Double Dreaming: Chiang Mai 0-2 Port FC

Port travelled up to Chiang Mai’s adopted home ground in Chiang Rai after Port’s incredible penalty shootout win over long time bogey team Bangkok United in the FA cup semi-final on Wednesday. This game was never going to live up to that dramatic spectacle, but a win was needed to try and keep Port within touching distance of the top of the table. Most Port fans were expecting a win against arguably the poorest side in the league in bottom of the table Chiang Mai, also known as Chiang Rai reserves. However, we all knew that Port could experience a Chiang over and needed to avoid ruining our title hopes by failing to win here. This one will not go down as a classic, but at the end of the day we got the much-needed win. Now, I don’t want to get your hopes up too much and I’ll whisper it quietly but, Port are still in with a chance of doing the FA cup/league double this season.

Avoiding some of the busier bars in Bangkok due to the rugby, I joined a few of the Port faithful and settled down with a Leo to watch the evening’s entertainment. Port started with a pretty strong line up, the only two changes from midweek being Josimar (30) and Blackburn (99) starting for an injured Suarez and an ineligible Rochela. A surprise inclusion was Kevin (97), who after being injured for so long and playing in the midweek fixture I assumed would be given a rest. The biggest shock came from Chiang Mai who decided to drop their three foreign forwards: Caique (7), Eliandro (9) and Azadzoy (10). This one seemed like it should be a walkover.

 

 

However, the first half left a lot to be desired. The main talking points were how it seemed like Blackburn was born offside and how strange it looked to see Chiang Rai’s stadium so empty. Port had more of the possession and were arguably the better side, but it was overall a pretty drab first half. The aforementioned Blackburn did have the ball in the back of the net early on in the first half. A great cross in behind the defenders from Pakorn (7) found a free Blackburn to head it past the Chiang Mai keeper Narit (1). Our celebrations were short lived however, as it was correctly ruled offside.

A few minutes later Kevin put a lovely ball into the box that was cushioned down into Blackburn’s path by Josimar, only for it to be smashed into the side of the net and once again ruled offside. I’ll let Blackburn off for his offsides due to his cheeky penalty on Wednesday. Chiang Mai were limited to long range shots that never really threatened Worawut (36). 0-0 at the break and not many chances created. We couldn’t help wondering if Port were going to throw away a golden opportunity to close the gap at the top.

The second half started much the same as the first and after 58 minutes Port made their first change, bringing on Steuble (15) for a very quiet Pakorn (7), meaning that Kevin was pushed forward. This move surprised me as it seemed like a defensive change, but I was soon made to eat my own words as Port’s football seemed to greatly improve. The first chance of the half came after Josimar had a decent effort from distance well saved by Narit. Eventually the deadlock was broken after a good bit of football. After a few passes that started at the back with Tanaboon (71), Go (8) fed the ball into Blackburn in the middle of the box and after a nice little turn, he laid it off to Josimar. At this point you’d expect me to say he slotted it home, but instead he smashed it against a Chiang Mai defender’s hand and it deflected into the net. It doesn’t matter how they go in. 1-0 to Port.

 

 

By this point the whole team seemed lifted and it didn’t take long for Port to get another. A few minutes after the first goal, Bodin (10) played a ball into the box that really should have been dealt with by the Chiang Mai defence. It wasn’t and the ball fell kindly to Kevin on the edge of the box who was able to slot it into the bottom right corner. Great finish. 2-0 to Port.

Chiang Mai’s best effort came in the dying moments of the game as Worawut made a fine save to deny Chiang Mai’s Chotipat (21), but in general this was a poor performance from the hosts (if you can really call them hosts). Based on this display they’ll do well to stay up.

Overall, this wasn’t a vintage performance from Port, far from it, but at this stage of the campaign a win is a win, it doesn’t matter how we get them. Port have a game in hand and a win on Friday against Korat will see us just two points behind the league leaders. As I’m sure you’re very well aware, we also have the small matter of the FA cup final on the 2nd November. I had to put a bit a sensationalism in the headline, but if you ask me if I really think we’ll do the double, the answer is a definite ‘no’. But is it possible? We can dream.

 

The Sandpit’s Man of the Match: Kevin Deeromram

 

 

It’s easy to pick a goalscorer for man of the match, but I genuinely feel he was the best player on the pitch for us today. Kevin didn’t have much to worry about defensively but looked great going forward particularly in the second half. He put in some decent crosses and it was an excellent finish for his goal. Great to see him playing well after so long on the side lines. Long may it continue!

 

James Dobson

James Dobson

An English military brat that moved to Bangkok in 2014, James had been starved of a football venue since arriving in Bangkok. He stumbled on the PAT in 2017 and has been following Port ever since. Hiking and cycling are two of his favourite activities outside of enjoying a cold Leo at the PAT.

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