tactical departure for embattled coach Jadet. Usually a big believer in width, which is emphasized in his favoured 4-2-3-1 system, Jadet this time played a narrow 4-4-2, with the midfield four set up in a diamond formation. Worawut (36), the third goalkeeper Port have used in four games, was a surprise inclusion between the sticks, with the rather more familiar sight, although we won’t be able to say that for much longer, of Rochela (22) and Dolah (4) in front of him. Nitipong (34) and impressive new arrival Martin Steuble (15) manned the full back positions, with a remit to attack even more freely than usual necessitated by Jadet’s narrow set-up. At the base of the midfield diamond was Go (8), while Bodin (10) played to his left and Siwakorn (16) to his right. Sumanya (11) played in his favourite role just behind the forwards, who on this occasion were the familiar Suarez (5) and unknown quantity Rolando Blackburn (99).

The early going was scrappy, with both teams working hard but ultimately failing to create many clear-cut chances. Most moves broke down in the middle of the park, with Sumanya in particular for Port being very wasteful and possession. It was crowded in there, with Siwakorn unsurprisingly showing a proclivity to play more centrally than your average right sided midfielder. Focusing on Port’s shortcomings is only half the story, though. Muangthong, in the spirit of brotherhood in which I’m sure it was intended, were almost entirely unthreatening. Adisak (11), a player who we often malign for… well, everything, was suitably helpful to Port’s cause, and Derley (87) was the epitome of the striker who you want on the opposing team.

Heberty (7) was the only man who looked capable of making Port’s life difficult, but after creating a shooting chance for himself with a fantastic run on 24 minutes his deflected shot was tipped wide by the excellent Worawut (36). The resulting corner, taken by Heberty himself, was also flicked towards the far post dangerously by Oh Ban-suk (4) but thankfully his effort drifted just wide. Heberty took aim himself 10 minutes later with his viciously struck long range freekick well dealt with once again by Worawut.

The best two chances of the half fell to both sides in the last 5 minutes. First, Siwakorn fed Nitipong, whose looping cross found Rolando with plenty of space and time to direct his header, but he was some way out with a poor effort not coming close to troubling Dang Van Lam (1) in the Muangthong goal. Then a cross from Muangthong’s right was half blocked by Rochela, but fell to that man Heberty once again, who really should have done better with his side-footed effort, which went straight to Worawut, who nevertheless held it well.

The second half started quietly, with the quality remaining as poor as ever. Suarez put another wonderful chance on a plate for Rolando on 67 minutes, but the Panamanian was once again off target with a pretty weak attempt. Steuble, covering a lot of ground down Port’s left, tried his luck with his weaker foot a few minutes later but fired well over.

Muangthong were first to call on substitutes, with Brazilian Bruno Gallo (88) and Teerasil (10) tasked with turning to tide. Gallo came close with a well-struck volley which missed by the finest of margins, but it was Teerasil, in combination with another substitute, who would really shake things up. Jadet called on Pakorn (7), notably absent from the starting XI after his run-in with Port fans last week, and with his very first touch the Midfield Monk showed why we tolerate his deplorable attitude. Port win a freekick on the right flank. You know the rest. Or maybe not. Pakorn’s cross was bang on the money, and although the Port attackers failed to get the vital touch, Teerasil was on hand to put Port in to the lead. The Muangthong captain, who has had a very poor season since returning from the J League, wasn’t even concentrating on the ball; he was busy appealing to the linesman. The linesman, his arm probably knackered after giving almost very forward pass offside in the first half, for once stood still as the ball bounced off a confused Teerasil’s thigh, sending Port fans, crowded around TVs all over Khlongtoei, in to wild celebrations. Thanks guys, we couldn’t have done it without you! It was also a fantastic redemption story for Pakorn, who once again reminded his many critics what he brings to the team. Love him or loathe him, this is what he does.

Just a one goal win wouldn’t do, though. Chappuis, inspired by his captain, gave Rolando the chance to make the game safe and make his debut a dream start. Credit must go to the new man for having the awareness to run on to Chappuis’ beautifully weighted through ball, which at once set the Port man free on goal and took a despairing Dang Van Lam out of the game. Precision. Rolando tried his best to make a meal out of the finish, scuffing his shot a little and allowing Dang to get his fingertips on it, but nevertheless the ball found the back of the net and Port had the two goal cushion they needed to put the result beyond doubt. The defence, which has struggled horribly in the last few weeks, were even able to hold on to an encouraging clean sheet.

The result could be massive for Port’s season. Many a time has a cup win inspired improved league form, and with a tricky trip to Rayong coming up this Saturday, the boost in confidence could be the catalyst for a long overdue return to form. Jadet also has some breathing room, quieting some of the calls for his replacement for the time being.

At the end of the day, a tough game has been successfully negotiated and Port are through to the last 8. Almost all of the remaining teams hail from the top half of T1, though. The only team one could really say are an easy draw are Thai Honda, so expect Port to face a tougher test than what Muangthong offered in the quarter finals.

 

The Sandpit’s Man of the Match

 

 

A shared award this time, I think. Both Teerasil and Chappuis provided moments of magic that put Port over the line, and are equally deserving of our gratitude.

Seriously though, Worawut is probably the only Port player who can be entirely happy with his performance, dealing with everything Heberty had to throw at him admirably, although as always looking very punch-happy from corners and crosses. The defence were also solid, although most had the odd heart-in-mouth moment at some point.

 

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.

More Posts

Follow Me:
Twitter

0replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *