Port Draw Comfort as Thunder Castle Falls: Port FC 2-2 Samut Prakan FC

 

 

With Port’s League season effectively ending last Sunday, in acrimonious circumstances at the Thunder Castle, yesterday’s match had somewhat of a pre-season friendly atmosphere. I can’t ever recall entering Zone B feeling so relaxed or, so late, missing the national anthem and finding my usual spot, about ten steps up and directly in line with the left hand post, already taken. After a polite bit of shuffling along, normal service was resumed and the match was underway.

 

Port, third place secured for the second successive season, rested nine of their most likely starting eleven for next Saturday; Dolah being the only ‘cert’ to take the field. The mellow atmosphere on the terraces, most of Zone B was actually sitting down throughout the first half, was reflected on the pitch and apart from the goals, I cannot recall too many moments of excitement. 

 

Even with a severely weakened team, Port fans must have been anticipating a goal fest after Blackburn neatly converted a pinpoint Steuble cross with a firm header across the keeper and into the corner on six minutes. Steuble has performed consistently well for Port this season since his arrival and must be pushing Kevin for a place in the Cup Final line-up. Samut Prakan were neat and tidy without really threatening Port at the back, although Watchara had to be alert on a few occasions when Port’s high line was breached; Dolah being booked on 26 minutes to prevent another break. It was not to last; in the 32nd minute, a delightful move from the away team set Milo (71) free in the box to pull the ball out of the air with a neat piece of control before planting it beyond a despairing Watchara. 1-1, but there was scarcely a groan to be heard at Port’s setback. Josimar came close with a header before half time and that was the end of the first half ‘action’. 

 

The snooze fest continued in the second half with most interest centred around a potential upset at Chiang Mai with Buriram holding a slender lead while Chiang Rai were gradually wearing down a possibly, relegation bound Suphanburi. Blackburn came close early on but it was no real surprise when, on the hour, the Samut Dons franchise took the lead through Teeraphol (19). In retaliation, Blackburn and Nurul, hitting the post with a header, both came close. Go, Kevin and Chanayat (?) all came on during the course of the half and Port subsequently were able to exert a bit more pressure, leading, eventually, to another headed equalizer from Blackburn in the 87th minute. This sparked a flurry of action from Port during the final minutes but the visitors were well worth their point and, to be honest, no-one really cared, because news was coming through of Chiang Mai miraculously holding villainous Buriram to a draw, handing the title to the equally despicable Chiang Rai. 

 

Thank you Chiang Mai!

 

Last week’s defeat at the Thunder Castle by a referee assisted Buriram had left a sour taste in the mouths of most Port fans. Personally, I have rarely felt so dispirited after watching a top-tier Thai football match, even to extent of questioning the point of following it any more, if, at the end of a momentous season, the result of your most important game is almost pre-determined. Apparently, the referee’s performance caused a shit-storm on Thai media and it was largely disappointing that the club did not lodge an official complaint, if only to highlight an aspect of Thai football that, although we are certainly aware of, is entirely unacceptable. Not that Port themselves have not benefited from ‘homer’ referees, a notorious game against Chonburi in recent years the most obvious. 

 

The celebrations in the Sandpit at Buriram’s downfall were heartfelt and genuine and reflected the pain of a wrong done. Over 1,500 fans made the trip to Buriram last week and were fantastic in their support of the club, as always, but they were badly let down by Thai officialdom and, in Port’s refusal to even lodge some kind of protest or ask for certain decisions of the referee to be closely scrutinized, they were further let down by the club. 

 

Now, we must put this behind us. Although this season promised so much more, maintaining third place and reaching our first Cup Final in eight years is progress maintained. With Chiang Rai showing there is life beyond Buriram, it will be interesting to see what moves Port make during the close season to go that two steps further. 

 

Coiffure by Le Sandpit

 

The Sandpit Man of the Match: Rolando Blackburn

I cannot recall anyone being particularly outstanding so I would have to go for Rolando Blackburn, whose two headers were expertly placed and at least put him the running for the FA Cup Final squad.  It’s what strikers should do. 

 

Peter Hockley

Peter Hockley

Peter 'Hockers' Hockley is currently the School Librarian at St Andrews International School, Sathorn and has lived in Thailand since 1992. He has followed Port home and away since 2010, with unbridled devotion and his famous woolly hat. He is a co-founder member of the Sivakorn (is a football genius) Appreciation Society (SAS). At present, the Society boasts a membership of, well, two. Peter has written travel articles for The Nation and Sawaddi magazine, and once had a letter published in Charles Buchan's Football Monthly which won him 5 guineas.

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