Drawbridge Lowered at Thunder Castle: Buriram Utd 1-1 Port FC

With a return flight and accommodation paid in full to travel to Buriram, I was forced to make the reluctantly adult decision to forfeit any sunk costs and remain in Hua Hin as the preparations for my impending move back to the cold Baltic shores of my native Sweden left me strapped for time in a way that didn’t allow for dedicating two full days to attending what suddenly became the final game for Port fans to see our beloved lions in action before the great eastern beer virus of 2020 reduces human society to its final post-apocalyptic state. Despite the promising start to the season I took comfort in the fact that we usually don’t come close to beating Buriram anyway, especially away from home where having the audacity to even threaten to do so is likely to be resolutely dealt with by the officials. Instead I sat down in front of a screen to watch it in the same manner as most working stiffs unable to take a Monday off even for a game of this stature.

The Port lineup brought a couple of changes from previous outings. Dolah (4) was omitted from the squad with an injury and replaced with Todsapol (6) rather than Tanaboon (71), a both welcome and somewhat unexpected decision, as was dropping the man whose right foot is like Moses to Khlongtoey’s Red Sea: Pakorn (7). Replacing the Midfield Monk was Tanasith (11), who finally got the start he’s earned throughout the preseason and first few league games. Meanwhile, Kanarin (31) learned that you don’t move up a rigid Thai hierarchy by simply playing well, as Siwakorn (16) was back in the eleven.

A very tight start to the game, where Port tried to find the space in behind the high line of the Buriram backline and had already succeeded once, with Bordin (10) being wrongfully flagged off after failing to get control of the high deep pass early on, before Suarez put a delicate through ball in for Heberty to round Siwarak (1) and put us ahead after 22 minutes. The new foreign attacking partnership seems to work fantastically well at times, particularly as Bordin is lurking around ready to break any form of pattern to the play with his sublime futsal skills.

 

 

It would, however, prove the shortest joy imaginable as only seconds passed after Buriram had kicked play back off before a chip in behind Rochela (22) saw both our skipper and, more importantly Rattanai (18), misjudge it severely and let Supachok (19) get a head to it to level things right back up again. Rattanai’s poor attempt to reach the ball only saw him hit the Thai national team star, who was out cold and carried out on a stretcher. Has anyone mentioned before that we’re in need of a proper first choice goalkeeper? No? Well then let me be the first. WE. NEED. A. PROPER. FIRST. CHOICE. GOALKEEPER.

 

 

The goal was followed by the usual disarray at the back for a few minutes, but then we seemed to settle back in and we always looked dangerous at the other end, despite Tanasith having a much harder time starting away to the title favourites than he’s had coming on against the lesser sides. Go figure. Anyway, the first half painted a very different picture than recent encounters with Buriram as we could actually play our own game and not merely be concerned with what the self-proclaimed biggest club in Thailand were up to. 1-1 at the break felt like the least we had deserved at that point.

The second half start in a similar fashion to what most of the first had looked and in the 52nd minute skipper Rochela met a beautifully taken Bordin corner to head the ball into the back of the net. The linesman had however flagged for a retake as Go (8) had become annoyed with Kevin Ingreso (22) being too intrusive in his marking and responded by tapping the Buriram midfielder in his most private parts, an act that somehow led to both players going in the book and Go remaining on the pitch. The more appropriate course of action would rather have been to give our Korean kapellmeister his marching orders, while applauding the German-born Philippines international for reacting with a surprised look on his face instead of going to ground. Lucky as we were to continue with eleven men on the pitch, we grew tired as the second half progressed.

To get some fresh legs on the pitch, Choke replaced the recently recovered Siwakorn with Chappuis (17), and was soon after that forced to bring on Tanaboon as Todsapol was injured as per usual. The changes did not have the desired effect as the initiative was handed to Buriram for the last 20 minutes or so. Bordin looked knackered and came off for Adisak (9), who is a much greater threat when we are 2 goals up and playing keep away instead of chasing the ball. Still, Buriram failed to create anything more than half chances from their control of possession and I would recommend people don’t spend too much time trying to remember which of the Latin American attackers is Cuesta (21) and which one’s Bueno (99), or which one’s Brazilian and which one’s Argentinian, as they look just as average as other foreign players brought in by Buriram since Diogo left. Both will need to improve significantly not to be replaced halfway through the season.

It was actually our own Sergio Suarez (5) who had the best opportunity to win the match after Rattanai tried something completely new and banged a goal kick straight up the middle of the pitch instead of into the stands, with the ball bouncing over the Buriram defense and the Spaniard getting into a decent position in the 92nd minute. But, alas, his shot was parried by Siwarak and the subsequent corner bore no fruit.

Even though we were probably the slightly better side over 90 minutes, a draw in what is the toughest game of the season beforehand is even better when you feel we could well have won it. The team works better as a unit than before and the attacking puzzle that looked so incompatible in preseason appears to have its pieces fall well into place. Over the course of only four games we’ve already showed that we can handle very different types of games splendidly, not even going to try to find the negatives with this one.

 

The Sandpit’s Port FC Man of the Match

 

 

It was hard to pick one player as this one was very much a team effort and there wasn’t any obvious standout performance in my view. However, when it comes to making things happen, one man seems to always have a foot involved. This night was no different and the award therefore goes to Sergio Suarez.

 

Peter Sheppard

Peter Sheppard

Born to a Swedish mother and an English father, Peter, like most Scandinavians, follows the English Premier League as closely as the Swedish league and is an avid supporter of Arsenal FC. Having bounced back and forth between his native city of Stockholm, Sweden, and Thailand for years, he moved to Bangkok to study International Relations in late 2016 and the hunt for a local club to fill the Hammarby IF-shaped hole in his heart began with the start of the 2017 T1 season. A couple of visits to sub-par clubs later he stepped in to PAT Stadium and was home.

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