Port Stamp Out Beetles to Give Their Fans a Semi: Port FC 3-2 Chiang Rai

Arriving at the PAT this evening with the drab 1-1 draw at Prachuap fresh in the memory, my expectations for the evening were somewhat low. They were lowered even more when Chiang Rai announced a full strength side, followed by Port’s team sheet showing no out and out striker, plus the continued selection of Sumanya. I was itching for a more simple time when the “gaffer” would just hand in the team sheet on the back of a fag packet and we’d just play 4-4-f**king-2! …At least El Capitan was restored to the team, for what could potentially be his last match at Port.

 

 

With Port now a few games into the Choke experiment, I still wasn’t sure what was actually changing and what his master plan is in terms of the teams tactics and style, the system was still very similar to Jadet’s with the only real difference being Josimar round pegged into a very square hole on the right flank. After all the out and out fuckery during the transfer window to bring in a striker and ditch the one we already had, Roland “Tony” Blackburn (99) was again to be sitting on the bench.

 

First Half

Port were very quick out of the starting blocks with Suarez (5) forcing a save from the Chiang Rai keeper in the first minute of the match after a neat pass from Sumanya (11) allowed Sergio to unleash a low drive towards the bottom corner. This intense opening from Port would continue with Steuble (15) hanging in a nice low cross on his right foot (does he even have a left?) which Go (8) stooped in to head off the post. Ports early pressure finally paid off in the fifteenth minute when the much maligned Sumanya finally put in a decent corner that wrong-footed the Chiang Rai defence and deflected into the net with Dolah (4) in hot pursuit of a final touch.

Five minutes later, Sumanya produced his finest moment in a Port shirt this season, although to be fair, his highlight reel for 2019 prior to tonight could have easily fitted on a Vine clip (if that platform was still going…). He picked the ball up just inside the Chiang Rai half and charged through the centre into the penalty area, shaking off pursuing Chiang Rai defenders before calmly slotting it into the corner past the onrushing keeper. It was certainly the first time this season I can recall seeing this image on the Port scoreboard…

 

 

A couple of minutes later and Suarez almost killed the contest dead, latching onto a stray pass from the Chiang Rai keeper and unleashed a rasping thunderbastard of a shot from 25 yards that hit the underside of the crossbar and came out again. Port kept this tempo up for the rest of the first half and Chiang Rai didn’t know whether they were coming or going. Every time Bodin (10) had the ball, the Beetles’ back line had no real answers except to foul him. The Chiang Rai defence were being pressed in their own half and given no time on the ball. “Friend” of the Sandpit and full-time pantomime villain (fat) Bill (9) was being kept very quiet, especially after an early challenge from Dolah….”a reducer” as Big Ron used to call them.

As the half-time whistle went, it was still hard to take in what had just happened. A Port team that have looked out of sorts ever since the Buriram game had just played the current 2nd place team off the park with Sumanya actually having a big impact on the game.

 

Second Half

Attacking Zone B, Port continued with the same pace as the first half. Pakorn (7) had a free-kick right at the start of the second half which whistled just wide of the post. A few minutes later and Port went up to a 3-0 lead. A free kick was worked out to the wing where Martin Steuble floated in an absolute beaut of a cross for Suarez to leap up and head into the bottom corner. A quick look around the terrace confirmed the goal had indeed come in Toby Time ©. This was getting almost too easy, but this is Port after all… Chiang Rai went straight up the other end with a quick counter attack, A bouncer of a cross evaded the Port defence and Worawut (36), leaving Big Bill with a tap in at the back post.

Back up the other end and Pakorn had a free-kick cleared off the line but Chiang Rai were starting to work their way into the game, the shithousery was beginning to dial up with their entire bench seemingly up off their seats and in the linesman’s ear in front of Zone A, joined by Big Bill who at one point, seemed more interested in protesting on the touchline than actually running around on the pitch. As Chiang Rai began turning the screw more, a handball was awarded against Dolah in the penalty area and up stepped Bill with the penalty to move us into squeaky-bum time. The onset of nerves were not helped by the substitutions, the excellent Bodin was withdrawn for Tanaboon (71) with Pakorn making way for Nurul (31). While Pakorn had redeemed himself somewhat this evening, his replacement Nurul went on to have somewhat of a stinker, blowing chances for Port to put the tie beyond doubt. With just over ten minutes to go, Worawut produced a great save after a free-kick took a wicked deflection on the way through that could so easily have wrong-footed him, yet he produced a great save to keep Port in the lead.

Just as fears of operation f**k-up were creeping in, Chiang Rai’s shithousery finally caught up with them. William (11) was given his second yellow for taking out Go right in front of zone C. With Chiang Rai down to ten, Port were able to get back to doing what they did so well in the first half. Quick passes, neat one-twos and stretching the play. But… as we’d withdrawn Pakorn, Bodin and then Suarez (for Rolando), the replacement attack wasn’t quite up to the task of adding a fourth goal.

There was a sight to behold on injury time as Steuble ran the ball out of defence, pursued by Bill, who soon ended up flat on his face and probably blew a couple of arteries in the process of trying to chase down Steuble in the first place.

The full-time whistle signaled the end of a fantastic performance from Port, who now go into the semi-final draw with Buriram, Bangkok Utd and Ratchaburi.

 

 

The Sandpit’s Man of the Match

My heart says Bodin, who was unplayable in the time he was allowed on the pitch tonight, but I will have to go with Sumanya. I never thought I’d be saying that at all this season! His performances all year have ranged from ref shoving, to anonymous, to flat out awful….tonight he actually looked the part as Ports attack dominated the first half. A key assist in the first goal and a stunning second goal, it goes without saying he needs to turn in more than one of these performances a season.

 

Kenny Goodbourn

Kenny Goodbourn

Kenny moved from the Essex Riviera to Thailand in 2013 and lives in Bangkok. He started following Port in 2016. He has a YouTube channel "Straight Outta Bangkok" in which he follows Port around the country and also features other teams from Thailand and beyond.

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