The Tony Blackburn Late Show: PT Prachuap FC 1-1 Port FC

 

 

The Journey

With the game scheduled for a Sunday kick-off and the stadium being approximately 300 KM from Bangkok, there was not the usual demand for the the away day mini-bus trip. With this in mind, I decided to combine two of my favourite passions, watching live football and riding motorcycles. My wife and a mate set off on Saturday, with a one night stop over near Sangkhlaburi and then headed south to Prachuap Khiri Khan.

The Stadium

This was my first trip to Prachuap and we were all highly impressed by the scenic bay, with its calm waves and limestone outcrop as we rode along the beach front to our hotel. What struck us immediately was how friendly everyone was. The hotel manager couldn’t do enough to help and promptly booked us a motorbike for our journey to the stadium, which was situated about 3KM from where we were staying. When she asked, ‘Did i want a motorbike with a side car’, visions of Wallace and Grommit ‘entered my head. However, thankfully it wasn’t quite what I imagined and we grabbed a Heineken and headed to the ground.

 

 

The friendly nature of the Prachuap locals continued inside the ground as we headed to buy tickets and grab another beer. The two ladies selling the tickets offered us free coconut ice cream with sticky rice with proud gleaming smiles, a welcome which was most appreciated.

 

Small gestures like this go a long way and significantly enhances the away day experience. The Port faithful had travelled in two disco buses and in the background you could hear the usual pre-match chants, sung along to the rhythmic beat of the drums.

Unfortunately, Prachuap’s stadium has a running track, so it’s difficult to see what’s happening at the far end of the pitch, but more annoying is the huge scoreboard which stands directly in front of the away supporters (see main image). This truly baffled us, as there is an open space to the side of the away end – I guess logic is seriously lacking in some people. On the plus side, beer can be taken into the stadium and as there were only approximately 150-200 Port supporters at the match, we could position ourselves to the side of the hideous scoreboard.

 

Expectations

Following the poor run of form, Port gaining just 2 league points from 6 games and Madam’s irrational panic buying, Port have managed to win their last two league games, but hardly in a convincing manner. Most of us would generally agree that during ‘Leg 1’, we’d seen the most exciting Port team since the likes of Leandro and Saruta graced the pitch. With the fast paced attack, now a distant memory, even though Prachuap were just above the relegation zone, I expected no more than a draw from this game.

The Match

With Suarez banned for a stupid yellow in the last match away at Trat, Port lined up with the same team, that was on the pitch after the Spaniard’s early exit (Chenrop starting up front). Why Rolando Blackburn (AKA Tony), didn’t start was a mystery to most of us. If you are going to replace your foreign players in the mid season transfer window, then at least ensure they are good enough to start games (The mind boggles). However, despite the rather damp pitch Port got off to a promising start with several shots on goal in the opening minutes. As early as the third minute, Josimar played a delightful long ball from the right wing, which fell perfectly for Bodin, who hesitated as Ratchapol (2), Prachuap’s keeper smothered the ball. Maybe it was just too early in the game and our contender for player of the season was half asleep, or he thought the linesman’s flag had gone up, but this was a great early chance. Prachuap followed this effort with a few half chances of their own inside the first 6 minutes, but nothing to bother the ever dependable Worawut. Whilst the football wasn’t exactly Tiki-Taka, it was end to end stuff at times. In the 14th minute, Sivakorn played a ball towards Steuble (15), but his shot, which was directed towards the post was pushed away by their keeper.

In order to remember the action, I decided to record my comments into my phone. Unfortunately, when I played them back the next day, all I could hear was the sound of loud drums and the Port faithful singing along – so much for that bright idea (Doh). However, somewhere around the 20 minute mark, Port had an attack which resembled a game of tennis, with Josimar and Bodin firing in crosses from the left and right wings, missing all the players that had been bothered to get forward for the attack.

Chenrop was looking lively and appeared to be inter-changing with Josimar who was playing on the right of a front three. A good chance came on 16 minutes, when Bodin put in a cross from the left, towards Josimar who was lingering just in front of goal, but his header looped over the crossbar. On 28 minutes, Port were awarded a free kick just outside the 18 yard box. This is where Pakorn earns his money and if he had been on the pitch I would have put money on the back of the net bulging. However, he was on the bench, so it was down to Sumanya who’s effort looped over the top right corner of the cross bar. I’m not a fan of Sumanya, but thought he was having one of his better games.

Prachuap had been fairly awful in the first half and it was clear why they are in a relegation battle this season. However, on 34 minutes, they had a rare shot on goal as Supot (9) struck a long range shot just wide of the target. Towards the end of the first half an inswinging corner almost caught Worawut out, but thankfully, he managed to tip the ball over the bar. With heart planted firmly in mouth, we headed for half time drinks.

Having somewhat enjoyed the first half, the second half was a huge disappointment. If anyone thinks we can beat Chang Rai this coming Wednesday, then can you must be listening to Dolly Parton.

Port made three substitutions early in the second half, with Pakorn, Tony and Narul coming on for Bodin, Chenrop and Sumanya. Prachuap definitely had the better of the second half and broke the deadlock in the 74th minute in a fashion which summed up the game. Sirod played a ball into the box, only for Tanabon (71) to slide in and slot the ball into his own net – Great, another top transfer from Madam!!!! Port did battle on, but looked unlikely to score, even though Tony and Josi were attempting to form a partnership up front. Tony spawned a good chance in the 88th minute and one can’t be blamed for wondering why he had replaced Boscovic. Then, in the dying seconds of the game, Josimar’s long range effort was deflected by Ratchapol and who was there to stick in the rebound, none other than the famous Grange Hill Radio One D.J. himself. That’s now 2 goals in 4 games for the man who’s come from Panama to play for Ta Rua (lyrical credit to Tim R.) Bosco is probably a better player, but the fact is Tony plays as a striker whereas Bosco always wanted to play left side. If he had lead the line, he probably would still be playing at Port today.

Final Thoughts

Despite the poor second half, it was a very enjoyable day out and I would highly recommend a trip to Prachuap, if they do not get relegated this year. The atmosphere was great, nice supporters and an aesthetically pleasing location to watch football. As the famous Jimmy Greaves once said, ‘It’s a game of two halves’, and whilst Port probably had the better of the first half, Prachuap were the better team in the second. With results generally going our way, Port are still in third place, four points from the top.

When we left the stadium three young Prachuap fans came up to me to shake my hand, then one asked me to sign his shirt. No idea why, maybe they thought he thought I was a retired football player. He’s obviously never seen me kick a ball.

On another random note, when we headed out for Pizza later, some weird form of ballroom dancing was taking place. The streets were teeming with life in a mini carnival type atmosphere.

 

 

The Sandpit Man of the Match:

None other that the football genius himself Sivakorn!

 

Keith Wright

Keith Wright

A former Nottingham Forest season ticket holder, Keith arrived in Thailand in 2003. After several years of missing the atmosphere on the terraces, he discovered Thai Port and has followed them home and away ever since. He is one of the founder members of the SAS (Sivakorn Appreciation Society), and regularly organises minibuses for away trips.

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