10 Man Port Fight Valiantly: Suphanburi 2-1 Port Match Report

 

It was a wet Sunday night as we travelled to Suphanburi for our matchday 4 fixture, with us coming up against a Suphanburi side that has looked a lot more competent than it has in previous years. They’ve appeared to have gotten their recruitment a bit better this season, though there are still those ‘random’ journeymen that they seem to love to bring in. Regardless for Suphanburi in 2021 its been so far, so good.

We arrived in Suphanburi fresh off the back of a strong performance at home, though there was that underlying feeling of “we should’ve gotten more” the week earlier. 3-points is 3-points at the end of the day, but we’re definitely not hitting our straps just yet. Hopefully, it’s a case of us getting stronger as the season goes on, because otherwise: it’s going to be a long season.

I’m going to cover quite a bit in this review, so apologies in advance!

 

THE GAME ITSELF

We only made the one change for the game, with Tanaboon [#17] replacing Dolah [#4] in the starting-11, with Dolah dropping out of the matchday squad altogether. Considering his performances so far this season, it wasn’t too much of a surprise to see Dolah dropped, though when you think back to Tanaboon’s performance against Police Tero: I was quite fearful of what would play out.

The first chance of the game would fall to our hosts, with the game at just 2:34 on the clock, with Rochela [#22] not making a clear decision whether to challenge for a header with Danilo [#99], or drop off and pick up the flick-on from the Brazilian striker. It meant that the Spaniard was well out of position, with Filipino winger Patrick Reichelt [#11] latching onto the flick-on and running toward the goal. Considering he once played for us, it was very much a case of “when is he going to score against us?” in the pre-game thoughts, which would’ve had him following a tradition of a multitude of players that have achieved the feat in recent years. His early effort was either a dragged shot, or an overhit low cross, but more importantly: no danger to the goal. It was a warning from our hosts: one that we needed to heed.

It took less than 60-seconds for us to fire back an effort of our own, with Bonilla [#9] picking up the ball in our defensive half, and playing a pass to his left. Bordin [#10] feigned and left the ball for Suarez [#5], with the attacking stalwart running across his defender, before playing a diagonal ball to his left to Bordin. His left-footed shot was a bit tame, but Patrick Deyto [#1] could only parry it,  which gave Bonilla an empty goal to tap the ball into. He doesn’t need any more of an invitation than that, and he was more than happy to pass the ball in, and collect his third goal of the season. It was a great bit of play from us, and it showed that when we’re in the mood: we can slice through teams with complete ease. The biggest issue for us is: can we do it more consistently?

 

Given the FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEdom of the Suphanburi penalty box, Bonilla puts Port 1 up.

 

 

A few minutes later, we had the chance to double our lead, with Go [#8] switching the play from the right to the left, with him finding Bordin, who was giving his marker nightmares early on. He looked like he wanted the ball at every opportunity, and he was jinking, weaving, and beating his man time and time again: could he do it for the duration of the game!? His cross found Pakorn [#7] unmarked in the box, though his header was straight at Deyto and an easy save for the shot-stopper. I can’t be critical of Pakorn in this instance, his effort hit the target, and there was no way that he could’ve controlled the ball and had an effort any other way. It was good play from all players involved, though the Suphanburi bench must’ve been wondering how he’d been left so free in the box!

2-minutes later is when the contest was altered. An in-swinging Suphanburi was met by the head of Danilo, who nodded an effort on goal, with his shot striking the arm of Jaturapat [#15] on the line. I’m not contesting that it hit his arm, so you can put your tinfoil hats away! The question is the intent: did he actively make himself bigger? I struggle to see any case for that, and the referee initially said he felt that Jaturapat’s arms were by his side. As shown by the picture below, and if you want the timestamp of the motion in full: skip to 2:10 of the YouTube highlights package.

 

Either the ref is saying arms by his side or doing a Nurul impression.

 

 

To me: it was a penalty. A little harsh, as Jaturapat hadn’t really done anything wrong, but if the shoe was on the other foot, I’d hope it’d be given our way. To then go to VAR, where he needed close to a dozen replays to come to a decision, and then come back and send off the player: unfathomable. I’ll give my proper thoughts on this later on, but this was the first of a number of decisions that seemed a little bit… strange to me. All in all, this VAR incident took well over 4-minutes for them to come to a decision, and once again showed why Thailand has no need for the technology: it just takes too damn long.

By the time the penalty was taken, over 8-minutes had gone by since the initial incident, and Ratchanat [#30] had no qualms with thundering the ball into the bottom-left corner. A well-taken penalty by the midfielder, and it was going to be a tough 75-plus minutes for us to try and get something from the game.

Controversy nearly struck again just 2-minutes later, with Sirimongkhon [#38] taking a tumble in the box after Roller [#33] had nicked the ball off him. It seemed to be one of those instances where the attacker hangs a leg out trying to buy some contact to con the referee, so I was quite surprised that we didn’t see another penalty awarded for our hosts. Credit to Suphanburi: they’ve got enough players and coaches moaning to all of the officials over the course of the 90-minutes, so it’s little wonder that they pick up as many decisions as they do!

Other clubs need to take notice!

There was some nice play from us at the 23:35 mark of the game, with Nelson picking up the ball on the left, and having a run at his fullback. The red card to Jaturapat had seen Bordin drop back to left-back, which was a big loss for us based on his early game showing, so it was mainly Sergio, Pakorn, or Nelson that we saw out wide for the remainder of the half, though Roller got forward a few times still. In this instance, Nelson beat his man quite easily in the end, before trying to square the ball for someone to tap it home. Deyto parried it, and a Suphanburi player rushed in to hack it clear before a Port player could react. It was a moment of promise and would have many fans hoping that we could achieve the improbable.

Our hearts were in our mouths just a few moments later, with a long ball forward from Lossemy Karaboue [#7] finding Patrick Reichelt out wide, with him being ‘touch and go’ regarding the offside. Bordin felt he was, but you could see that his defensive position wasn’t the best [not a surprise!], and it meant that we needed to scramble: quickly. Credit to Worawut for staying big and not making things easier for the attacker, with him being forced wide. His effort rattled the post, and with the rebound landing at the feet of Danilo and an [somewhat] empty goal being in front of him: things weren’t looking promising for us. In what was a great recovery from Rochela, he was able to get across and block the shot, which would keep the scores level: job done, and well done to Rochela for getting there in the nick of time.

 

Last ditch clearance by Rochela

 

 

It was quickly becoming wave after wave of attacks from our host, and if I’m honest: they were unlucky not to go ahead. Danilo had a couple of chances, as did Reichelt, but they weren’t able to find the back of the net… fortunately for us! Reichelt was playing out of his skin, and for me, he was showing why he’s one of the “premiere” ASEAN players that is currently plying his trade in the Thai League 1.

There was still enough time for one final VAR check in the first-half, with a shirt pull on Bonilla in the box not being deemed enough of a hindrance for him to do his job. There was definitely a shirt pull from the Suphanburi defender, and it definitely forced Bonilla into having to change his plan of attack, but it definitely would’ve been a horrendously soft penalty to award too. Considering our complaints towards the match officials over the course of the first-half, I wasn’t surprised to see it waved away, and I think that we can finally put to bed this thought from fans of other clubs that we’re the main beneficiaries of VAR decisions. Watch back our games: we ‘lose’ more than we ‘win’.

To go into half-time at 1-all seemed like a result in itself, though it was going to take a lot of work in the second-half to ensure that we’d bring back a point to Bangkok. Could we do it? Possibly. The odds weren’t in our favour, but the lads had been quite courageous in their performance since the send-off.

 

Nothing to see here. Thai VAR 2021

 

 

Dusit elected not to make any changes to the team during the interval, and I imagine that his message was quite simple too: just keep grafting.

We weren’t going to be getting any favours from anyone, we could only rely on ourselves, and that couldn’t have been more obvious when Suphanburi were awarded a very soft freekick outside the box just after the break. Was there contact? Possibly. I’ve never seen someone get a tap on their foot and grab their Achilles in pain though, so credit to the lad: he conned the referee well. From the resulting freekick, Ratchanat thundered the ball into the bottom-right corner for his second of the night. It was a horror show from all the Port players involved in my opinion. The placement of the wall for starters, the decision to have Siwakorn [#16] separate from the wall initially [only for him to then move towards it when the shot was on its way], and more importantly: it was on the side that the goalkeeper was supposed to be protecting.

Don’t get me wrong: it was a great effort from Ratchanat. Fair play to him for his goal celebration too: it looked quite fun! The main frustration regarding this goal was the fact that we were the creators of our own downfall, from start to finish in the sequence, and that was disappointing. Down to 10-men, 2-1 down, away from home, with around 40-minutes to go: the game had essentially just become ‘mission impossible’ for us.

 

2-1 Suphanburi and the game is slipping away from Port

 

 

More controversy struck just after the 57-minute mark, with an in-swinging corner from Pakorn eventually reaching the feet of Tanaboon, who had an effort on goal from around the penalty spot. It struck a Suphanburi defender, and having seen how the home side had reacted in the first-half: we reacted the same way this time around. It forced a VAR check, but the ball appeared to hit either the back or backside of the Suphanburi player in the replays, and we were instead awarded another corner. Our reaction certainly didn’t endear us any further to the match officials, who possibly had hurt feelings from some of the things that’d already been said over the course of the match, and it meant that we probably weren’t going to be awarded those tight 50-50 calls.

We’d spent a lot of energy trying to get level again, and around the 65-minute mark, that’s when it first started to look like our legs were starting to go. By that stage, the lads had already been playing a man down for at least 50-minutes, and Suphanburi were unfortunate to not have stretched their lead even further. Karaboue had a side-footed effort blocked by Worawut [#24], who’d replaced Bordin a few minutes earlier. Javier Patiño [#30] had also come on, with him replacing Siwakorn, in what would be his debut for the club. It was a somewhat attacking move from Dusit, which I respected, as it meant that we weren’t going to die wondering: bring it on.

Our substitutions meant that we were forced to shuffle the deck so to speak, with Roller heading to the left, and then honestly: I’m not sure what we did further forward. It was a free-for-all of sorts, with the only constants being that Patiño and Bonilla would be furthest forward for us. There was the chance that it’d leave us a bit more vulnerable at the back, but it was worth the risk, and when Danilo was shooting like he was in the picture below: we didn’t need to worry too much it seemed! Considering all his other efforts, this one was particularly bad and forced a chuckle in what had been quite a frustrating match [for me] to watch.

 

Danilo sends one to the moon

 

 

We made our final substitution on 72-minutes, with Nurul [#13] replacing Pakorn, with the thought behind it being to try and use Nurul’s pace to try and get by a tiring Daisuke Sato. Credit where credit’s due: Nurul did quite well in the 20-plus minutes he was on the pitch. He managed to create a few chances for his teammates, he had chances himself, but in the end: it just wasn’t to be for him. He’s such a likeable player to have, even if his end product is quite lacking, and although I think we should consider ‘moving on’ from him in the near future: I won’t begrudge him staying either. He looks like a lad that’s good to have in-and-around the squad, like Athibordee was.

Now: back to the game! Our best chance came with 80:59 on the clock when Roller was able to get by his man after running onto a well weighed through-ball. Considering his goalscoring prowess for Ratchaburi, I’d hoped that he would have shifted the ball to his [preferred] right-foot and shot himself, but he took the less selfish option and tried to cut the ball back for an unmarked Bonilla. Former Port loanee Piyachanok [#5] got his body in front of it though, which meant a promising attack fizzled out. Hopefully the next time he’s in that position, he’ll take the shot on, because he’s shown in the past his ability to regularly find the back of the net. Also, it was yet another fantastic ball from Sergio that had put him in space, with the Spaniard doing a terrific job pulling the strings.

 

It wasn’t to be for Port as they couldn’t quite find an equalizer

 

 

The 83RD minute saw Reichelt finally put the ball in the back of the net with a ferocious left-foot strike but the unfortunate thing for him was that he was offside, and the linesman had [correctly] flagged it. Considering the level of their officiating over the course of the match, it was quite surprising that they’d managed to get something right, so credit where credit’s due.

Suphanburi then had a couple of chances to kill off the game, which they butchered, and though they tried their best to waste as much time as possible: we were still managing to counter them as best we could. In the 91ST minute we were able to fashion out a pinball-esque type effort on goal, with Bonilla having a shot from distance blocked, before re-gathering the ball and crossing the ball in. Of all the people to attack it and head towards goal, I hadn’t expected Nurul to get there, and credit to the pint-sized attacker: he hit the target at least. Unfortunately: it was straight into the arms of Deyto.

It would be the final effort on goal, and considering that there were 3 stoppages for substitutions, so many instances of time-wasting, as well as a VAR check or two: 4-minutes was MASSIVELY ‘unders’ for stoppage-time. The referee had had enough though, and almost immediately after his watch hit the 94:00 mark, he blew his whistle for the final time.

A good win for our hosts, but a lot more questions regarding match officials for some. I can’t fault the performance of either side, and it would’ve been a much more interesting game if it’d been 11v11 throughout the 90. We’ll have to try and square the ledger in the second-leg, but to all the Suphanburi players: good job.

 

Hands up if you’ve had a bad day at work. – because people have shouted at you, what did you think l meant?

 

 

MY THOUGHTS – SUPHANBURI

I was quite surprised by Suphanburi if I’m honest, but it was quite nice to see them not be a complete mess for once. They were well organized, played some decent football, and although that was helped by the fact that they had a one man advantage [some may suggest 2 or 3!], there was enough about them to show that they’ve improved quite a lot compared to seasons gone by. Reichelt was fantastic, as was Karaboue, whilst Sato looks so much better for them than he ever did during his time at Legoland. It just shows that when you get your foreign recruitment right: things tend to go so much more smoothly. With that being said, I didn’t think much of their Brazilian midfielder [Diego Lorenzi], whilst their AFC quota player [Hamed Bakhtiari] didn’t feature either. They’ve made steps in the right direction at least!

It’ll be interesting to see how things pan out for the War Elephant’s over the course of the season, and I’m looking forward to the return game already.

 

MY THOUGHTS – PORT FC

I thought the team battled quite well after the red card, which was nice to see, as in previous years we would’ve gone on to lose quite comprehensively after a decision like that. We’re showing good signs in most areas of the park, but one area that I’d like to see a change made is in central-midfield. As much as I rate the guy, and as good as he’s been in the past, I think Go needs a game or two on the bench to try and spark life back into him. He’s still got all the technical ability that he had before, no question about it, but it’s his mobility at the moment that’s of concern to me. Bring Kannarin in alongside Siwakorn, and watch them either beat our opposition midfield into submission, or both be sent off in the first 20-minutes. It’ll be a fun watch regardless!

In previous match reports, I’ve been quite critical, but overall: I see nothing that’s truly got me worried just yet. There might be minor tweaks that I’d like to see, but nothing substantial where you’re basically going: this isn’t it, let’s start afresh. We don’t need to do that at all.

It’s quite tough to judge a squad after this type of game, and considering the fact that they all grafted like a proper unit after the dismissal: I’m proud of the lads. Hell: Bordin looked like a somewhat competent left-back! Personally, I’d like to see Thitathorn into the starting-11 next week as the replacement for Jaturapat, but once he’s served his suspension: I want him back into the line-up. It’s up to whoever comes in next week to put their case forward to Dusit, and competition is never a bad thing anyway.

 

MY THOUGHTS – THE OFFICIATING

I watch between 4-6 matches across all three tiers [T1, T2, T3] over the course of every weekend during the season, and the biggest thing that I’ve noticed this season is the consistency [or lack of] from the officials. I get that they have a tough job, and I also get that compared to the footballers they’re in charge of: they’re paid quite poorly. But it’s what they signed on for, and to me, the officiating in quite a lot of the games that I’ve watched this season has been… interesting to say the least. There’s other adjectives that should could be used, but that’s not the purpose of these comments. Without match officials, we don’t have a game, so it’s an incredibly important job at the end of the day. So how do we fix the issue? Instead of just rolling our eyes, and accepting it, should we at least try to find solutions?

I think it’s time for the FAT to considering getting rid of VAR [again], because simply put: the current officials just don’t know how to use it properly. On top of that, they’re fortunate that fans aren’t allowed in stadiums at the moment! Can you imagine the atmosphere within a packed PAT Stadium for a VAR call that takes between 4-8 minutes to come!?

A more drastic change could be to drop all the Thai officials down to the lower tiers, and bring in competent referees from abroad. It’s happened in the Gulf in recent years, as well as other leagues within Asia, with the preference being for Japanese match officials to be in charge. Until the referee education courses are at a level where you’re not forced to question a particular person’s competency over the course of 90-minutes: it might be something worth considering.

My first Thai football game was in 2016, and I can [hand on heart] say that the officiating this season has been a hell of a lot worse than what I’ve seen in the season’s gone by.

 

 

 

 

MAN OF THE MATCH – #9, NELSON BONILLA

I thought Nelson was great for us, and the amount of work he put in over the course of the 90-minutes was something that we haven’t been able to see too much since he first arrived at PAT Stadium. Even once we went down to 10-men, he was still grafting, still trying to fashion out chances for himself or his teammates, and to me: it was a glimpse of how important he can be for us. I think Dusit is the type of head coach that will get the best out of him, as no disrespect to Jadet or Oud: they’re just not at the same level. We’re definitely seeing the real Nelson Bonilla so far this season, and I’m going to enjoy it for as long as I can. 3 goals in 4 games is definitely the type of return that we need from our star striker, and I hope to see plenty more goals over the course of the remaining fixtures.

An honourable mention should go to Tanaboon, who I felt was instrumental at the back for us. He’s such a divisive player for all of us on the terraces, but there’s no doubting that when he’s at his best: he’s a quality player to have. The big question is: can he do it consistently? And [perhaps] more importantly: what’s his best position!? Regardless, I’m happy to have seen him do well, and he’s certainly got to have Dusit wondering whether he should bring Dolah back in for the derby next week.

 

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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