Port take the Venom out of the Cobras; Port FC 2-0 Khon Kaen United

 

The weekend was upon us again, which meant just one thing: matchday 3 and the visit of Khonkaen United to PAT Stadium, although the lack of fans in the terraces was still a major miss for our lads. Whilst other clubs may be possibly benefitting, or not even noticing the lack of fans in the stands: it’s a big miss in Khlong Toei. Regardless, it is what it is, and I hope that everyone that’s reading this is doing well, and in good health.

 

This place needs fans back.

 

It was an unchanged Port XI that lined up, and after the performance against Bangkok United, I was hopeful that if they put in a similar shift: a big win would be on the cards. It was our visitors that would carve out the first chance of the game, after less than 60-seconds, with some lax marking at a corner allowing the Khonkaen United attacker Verapat (22) an almost free header from 4-yards. Worawut (36) made himself big, but he was nowhere near the ball, but it was enough to put Verapat off. Bullet dodged: get the action up the other end, please!

We did just that, with some of our lads looking up for it early on. Sergio (5) was menacing, Siv (16) seemed to be everywhere, Pakorn(7) was causing problems: it had the Khonkaen United players at sixes and sevens. A through ball from Roller (33) with 6:29 on the clock had Go (8) in acres of space in the box, although he got the ball stuck under his feet, which allowed Douglas Cobo (30) to make a challenge before our Korean midfielder could get a shot off. It was a missed opportunity, and he should have done better.

 

Marking seems to be optional this weekend in Thailand

 

It didn’t take us much longer to find the breakthrough, with a poor defensive header from Filipino central-defender Josh Grommen (4) going straight to Pakorn, who played a first-time ball to Siv. I’m not sure why the Atthawit (10) felt it was necessary to foul Siv outside the box: he should’ve encouraged him to shoot instead! The foul gave Pakorn the chance to do Pakorn things, and my goodness: it was a thing of beauty! There’s been a real change from the midfield monk this season and although he’s had a few ‘false dawns’ in seasons gone by: I’m truly hopeful that this time it’s for real. There’s never been any doubts surrounding his technical ability, but there have always been questions as to whether he has the hunger/desire to become a top player. I’m not sure if we can give Dusit the credit, but regardless: Pakorn is looking magnificent so far this season.

If you see this as an opposition player: get ready to pick the ball out of the back of the net!

 

You give Pakorn freekicks here, you get punished.

 

Truly, it was a magnificent freekick, and unlike a certain Brazilian who left midway through last season: you can sense there’s a genuine technique to Pakorn’s efforts. It’s not just an “I’m going to hit this as hard as I can, and hope like hell it ends up in the net somehow” type of thought process. The fact that the Khonkaen United goalkeeper KNEW where he was going to hit it, yet still couldn’t keep it out: pinpoint precision. Sorry to wax so lyrical about the goal, but it’s well worth watching on loop for a while… I swear.

The goal allowed the lads to relax, the tricks and flicks, tiki-taka and first-touch football all came to the fray. After a smart press in the heart of the midfield, Go nicked the ball from the Khonkaen United midfield and on to Bordin (10), who took a touch and played the ball back to Go. Once again: he had time and space. This time, he didn’t get the ball caught under his feet, and he hit the ball forward to Nelson Bonilla (9).

It was never in doubt that he’d want to get back onto his right-foot, and after rinsing the Khonkaen United central-defender Apisit (26), he was [kind of] one-on-one with the goalkeeper and sent a luscious dink over the ‘keeper, to put the ball into the back of the net. It oozed class from the El Salvador international, and if he can do this with regularity, it could see him once again become one of Thai League 1’s most feared strikers. A fully fit Bonilla is a striker that will score 20-plus goals over the course of the season, and it’s exactly what we need from him this season.

 

Freeeeeeeeeeeee phone? Bonilla scores for the second match in a row.

 

With just 19-minutes on the clock, it was looking quite precarious for the King Cobras, with our midfield seeming to swarm all over the pitch in search of the ball. After Siv was fouled [again] in the 22nd minute, Pakorn forced yet another save from their goalkeeper from the resulting set-piece, although it was a much more straightforward save this time around. A few minutes later, Bordin won the ball back [after losing it] and received a kick for his troubles, giving Pakorn yet another opportunity to test out Nakchamnan (27) in goal. What followed would’ve been comedy gold if the ball had found its way into the back of the net, but a quick scramble from Grommen got the ball cleared away from danger.

Grommen was involved again a few minutes later, when Roller breezed by him, went down, and earned the Filipino central-defender a yellow card. It earned protestations from the defender, which would become a theme over the course of the 90-minutes, but he should be more frustrated that an opposition player had gotten by him as easily as Roller.

The King Cobras were edging their way back into the game, and a shot from Ibson Melo (71) at 32:39 forced an acrobatic save from Worawut. His matchday 1 performance had been below-par, but his performances last week, and here, have at least given justification as to why the club didn’t sit him on the pine. Regardless: I’m sorry for suggesting it Worawut!

Our next opportunity would come after a through-ball from Siv, with it reaching Bonilla. Unfortunately, it was on his left-foot, and after taking a touch: he could only get a corner. Could he have played a ball back to Jaturapat (15)? Possibly. The goalkeeper was well out of position, and if Jaturapat couldn’t have got a shot off himself: he could’ve at least squared it to someone who could. After watching the highlights again, it would appear that Roller had been unmarked at the back-post. Hindsight is always 20:20 though, and I won’t begrudge Bonilla for attempting to get a second for himself. It’d be our final attacking chance of the half, although our opposition wasn’t done just yet.

Over the course of the match, Ibson was a constant menace, and on another day: he could’ve easily had a first-half brace. We’re quite lucky that Worawut was in such inspired form, and he spared Dolah’s (4) blushes at 43 mins on the dot when he parried an Ibson shot, and then quickly recovered to pounce on the ball. Ibson had gotten by Dolah far too easily, and although his shot seemingly lacked power, it had good placement. In first-half stoppage time, some poor defending [again!] would allow the Brazilian to go one-on-one with Worawut, with the Thai national team understudy once again coming up big for us.

 

Worawut saves, the Cobra’s showed their fangs repeatedly but couldn’t beat the inform keeper.

 

This is where the empty terraces hurt us so much. If you’d had fans at this game, we would’ve been urging the lads to push on to get goals 3, 4, 5 or even more. The opportunity was there: we didn’t take it. It seemed like we went back into our shells, got complacent, and decided that we’d done enough to get the 3-points. It’s such a dangerous way to operate, and we’re very lucky that we weren’t punished for it. It’s up to Dusit to stop this type of complacency creeping into games, and I’m hopeful that in time: he will. It’s still early days from our ‘new’ head coach, and after what played out on matchday 1… it seems that he’s at least allowed to pick his own team, and in the shape that he feels will get the desire results. A head coach picking his own team and tactics? What an intriguing concept!

How long this is allowed to happen? Your guess is as good as mine.

Khonkaen United had made a change during the half-time interval, with Apisit being replaced by Kitsada (7) which saw their captain Douglas Cobo pushed back into central-defence. It’d be the King Cobras that would carve out the first opportunity of the second-half, with a gaffe from Rochela (22) allowing Ibson yet another shot on goal. Fortunately: Worawut was intent on preserving his clean-sheet. From the resulting corner, I honestly thought that Ibson had finally gotten his goal, so I was stunned when the replay showed that Worawut had prevented the WHOLE BALL from crossing the line. Khonkaen United must be disappointed to not have had the same VAR official as Muangthong last week, who’d have without doubt given the goal.

It was more worthy of the “super save” comments that he’d gotten from the commentary team for other saves he’d made throughout the game, although this time: he didn’t receive said comment! What!?!?!?

 

Super save from Worawut to stop the ball from crossing the line

 

We finally carved out our first proper opportunity of the second-half at 56:04, with a cross from Bordin being nodded down to Go by Suarez, with the Koreans effort being blocked by Douglas Cobo. It was a great passage of play from us, and a goal at the end of it would’ve been delightful. Alas: it wasn’t to be.

Just after the hour-mark, Dusit began to make some substitutions, with Nitipong (34) replacing Jaturapat, and Nattawut (45) coming on for Bordin. It meant that Roller moved over to the left-hand side, and although it would make his attacking play a bit more predictable: there’d still be that excitement factor about it too. In truth, the game began to fizzle a bit after the changes, with neither side truly carving out an opportunity that would force either ‘keeper into a save. In the 67th minute, Khonkaen United had made a double save of their own, and we responded again in the 79th minute with another double substitution: this time Nurul (13) coming on for Pakorn, and Kannarin (31) replacing the hero Siv.

The second-half hadn’t produced as many exciting moments as the first-half, bar the save from Ibson by Worawut from the corner, and I found my interest waning at times. A lot of the second-half performances from the Thai League 1 games that I’ve watched so far this season still have that pre-season friendly feel about it, and I’m hoping that it’s something that’ll change in the near future. Ibson forced Worawut into action at 86:31, and with Worawut prevailing once again: the Brazilian attacker must’ve finally realized that it just wasn’t going to be his night. Ibson was fantastic for the King Cobras, as was Douglas Cobo, and if they can both maintain the level of performance from last night: I think that Khonkaen United will surprise a few teams this season.

One final attack from our visitors in the 92nd minute saw Worawut make his ‘final’ save of the night, and he sealed a cleansheet that was well deserved by him. A few minutes later, the full-time whistle was blown, and it was a Port game that was truly lacking any controversy about it. The ‘tinfoil hat brigade’ will have to think of another conspiracy at this rate, though I’m sure there’ll be a decision in the near future that has them screaming their lungs out.

 

MY THOUGHTS – PORT FC

I thought the first-half was pretty damn good from us, so there was a hint of disappointment from me that we couldn’t push on in the second-half and truly capitalize. Whilst I thought Khonkaen United were decent enough, I also think they were definitely there for the taking, and with a bit more intensity from us: we could’ve given our goal difference a real boost. It was a lot tougher for us in the second-half with Douglas moving back into defence, but with us seemingly in second-gear for most of the half… we didn’t exactly help our cause either.

Regardless, it’s 3-points at home, and that’s the name of the game. There’s still quite a lot of improvement to come, but there’s been a noticeable improvement after the disaster that was matchday 1. If we could do some work on our defensive positioning, so that the opposition striker doesn’t get 600 shots a game: that’d be much appreciated! In all seriousness, the defensive unit needs to do a lot better, because we shouldn’t have to rely on our goalkeeper having a ‘worldie’ every week in order to get a result. If the opposition can’t shoot: they can’t score. Get it sorted.

 

MY THOUGHTS – KHONKAEN UNITED

In regard to our opposition. I thought Khonkaen United were quite solid, but a slow start like they had last night was always going to leave them in a lot of trouble. If they can sort that out: they’ll be okay. I’ve watched all of their games so far this season, and they’re a hell of a lot better than the likes of Rayong and Trat were last season, and probably Sukhothai too. Ibson looks so dangerous for them this season, but it’s the backline that’s their biggest weakness at the moment.

There’s some things that they’ll need to fix, probably in the mid-season window, but there’s enough there to suggest that they could secure survival this season. In their two losses [Ratchaburi & us] this season, they faced goalkeepers having great games, whilst Steeven Langil was in inspired form against them too.

Good luck to them, and see you again in the second-leg!

 

Worawut man of the match photo, getting alot of use this season

 

MAN OF THE MATCH – #36, WORAWUT

Was it ever in doubt? Seriously: he’s silenced me with his last two performances. I lost count at the number of times that he saved our bacon last night, and without him: we would’ve been in a world of hurt. An inspired performance from the shot-stopper, and he should be the first name on the team sheet next week. We travel to Suphanburi next week, so hopefully, he can make it back-to-back cleansheets.

Honourable mentions should also go to Nelson, Siwakorn and Pakorn for their efforts, but with the drop-off in performance from the entire outfield: there could only be one winner.

 

UnTacticalTimes

UnTacticalTimes

The Sandpits grumpy little thundercloud. You suspect he hates Christmas and doesn't leave the house over Songkran for fear of seeing people enjoy themselves. The author of this one decided to use a nom de plume of their choosing.

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