Dog Day Afternoon; Samut Prakan City 2-2 Port FC Report

 

Port’s dip in form continued this weekend with an entertaining but downright frustrating 2-2 draw with Samut Prakan City. SPC were clearly the better team over the 90 minutes and sloppy defensive errors cost the away team dearly. The home team almost secured the victory at the death but thankfully VAR saved Port’s bacon.

 

 

After our defeat to Buriram I wasn’t only disappointed with the tactical ineptness of the team but also thoroughly miserable by the lack of atmosphere at PAT Stadium. A certain security guard in Zone B made sure all fun was sucked out of the fan experience, constantly harassing us for any minor misdemeanour (and tellingly lenient on Thai fans next to us) so I was apprehensive about a short away trip. Following Port is a bit like heroin addiction – it’s extremely moorish, so on Friday evening I made a U-turn and purchased a ticket for the next day.

 

Our plucky quartet of farang fans took an afternoon taxi to the province next door and arrived to find a decent crowd of away fans at the stadium entrance. The stadium isn’t known for its location but both the club and entrepreneurial Port fans worked together to make it an enjoyable experience. Kudos to SPCFC for both their organization of the match and the facilities they laid on for the away fans (the mobile toilets were the highest standard I have ever had the pleasure of using, 5 star, will visit again). The ticket purchasing, document checks and welcoming attitude were exemplary and in stark contrast to last weekend’s shitshow. The away end was sold out but all fans were in before kick off and permitted to congregate in their small groups, plus food & drink (and amaretto) was allowed in.

 

So what about the football? Well Dusit had to shuffle the pack due to Suarez’s 2 match suspension after his petulant slap and Bonilla’s injury against Buriram.  Meaning part time footballer Chappius and upfront Javier Patino got an opportunity to showcase their talents deputizing from kick off. I won’t set this up for a surprise revelation later in this report but will give it to you straight now: both players were largely useless and definitely not up to the standard required for a championship winning team.

 

The warning signs were abundantly clear from the outset that our defense was not organized at all for set pieces and in the 18th minute defender Aris Zarifovic, with minimal interference from his marker Dolah, powered a bullet header which clearly crossed the line. Worawut smuggled the ball out and play continued for a few more moments until VAR intervened and the goal was awarded. Worawut then pulled off a great save moments later to keep his side in the game. The best Port could manage was Pakorn’s free kick, which seemed to be a slip but tested goalie Patiwat’s awareness. I had already buggered off to use those fabulous toilet facilities and couldn’t resist a cheeky Leo on the way back to delay my return. When your highlight of the first half is a dog running onto the pitch, staying outside for a pint seemed to be the right option.

 

 

Port raised their standards for the second half, with both Bordin and Patino squandering decent chances before the former bundled the ball home from a few yards out in the 60th minute. Captain Rochela then saw his near post header come off the frame of the goal but no one could capitalise on the rebound, and winger Pakorn started to test the SPC defense with a series of dangerous crosses and shots. A corner in the 75th minute saw yet another scramble after Patiwat missed his punch and Go Seul-Ki headed home with his second attempt and received a cheeky, non-intentional head butt for his troubles. The away fans erupted; it had been a long slog to get here but Port were finally in the driving seat.

 

 

Not for long. It only took a few minutes for SPC to find the equaliser. Winger Daisuke had time and space to put a beautiful cross into the box and captain Chayawat outmuscled Jaturapat with ease to bury his header past Worawut. In fairness they totally deserved it; they played the better football and coach Ishii is obviously getting the best out of his squad. Chayawat played classy, intelligent football throughout the match and winger Jaroensak really stood out for me; he looks set for a great career.

 

Thai football wouldn’t be the same without it’s shithouse moments and, lo and behold, in the first minute of injury time Daisuke went down in the box after minimal contact from Roller. The replays show that the winger avoided Roller’s foot but went to his knees after the Port man put an arm across him. It certainly impeded but didn’t obstruct; the winger could have continued his run. Thankfully the referee used VAR to correctly rescind his original decision.

 

 

The bottom line is Port weren’t good enough to win this match, and aren’t good enough to win the league with this squad of players. Many have become far too comfortable and there is not enough depth in the squad to challenge them to fight for their place in the starting XI. SPCFC should be applauded for the effectiveness of their football, and the spirit in which they played it. Port seemed disjointed for large parts of the game and only battled for the points in the second half. It was great to celebrate taking the lead but oh so disappointing to see them throw it away moments later.

 

Finally it’s great to have away days back. Both sets of fans did their best to generate a rousing atmosphere, and standing on terraces with your mates while cheering/hurling abuse at the top of your lungs once again was great fun. Our team might not be up to much this season but this was the best matchday I’ve experienced in a long time.

 

Man Of The Match: Pakorn Prempak

Tricky one this as no one really deserves it but for his second half efforts, and being the most dangerous player over the full 90 minutes I’ll give it to the midfield monk. Honourable mentions go to Bordin, Go and Worawut and dishonourable mentions to just about everyone else.

Toby Knight

Toby Knight

North Londoner, Arsenal fan and believer in lucky cigars, Toby happily stumbled upon Port FC 4 years ago. The rest, as they say, is history.

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