Hard-Working Khlong Toey Side Exiles Scum Back To Nonthaburi. Port FC 1-0 Muangthong United

 

In what is typically Bangkok’s most anticipated game of the season, matchday 5 would bring us the “Slum vs Scum” derby at PAT Stadium. In a week that saw restrictions eased, the lack of transparency meant that fans had absolutely no idea as to whether or not they’d be able to go through the turnstiles and take their rightful place back on the terraces. It was only a day before the game when fans were informed that the game would be played behind closed doors, and we were dealt the additional sucker punch of being told we could collect our season tickets at the club shop. Not the smartest strategy in my opinion, but customer service hasn’t exactly been Port’s forte in recent seasons. It meant that we had the choice of heading to a bar that would be showing the game, or yet another night in front of the telly watching: a bit anti-climactic for a derby if you ask me.

A few days before the game, when a Muangthong fan site Thai League Central were doing their previews for the league, the following was said:

“Port are yet to find their feet under head coach Dusit Chalermsan, conceding an average of 1.5 goals per game, compared to his 0.43 tally with BG Pathum United last season. Their 2-1 defeat last week against Suphanburi showed that the side still struggle with game management and holding on to leads, something which the coach was explicitly brought in to help with.”

Now I’m not entirely sure how he came to thinking the boldened part, considering that we played over 75-minutes of that game with 10-men, but it was certainly one of the dumbest most interesting “takeaways” of that game. For a site that pretends they’re here to cover the entire league, they sure can’t get past their biases.

Meanwhile, as a fan site: we don’t have to pretend. We just don’t like Muangthong: simple as that.

 

FIRST-HALF ENTERTAINMENT

We were forced to make a change for the game due to Jaturapat’s suspension, with Nitipong [#34] replacing him. It meant that Roller [#33] moved over to the left, so that Nitipong could take up his familiar spot on the right. I’ll admit that I’ve been extremely disappointed in Nitipong in the last 12 or so months, but I was hoping to see him play well and show that the “old Niti” might still be there. Dolah [#4] hadn’t managed to force his way back into the matchday squad either, which either suggests that he’s injured or out of favour. There’s been nothing released regarding an injury, so my guess is that he needs to knuckle down and show that he deserves to play for the club again. The level of performance from him in recent months hasn’t quite been at the standard that he initially showed for us, but there’s no doubting he’s a quality defender when he’s on form.

It was our visitors that would get the first chance of the game, with just 2:52 on the clock, with Picha [#37] having an effort blocked, with the ball eventually making its way to Popp [#19], who was in the 18-yard box, but out-wide. His ball across the face wasn’t a bad idea, and if they had a legitimate striker on their books [hmmm, Derley?], it might’ve been the Scummers who took an early lead. Worawut [#36], fresh off of getting married, got down quickly to get the ball, and the chance fizzled out.

5-minutes later, we carved out an opportunity of our own, with Bonilla [#9] playing a good ball to his left to Bordin [#10]. With him being marked by the captain of the Scum, and a second defender quickly joining him, it must’ve been infuriating for Scum fans to see Bordin get in enough space to play a delightful ball across the face of the goal. In my opinion: this should’ve been 1-nil! Bonilla was a split second too late to poke it home, whilst Pakorn [#7] made a back-post run. Boontawee [#39] had a chance to clear the danger, and he made no mistake with that. A missed opportunity, but considering the ease at which we’d carved it out: it wouldn’t be our last.

 

 

From the resulting corner, Rochela [#22] had a good chance, which he headed [narrowly] over the bar. It was a few good moments from us, and if fans had been allowed in the stadium: the noise would’ve gone up a few decibels. Our opposition just didn’t appear to be very good defensively, and at full-time, I was once again left wondering as to how their fans can rate Lucas Rocha [#3] so highly.

Our next opportunity came close to the 17-minute mark, with Suarez [#5] playing a ball to Go [#8] on the right, with the Korean midfielder playing a perfectly weighted first-time ball for Bordin to run onto. Considering the condition of the pitch, all of the players did quite well with their weighting of passes, or maybe the groundsman and his staff had done a great job of clearing off all the puddles. Regardless: Bordin was through! I thought his first touch let him down a bit, which isn’t something you can typically accuse him of, and it meant that the defenders had more of a chance to put him off. The ball was now stuck in his feet, and his effort on goal was a bit tame in all honesty. It just wasn’t a great piece of play from the tricky winger, and Somporn [#1] stayed big: blocking his shot, and it was cleared soon after.

We’d now given Muangthong the Scum two massive warnings: there was a strong chance that the next time we attacked, they wouldn’t be so lucky.

 

 

It’s exactly what happened, and boy oh boy, what a turn of events. It’s not a well-kept secret that I don’t rate Đặng Văn Lâm in the slightest, but the mistake that led to our opening goal in the derby made the Vietnamese shot-stopper look like prime Lev Yashin. It was absolutely horrendous from Somporn, and despite the efforts of Boontawee: there was NO CHANCE that Bonilla wasn’t smashing the ball into the back of the net. I’ve skipped ahead a bit, so let’s go through the play by play, because honestly: there’s nothing better than taking the lead against the Scum.

It all began on the left-side of the pitch, with Suarez absolutely rinsing Lucas Rocha [imagine my shock], before playing what [initially] seemed like an aimless ball across the face of the goal. What I hadn’t seen was that the ball had taken a massive deflection off the Brazilian defender, so my apologies to Suarez! So the ball has been deflected, but there’s no pressure on you whatsoever, what do you do? You fumble the ball of course! Despite his best efforts to try to regather control of the ball, Somporn wasn’t able to, and Bonilla wriggled the ball free and fired home. Cue protests from the Scum players, who seemed certain that a VAR check would chalk the goal off. In a time when goalkeepers are so ‘overprotected’, it was nice to see one held to account for his mistake, with the goal standing. Somporn will learn from this, but it’s a harsh lesson to learn in a derby of this much importance. Good thing there were no fans in the stadium eh!?

 

 

There were a few tit-for-tat chances for both sides in the final few minutes of the first half, with Pakorn blazing a left-footed shot high and wide of the goal from distance. Considering his performances for us this season, I’ll cut him some slack for it, but it wasn’t the best effort from the midfield monk. Minutes later, Adisak [#11] fired an effort straight at Worawut, with us then going up the other end and having a shot of our own.

For me: it was [another] bad pit of play from Bordin. There’s no doubting that he had the better of Suporn [#5], who seems to have followed the Muangthing tradition of “let’s name our worst player captain”, with his predecessor [Wattana] now playing in Thai League 3 for Uthai Thani. That’s probably the level that Suporn should be at, based on his performance last night. He was horrendous, and we attacked him at every opportunity, so to me, that says that Dusit thought he was their ‘weak link’ too.

In my opinion, there were better options for Bordin to take, with Bonilla standing on the edge of the box unmarked, and Go making a run to the back-post: unmarked. Whilst I’m pleased that he had the confidence to take the shot, it wasn’t a convincing effort, and this was probably our best chance of doubling our lead. Hindsight is always 20:20 though, and I’m sure that it’s something that’ll be discussed in the review that they do of the game.

It was the final act of what had been an action packed first-half and it was the home team that had looked good value for the 3-points. It was now up to Dusit to show his “game management” skills, and prove that he could get the lads to hold onto the lead: something he was “explicitly brought in to help with.”

 

 

SECOND-HALF BATTLE

The thing that I seem to have noticed [so far] this season has been that we always seem to start games strongly, and then in the second half: we play a bit more defensively. I’m not sure whether it’s due to us not having the energy levels to maintain our first-half performance, or if that’s something that Dusit changes during the break, but it’s something that happened again last night. The lads were still getting through a mountain of work, but it just felt like there was less impetus put on attacking.

What we saw in the second half was our opponents enjoying a majority of the possession, and to their credit: they carved out a fair few chances for themselves. With that being said, there was a noticeable lack of quality in their efforts, and the effort from Mirzaev [#10] just before the 46-minute mark didn’t test Worawut in the slightest. I really rate the Uzbek midfielder, and I still think he’s the best foreign player on the books of the Nonthaburi-based club, but last night probably wasn’t his best performance for them. Not that I’m complaining!

There was a serious warning for us in the 53RD minute, with Picha finding himself in acres of space on the right-side, and firing in a low cross that Tanaboon [#17] would cut out for a corner. Job done in that regard, but considering the time and space that Picha had found himself in: he really should’ve done better. It’s no surprise that Samut Prakan City were more than happy to sell him to Muangthong, rather than [the much more talented] Jaroensak, and whatever the fee was: Muangthong paid far too much. 4 goal contributions in 31 games [1 every 7.75 games] certainly suggests that, with the player having managed 30 goal contributions for Pattaya United Samut Prakan City in 104 games [1 every 3.46 games]. (Those stats are according to Transfermarkt).

From the resulting corner, Adisak leapt like a salmon to head the ball at goal, and thankfully: it rattled the woodwork. It wasn’t the greatest defending from us in all honesty, and Worawut’s decision to charge off his goal line wasn’t the wisest one either. There’s no need for him to do it every time: only leave your line if you’re 110% confident that you’re going to be able to get to the ball! It was a big bullet dodged for us, and the saying of “if you play with fire, sometimes you’re going to get burned” quickly came to mind as I watched it all play out.

 

 

It was our visitors that made the first substitution of the match, with Jesse Curran [#17] entering the field for Teeraphol [#6]. When you consider that we’d been heavily linked with Teeraphol after missing out on Thitiphan, I’m quite relieved that we hadn’t upped our offer for him, based on his performance last night. With that being said, I don’t think that his role for the Scum suits him: you need his energy in the attacking third of the pitch.

The substitution saw Picha tuck into a more central position, with Jesse bombing up and down the right-hand side, and it was his cutback that Picha butchered with 63:53 on the clock. It was a [somewhat] straightforward opportunity on goal, and the fact that he couldn’t even hit the target must’ve had his coach ready to smash a few water bottles or [in Thiago Cunha style] slam a door off its hinges.

We were pushing our luck, no question about that, and a few minutes later: we made our first changes. Nurul [#13] came on for Bordin, whilst Worawut “Baresi” [#24] came on for Tanaboon. For some reason, I think Tanaboon might’ve gone off injured, but considering his last few performances: I hope not. I’m not sure whether I would’ve brought on Nurul personally, but at the same time… he’d brought a lot of energy when he’d come on against Suphanburi, so he did deserve another opportunity. For me, I thought we were giving up a bit too much of the possession, so I would’ve considered making the changes to try and rectify that.

Picha seemed to be the player that was getting into all of the dangerous positions, and it was a mishit cross from him that Worawut was forced to tip over for a corner with 69:52 on the clock. When you consider how many times in this game that Picha was able to find time and space in dangerous parts of the pitch: his lack of goal contributions in his time at Legoland becomes even more bewildering.

 

 

It took us until [just before] the 72ND minute to carve out our first proper attack of the second half, which again… sums up how we’d adjusted our focus to a bit more of a defensive approach. When you consider that we’d shredded the Scummers quite a bit in the first half, I really believe that we should’ve kept doing just that, but as we constantly hear these days: trust the process. A cross from Pakorn was heading towards goal by Suarez, but rather than nestling in the back of the net, it hit the side-netting and got the hopes of a lot of the fans sky high.

A second goal would’ve killed the game because there’s no doubt in my mind: our opponents weren’t scoring 2. Hell, I didn’t even think that they’d be able to score 1!

The next effort that we saw on goal came from the incredibly overrated Weerathep [18], with his effort not convincing in the slightest, and it became a lot clearer as to why he’s been selected to be the ‘base’ of the midfield. When you factor in that he’s not much of a ‘screener’, it’s of little surprise that the Scummers midfield offers next-to-no protection for their defensive unit.

Both sides had made more changes by this stage, with Kannarin [#31] replacing Siwakorn [#16], whilst Korawich [#8] replaced Adisak. Siwakorn had put in a massive shift for us, so it made sense to bring on Kannarin, and I had faith that he’d come on and continue what Siv had started.

As we edged towards full-time, it seemed like the left-side of the Scum had tired, because there were multiple times where Pakorn embarrassed the fullback, and whipped in a dangerous cross. With the clock at 83:55, he put in a cross that Nurul would head over the bar. Anyone else: it hits the back of the net! There’s no doubting that Nurul is able to find some incredibly dangerous positions, but his lack of ‘killer instinct’ means that there’s a lot of frustration towards him at times. I honestly just can’t see him becoming a more prolific attacker, and it’s now 2 games in a row where you feel he should’ve found the back of the net.

 

 

As we edged closer to the end of the game, we saw both teams send out their final changes, with Poramet [#20] and former golden boy Wattanakorn [#33] replacing the wasteful Picha, and tired Boontawee. Dusit on the other hand, brought on Nattawut [#45] for Pakorn, whilst Thitathorn [#3] replaced Nitipong. I don’t think I would’ve subbed Niti, as I thought he’d done well, and I would’ve instead sent Thitathorn on for Pakorn, and added an additional defender to kill off the game.

Thitathorn’s impact was almost immediate, with him mugging off Jesse Curran, with the Australian-Filipino winger voicing his frustration towards the referee, who paid no attention to it.

The game took a turn for the worse during the added on 5-minutes, with a sickening head clash between Kannarin and Chatchai [#4] seeing the game immediately halted and medical professionals enter the field of play. Watching the match highlights, you can hear the “crunch” of the impact, and it was quite sickening in a way. Just to be clear, there was no controversy whatsoever in the collision: it was two players committed to winning the ball. The fact that Kannarin had come out of it with a pretty serious injury is a shame, but it happens in football sometimes.

I have to give credit to the referee for acting as quickly as he did, and I hope that both lads recover quickly from their injuries. Chatchai needed some pretty serious bandaging, whilst Kannarin was taken straight to hospital. The injury update from Port’s social media sites suggest that there’s some fractures for him, so I wish him the best of luck in his recovery.

Once everyone affected was safely off the pitch, the game resumed, with our visitors having the final shot of the game with 101:03 on the clock. With the effort going out for a goal kick, the referee blew for full-time, and the 3-points were officially ours! Normally this is the part where I say “good luck next week” to our opponents, but that won’t be the case this time around. We’ve just shown that we can win a derby in a game with no atmosphere whatsoever, so travelling to Legoland for the second leg shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

 

 

THE LACK OF VAR!

It was amazing to go through almost an ENTIRE game without a single VAR check, which is made even more amazing when you considering the VARcical decisions that the Scum have benefited from this season. The only VAR check that occurred was for Nelson’s goal, and I’ve no doubt there were probably a few fans on the edge of their seats when they saw that there was a VAR check going on. It was nice to see that the process went through in a timely fashion, rather than taking what seems to be the standard 4-5 minutes, and the game continued soon after.

The annoying thing [for me] was that as soon as the ball was in the back of the net, some of the Muangthong players ran straight to the referee, and started demanding a VAR check. I’m not trying to single Muangthong out, because it happens all across the league, but I’d like to start seeing bookings for this type of behaviour. Simply put: it needs to stop. It’s a black eye for the league, and maybe if we start showing the match officials a bit more respect… they might start showing a bit more competence. Leave it to the fans to voice their disagreements with the decisions!

Players play football, the match officials officiate: everyone just needs to do worry about doing their own job.

 

 

MY THOUGHTS – PORT FC

Our first-half performance was magnificent, and the way that we controlled the game was quite pleasing to watch. I thought Nitipong did quite well, so it’ll be interesting to see whether or not Jaturapat comes straight back into the side. Whilst I don’t think we’re playing to our full potential at the moment, we’re seeing regular glimpses of it, and if we can get to the stage where do almost all of the time: I think we’re a scary proposition.

With the fans scheduled to [slowly, but surely] return to the terraces, it appears that the season is truly about to take off, and for any clubs that are headed to PAT Stadium: watch out. For me, fans returning is the shot in the arm that the league has needed, because it’s no secret that a lot of interest  has somewhat faded with only being able to watch games on television. 9 times out of 10, it’s the day out, meeting up with fellow fans, that I look forward to during the week: not what I see on the pitch! The football is just the added bonus, though it doesn’t feel that way at times!

I’m quite content with what I saw last night, though there’s definitely a part of me that wishes that we’d continued to attack in the second-half. With that being said, we’ve kept our second cleansheet of the season, and although the Scummers had a fair few efforts on goal, and the majority of the second-half possession: we came away unscathed. That has to be a good confidence boost for everyone, and it’s almost like Dusit knows what he’s doing… who’d have thought that!?

We’ll travel to Chiangmai United next week, who [you’d imagine] should be without Boli due to him being on-loan from us, and hopefully we can get a good run of form going with another strong performance. Chiangmai United will be feeling very confident after such a strong win this week, but I’ve no doubt that if we play to our true potential… we’ll bring them crashing back down to Earth.

 

MY THOUGHTS – MUANGTHONG UNITED

It must be so demoralizing for Mario and his assistant [Dagno] to watch their side play at times, due to the overall lack of quality available to them. There’s no denying that Mario is one of the greatest attacking players to ever grace the ‘Land of Smiles’, yet he currently has a team that has little to no quality in the front-third. Willian Popp is doing a great job so far, yes, but can he be relied on to do it for the whole season? I’m not so sure. Then you have Dagno, who [to me] is one of the best midfielders to ever play for Muangthong, and he has to watch a midfield that is so disorganized, offers little to no protection to the defensive unit: it’s just a giant cluster-youknowwhat. The lack of signings made by the club during the off-season suggests that the coffers are almost threadbare, though they did manage to splash out and spend a few quid to bring in Teeraphol from Samut Prakan.

This is a Muangthong United side that truly lacks any real quality, and honestly: Mario is doing a brilliant job by being able to keep them competitive. At the rate that he’s going, you have to wonder: if he had the same resources as Gama enjoyed during his time at Legoland, would he bring them silverware? Possibly, but it appears that we’ll never know.

A quick trip to wiki showed me the following stats:

 

 

If those statistics are 100% accurate, Mario deserves a lot of credit, whilst it also suggests that Gama’s time at Legoland might not have been as brilliant as some would make it out.

 

MAN OF THE MATCH – PORT FC

It was impossible to single out an individual for the award, and considering that multiple players had their best game of the season: it just made sense to go with the entire team. Derby games are completely different to your “normal” fixtures, and you could see early on that the lads were up for it. Did we push our luck at times? Certainly. But there was enough about us to get in the way of the Scummers attacks most of the time, and we didn’t make it easy for them at all. Players were consistently putting their body on the line over the course of the 90-minutes, which is a nice change from the “I’ll dangle a foot, so it will look like I tried” that we’ve had to [begrudgingly] become accustomed to over the course of the past few seasons.

For me, there’s certainly been a change in our mentality since Dusit has arrived, and what we’re regularly seeing now is a team that will put in a shift for the 90-minutes: rain, hail, or shine. So far this season, there’s not been a game where you can say “have we even shown up?” because we’ve seen a side willing to graft every time out. It’s a first for me, since I started following the club in 2016, and honestly: a welcomed change. You can certainly say that some of our performances haven’t been too “polished” if you like, but I’m certain that that’ll come in time. The biggest issues that we’ve had over the years [in my opinion] has been a mentality issue, and credit to Dusit: he seems to have gotten it sorted early on.

The level of performances that we’re getting from some of the lads this season has been magnificent, and I’m eager to see if they can maintain it for the entirety of the season. If we’re going to make a proper push for 2ND or 3RD: we’re going to need them to.

 

 

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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