Bol-i Saw Him Standing There – The Beatles (Remastered) 2-1.

Under more normal circumstances a meeting between the reigning League and FA Cup champions at this time of the year would mark the curtain raiser to new a season. However we’re a long way from even Thai league standards of normal, so this game was the final game of the first leg of the season played (5 weeks after the first matches of the second leg took place).  A second leg set to see teams play twice a week for two months. While for Port there’s the potential for four more FA Cup games and six ACL Champions League group games to come up to the first week of May, busy times are ahead.

 

So just days shy of a year since their last meeting in that prelude to the then 2020 season, Port were looking to avenge that match up, in which a better organized Chiang Rai team played to their strengths and put a lethargic and disorganized Port to the sword, whilst at the same time looking to keep the lingering hopes of a title change alive, following defeat at Samut Prakan when a better organized Samut Prakan Dons team played to their strengths and put a lethargic and disorganized Port to the sword.

 

Port made three changes from that last outing with Bodin (10) and Chappuis (17) coming in for Pakron(7) and Siwakorn (16) (both of whom weren’t part of the matchday squad), while Worawut/Maldini (24) dropped to the bench to be replaced by Adisorn (20).  For the hosts, Phitiwat (6) missed out while Ekanit (37) and Felipe (7) were on the bench.

 

Not just a pretty face, a good performance from Chappuis

 

After the disastrous start last time out, you’d imagine Oud had been hammering home the desire to not give them a look in early on. An excellent plan we stuck to for the best part of three minutes before, Korean midfield Cho (8), who’s headband had more than a hint of Daniel Larusso about it, played a ball into space for Suriya (30) on the left, who just got behind Nitipong (34) whilst being played onside by Adisorn in the middle, who in attempting to step back in line allowed Chaiyawat (26) to steal a yard on him. Suriya got to the ball on the edge of the area just before Worawut/keeper (36) and squares it, where Chaiyawat collected and sent the ball past a flailing Adisorn. VAR has offered football few positives but stopping Chiang Rai celebrating a goal is going down as one of them. And so while people in a broom cupboard got their line drawing apps fired up and decided there was no reason to disallow it, we were left with a couple of minutes to discuss if a slightly more rugged defender of the Dolah or Worawut type would have stopped Chaiyawat or got some part of themselves in the way of his shot. Before debate turned to what was going on at Chiang Rai, had they had a fancy dress party pre match? As the goalscorer appeared to be sporting a haircut that was a homage Cruella de Vil, while Sivakorn’s (10) pink effort was surely a tribute to Layne Staley (ask your local old rocker kids).

 

Chiang Rai scorer Chaiyawat and his interesting haircut

 

When the game restarted Chiang Rai went full Mourinho parking their bus and allowing Port to dominate possession. Despite much probing, the one good chance of the half was passed up as Bonilla (99), who was kept quiet till being subbed off, sent Kevin’s (23) fizzing near post ball just the wrong side of the upright. The second half restarted in much the same manner, more Port pressure saw Chappuis hitting the woodwork with our best opportunity.  Eventually Port got their equalizer, as Chappuis found Suarez (5) in space on the edge of the box before being felled. And it was the Swiss, having his best game in a Port shirt, who sent the deadball into the box, where Cho under no pressure, perhaps weight down by that now sweaty headband, jumped under the ball, allowing Adisorn to send a ball to substitute Nattawut (45) who unmarked 6 yards out, slotted home between keeper and near post.

 

The original Natta bags another

 

However much like myself, watching a Mourinho side in an evening kick off, Chiang Rai failed to last the full 90 minutes without nodding off. So whilst the game had opened up a since the equalizer it would be their normally resolute defence (second meanest in the league) who’s error would decide who took all 3 points. With the 90 minutes up, Suarez won a 50/50 ball on the left touchline and releases Boli (99) and with just Sarawut (33) in front of him (one has to wonder where was Brinner (6) ……and frankly who cares), squared the ball to Nurul (13), who with Sarawut closing in, Suriya chasing him down and keeper Saranon (1) advances got to his slightly heavy chesting and prodded the ball home. What follows is close as close to pandemonium as one man in an empty stadium can manage. As the ever popular Nurul with arms flapping, eyes popping and badge kissed gave a last minute winner the celebration it deserves. Only aided by the camera cutting to Suriya, who had drawn Johnny Lawrence in the prematch dress up lottery, looked close to tears before cutting back to jubilation on the sidelines, as Port celebrated an unlikely win.

 

All in all, a rather pleasant return for Thai football.

Who’s a happy chappie – Nurul with a passionate celebration of the winner

 

Man of the Match

This was very much a team performance as nobody really stood out to make the award their own. So I’ll give it to Boli, as a newly signed star striker having started on the bench in both games at your new club, to decide to pass to a better positioned teammate with only one defender to beat isn’t something many would do in injury time with the game level.

 

One touch is all it takes – to win MOTM

 

 

James Clarke

James Clarke

Originally from England, James first came to Thailand in 2010 to escape big cities and spend time on beaches away from crowds. He now divides his time between living in Bangkok and wishing he was living in Bangkok.

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