Suspended Sentence: Port ? – ? Police Tero

 

Ahhh, how I’ve missed Thai football. With it’s flawless planning, military execution and complete aversion to games ending in farcical circumstances, it was just another predictable week where everything went to plan, and everyone went home happy.

The end.

 

 

Wait. Why is everyone singing Happy Birthday?

Well, Thai football did indeed make a predictable return to form on the first competitive weekend of action since March, but as we may have fairly predicted, the football gods got straight about making up for lost time. Firstly, a Buriram player tested positive for Covid, before then re-testing negative, but not before not only Buriram’s game, but the games of everyone they’ve played against in the last 2 weeks, were cancelled. That gave Port the chance to go top of the table with a win against a Police side who had been impressive before the long break.

Having heard in advance that our beloved vendors were not going to be selling their wares at PAT, I took a slight detour from my usual pre-match routine, passing by the rat bar (a little establishment in Khlongtoei market that sells cheap beers along with the chance to get up close and personal with Khlongtoei’s sewer-dwelling wildlife) where I encountered a dejected figure slumped over one of the two VIP tables. Apparently someone hadn’t got the memo that season ticket holders and a couple of hundred fans who queued from as early as 9 o’clock on Saturday morning (for tickets that went on sale at midday) were the only ones getting in.

Still, armed with my season ticket and a bottle of the usual I made my way through the market, ducked and dived through the roadworks and joined the queue to get in to the club shop. With a one-in-one-out policy enforced on the door, I had to wait a few gulps, but pretty quickly got not just my ticket for this game, but also the next. Result!

Discussion in the sandpit was as lively as ever though, with most of the usual suspects holding court in the usual places. Then there was the inevitable fuckery. The Sandpit’s media pass, as well as all of those besides Pang’s personal photographer, were denied entry at the door, leaving several bemused people no way of getting in. Had they been told the hoops they were expected to jump through to gain entry? What do you think?

Still, action on the pitch was just about to get going, and there were some interesting choices in the lineup. Rattanai (18) started in goal as expected, but neither Dolah (4) or Adisorn (20) were fit to start, meaning that experienced stalwart Todsapol (6) and untested youngster Thitawee (2) were paired together at the back. With Go suspended for punching a Buriram player in the balls, Kanarin (31) and Siwakorn (16) started in midfield, and Bonilla (99) was adjudged fit enough to lead the line. Spoiler alert. He wasn’t.

Now I’m at a loss for what to write. 88 minutes of football were played, the score was 1-1, and the lights went out. Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you! The lights on everyone’s phones soon illuminated the stands, and the Khlongtoei faithful joined in wishing the football gods a happy birthday. May they continue to have their wicked way with us.

Loxley behind Zone B, the Port Authority, the apartment building behind Zone D and basically everything except the stadium were all operating as usual, and even the lights over the sandpit were working intermittently. It was just the stadium in darkness.

So what does it mean? Well, Thai League rules state that if the power cut effects only the stadium, as it did in this case, then the club has 60 minutes to get things working before the game is forfeited 0-2. 60 minutes came and went without so much as a flicker of light, so by the letter of the law, Bordin’s (10) stunning strike to put us in the lead and Thitawee’s awful defensive error that led to Police’s equalizer count for nothing. Police will be awarded a 0-2 win. Or will they?

 

 

Well I don’t want to give anyone false hope, but the sceptic in me is still unconvinced that this is going to go down the way it undoubtedly should. What if, in Tuesday’s meeting in which the result is to be ratified, Port and Police both propose playing the last few minutes behind closed doors? Of course that’s not in Police’s interest, but I’m sure it could be made to be in their interest. Stranger things have happened. Will the Thai FA still stick to the letter of the law, with a proposed alternative on the table, knowing that Pang has spent 16 million baht to plug a hole in their budget? This is of course why Pang’s donation to the FA should never have been allowed in the first place, and will be one of the most obvious acts of corruption I’ve ever seen if it does happen. So I hope it doesn’t. But it might. Maybe.

So what did we learn tonight from the action itself?

Thitawee had a shocker. He’s young, it was his first game for Port, and there were some positive signs, but this was a performance he’ll do well to forget about. Better luck next time, fella. Bonilla is not fit. Not even close. He barely managed a sprint in the hour he was on, and should never have been in the squad, let alone starting. Heberty (37) was poor, Suarez (5) had a real off-day and Adisak (9) looked lost when he came off the bench for Bonilla. Port’s only attacker who looked on it was Bordin. Helping out defensively and looking dangerous going forward, he was excellent. His ‘goal’ will be expunged from existence if the 0-2 result stands, but I won’t forget it in a hurry. What a strike! Nattawut (45) made another promising cameo too, and Rattanai produced a superb stop in the first half, but those are the only positives I can muster.

Never mind about the result, whatever happens will happen and hopefully the floodlights will work next week. Most of all, it’s good to be back! The chaos and the uncertainty is part and parcel of Thai football, and it gave us a particularly entertaining evening.

We’re at home next week, and I expect things will be the same. Or different. Who knows? Media pass holders will probably not get in, season ticket holders have got their tickets already, and there will likely be more very early queueing for the remainder on sale. See you there! Maybe.

 

Tom Earls

Tom Earls

Having moved to Thailand aged 10, Tom has been playing or watching football in Thailand for more than 18 years. A keen follower of the Thai National Team and an avid fan of Port FC, he is a regular contributor to The Sandpit.

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  1. […] punishment yesterday – a 50,000THB fine and the win awarded to the away side. You can read a frustrated Tom Earls’ report on the game here. The decision means Tero leapfrog Port in the table and more importantly, in what looks like being […]

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