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Walking on Broken Glass: Port FC 3-2 Bangkok Glass

 

“It’s a funny old game, Saint” Jimmy Greaves would opine to his co-presenter Ian St. John in almost every show of their longing running football programme “Saint & Greavsie” during the 1980s and early 90s on British TV. Saint would flash one of his trademark grins and with a light chuckle concur “Sure is Greavsie, sure is.” This classic exchange got me thinking during Port’s match with Bangkok Glass; here I am standing on the terraces of PAT Stadium in Bangkok watching a feisty and chaotic football match while thinking about obscure 80s television and another football match being played thousands of kilometres away in Russia.

 

 

Every 4 years we are blessed to experience what is essentially a second Christmas with the family bollocks replaced with glorious football, and in the midst of this the Thai football season is in full swing. So with a vibrant Port enjoying a thrilling season and England kicking off later, the pre-match atmosphere was especially enthusiastic. The news of Bodin (10) replacing the banned Boskovic (23)  greeted well and there was very little concern about our bogey team opposition who are going through an tortuous season in the relegation zone.

 

Credit: Nig Dammusig

 

Port started brightly and Pakorn (7), realising that Glass are a bottom half team this season, decided to go on the offensive and terrorise his markers from the off. In the fourth minute Suarez (5) sent over a great cross and Bodin forced a sharp save from Narit (1). Glass resorted to some crunching tackles to break up our play and cling onto the game but it was only a matter of time until the next chance. Kim (8), much better in an advanced role, dinked the ball wide to Kevin (97) and forced Narit to come off his line. Kevin expertly squared the ball to Nurul (31) but his shot was not fierce enough and Glass captain Matt Smith (4) calmly headed to ball back to Narit. A lucky escape.

Then confusion reigned, with the referee using VAR to award Port a penalty for handball off a Pakorn freekick. Chalermsak (3) was the culprit, with his arm raised to around head when he made the block. He saw yellow, but Rochela (22) stepped up and crashed the spot kick against the post. Port, to their credit, didn’t let their heads drop and continued to work hard. Their tenacity was rewarded in the 26th minute. Bodin, receiving the ball from Kevin, powered across his marker and unleashed a speculative low shot towards the bottom left hand corner. Narit got himself behind the ball but inexplicably allowed it to pass through him and into the net. Bodin respectfully didn’t break out the Fresh Prince moves against his former club, but he must have been delighted to have doubled his tally for the season!

 

 

As if the match wasn’t chaotic enough already, it then descended into farce in the final 5 minutes of the half. Nurul, played clean through on goal by Suarez, was clattered by Chalermsak, who received his second yellow and the following free kick lead to an unmarked Suarez slotting the ball into the net only for it to be unfairly ruled out for offside. Suarez, raging from this injustice, insisted the ref check with VAR but even after consulting the television and viewing a clearly onside goal he decided to stand by the linesman’s decision. Several farang fans, clearly dismayed by this and with the lure of England kicking off in 20 minutes, decided to vote with their feet and bugger off. Justice was finally served seconds later in first half injury time; Bodin seemed to have over-complicated his running into the box, but the ball broke loose and a lucky flick from Kim found Nurul, who made no mistake from a few yards out.

 

 

As is customary, your intrepid reporter missed Glass’ comeback goal at the start of the second half, too busy enjoying his halftime Leo (this season’s total currently stands at 8 goals missed). Glass moved the ball forward quickly and Ariel Rodriguez (7) took advantage of Port’s lack of concentration, making his way into the box and squaring the ball to Anon (27) who couldn’t miss from just outside the 6 yard box. These slips in concentration are something that needs to be worked on during training (as does my drinking speed) as more teams are becoming aware of how fragile we can be from the restart.

Port then edged closer to victory with a pearler of a free kick from Suarez over a less-than-10-yard wall into the top right hand of the goal in front of the Zone B faithful. El Mago is clearly brimming with confidence, ignoring Pakorn to sweep the ball into the net, after which the Midfield Monk had a quiet word with with captain Rochela. We can only speculate as to what as said! The second half continued to be a scrappy affair, punctuated with some hard work from Todsapol (6) and Kevin. Nurul kept making a nuisance of himself but it was obvious Bodin was struggling with his fitness, and Glass tried to take advantage of our fatigue and lack of shape. Their second goal in the 67th minute was scored with ease; Pichit (19) with time and space sent a cross into the box and new signing David Bala (10) sent a header into the bottom corner. Rattanai (17) slipped while trying to readjust his body shape but Bala’s header was too good to keep out.

Jadet sensibly sent on Dolah (4) and Arthit (19) to add some steel in the back line and up front, but Arthit wasted a glorious opportunity in the 80th minute, justifying his non-selection to the starting line up. Port continued fighting up to the final whistle and held on to the three precious points. By now the English contingent was buzzing with news that the Three Lions were 5-0 up and, with the inaugural Rat Bar Dash cancelled due to lack of facilities, we then embarked on a Wacky Races style race to The Sportsman (sponsors of this fine match report, folks). Sadly my car was more Slag Brother’s Boulder Mobile than Peter Perfect’s Turbo Terrific but we managed to make it for the final 20 minutes.

 

The author makes his way to The Sportsman

 

So what to make of Port’s performance? It was workmanlike and full of endeavour, but the goals conceded were terribly sloppy and the opposition should have been played off the park in the first half. Nevertheless, to Port’s credit they hung on and the improbable dream continues. Jadet clearly favours skill over power but in the second half several of our team were suffering from fatigue and this, plus the concentration issues, needs to be addressed swiftly. Also, while VAR may be effective at the world cup finals with an elite team of officials in a TV room with multiple screens and all the technology available at their fingertips, the Thai equivalent is clearly not working and as the level of officiating is still dire I can’t see this being a success anytime soon. Anyway, let’s not worry about this and instead bask in a glory of a wonderful day of football and the joyfulness of sleep deprivation and hangovers at work.

 

Man of the Match: Kevin Deeromram

 

 

In an ugly encounter punctuated with brief moments of skill it would be unfair to give the award to the attackers, although Nurul gave the Glass defenders a torrid evening and almost nicked the award. Honourable mentions must go to Nitipong (34), Siwakorn (16) and Kim but they all faded as their legs became leaden. Kevin’s workrate and quality has been questionable over the last few months but his performance against Glass was of the highest order and one of the main factors in getting his team over the line.

 

Glass Clowns: Port FC vs. Bangkok Glass, 24 June 2018

 

We’ve passed the half-way point in the season, so surely perennial top-halfers Glass have slid in to place in mid-table by now… Wait, what?! They’re still in 15th place, 4 points from safety? The Same Glass who left Port double glazed at Leo Stadium in March? The same Glass with a bullet-proof league record against us? Well, yes, as it turns out cracks have opened up this season, and not even a religion-inspired paint job has been able to revive their fortunes. There is of course still time for Glass to avoid relegation and all the pain it brings, but they will have to turn things around sharpish. Their window of opportunity is quickly closing.

Then there’s Port, who are still sitting pretty in third place, having put on a master-class last weekend, smashing Ratchaburi to pieces. The league table and the form table both point towards a Port victory on Sunday, but that was also the case when Port were cut to pieces by Glass back in week four, and things didn’t turn out the way they were supposed to then!

 

Bangkok Glass

Players to Watch

 

The utter disaster that was Frederic Mendy is no more, and Port will be one of only a few teams to be happy to see the back of him. Mendy reserved one of his only decent performances of the season for us, pouncing on a defensive lapse and firing in a superb goal which Port would never recover from. The goals quickly dried up, though, and once Mendy had been hauled off after just 20 minutes against Chiang Rai (the hysterical laughs of the commentators as a bemused Mendy trudged off was one of the comedy moments of the season so far) it was clear his days were numbered.

Anyway, replacing Mendy is Ariel Rodriguez (7), an excellent little player who has been at Glass for a few years now. The signing of Mendy, however, saw him loaned back to Deportivo Saprissa in his native Costa Rica, where he hit a rich vein of form just before his loan spell ended. Surprisingly since his return, Rodriguez has not gone straight in to the starting XI but has come off the bench twice. Considering that both of those games finished in defeat, it would seem likely that Rodriguez is given his first T1 start of the season against Port.

 

 

The other key man in Glass’ defeat of Port was star agitator Mario Gjurovski, but he has also ended his short, unhappy stint at Leo Stadium. Cue Port fans being partly glad that the bastard can’t score against us again, but partly disappointed that we don’t get to shower him with abuse for 90 minutes. Taking on more creative responsibility, then, will be Glass’ first big-name signing of 2018 and my favourite Thai footballer Thitipan Puangchan (8). Actually, in my previous preview I had some less-than-kind words for Thitipan, who looked like he had spent most of the off-season embarking on a competitive eating career. He’s back to looking more like a sportsman now, though, although in a struggling team his performances have not quite maintained the levels his reached last season.

 

 

Probably partnering Thitipan in midfield for the first time this season will be highly rated (read: overrated) and highly paid (read: overpaid) defensive midfielder Tanaboon Kesarat (5). Poor old Tanaboon picked up a very nasty injury on his last trip to PAT Stadium at the hands, or more accurately the studs, of former Port midfielder Atthipol, and the 24 year old is just now returning to fitness. With regular defensive midfielder and semi-pro Shaggy impersonator Peeraphong Pichitchotirat (23) suspended, it would seem to be the moment for Tanaboon’s return, although facing one of the form players in the league – Sergio Suarez – will be quite a reintroduction to T1 football for the national team regular. Also having just picked up his fourth yellow card is Matt Smith’s (4) central defensive partner Piyachanok Darit (34). This is certainly the time to be playing Glass!

 

 

There are also a couple of new signings worthy of mention. If I’m feeling generous. New Brazilian striker on loan from Khon Kaen David Bala (10) quite frankly looks bang average. For T2. Either BG know something no one else does, or they were really desperate for a cheap striker. Right-winger Sarawut Masuk (14) played a key role in some of Zico’s national team squads a couple of years ago, scoring a couple of important goals against ASEAN opposition. He soon fell out of favour though, presumably when it became clear that he lacks the skill or strength to prosper against high quality opponents. Glass have signed Sarawut from Korat, where he basically did nothing for the first 16 games, then scored twice in the final game of the first leg and secured a transfer. I told you I was feeling generous.

Usual suspects Daniel Toti (20) and Captain Matt Smith (4) need no introduction after their excellent performances against Port in the past, so expect more of the same from these fellas. Glass may not be what they once were, but there’s still quality in this side…

 

 

Form

 

Is this the most underwhelming BG team I’ve seen in my time following Thai football? Quite possibly, and their form doesn’t really give them much hope either. 2 wins and 2 draws in their last 6 doesn’t sound too bad, but they’ve followed that up with 2 losses on the bounce, including a soul-destroying 1-0 defeat to Navy. Yes, Navy. How do you not score against Navy? Ask Bangkok Glass.

 

Port FC

Boskoless

 

Port will have to manage without suspended star striker Boskovic (23) for the first time this season. So, what’s the plan of attack likely to be? Well, there are a few possibilities…

  • The Straight Swap – We do have a hungry young striker waiting in the wings who will be chomping at the bit to lead the Port line on Sunday. Arthit Boonyachinda (29) has just the one goal – a match-winning header against Ubon – to his name, but the powerful forward has put in a few encouraging performances and could easily be chosen to start.
  • The False Nine – Well, Boskovic isn’t your traditional number 9 anyway, but Jadet could decide to replace him with Bodin Phala (10), and have Bodin or Suarez (5) as a kind of false nine. I’m not going to lie, that doesn’t really sounds like Jadet, does it? He could also just bring in Bodin to play in Suarez’ position and push Suarez further forward.
  • The Korean Offensive – Adisorn Daeng-rueng (13) put in another excellent performance against Ratchaburi, and the little man could yet keep his place if Jadet chooses to push Kim (8) in to the attack, with Adisorn and Siwakorn (16) manning the midfield. This was trialed against Air Force and worked well for 45 minutes, so could easily be what Jadet opts for on Sunday.

Elsewhere, Port will welcome Rochela (22) and Siwakorn back in to the team, although neither was really missed in the 4-1 win over Ratchaburi. Todsapol (6) and Dolah (4) both had excellent games, but Dolah will probably keep his place alongside El Capitan. Adisorn was excellent in place of Siwakorn, but have we ever seen the Thin White Duke dropped? No, and we’re beginning to suspect we never will!

The rest of the team picks itself, with Rattanai (17), Nitipong (34), Kevin (97), Pakorn (7), Nurul (31) and Suarez assured of their places in the team.

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 

 


 

The match will be shown live on True Sport 6 at 18:00 on Sunday 24 June, 2018. 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.

 

Sandpit Songs of the Season: Week 20 – Bangkok Glass (H)

 

Port bogey team Bangkok Glass are the visitors at the PAT this Sunday. Whilst Port knocked the Rabbits out of the FA Cup in 2016, they haven’t beaten them in the league since 2014 and, even though Glass are struggling this season, they still managed to beat Port 2-0 at the Leo Stadium back in March.

But with Port on a roll at the moment and coming off a quite spectacular demolition of Ratchaburi last week, and with Glass surprisingly stuck in the relegation zone, we will be expecting a home win on Sunday – and pondering the wisdom of Glass chairman Pavin’s decision to change the team’s colours from their traditional green to a new shade of blue for this season, on the advice of a fortune teller. A decision nicely summed up by this bit of disposable country fluff from Keith Urban.

 

 

Glassed: Bangkok Glass 2-0 Port FC

 

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to say goodbye to Port’s 100% start and in turn their first loss. It was great fun while it lasted and we will remember it fondly… OK, enough doom and gloom; this report won’t be fun to write but before I begin to analyse the subpar performance I’d like to remind you naysayers that Port are still 3rd in the table and this report will be far from a eulogy for our hopes for this season.

The journey up to Rangsit was punctuated with bison grass vodka and a book (novella) salesman pitching his latest effort to us. Thankfully the journey was swift and we were at the stadium with plenty of time to enjoy the local hospitality. As we walked back from the away ticket office, some of us noticed the sprinklers were liberally watering the pitch; this will have an effect on our performance later but I’m not going to blame some gamesmanship on our weak showing. More on that later. The rest of the afternoon was pleasantly spent at The Rabbits Bar screaming “TARUA!” at Glass’ film crew and me breaking a beer tower without even trying.

 

“3 stands! You’ve only got 3 stands!”

 

So let’s get down to the shitshow. Port lost the game in the first 8 minutes due to terrible defensive errors and positioning, a general lack of focus and woeful decision making from several players. In the second minute a cute touch from Mario Gjurovski (70) in front of Dolah (4) found Mendy (10), who up to now had done sweet FA all season, and his first touch put him through on goal. With Dolah already nullified, Nitipong (34) tried to make up the ground but was already too far away and Kevin (97) tried to cut off his run but it was too late; he finished low across Worawut (36) into the bottom corner. The back 4 was made to look like a bunch of mugs and before you ask about Rochela (22), he was already taken out of the game for pushing up too high to cut out the initial pass to Gjurovski.

So far so bad, but it then got worse. In the seventh minute a simple ball over the top found Gjurovski. His first touch was reminiscent of Gazza over Colin Hendry, making Dolah a spectator, and then after letting the ball bounce he fired a quality finish under Worawut, who really didn’t look like the world-beater we saw against Pattaya and The Scum. I’ve watched this goal several times for the benefit of this report and think it would be too easy to point the finger at just Dolah and Worawut; Kim (8) could have easily have got his body in the way of the pass to Gjurovski and Rochela once again had pushed too far upfield to offer cover. Mario had to work for the goal, but the manner in which we gave it to him is more than frustrating.

 

That escalated quickly

 

I’ll sum up the rest of the first half briefly; it was the worst I’ve seen Port play this season and probably since the failed Zico experiment. Glass had multiple chances and hit the post in the 21st minute, and as the half went on it was clear that Worawut was injured. Port showed a lack of cohesion and wasted ball after ball; no shots were registered in the first half let alone chances made. While we were misplacing passes we also had to struggle against the waterlogged flanks which hampered us on many occasions, clearly demonstrated when Pakorn (7) took one of the worst corners I have ever seen and left a sizeable divot in the pitch.

The second half was a little better and real hope was offered when Glass’ keeper Narit (1) played a very weak goal kick straight to his defensive line. The defender’s first touch back to goal was short and Suarez (5) sneaked in to cut out the ball but his first time shot with the outside of his boot went wide. Next, Pakorn had a shot from outside the box which hit the side netting before Mario had a chance to put the game to bed for Glass in the 63rd minute, but also shot wide. Aside from a tame Siwakorn (16) effort our only real chance for a goal came in the 90th minute when Kim acrobatically latched onto a header, his shot was parried away by Narit and Boskovic (23) was first to the loose ball but his shot cannoned off the post across the face of goal. Even with 6 minutes of extra time it was clear it wasn’t going to be our day.

So hats off to Josep Ferre and Glass; he got his tactics spot on and his players didn’t have to go the extra mile to win today. Knowing that our best attacking play comes down the flanks he made sure the pitch would stop us, and by compacting the centre of midfield he made Kim, Siwakorn and Suarez have little effect on general play. In Mario Gjurovski they have a quality playmaker and Matt Smith (4) was assured in defence. They clearly don’t belong in the bottom half of the table and they won’t be there for long.

Enough praise; lets pick away at the corpse of our defeat. The players clearly didn’t turn up to this game and with no focus or concentration they gave the game to Glass on a silver platter. At 2-0 down their shoulders dropped and it wasn’t until half time (and hopefully after some strong words in the changing room) they decided to make a game of it. We had 2 chances that Suarez and Boskovic would usually bury and we could have escaped with a 2-2 draw, but they didn’t and we didn’t. Our captain was not his usual calm, dependable self and this filtered into the rest of our back 4. I’m struggling to think of any player who gave 100% yesterday; they looked lost at times and didn’t seem to have a Plan B.

So what is Plan B, Jadet? At the moment Plan B is the same as Plan A but with different personnel; bringing Bodin (10) on when it’s clear for all to see that the pitch isn’t true will result in the same problems. It was commendable to take off Kevin, who was having an absolute shocker, and replace him with a striker, but Boskovic wasn’t getting any service so how will Arthit (29) make a difference? Jadet stands on the touchline and studies his clipboard intently like a hungry drunk looking at the menu in a Chinese takeaway only for his players to come over and inform him what’s actually going on. He needs to come up with some real tactical alternatives because the opposition is wising up fast about us, and Madame and the fans have high expectations this season.

Next week Port has a chance to pick themselves up, dust off this defeat and redeem themselves against Ubon, before a tricky away fixture to the other surprise package of the season so far, Sukhothai. With the improved squad we have to look at both matches as winnable, but will the bad habits of last season and the dreaded Operation Fuckup creep back into our play? It shows how much we have already improved that we are asking these questions and not just accepting poor performances as par for the course so I for one am hopeful. TARUA!

 

Men of the Match

The Fans

 

Some spectators greet the men of the match

 

There is no way on God’s green earth I was going to award any player MOTM after what I saw. No one remotely earned this accolade so when I was informed I could award it to the fans my decision was made a lot easier. We came in large numbers, sang our hearts out and basically brought Khlong Toey to Rangsit for a couple of hours. Well played everyone.

 

Top Of The Glass: Bangkok Glass vs. Port FC, March 4 2018

 

Port FC will look to continue their reign atop the T1 Table when they take on Bangkok Glass on Sunday. Nope, it’s still not getting old. We are top of the league, say we are top of the league!

Although the 2018 season is barely up and running, both Glass and Port seem to be slipping in to routines that they are far from familiar with. Remarkably, Port – in recent years notoriously poor at the back – have kept 2 clean sheets in their first 3 games, whilst Bangkok Glass – usually among the league’s most attractive teams to watch – have failed to register a single goal. Both sides were very busy in the transfer market, but some new arrivals have fared better than others.

Port brought in – among others – Dragan Boskovic, Nurul Sriyankem and Kim Sung Hwan, whereas Glass signed Frederic Mendy, Mario Gjurovski and Thitipan Puangchan. Boskovic has scored or contributed to 3 goals, Nurul 2 and Kim won our Man of the Match award against Muangthong; Mendy on the other hand has been dropped, Mario has been dividing his time evenly between missing chances and looking annoyed, and Thitipan looks like he spent the entire holiday in Sizzler. And he wasn’t eating from the salad bar, either!

 

Bangkok Glass

Players to Watch

 

Wherever he goes, Mario Gjurovski (70) leaves his mark. His team’s fans love him – scoring roughly a goal every other game from attacking midfield will generally have that effect – but the 32 year old has a rare way of provoking opposition fans’ ire. Whether it’s his affiliation with Port’s best enemies, an ego more commensurate with the achievements of Cristiano Ronaldo than a 12 time Macedonian international or his constant histrionics on the pitch, it’s impossible to ignore Super Mario. It’s fair to say things haven’t started well for him at Glass – he could have had a hattrick against Navy, but ended up drawing a blank – but Mario’s match-winning quality is still there, and he does have a record of turning it on against Port.

 

Mario Gjurovski

 

Behind Mario will be Spaniard Daniel Toti (20) and 30 million baht signing Thitipan Puangchan (8). Port fans should probably remember former La Liga midfielder Toti from when he ripped the Port defence to shreds last season, and for those who don’t yet know much about Thitipan, he will undoubtedly introduce himself to Port’s midfield with his studs within the first 5 minutes. I can scarcely imagine two players with styles as different as these two; Toti with his cultured Spanish technique and graceful style on the ball, Thitipan with his niggly, dirty fouling and gamesmanship. He can play a bit too, mind you, and this really ought to be among the most effective midfield partnerships in the league. In what is set to be one of the key battles, Thitipan and Port’s fouler-in-chief Siwakorn are separated by just a centimeter in height, but what I can only guess is about 15 kilos. Who ate all the pies? It was Thitipan.

 

Toti and Thitipan

 

 

Matt Smith (4) has a new defender alongside him this season: Spanish-Malaysian Kiko Insa (30). Kiko has played for more teams in more countries than I can bring myself to list, and the big, strong 30 year old made his debut for Glass last week, replacing Mongkol Namnuad (18) in the starting XI. Considering that Glass kept a clean sheet and won their first point, we imagine that the back 3 of Smith, Kiko and Piyachanok Darit (34) will remain unchanged.

 

Kiko and Smith

 

Things are not going according to plan for French-born Bissau-Guinean Frederic Mendy (10). He may well start on the bench against Port as he has looked horribly off the pace so far, and was dropped for the 0-0 draw with Navy. He was replaced by young Thai-French winger Jakkrit Laptrakool (17) who I’m struggling to find any information about. As far as the forwards go, let’s just say that the stats read 3 games, no goals.

 

Mendy: He shoots, he misses.

 

Port FC

One Change

 

There is only one likely change from Port’s hard-fought 3-2 win over Ratchaburi last week. It has been reported that Todsapol (6) and Kim (8) are both back in training, but only Kim is fit enough to be available for selection on Sunday. Adisorn (13) should find himself dropping to the bench, with the Korean returning to the first XI. Adisorn acquitted himself well against Ratchaburi, but up against one of the strongest midfields in the league, Kim’s return is certainly a timely one.

 

Kim Sung Hwan

 

Besides the injury concerns, why change a winning formula? The defence is looking all the better for having a quality new left back in it, the midfield is stronger when Kim is in the team and the attacking quartet of Boskovic (23), Nurul (31), Pakorn (7) and goal-machine Suarez (5) has proved unstoppable so far.

 

Predicted XI

 

 

Perhaps the only thing that can stop Port this year is themselves. We know Port have a bad habit of getting complacent when things are going well or weaker opposition come calling. All we can hope is that new arrivals like Kim and Boskovic will continue to hold their teammates to the highest of standards and demand continued excellence from everyone on the field.

Speaking of the field, Glass have played their first 3 games away while the artificial surface so many opposition teams have struggled on has been resurfaced. The Glass Rabbits, having leveled the playing field, welcome their first visitors to the newly blue Leo Stadium on Sunday, and must be looking to make a fresh start in their new-look home. Amazingly they’re probably the underdogs this weekend, but call me a pessimist, I’d take a point if it were offered right now. Glass may not have clicked just yet, but when they do it’s sure to be devastating!

 


 

The match will be shown live on True Sport HD at 18:00 on Sunday 4 March, 2018. For those who can’t make it to Leo Stadium, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match with sound if you ask them nicely. Mention the Sandpit or wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount.

 

Sandpit Songs of the Season 2018: Week 4

 

Port take their 100% record to Rangsit on Sunday for possibly their toughest fixture of the season so far, away to Bangkok Glass. Port somehow managed to come away from the Leo Stadium with a goalless draw last season, thanks to their only decent performance under Zico, but were hammered 3-0 at home by the Rampant Rabbits earlier in the season, and whilst the Blue Bunnies have got off to a poor start this time around, Port won’t be taking anything for granted.

So, onto this week’s song. Visitors to the Leo this season will notice something a bit…different. Where once it was an oasis of green in the middle of grey Rangsit, this season everything has turned blue. The story is that a fortune teller told Glass’ owner that green was an unlucky colour, and that he should change the club’s colours to blue, so during the close season the club, team and stadium have been completely rebranded. Should you wish to consult this fortune teller yourself, you can find him at Somchai’s Blue Paint Supplies Ltd, Rangsit.

Anyway this story is by way of an introduction to this week’s song. We could’ve taken the lazy option & gone for one of the hundreds of songs about glass, and I almost went for Chas & Dave’s 1981 classic ‘Rabbit’, but eventually I plumped for this 1983 B-side by Derry’s finest.

 

 

Zico Begins: Bangkok Glass 0-0 Port FC

 

Port travelled to Rangsit yesterday for a tricky away fixture at high-flying Bangkok Glass. Thanks to some tactical changes and excellent preparation, they came away with a well-earned 0-0 draw, riding their luck at times, scaring their opponents at others. This was the first game in which Zico really put his stamp on the team and augurs well for the rest of the 2017 season.


The Sandpit posse pitched up at the ever impressive Leo Stadium just before 5pm, leaving us a good two hours to soak up the atmosphere, wander around the ground and chat to the home fans  drink lots of beer – something Rabbits Bar make very easy with their competitively priced Leo towers. We also mingled with Glass’ farang fan club – a bloke called Tony. Wandering outside for a while to take some pictures, I found Importz Kenny & Achim consorting with the Glass bunny girls and looking very pleased with themselves.

We arrived in the away end to find the usual excellent beer service was still in place, and as such it would’ve been rude not to shower them with our money. Settled into our seats, we learned that Zico had made two very important team changes. Firstly – and he’s obviously been reading the Sandpit here – he dropped Panpanpong (19) and finally gave a debut to ex-Buriram youngster Yossawat (28). Secondly, he gave up trying to choose between two ageing defnsive midfielders – Ittipol (7) & Adisorn (13) – and instead gave a debut to the somewhat more youthful ex-Barbecue Utd midfielder Pummared (41), who had previously impressed me in friendlies.

The game started with Glass predictably dictating the pace, though the first chance fell to Port  in the 9th minute when Pakorn (9) curled a free kick just wide of the post. Otherwise the next 20 minutes were one-way traffic with Glass laying siege to the Port goal, only some rather wayward shooting preventing them taking a deserved lead. Sandpit interviewee Matt Smith was the worst offender, ballooning a shot over the bar in the 27th minute with an open goal gaping, shortly followed by Campos whose angled shot went wide of the post when it would clearly have been easier to hit the target.

But it was in fact Port who came closest to scoring. In the 39th minute, Siwakorn (16) found himself in space on the edge of the Glass box and unleashed an absolute thunderbastard of a shot which beat the keeper but cannoned back off the crossbar. Minutes later, Pakorn found himself free on the left but opted to try and chip the keeper rather than pass.

Half time, 0-0, and a sense of relief that we’d made it to the break without conceding. The Port fans set about the half-time Leo with gusto and soon drank the bar dry. They’re clearly not used to dealing with big away crowds like this. Well, it has been two years since we last visited.

Port started the second half somewhat more brightly than the home side but had little more than a 59th minute curler from Suarez (5) to show for it, and soon found themselves on the back foot again. Thankfully Glass still hadn’t found their shooting boots, though in the 77th minute Worawut (36) was called upon to make a simply stunning save from a close-range header from Surachat. Minutes later, Pakorn curled another free kick just wide of the post, before the referee blew for full time to the considerable relief of the away fans.

There were some pathetic, embarrassing scenes after the final whistle as the Port players were joined on the pitch by the owner, management, coaches & sundry other hangers-on for a celebratory group picture in front of the fans. Most unbecoming for a proud club like Port to be celebrating a 0-0 draw in this way. We’re not Super Power or some T3 team celebrating a giant-killing; getting a point at Glass is a good result but that’s as far as it goes, and certain people at the club really need to have a look at themselves if they think this kind of behaviour is befitting.

Anyway, this was a very encouraging performance from Port. Zico had clearly done his homework on Glass and, whilst their quality meant they had plenty of chances, they didn’t boss the midfield the way they did in the home fixture and were generally restricted to long range shots. Yossawat is clearly a more defensive player than Panpanpong and whilst we missed the latter’s forward runs down the left, the defence felt a lot more secure with the youngster in it. Likewise, new boy Pummared was a cooler head in defensive midfield than Ittipol or Adisorn and his performance surely means we’ll be seeing more of him. Port chances were few & far between with Josimar playing much deeper than usual and Zico thankfully opting not to use Tana (99), though Wuttichai made a combative late appearance. All in all a very good point from a team that looks fitter, sharper and better organised than under Jadet. The Zico Revolution starts here.

 

Man of the Match – David Rochela (22)

I’ve said it before – Rochela is so consistently excellent that we take good performances from him for granted. But last night he was massive, particularly in the first half when playing without his trusted lieutenant Dolah (4). A typically disciplined, influential and occasionally backs-to-the-wall shift from the Port captain. Top marks also for Pakorn, Worawut, Siwakorn and Pummared who also impressed me.

 

A Touch of Glass: Bangkok Glass vs. Port FC, 5 August 2017

 

Port face Bangkok Glass on Saturday, looking to imitate the kind of performance they put on against Chiang Rai, if not the result. Port were comfortably the better team, but ended up 1-2 losers, as Chiang Rai proved more clinical in front of goal than their opponents. Wednesday saw Port put in another good performance, albeit against T3 Ayutthaya, but once again Port did not score nearly as many goals as they could. Glass, on the other hand, are coming off 3 comfortable wins in a row, overcoming Honda and Navy to nil in the league, then triumphing 6-1 against Navy in the FA Cup on Wednesday. A further win against Suphanburi, a draw against Sisaket and losses to Bangkok United and Ratchaburi complete Glass’ last 6 league games, from which they have taken 10 points. Port have taken just 4.

 

Bangkok Glass

Players to Watch

 

Last time we previewed a game with Bangkok Glass we picked Matt Smith (4) out as a player to watch and he ended up being injured. Well, this time we had a chat with Matt, and we’re quite sure that he’s fighting fit and ready for the physical battle that Josimar is likely to engage him in on Saturday. For more on Matt, read our interview here.

Peerapong (23) has had a stellar season in 2017. The defensive midfielder who has been at Glass since 2007, has played a part in every league game to date, been busy and combative, and has also chipped in with a few spectacular goals. An absolute belter in their 6-0 win against Sisaket sticks in the memory. Port would be well advised not to give the shaggy-haired enforcer too much space if he does decide to venture forward.

Chaowat (19) has come of age in 2017, making the attacking midfield spot his own. The 21 year old star has never been a physical presence on the pitch, but his guile and vision make up for that. Not a prolific scorer or assister, but very often the player who makes the ‘key pass’ in the build-up. With Ittipol (7) likely to come back in to the Port midfield on Saturday, it will be a battle between youth and experience.

Toti (8) just returned from a spell out, playing his first game in over a month against Navy. Let’s hope Glass’ best player against Port last time out is still a little rusty…

Jhasmani Campos (21) is Glass’ top scorer and assister so far in 2017 with 9 goals and 7 assists. That’s very good indeed from attacking midfield. Campos might be the most one-footed player I’ve ever seen, but it’s a bloody good foot. Port defenders be advised: if he’s on the left he is going to cross it with his left, and if he’s on the right he’s going to cut in and shoot with his left. Try your best not to let him do either!

Ariel Rodriguez (7) would normally be next on my list of players to watch, but hasn’t played yet in July or August, so I’m assuming he is unavailable for selection. With Jakkapan Pornsai having moved on to Bangkok United, 2 of the key architects of Port’s 3-0 defeat to Glass in the first half of the season could play no part. Despite the form book, that should give Port some hope!

 

Toti, Campos and Peerapong

 

Port FC

The Players

 

Port will likely stick with their usual back 5 of Worawut (36), Nitipong (34), Dolah (4), Rochela (22) and Panpanpong (19). It’s outrageous that Panpanpong has been allowed to make as many mistakes as he has without bring dropped, but Zico just can’t seem to bring himself to replace the experienced left back with either of the younger, better left backs at Port’s disposal. Dolah picked up a knock on Wednesday which meant he was substituted and had some ice strapped to his leg, but hopefully it won’t be enough to keep him out of Saturday’s game, particularly as Pravinwat (55) is unavailable to replace him as he is on loan from Glass. We really don’t want fifth choice centre back Anisong (15) being exposed to the Bangkok Glass attack, that’s for sure.

In midfield, Zico seems to prefer Ittipol (7) to Adisorn (13) in defensive midfield, and I can see why. A more composed, technically proficient midfielder, Ittipol defends well and keeps play ticking over nicely, although he normally only lasts until about the hour mark before being subbed off. Siwakorn (16) will doubtless start alongside him in midfield, while Suarez (5) has very likely done enough to retain his place in ‘the hole’ behind Josimar.

Goals from the bench against Ayutthaya followed by a superb performance against Chiang Rai, then another solid display against Ayutthaya, are probably the best 3 consecutive games Suarez has had so far at Port. If he can keep up the level of performance we have seen in the last few games, he will undoubtedly retain his place in the team.

On the right wing, Pakorn (9) has finally been blossoming into the player we always knew he could be. Tenacity and tracking back have improved markedly, and his decision making is becoming less and less selfish by the game (except from corners!) Pakorn is without a doubt now the main creative force in the Port starting XI. Well done Zico! On the left, Genki (18) is just about doing enough to hang on to his starting berth, but then again the competition is Tana (99)… To be fair to Genki he had decent games against Ayutthaya and Chiang Rai, but is certainly not on his best form at the moment.

Josimar (30) remains the only viable option up front, and thankfully he managed to get back in to goalscoring form on Wednesday, converting a header from 6 yards and rounding the ‘keeper to finish from close range at the death. We desperately need a confident Josimar up front, as our chance conversion has been pretty pitiful of late. A little run of 5 goals in 5 games would be lovely right about now, Josi!

 

Predicted Starting XI

 

 

Key Battle

Peerapong vs. Suarez

 

Peerapong is a rough, tough customer enjoying an excellent season, but an in-form Suarez could pose him real problems. If Suarez can harass Peerapong when he gets the ball he could help stymie Glass’ attacks, and if he can find space when Port have the ball he could make a crucial contribution going forward too. With the most positional flexibility in the team, it will be down to Suarez to get it right.

 

 

Another key match-up could be between Pakorn and Glass left back Supachai (17). Remarkably the left back is still usually first choice at the age of 37, but an in-form Pakorn will be licking his lips at the prospect of tormenting the aging full-back, who I would imagine isn’t the paciest in the league.

 

The match will be shown live on True Sport HD 3 at 19:00 on Saturday 5 August, 2017

 

Heart of Glass: The Sandpit Talks to Matt Smith

 

Port face a very difficult trip to high flyers Bangkok Glass this Saturday (5 August, 19:00), so to whet your appetites for one of Thai football’s longest-established Bangkok derbies, we had a chat to Glass’ long-serving Australian defender, and captain, Matt Smith…

 


How has the 2017 season been for you so far?

I feel BG had a good but mixed first leg. I feel the football we have played at times has been positive and attractive and we’ve put in some good performances and controlled games. However, I feel that we have let ourselves down by some sloppy results against the lower positioned teams in the league. For us to develop further we must continue to grow mentally and become more consistent.

I’m very happy with the team and professional manner in which the players have conducted themselves and feel we have a good squad. I’m confident we can take this into the remaining games and finish the season strong.

 

Which other teams have most impressed you this season?

I think the most complete team I’ve played against this season is Buriram. Although we beat them earlier in the season I feel they have a good mix of structure/ approach (both in attack and defence) and individually have some good players that can change games.

 

This is your third season at Glass, which counts as long service in Thai football! What’s kept you at the club for so long?

I guess you’ll have to ask the club… : ) Before I arrived at BG I conducted a lot of research about the club and the league before I decided to leave Brisbane. Supasin (VP) and Ricardo (former coach) flew to Brisbane to watch me play and we spent the next day discussing everything football. At that point the direction and vision that both the coach and the club had excited me and enticed to me to sign. I feel this is important as a player because I believe in working towards something greater and I wanted to align my ambition and character with that of a club with similar mentality.

Since being here my approach and attitude hasn’t changed to what I would desire to achieve here with BG, both individually and more important collectively. Hard work, professionalism and commitment are things I feel are minimal standards for football players.

With all this in mind, I guess I can and cannot control some things. But what I can help control and shape is the direction, professionalism and culture needed for players and the team to progress. I hold high standards of myself and others and believe in the collective progression.

I do not know what will happen in the future and I’m unsure even if I have answered this question, haha! You’ll have to ask the club why I have stayed here for the current time, but while I am here at BG I’m committed to helping develop this club.

 

During your time in Thai football, who’s the best opposition player you’ve faced?

There are some very good local and foreign players that I’ve played against during my time here. For me I look for consistency of quality and players that step up when the challenge is there.

Therefore, the best local player is Messi J. And best foreign player is Diogo.

 

Matt meets The Sandpit’s Tom Earls, refuses to hold Port scarf

 

You’re famously vocal on the pitch, to teammates and opposition players alike. Thai players are notoriously thin-skinned – have any of your colleagues or opponents ever taken offence? Do you shout in English, Thai or both?

Haha, famously vocal… interesting. I guess my football education in England and Australia was culturally very different to Thai football behaviour. I am always very conscious of my actions and behaviour here but to a limit that I don’t change myself as a player too much. I have some fantastic teammates that understand my behaviour both on and off the pitch. I truly respect Thai culture but also want to help create a positive environment of mutual accountability and high standards where all players, young, old, foreign or Thai have the ability and freedom to express themselves.

 

What about other cultural differences – what are the hardest things for foreign players coming to Thailand to adapt to? What advice would you give to foreigners thinking of moving here?

With any move to a new league and club I feel the player should always do his/her homework. Once making the decision to come to Thailand don’t drop your standards and keep pushing to be better and be successful. For any player, the moment you get in your comfort zone is the moment your standards drop.

 

You recently stated that you want to become a coach, possibly here in Asia, once your playing career is over. What’s the first thing you would train Thai defenders to do better?

Yes I do want to become a coach. This is not something new and have been studying it for a long time now.

One of the things I would improve is… I think collectively and generally defending here is a little reactive as a team to many situations. I would like the defensive aspect of my team to think patterns and passes ahead of when they occur. Basically for defenders to make better and faster decisions.

 

Whilst we all love Thai football, it has to be said that it is far from perfect. What do you think are the biggest issues facing the Thai game and what can the authorities do to address them? What one thing from foreign football would you like to see introduced in Thailand? And is there anything about Thai football that would improve the game elsewhere?

There are many things in my opinion that could be improved for Thai football. From the development of grass roots for the future generations to go to a World Cup, or the ground standards across the league(s). All in all football in this country is still developing and we have to understand that this takes time. It is an exciting period because football is taking steps forward and not backwards which is important.

Pinpointing just one… I would like to see a rise in stadium standards. There are some nice playing stadiums in this league like BG, Buriram, Muangthong and Ratchaburi. I understand that it is an expense but something as simple as maintaining a high level playing surface is something that can be achieved in a short period of time. I feel if the surface is of high standard, so will be the standard of play which in turn makes it more exciting for the spectators.

 

Finally, Glass face Port at the Leo Stadium on 5 August. What do you think of Port’s 2017 season so far? Which players will you be keeping a close eye on? What do you think the score will be?

I don’t keep an eye on Port… ; ) After gaining promotion last season I expected them to be in the top half of the league. With the squad they have they should be finishing in the top 10. They have some good players and the next game between our two teams will no doubt be an entertaining game.

Of course I am for a home win. BG 2-0!

 


Many thanks to Matt for taking the time to answer our questions! The Sandpit wishes you & Bangkok Glass the best of luck for the rest of the season – apart from on 5 August of course, when we hope you’ll continue not keeping an eye on Port…

 

Pravinwhat? Port Move Quickly To Replace Hansson

 

Port have moved quickly to replace departed youngster Niran Hansson, bringing in 27 year old Thai centre back Pravinwat Boonyong on a six month loan deal from Bangkok Glass. As was painfully clear in Wednesday’s friendly Port are short of numbers at the back, but management have acted quickly and decisively, bringing in a player who has represented the National Team as recently as March, when he was called up for the double header against Saudi Arabia and Japan.

Whilst Pravinwat has only ever been a peripheral figure in the national team squad, his signing must be seen as a coup for Port, who had temporarily put themselves in a tricky situation by releasing Hansson. Pravinwat has played 65 games for Bangkok Glass over the last few years, and at the beginning of the season started 6 of the first 8 games. He fell out of favour though, being replaced by Japanese powerhouse Jurato Ikeda, and has spent most of the rest of the first leg on the bench.

Assuming that Port’s first-choice duo Rochela and Dolah stay fit, it seems most likely that Pravinwat will be spending time on the Port bench, too, although he will almost certainly be the man to replace either should suspension or injury strike. We know how Jadet likes experience, and Pravinwat certainly isn’t lacking in that department.

At 1m79 (5ft10) Pravinwat isn’t particularly tall for a centre back, but his stocky build and strong upper body make him a match for most T1 strikers in physical battles. He has also been a back-up penalty taker for Bangkok Glass and the National Team, although in the few games I’ve seen him play, he certainly wouldn’t be my choice. Let’s just say he’s more Tony Adams than Gerard Pique when it comes to bringing the ball out from the back!

Welcome to PAT Stadium, Pravinwat!