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Tom’s Transfer Talk: Meerkat to Swat Cats

 

Anon Samakorn, known by me as ‘the meerkat’ for his head-swiveling awareness in midfield, has finally ended a frustrating spell with Port and joined Korat on a free transfer. Anon, who briefly broke in to the team shortly after his arrival from OHL Leuven in 2018, was underrated and underused by successive Port managers, having shown great promise in those first few games before being unceremoniously dropped out of sight and out of mind. He would make just two appearances in 2019.

 

 

 

I thought Anon was a player with great potential, but apparently Port management didn’t agree, and have deemed him surplus to requirements for the following season. After the arrival of Kanarin Thawornsak, it was clear there was no future for Anon at Port, and hopefully he will find more opportunities to start games at his new club and fulfill his potential there. We’ll miss you, fella.

 


 

Other news from the first day of training yesterday were the confirmed arrivals of Thanasit Sripala, Nattawut Sombatyotha, Tanakorn Dangthong and the aforementioned Kanarin Thawornsak.

 

From left to right; Kanarin, Nattawut and Thanasit

 

Curiously, defender Worawut Namwech was also pictured training, which makes no sense to me as I thought he was only ever on loan at Port, and was moved from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai at the mid-season interval.

 


 

And finally, Madame Pang was yesterday pictured meeting with a BG big-wig, but there is no indication who or what she may have been discussing. Midfielder Thitipan Puangchan, a favourite of mine, will be returning to BG from the J League next week, so that could be a possibility. I mean it’s not like we just signed 3 midfielders or anything!

 

Port’s Non-Starter XI

 

After Port’s mid-season, featuring a spate of off-the-wall signings, I thought I’d try and cobble together a team of players who now could feasibly fail to register a single minute of T1 action between them in the rest of 2019. Why? Partly because I’ve got nothing better to do today, and partly to make the point that after cutting the squad down to a manageable size a couple of seasons ago, it has once again swelled to the point where it’s hard to see how many players are ever going to get a game, and if that’s the case, what are they doing there? The amount of players currently registered for T1 action is 29, while a further 2 (incidentally probably the two highest paid players in the squad) are only available for cup action or not at all. There are also 7 players out on loan, taking the tally to 38.

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Port Suffering From Yellow Fever: Port FC vs. Suphanburi FC Preview

 

Two teams who recorded impressive victories last week face off in an intriguing encounter this Saturday at PAT Stadium. Looking at the table, top dogs Port are clear favourites to overcome Suphanburi, who were bottom of the table until their victory last week, but with the attacking talents at their disposal and the utter insanity that has been T1 so far this season, absolutely anything is possible. Port are without key central midfielder Go Seul-ki and right back Nitipong who are both suspended, but Suphan will also be without their own Korean midfielder Kim Sung-hwan as he is on loan from Port.

 

Suphanburi FC

Habitual Mediocrity

 

It’s worth mentioning briefly Suphanburi’s decline into mediocrity since 2013. After their promotion in 2012, The War Elephants finished in the top six for three successive seasons, boasting some of the league’s best talent like former Port star Pipat Thonkanya (visit our ‘Port Legends’ page for more on him) and a certain Dragan Boskovic. They were even managed by Mano Polking for a brief stint. The likes of Charyl Chappuis, who gets a lot of stick on here although when he was with Suphanburi he was without a doubt one of the best performing Thai players in the league, Carmelo Gonzalez and Thai league veteran Bjorn Lindemann were also part of a team which appeared to have an exciting future challenging the top teams in T1 for honours, but then something went wrong. It’s hard to pinpoint what, but since their initial success, Suphanburi have finished no higher than tenth, and there’s little in their current form to indicate that they’re ready to break that slump this season. They’ve got a highly rated T1 winning coach in Totchtawan, a group of talented Thai youngsters and two of the top foreign strikers in the league, but they just can’t seem to recapture that winning formula.

 

Players to Watch

 

Another T1 team, another Brazilian strike force. On paper this one ought to be among the very best in the league, but while Jonatan Reis (7) and Cleiton Silva (23) have a respectable 6 goals between them so far in 2019, their team has scored just 8 goals in total, and neither has yet provided an assist for a teammate. For some reason they’re just not quite gelling. While Reis has been spending a lot of time dropping back to pick up the ball and start attacks from midfield, Cleiton has held his position up front, and although this seems like an ideal partnership, it just hasn’t clicked yet. Either Reis has failed to find his teammate in dangerous areas, or Cleiton has missed the chances when they’ve come. I shouldn’t talk the pair down too much, though. They’re both superbly talented, and they both managed to get on the scoresheet last time out against Korat, potentially lifting spirits in Suphanburi and giving them the confidence they need to fulfil the promise their partnership holds.

 

 

Besides the Brazilians, it’s really tough to pick out anyone else on current form. The players I rate at Suphanburi have been spending far too much time on the bench. You’ll have heard me talk up the likes of exciting Thai forwards Thanasit Sriphala (11) and Chananan Pumbuppha (10) in past previews, but these guys have been in and out of the team this season. Even experienced Thai national team legends like defensive midfielder Adul Lahso (19) and goalkeeper Sinthaweechai Hathairattanakool (18) haven’t been playing recently, with former Muangthong coach Totchtawan favouring lesser known players. How’s that been working out?

One of those lesser known players will be known to most Port fans, though. Last time the sides met at the PAT, Meechok Marhasaranukun (20) provided two excellent assists from the right flank, and he will be expected to start at right wing back. Quality defensive duo Anderson (3) and Suphan Thongsong (26) will make up two thirds of their central defence, but surprisingly they’ve conceded 12 goals already in 2018, so clearly there are as many problems at the back as there are going forward.

 

 

Mark Hartmann (9) wouldn’t have merited a mention unless he’d scored an excellent header off the bench last week to spark Suphanburi’s comeback, but the English-born Filipino will almost certainly now make a second half appearance. If you haven’t seen him before, he’s not easy to miss, what with his long flowing locks and the unmistakable aura of a player who couldn’t quite cut it at the Gang Warily Recreation Ground. That’s the home of Blackfield & Langley of the Wessex League, for those of you unfamiliar with English ninth tier football. Shame on you.

 

 

Form

 

Suphanburi have been consistently unpredictable so far this season, but on balance have fallen far short of expectations. It took three draws before they finally recorded a win, but that was followed by three defeats, before they bounced back with a win last time out against Korat. Here are their results in full.

  • Chainat 0-0 Suphanburi
  • Suphanburi 0-0 Buriram
  • Sukhothai 1-1 Suphanburi
  • Suphanburi 3-0 Chonburi
  • Trat 4-0 Suphanburi
  • Suphanburi 1-2 Chiang Mai
  • Bangkok United 4-0 Suphanburi
  • Suphanburi 3-1 Korat

 

Port FC

Yellow Fever

 

Port face yet more challenges to their squad depth this week, with suspensions to key players Go (8) and Nitipong (34). The yellow cards have been coming thick and fast this season, and both have already made it to four. Go will most likely be replaced by Athibordee (35), who has seen a lot of action off the bench so far in 2019, although we are clinging to the hope that one of the breakout stars of last season Anon (20) will be picked instead. Anon performed superbly in some big games for Port last term, and is a player Port should be trying to give as many minutes of T1 action to as possible, but Jadet seems to have promoted Athibordee, so that’s probably that. That is unless Suarez is available for selection after missing out last week. If the Spaniard is fit, Jadet could also ask Siwakorn to play a little deeper, with Sumanya alongside him and Suarez further forward. The spherical supremo has certainly got options in the middle of the park.

Normally Adisorn (13) would also be part of the conversation when the DM spot is up for grabs, but with Nitipong being out, he is sure to deputize at right back instead. With no other options available to Jadet, an out-of-position defensive midfielder will have to do. If only we’d considered our paucity of right backs in the transfer window when we were signing left backs like they were going out of fashion!

The rest of the team could remain unchanged, although with captain Rochela (22) returning to near full fitness it’s a question of when not if Todsapol (6) drops back to the bench. Watchara (1) has surely made the goalkeeping spot his own with an assured performance against Muangthong. I haven’t seen a Port goalkeeper looking as confident as Watchara does in all aspects of his game for quite some time. Bodin (10) and Pakorn (7) are undroppable the way they’re playing, so Nurul (31) is going to have to wait for his chance when he returns from injury, too. What an impact sub to have!

 

Predicted Lineup

 

Please, please, please pick Anon.

 

 


 

The match will be shown live on True Sport 2 at 20:00 on Saturday 27 April, 2019. For those who can’t make it to PAT Stadium, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match on a big screen with sound. Don’t forget to wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount on drinks.

 

Southern Discomfort: Southern District FC 3-2 Port FC (Friendly) Match Report

 

 

Hong Kongese club Southern FC overcame a makeshift Port side 3-2 in what for them is pre-season preparation, and for Port a mid-season break. The club, curiously known as The Aberdeeners, fielded a strong team complete with a host of foreigners, while Port fielded a combination of first team, second string and Port B players, with the foreign contingent plus halfies Kevin (97), Dolah (4) and Slot (11) running laps and stretching on the sidelines.

Injured winger Nurul (31) was seen hobbling around, first wearing padding on his knee and then not. He’s nowhere near fit just yet. Rattanai (17) was also spotted looking fragile, but Adisorn (13) was doing some more vigorous training indicating that he is nearing fitness.

 

 

From the off it was clear that Southern were taking proceedings rather more seriously than their opponents, with instructions constantly being barked out by Anglo-Pakistani defender Zesh Rehman at the back, a mystery foreign-looking fella with a Chinese name in midfield and feisty Brazilian forward Souza. While Southern looked dangerous with some direct balls over the top, Port’s play in midfield was a bit tidier if less threatening, with Anon (20) and Siwakorn (16) looking good in the engine room.

Port’s defence looked less than comfortable dealing with Southern’s Brazilian duo up top, with the worst offender being stand-in captain Todsapol (6) who, after getting subbed off at half time against Buriram, had another stinker. His partner in defence was Port B defender Sarawin (48) who actually looked calm in comparison, and dealt with everything that came his way with no frills and no drama.

It was no surprise when Southern took the lead, but Port hit back nearly straight away. A long ball over the top was chased down by Arthit (29), and Port’s second choice striker showed excellent technique with the outside of his right foot to slide the ball in to the side netting.

The rest of the half provided what you’d expect. Anon looking like Port’s best player in midfield, some lovely touches then some awful touches from Bodin (10), Pakorn (7) trotting around and shooting from corners, Jetjinn (15) getting in to good positions then providing awful service and Terens (28) running around a lot to no particular effect.

It was Terens who provided the only other first half drama as he went barreling in to the back of a Southern player in the penalty box with such force that he ended up rolling up his back and over his head, plummeting to the floor with such velocity that he managed to cut his head open in the landing. After some lengthy treatment, poor old Terens was replaced by Somprasong (14), finally getting a chance to strut his stuff for the Port fans.

Somprasong looked feisty in the challenge and played very sensibly with the ball, almost always retaining possession and playing the correct pass, but he didn’t really show the dynamism we were hoping to see, and that he will need to challenge the likes of Nurul and Terens for a permanent place in the squad.

 

 

At half time there were several changes, with more fringe players getting the opportunity to impress. In the case of young forward Chanayut (99) he has done that on a consistent basis whenever he has had the opportunity, and this was no exception. He was probably Port’s best player in the second period, always looking to drive play forward and showing a very promising turn of pace with the ball. Fellow B teamers Pummared (41) and Apisit (45) looked decent if unspectacular in midfield, with Anon moving back in to defence with Todsapol, where he looked… like a midfielder playing in defence. Of course in friendlies it’s worth trying these things out, but in this case the experiment was decidedly a failure.

Southern scored two more goals, after which Port finally decided to start playing again. Bodin came back on rolling-subs style and got Port back in to the game with an absolute screamer from the edge of the area. After a goal mouth scramble the ball came to the Fresh Prince and he took a touch, before unleashing a wicked dipper of a strike which was over the keeper and under the bar before he knew what had happened. If only he would show that kind of killer instinct more often when it mattered!

By way of rounding up, Nitipong (34) attacked a lot, Watchara (1) was mistake-free in goal and distributed the ball well and Chakrit (9) was useless playing out of position (quelle surprise) up front.

All in all, a good result for Southern and a good workout for some of Port’s second and third string.

 

The Sandpit’s Men of the Match

 

 

One from each half. Anon bossed the midfield in the first half, and Chanayut drove Port forward relentlessly in the second, showing good footwork and impressive acceleration.

 

The Portlist 8: You Can Teach ’em to Type…

 

1 (5) Kim Sung Hwan

Well, well, well. He’s made it. Kim started off inconsistently, was plain poor for a while but recently has been Port’s best player in most of the key games, and is one of very few real leaders on the pitch. The emergence of Anon has given him the freedom to push further forward, and he’s added goals and assists to his (at the moment) excellent passing game. It’s just a shame that most of his teammates haven’t shown up to give him a hand.

2 (1) Sergio Suarez

Suarez has not quite been himself after returning from injury, and is now set for another spell on the sidelines. Nevertheless, the performances and results with him in the team are so much better than the performances and results without him that he simply has to be near the top. Suarez’ stats per game are second to none in the Port squad, but he has managed just 19 starts in 2018. That’s a real concern.

3 (2) Dragan Boskovic

Boskovic’s season looks like it’s going to be one excellent and prolific run of form sandwiched between two underwhelming and barren runs of form. Nevertheless, it’s hard to make an argument that many other players are more key to Port’s success this season than Dragan. His numbers are the best of any Port striker since Leandro (20 goals and 10 assists in all competitions), and if he plays well and scores another 6 or 7 goals, Port will likely finish third.

4 (4) Kevin Deeromram

One thing that has been more or less constant throughout all of the formation changes in recent weeks is how reliant Port are on Kevin. Without him the left hand side is a disaster. He has played left back, left wing back and left wing in recent weeks, and no matter what Jadet does with the team, you can be sure Kevin will be a key part of it. That was a peach of a cross on Sunday, too!

5 (3) David Rochela

El Capitan is starting to slip down the Portlist. It’s not just the own-goal on Wednesday – that could have happened to anyone – but rather the feeling that the Spaniard has been at fault for more goals of late than we’re used to seeing. If Port go on another spending spree this off-season then, unlike in previous seasons, surely other options in central defence are going to be explored.

6 (26) Anon Samakorn

The very big winner of this Portlist, and the biggest single jump yet. Boy did I underestimate this youngster when I dismissively dropped him in at number 26! To be fair I hadn’t seen him play yet. Having been in a Port B squad and been an unused substitute for the first team it looked like Anon was going to be making up the numbers until next season, but Jadet flipped the script on us and showed surprising faith in his new midfielder. Anon repaid that faith with smart, solid performances on the four occasions he has been called on. You’ll notice that he’s risen higher than Adisorn and Siwakorn, and should now be considered Port’s best Thai midfielder.

7 (6) Nitipong Selanon

Excellent assist for Port’s only goal on Wednesday, and an all-action display on Sunday, too. He’s back from suspension, and much like Kevin his stock can only have risen in the formation reshuffle. He’s most definitely Port’s best right full back and right wing back.

8 (7) Elias Dolah

Dolah has gone from strength to strength since he finally cemented his place in the team, and only drops a place because of the arrival of Anon. The errors have become less frequent, and he even picked out a 50 yard pass that Kim would have been proud of on Wednesday. I wouldn’t have thought that he’d have been within three places of his central defensive partner on the Portlist a few months ago, that’s for sure. Keep it up, big fella!

9 (9) Rattanai Songsangchan

A sustained run of fitness has, as we thought, led to Rattanai getting back to something like his best form. There are still nagging issues though, like communication with the centre backs and distribution, which prevent him rising higher for now. Oh, and he’s only gone and got injured again!

10 (11) Pakorn Prempak

Pakorn is still in the first XI, but only because Nurul is injured, Bodin isn’t productive enough and the 5-3-2 experiment seems to have ended in failure. He looked rubbish in the first half on Wednesday when he was playing more centrally, but Port will be going back to his and Jadet’s favoured 4-2-3-1 for the rest of the season, meaning that Pakorn will keep grinding out the assists and popping up with the odd goal form the right wing. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I feel like Pakorn is lazier now than he’s ever been for Port, and that’s saying something. With his ability and productivity he should be at number 5 or higher at all times, but with the current level of effort and teamwork, I just can’t bring myself to put him above hard workers like Kevin, Nitipong, Anon and Dolah. Cracking free kick on Sunday, though. Pick that out!

11 (10) Siwakorn Jakkuprasart

He’s still hanging in there in the first XI, but only just, based on the fact that he offers more creatively than the other midfield options, although this doesn’t translate in to goals or assists nearly enough. He certainly isn’t in there because of his shooting, although he unleashed a surprisingly threatening attempt on the Buriram goal on Wednesday.

12 (8) Adisorn Daeng-rueng

He’s flying up and down the Portlist much as he flew up and down Port’s right flank against Bangkok United, showing his versatility by playing right wing back in Nitipong’s absence. Unfortunately he had the same problem on the flank that he has through the middle: the fact that he’s just not a very good footballer. I’m reminded of a quote from Charlie Wilson’s War about hiring secretaries: “You can teach ‘em to type, but you can’t teach ‘em to have big tits.” Adisorn is an enthusiastic typist, but doesn’t and never will have the tits to be Port’s first choice defensive midfielder, although he will continue to be a crucial squad player. Currently out for roughly a month with an unspecified injury.

13 (13) Todsapol Lated

Had an absolute shocker on Wednesday. Lost his marker, who scored from the early corner, then less than a minute later panicked after an admittedly poor ball from Kim and gave Buriram an easy second goal which turned out to be decisive. Most definitely third choice centre back, which after Port return to 4-2-3-1 means a place back on the bench.

14 (14) Worawut Srisupha

Had been getting regular games with Port still in the cups, but Rattanai was called on when things got serious. Will only see more action if Rattanai’s injury keeps him out until after the break.

15 (12) Bodin Phala

The more Bodin continues to look promising but produce nothing the more places he will lose. Has either started or been subbed on in almost every single game, but rarely makes a decisive difference.

16 (16) Arthit Butjinda

Just when you’d forgotten about him after a few weeks on the sidelines, Arthit showed us what we’d been missing in his absence. Decent flick-ons and hold up play with the odd horrific touch thrown in, and a completely unpredictable mash-up of the good, the bad and ugly in front of goal. He was desperately unlucky not to get Port back in tot he game with a textbook striker’s finish with his weaker foot on Wednesday, but was denied by the superb Siwarak, T1 player of the month for July.

17 (18) Panpanpong Pinkong

He’s not gaining a place because he’s any good, just because with Kevin getting significant game-time at left wing in recent weeks, he occasionally slots in at left back. Now injured, but should be back by the end of the break.

18 (15) Terens Puhiri

Only just hanging on to a place in the matchday squad right now. It’s been a while since Flash has touched the ball. Boooo.

19 (17) Chakrit Rawanprakone

His performance at right wing back looked almost like a left winger playing in a completely alien defensive position. Funny, that. His abysmal finish against Bangkok United betrays a player who is just not of the required caliber.

20 (19) Worawut Namvech

Currently in the Thailand under 23 Asian Games squad, where he can expect to get a whole lot more action than he has done in 2018 for Port. I expect that he’ll return to parent club Chiang Rai without registering another competitive minute of Port action.

21 (21) Nurul Sriyankem

We’ve really missed his pace and directness. Will hopefully be fit by the time the August break is mercifully over with.

22 (20) Somprasong Promsorn

Needs a decent run-out to show off his skills. He brought out some pretty tidy touches during the half time kick-about on Wednesday, but that’s just about all I have to go on for now!

23 (23) Sammy Slot

He’s consistently making match day squads at the moment, but hasn’t been given the chance to show us what he can do yet.

24 (22) Pummared Kladkleep

A move back to the second or third tier is the only thing that is going to get Pummared back on the pitch. There are simply too many better midfielders at Port.

25 (29) Jetjinn Sriprach

With Panpanpong injured he was on the bench on Sunday. How exciting!

26 (24) Watchara Buathong

There is absolutely nothing interesting going on in the world of Watchara nowadays, so here’s a video of one of his raps. W-Hot in da house!

27 (25) Chanayut Jejue

Back in the Port B squad after Arthit’s return to fitness and Sammy Slot’s arrival.

28 (27) Sarawin Phakdeekan

Likewise back with Port B after the defensive crisis abated.

29 (28) Chaowala Sriarwut

I’ve opened a couple of the pretty awful Facebook live feeds showing recent Port B games and seen poor old central midfielder Chaowala – Port B’s top scorer – playing left back. What a waste.

30 (RE) Danudet Treemongkonchok

Port B’s captain scored a rare goal in T4 on the weekend. He’s dispensed with the man bun too, which helps.

31 (30) Anipong Kijkam

If only I had a rap by Port’s fourth choice goalkeeper to show you. Then again, Anipong actually plays football every now and then so I guess he has better things to do!

99 (99) Tana Chanabut

 

 

Now, I may be the sort of person who would go in search of a picture of a large erect pink cock in order to juxtapose it with a picture of Tana in his lovely pink shirt for Lolz, but in this case the photo comparison comes from the striker’s own Facebook page. You could at least try and make it hard for us. Erm, wait, no, I didn’t mean like that…

 

Kind of Blue (& Orange): Port FC 1-0 Police Tero FC

 

 

In a game that was already forgotten by the time we were halfway through our post-match Leos, Port got back to winning ways against a decent Tero side who had clearly looked at Port’s current form and fancied their chances of a win. It wasn’t pretty, and the goal came courtesy of some highly dubious refereeing, but we’ll happily take the 3 points which, coupled with the 2018 version of the Muangthong Meltdown continuing at Bangkok Glass, gives Port a 6pt cushion in third.


In 1970, legendary jazz musician Miles Davis ditched his long-established band, hired a new trio of musicians and released the experimental jazz/rock fusion album Bitches Brew. It was a radical move but also a surprisingly successful one, with the album going on to sell over a million copies. Port coach Jadet, clearly a disciple of the late trumpet maestro, took a similar approach to Port’s lineup last night. Late on Friday night, sitting in the corner of a smoky dive, wearing a black polo neck and smoking a Gauloise, Sir Det suddenly thinks “What if we play two left-backs? And what if we play a left-winger on the right? And in defensive midfield, HOW ABOUT WE PLAY A GUY WHO’S NEVER PLAYED A SINGLE MINUTE OF COMPETITIVE PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL IN HIS ENTIRE LIFE???” An atonal saxophone solo squawks its approval, and Jadet submits his team sheet to the kind of astonishment and outrage that greeted the first performance of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring in Paris in 1913.

Indeed there were so many raised eyebrows in the Sandpit when the team news came through that it looked like we’d all been to some cheap Trendy Condo beauty salon for Botox treatment. Panpangpong (19) AND Kevin (97) down the left? Bodin (10) on the right? Ex-Leicester trainee Anon (20) making his debut in midfield? For a coach who changes his teams about as often as I used to change my sheets when I was a student (once a term, unless I had a girlfriend at the time. So once a term basically) this was truly radical stuff, that could either end in glorious triumph or car-crash disaster.

Tero, with their coaching staff clad in stripey shirts making them look like 1970s cartoon burglars, were intent on leaving the PAT with a swag bag of 3 points, and with Port’s former tormentors Aung Thu & N’Dri up front, and ex-Port defender Niran Hansson in defence, it was clear from the start they were to be no pushovers. And it was the visitors who had the best of the opening exchanges, though both N’Dri and Pathompol opted to dive rather than compete for the ball when fed chances in the box. Yellow cards were sadly not forthcoming, as the ref showed early on that he did not have one single fucking clue about what he was supposed to be doing. But Tero did almost take the lead on 16 minutes when a 30-yard THRIKER from Korean midfielder Lee narrowly shaved Rattanai’s (17) crossbar – the first time the words “Rattanai” and “shaved” have ever appeared in the same sentence.

It took 25 minutes for Port to carve out anything resembling a chance, when a peach of a Panpanpong free-kick was almost nodded in by a diving Todsapol (6). With Pakorn (7) finally benched, it was refreshing to see players actually trying to create chances from free kicks rather than seeing how high over the bar they could blast the ball. Suarez (5) was the next to trouble Tero keeper Nont when put through by a lovely ball from Boskovic (23), but his first touch was poor and he stumbled on the second; then Bodin stung the young Franco-Thai keeper’s palms with a rasping 20-yard drive minutes later, as Port started to exert some control over the game. A squeaky bum moment at the other end – when an Aung Thu shot deflected off Rochela (22) over a despairing Rattanai but also thankfully over the bar – was followed by a penalty shout for Port when Bodin was apparently brought down in the area, though protests were halfhearted and the video shows that it would have been harsh against Tero if it had been awarded.

The second half at least started in somewhat livelier fashion, with both teams – as has often been the case this season – intent on punishing the tardy half-time beer drinkers (Sandpit writer Toby Knight has now missed a total of 13 goals this season, such is his passion for the ale). In the first minute, Panpanpong desperately scrambled the ball away when it looked like Tero were nailed in to score; then a couple of minutes later Bodin almost raised the roof when he picked the ball up on the edge of the Port box, ran the length of the pitch and unleashed a 20-yard thunderbastard which beat Nont but not the crossbar. Goal of the decade if it went in. Two minutes after that, N’Dri broke clear into the box but his firm shot was saved by Rattanai’s face, potentially damaging those boyish good looks.

Finally, on the hour mark, the scoreboard operator, who hitherto had been about as busy as Kang Soo-Il’s electric razor, was called into action as Port broke the deadlock. With the Panpanpong/Kevin experiment proving to be a shambles, the former went off to be replaced by Pakorn and straight away Port looked a better side. Chakrit (9) chased a through ball and, although the ball was so far out of play it may as well have been outside ordering a Leo, the linesman’s flag didn’t stir. He found Pakorn, whose weak shot was parried by Nont into the path of Bodin, but the Fresh Prince could only scuff it in the direction of Bosko, who had the awareness to pass it back to Suarez who buried it in the corner. 1-0, and whilst it wasn’t exactly deserved, who really gives a shit eh?

 

 

The remaining half an hour was possibly the worst we’ve seen all season, with Port’s ‘game management’ consisting largely of Rattanai feigning injury every time he made a save. Debut boy Anon (20) showed that, despite his MOTM performance he’s not quite the finished article yet with a comedy dive to try and win a penalty, but otherwise there was little of note, and there was relief all round when the ref finally blew up.

So Port showed again that they are capable of winning when not playing well, and with an experimental lineup featuring no fewer than 3 debutants (Danish-Thai Sammy Slot (11) and another ex-Leicester trainee Somprasong (14) both came on late in the game), that showed our squad is maybe a little deeper than we thought. But with tough games against the top two coming up, worries remain. Boskovic and Suarez both seem intent on playing deep, leaving Port without a spearhead for long periods last night; Nurul’s trickery is sorely missed; and Nitipong is suspended for both games, with Chakrit a barely adequate replacement. Still, the influx of talented new players – Anon in particular – the future looks bright for Port and a top 3 finish is become more and more of a probability rather than a possibility.

 

The Sandpit Man of the Match: Anon

No, that’s not ‘Anonymous’ – it’s our new no20, defensive midfielder Anon Samakorn. Despite spells in Leicester & OH Leuven’s U23 sides, this was actually Anon’s first ever competitive game of football, but you wouldn’t have known it – big, physical, alert and calm on the ball, he was an absolute revelation, and has surely already leapfrogged Adisorn in the Port pecking order by simple virtue of the fact that he can actually pass the ball. “I love him” said Tom last night. “His head’s always spinning round”. The same could be said of Linda Blair in The Exorcist or the average owl, and you wouldn’t want either of them sitting in front of your defence, but I see Tom’s point – it was clear that he has been properly coached in a professional environment. The future’s bright – the future’s Anon.

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk – Mid-Season Roundup

 

OK, so Tom’s Transfer Talk hasn’t been particularly talkative so far this season. It has been a shockingly quiet transfer window by Port’s recent standards, but there have been a fair amount of low-key moves and juicy rumours, so let’s get up to date with exactly what’s been going on at Port in recent weeks.

 

Departures

First and foremost let’s get the bad news out of the way. Despite his exemplary commitment to training and his tenacious attitude on the pitch, Thai national team star and fan favourite Tana Chanabhut has been shockingly allowed to leave PAT Stadium. To add insult to injury, not only are Port being deprived of the services of one of the finest moustaches in world football, the forward has been sold to T2 team Nongbua Pitchaya FC, a side so far below his level I’m shocked he agreed to the move. No, wait a minute…

 

 

HAHAHAAAAA SCREW YOU TANA, YOU OVERRATED, LAZY GOOD-FOR-NOTHING WASTE OF A SQUAD NUMBER! NEVER, EVER, EVER COME BACK!

Ahhh, that’s better. Anyway, Port have also allowed young right-back Meechok Marhasaranukun to move on. After signing from TOT, Meechok broke in to Port’s starting XI in 2016 at the age of just 18, but was displaced by Nitipong at the start of 2017, and has spent the vast majority of the last season and a half on the bench. Now 20, it makes sense for Meechok to move on to a club where he can get more regular football, but surprisingly he has chosen to move to Suphanburi, where he is not expected to be getting an awful lot of playing time, either. Still, we wish Meechok, a good young player with a bright future ahead of him, all the best.

 

 

Port have surprisingly not moved to replace Meechok, so either versatile defensive midfelder Adisorn or left winger Chakrit Rawanprakone are expected to fill in if first choice Nitipong is injured or suspended.

Speaking of versatile central midfielders, Athibordee Atirat has also secured a transfer away from PAT Stadium, although his move is not permanent. Athibordee joins Navy on a 6 month loan, where he is expected to play a key role in midfield. He’ll need to perform miracles to keep Navy up, mind you. This move surprised me a little, as Athibordee had been seeing pretty regular action in midfield and defence, but he is obviously seen as surplus to requirements in the second half of the season.

 

 

There have been some other loan moves too, although it’s mostly players who were already out on loan moving on to different clubs.

Left back Yossawat Montha, who made 9 starts for strugglers Ubon UMT, has moved to Prachuap, where he will compete for a starting berth for 2018’s surprise success story. Unfortunately for Yossawat, he will likely be behind 37 year old Prachuap captain Adul Meunsamaan in the pecking order, whilst former Port teammate Piyachart Tamaphan will also provide competition.

 

 

Bajram Nebihi has also moved on from Chiang Rai, with Chonburi securing his services on loan for the second half of 2018. The big German didn’t strike up much of a partnership with under-performing star player Cleiton Silva, so it is no surprise that ambitious Chiang Rai are looking to rebuild their forward line without Nebihi. It was also no surprise that the player who had such a strong impact for Ubon in 2017 had numerous suitors. Talk of a move to Navy was rife, before he eventually signed for The Sharks.

 

 

Now we starts to get in to the weeds a little. Two players who, as far as I was aware, had already made permanent their moves away from PAT Stadium may still be on the books. It’s of little consequence that Thanakorn Saipunya is still a Port player, as he wasn’t given a squad number and was confined to training with Port B in pre-season. His move to Khon Kaen is apparently only a loan, but he will surely leave on a permanent deal at some point, without getting a sniff of first team action.

 

 

The other player in limbo is midfielder Tatchanon Nakarawong, who everyone including Chonburi seemed to think was a Chonburi player, but is now apparently on loan at Army from Port. Tatchanon arrived at Port from Army a couple of seasons ago, and despite impressing in pre-season was grossly underused by Port before being shipped out on loan to another club where he was very unlikely to see significant game time. Indeed, the youngster played just 7 times for The Sharks. He has finally done the right thing in joining a team where he is likely to be first choice, although with Army recently announced that they will be folding, he will likely have to move on again before long.

 

 

 

Arrivals

Now, I know I said things had been quiet, but I do actually have a couple of confirmed arrivals for you. This could be good…

Port have signed two young players who had been part of King Power’s ‘Fox Hunt’ project. Anon Samakorn and Somprasong Promsorn are the two players in question, and they look pretty promising. Anon, nicknamed Boat, is a 19 year old midfielder who has been on the books at both Leicester City and OH Leuven’s youth setups. Somprasong, nicknamed Toto, is a 21 year old right winger who has also been with both Leicester and Leuven. He looks pretty nifty in this video, playing for Leuven’s under 19 team in a 4-1 victory over Bierbeek, and showing some impressive pace and trickery. The video of Anon’s performance from the same game looks less exciting, although he does notch an assist with a clever through-ball.

 

Anon (l) and Somprasong (r)

 

Both players have been given first team squad numbers, with Anon taking number 20 and Somprasong number 14, although it is thought that both will start out with Port B before joining the big boys.

 

Rumours

Now for the rumours. We’ve been hearing Ratchaburi’s Thai-German right wing back Philip Roller’s name over and over again in recent days. He has been linked with both Port and Muangthong though, in a situation eerily reminiscent of the saga that led to Kevin Deeromram signing for Port. Roller is a superb player, but would find very stiff competition for a place in Port’s team. I do think that he’s a better player than Nitipong, but there’s certainly no guarantee that he would nail down a starting place, whilst his ability to play further forward would be of little value to Port, who already possess a surfeit of right wingers. As much as it pains me to say it, I think a move to the Theatre of Corrugated Iron makes sense for Roller, with Tristan Do having moved on to the wing and midfielder Wattana Plainum currently playing out of position at full-back.

 

 

We also heard numerous rumours that Port’s third choice goalie Watchara Buathong was on the way out, but as far as we know the perennial back-up to the back-up is still kicking around at PAT Stadium. He must like the easy life.