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At Home with a Chiang: Port Draw Beetles in FA Cup QF

 

The draw for the quarter finals of the Chang FA Cup was made earlier this afternoon, and whilst Port were fortunate both to avoid Buriram and Bangkok Utd, and get a home draw, they nevertheless face the tricky task of overcoming cup specialists (and 2018 winners) Chiang Rai Utd. The Beetles are experts at grinding out cup wins and have also taken 4 points from their two league games with Port this season, so if Port are to make the semis they need to be at their very best.

It’s good news for ostracised skipper David Rochela though, as assuming he decides to stay at the club it means he’ll get to play at least one more game at the PAT in a Port shirt.

The game takes place on Wednesday 7 August at 19:00.

 

The Same Old ‘Thong: Fans Banned from SCG on Wednesday

 

As predicted, Port have confirmed to The Sandpit that the away fan ban at Muangthong will remain in place for this Wednesday’s last 16 FA Cup clash. The usual copout, which if course much easier than putting measures in place to ensure away fans’ safety. With the recent cooling of rivalry after MTU fans came to the PAT to pay their respects to the Port fans lost in a road accident, it seemed that common sense would prevail and away fans be allowed back in, but sadly once again one of the biggest derbies in Thai football will be away fans only.

No word as yet whether Port will be showing the game on a ‘big’ screen, but with the match not apparently being shown on TV, this could prove difficult. Add in the Buddhist Lent alcohol ban, and the two sides’ current form, and it looks like being a pretty miserable Wednesday for Port fans…

UPDATE

There are now 3 tasty options for watching the game:

Live on TV (True HD3)

At our sponsors The Sportsman

At the PAT, where we hear a big screen will be erected for the occasion

 

 

The Cup that Cheers: Port Draw Muangthong in Chang FA Cup

 

The draw for the round of 16 in the Chang FA Cup just took place, and to the obvious excitement of all involved, Port have been drawn away at deadly rivals Muangthong Utd. We said we wanted an easy draw and whilst this isn’t the T3 or T4 team we could’ve drawn, it’s at a ground where Port haven’t lost since 2015 and where they’ve won on their last three visits. Striker Josimar Rodrigues, who absolutely loves scoring against MTU, will be back at Port by then giving us additional hope of a place in the QFs.

The game will take place on Wednesday 17 July, KO time to be confirmed. As yet there is no word on whether Port fans will be allowed to attend but, based on our experience of the away league game, we’re guessing it’s no. But it’s another chance for the players to get more stamps on their SCG Nightclub membership cards – surely 4 stamps entitles you to a free bottle of champers?

 

 

Port Four Play Leaves Bats A-Flutter: Port FC 4-1 Sukhothai FC (Chang FA Cup R32)

 

 

When Port were drawn against Sukhothai in the FA Cup round of 32, the tie had the look of a potential banana skin about it – despite their lowly league position, the Firebats have one of the best defences in T1, and until Buriram’s visit last Sunday were the only team to have beaten Port all season. Fortunately for Port, but unfortunately for those of us who were hoping for a competitive game, Sukhothai are clearly prioritising T1 survival and put out a second string side, making this little more than a training exercise for Port’s first XI.

The floodgates opened as early as the 8th minute, when Pakorn (7) hit a freekick from the left of the penalty area, which former Port keeper Wanlop helpfully palmed into the net; but then Sukhothai sat back and defended resolutely, holding out against intense Port pressure until the 34th minute, when Pakorn curled in his second freekick of the night. The Midfield Monk loves playing against lowly opposition, but I wish he could find this kind of form when the big boys are in town. On the stroke of half time Bodin (10) scored a third but I’d already gone out for a cleansing ale by that point so can’t tell you what happened.

Predictably, the second half began with the usual Toby Time goal. Nurul (31) was upended in the area and Cap’n Rochela stroked home the pen to give Port an unassailable lead. Sukhothai got a consolation goal with a 75th minute penalty, but that was it for second half action and the gentle workout was just what Port needed before Sunday’s tricky trip to face MK Dons. The only black cloud was Go (8) going off late in the game with a knock, closely followed by the arrival of an ambulance at the stadium. Let’s hope it was just a precaution, as the last thing Port need now is to lose their midfield general.

**UPDATE**

Go suffered a bang on the head & the ambulance was just a precaution – he’ll be fit for Sunday’s game at Samut Prakhan.

 

The Sandpit Man of the Match: Pakorn

Two fine goals. No contest.

 

Trat’s Entertainment! Trat FC 2-3 Port FC (Chang FA Cup R3)

 

 

A one-day trip to Trat with Spiderming and the Thai fans? 10 hours in the bus? It was going to be a long trip, but what the hell, I decided to go anyway.

 

Almost 40 people joined the big Tarua bus leaving the PAT at 9:30 AM and after 4 hours, 4 LEO boxes and 5 whisky bottles we got to Chanthaburi where we stopped for lunch in a touristy spot with a food court and loads of shops. After an hour stop for lunch we headed to the Taksin Camp and the King of Thonburi memorial for of course a praying session while I hung around those handsome soldiers.

 

 

OK, have a look at the outside of our bus – you can see those massive speakers and that was the reason why people stared at us when we arrived at the Trat FC stadium. WE ARE TARUA so we gotta make some noise wherever we go. After a warm welcome from the Trat FC fans and free tickets from our Tarua staff, we were ready for the game. Port started with strong team but how poor they played for the first 20 minutes! After some bad defending by Kevin (97) and Rochela (22), Trat scored their first goal via Tardeli at minute 21.

The second half began with an apparently long way offside goal by Trat striker Tardeli (though I saw he was onside when I watched the video) – more bad defence from our defenders, and a bad bad bad feeling for us so far and we started to regret to take such a long trip to come to support our players when they didn’t look like they cared about the game.

 

 

Then Jadet made a big change, Panpanpong (19) for Bodin (10) and Kevin moved forward which worked almost immediately as Kim (8) scored from a Boskovic headed assist – 2-1 and there was still hope.

Then our fans ran out of whisky as they been caught by Trat security, so the other guy decided to go out during the game and buy more; when he came into the stadium with a glass of ice, people start shouting at him but he quickly calmed them down and took out the whiskey bottle out of his anus (are you quite sure about this? Ed). Hopefully the taste didnt change after the long time hidden in his arse to go through security.

Adisorn (13) got the ball near the Trat goal but was tackled by…hang on, that was Suarez (5), thought he played for Port? What the hell is going on down there? Anon (20) then came on for  Adisorn and the team played much better and we got the second goal at minute 81 – Panphanphong with a nice cross to Kim, who headed to Suarez and he didnt’ make any mistake to score our second goal to equal the score. What a great header from Kim though.

 

 

4 into minutes extra time, a flick back from Suarez, Kim took it nicely and passed to Kevin, who finished beautifully. What is more exciting than a late winning goal? Port won 3-2 and Trat went out of the FA Cup, along with Muangthong who lost to Chiang Rai on penalties – we won, that’s great, but even greater when you know your enemy has lost!

End of the game and it was time to stop at 7-11 to buy some more alcohol for the way back home, followed by a late dinner by the road at Chanthaburi. We got back to PAT Stadium at 2am and I headed home with 3kg of mangosteen from Chanthaburi at the end of a long away trip with our great fans. I need a good sleep now!

 

Tim’s Sandpit Man of the Match – Kim Sung Hwan

Make no mistake, Port got out of jail here after a first half that was as poor as the Chainat game. With Port’s big beasts failing to show up, Kim took the game by the scruff of the neck and almost single-handedly dragged Port into the quarter-finals with probably his finest performance in a Port shirt so far. A goal, two assists, and the kind of on-pitch leadership that the team so badly needed at 2-0 down. He needs to play like this more often.

 

Trat! That Was Liquid Football: Port Face White Elephants in FA Cup R3

 

Having comfortably seen off T2 leaders PTT Rayong in R2 of the 2018 Chang FA Cup, Port face the second-placed team in the division next week when they travel down the eastern seaboard to Roy Hodgson’s favourite beach resort, Trat.

The White Elephants have proved anything but superfluous this season and are in with a very good shout of making the surprise jump to T1, and with former Muangthong/Pattaya goal machine Milan Bubalo up front, Port could be in for a tricky evening. Will Trat go for it, or will they cast the cup aside as Rayong did in order to focus on their promotion bid? Let’s hope it’s the latter, and that Port will have a comfortable passage to the quarter finals in what is, barring a 1996 Newcastle-esque collapse from Buriram, their last chance of silverware this season.

Trat FC vs Port FC

Wednesday 25 July 2018, 18:00 at Trat Stadium

See Spiderming for fan bus bookings

 

Josi’s Back! Port to Face PTT Rayong in Chang FA Cup

 

The draw for round 2 (last 32) of the Chang FA Cup has been made, and Port have been drawn at home to T2 side PTT Rayong. This means a reunion with 2017 top scorer and Sandpit favourite Josimar Rodrigues, who joined PTT in the June transfer window. PTT currently lie 3rd in T2, 2 points off the top spot with a game in hand, so Port won’t be taking the game lightly and we can expect Jadet to put out – or at least be told to put out – a strong XI for the game.

The match will take place on Wednesday 4 July, 19:00.

 

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Livin’ it Up at the Hotel Kanchanaburia: Thamuang FC 1-5 Port FC (Chang FA Cup R1)

 

 

“I’m going to stay up & watch Argentina v Nigeria” Linny tells me the night before. “I’ll be OK, I can sleep in the van”. Ten minutes into the van journey, with ‘Singh Chao Ta’ blasting out of the speakers and the Thai fans in good voice after a Full Khlongthoey Breakfast (two big Leos), sleep is clearly an impossibility. There are 16 people crammed into the van (along with several iceboxes full of Leo and a drumkit), most of whom started drinking before they brushed their teeth this morning, and as the Port songs are replaced by Blondie, The Clash, The Scorpions and three different versions of ‘Hotel bastard California’, there’s little alternative other than to crack open a bottle and sing along, which we do (and Linny even manages to get some sleep, further proving that the Vietnamese can sleep literally anywhere).

 

The Party Bus in full swing

 

Yes, we’re on the Port Fanclub bus to Kanchanaburi to watch Port take on T5 minnows Thamuang FC in round 1 of the Chang FA Cup, and spirits are high. Toilet stops are frequent (we make four in two hours, beating the now infamous Saraburi farang van in 2015), and even being pulled over by the traffic police fails to dampen the mood; it seems our van is missing its number plates, and when questioned as to their whereabouts, our driver – a man who has already shown that he cares little for traffic laws – produces one from behind his seat and makes an excuse about having to respray it and the paint still being wet, whilst the rest of us chant “WE ARE TARUA!” behind him. The cop sensibly decides that a bullshitting driver and a van full of drunk Port fans are the last things he needs to be dealing with on a quiet stretch of road at 11am on a Wednesday morning, and waves us on.

We arrive in Kanchanaburi and head straight to the Bridge over the River Kwai, one of the biggest con jobs in Thai tourism (albeit a very scenic one) for group photos and a visit to the nearby pagoda (even walking around the temple I can hear chants of “TARUA!” from the bridge above). Tim and I have a chat with the local tourist police, whose leader speaks excellent English, asking me “May I ask why you have come to Kanchanaburi to watch football?” and, upon hearing that I’m from Coventry, informs me “Your team was in the Premiership for many years, but they are now in the third divsion I believe”. Truly a credit to the force.

 

 

After an underwhelming lunch by the river, we head to Kanchanaburi Sports Stadium which, if you stand at a considerable distance and squint, looks a little like the old Wembley and has clearly been spruced up for the arrival of footballing royalty (apart from the gents’ toilets, which don’t appear to have received any attention since the Japanese bailed out in 1945). Tickets are a bargain 50BHT, beers are allowed inside, around 50-60 Port fans have made the trip, and the local fans are clearly treating this like their own cup final.

Port are taking it pretty seriously too, starting with a strong XI including Boskovic, Pakorn, Bodin, Nitipong and Dolah. But they sit back for the first 15 minutes, letting a very young Thamuang side (apart from the keeper who looks about 70) have the ball, sizing them up & seeing just how good they are. “Not very” quickly becomes the obvious answer and so Port release the handbrake, and are 3-0 up within 15 minutes thanks to the quickest – and easiest – hat-trick that Boskovic (23) will ever score, with two tap-ins and a penalty. Port, clearly intent on despatching this game with a minimum of effort, then sit back and even manage to concede a goal, when a speculative Thamuang shot deflects off Todsapol (6) and loops over the keeper’s head into the goal, to ironic cheers from the away end.

 

 

3-1 at half-time, and after braving the swamp that is the gents we bump into our old friends the tourist police again who, intrigued by our talk of Port FC, have decided to come & check out the game themselves, their leader greeting me with a Bond villain-esque “We meet again! It is, as they say, a small world”, before launching into a lament about his love life. “This lady you see here” he says, indicating a female colleague, “has broken my heart. Many times I have pledged my love to her, but she rejects me. I believe her heart is promised to another, and I am sad.” Quite why he’s decided a random Leo’d-up farang football fan is the shoulder to cry on he’s been looking for is beyond me, but I make sympathetic noises and give him a manly hug before returning to the away end for what is a fairly uneventful second half. Pakorn (7), who has looked uninterested throughout, scores 6 minutes in and then promptly sits down and makes it clear he wants to come off, and is replaced by Terens (28), who runs about a lot but fails to make much of an impression (note to Pakorn: when 50 people – who’ve taken a day off work to travel for 3 hours to watch you – chant your name, you might at least acknowledge them). On the hour mark Todsapol taps in a 5th from close range, and from then on it’s an exercise in damage limitation for the hosts and energy saving for the visitors.

 

Caught by the tourist fuzz

 

5-1 it finishes, face saved by both sides, and after the whistle Boskovic, clearly the big draw for the local fans, stays out on the pitch for a good half an hour posing for pictures & signing everything that’s proffered to him (apart from Tim Walker’s sweaty sock, which gets thrown back at him – at least it wasn’t Tim’s blue underpants, which everyone got a good view of just before half-time). The Port fans hand over scarves and flags to the local kids, winning hearts & minds; and we also chant tributes to the Moo Paa kids and hope for their safe return.

We make a quick beer stop and then head home, and the big difference between Thai & farang away trips becomes apparent – whilst we’re usually quiet on the way to games the Thais are boisterous, on the return journey the opposites apply and it is a very quiet van that arrives back at the PAT, just in time for us to get home to watch South Korea dump Germany out of the World Cup and provide the perfect end to a wonderful day. Big, big thanks to Spiderming & friends for their wonderful hospitality and beer service, and to all at Thamuang FC for the warm welcome.

 

The Sandpit Man of the Match – Dragan Boskovic

A hat-trick and a one-man diplomatic mission for Port FC – there can be only one. Hats off to Bosko. He even gave Linny her pen back.

 

Bosko signs his 785th autograph of the day

 

Magical Mystery Tour: Thamuang FC vs Port FC Preview (Chang FA Cup R1)

 

Ahh… the magic of the FA Cup. Minnows against giants isn’t it? Shocks. Surprise. Last minute winners hmm? Reassuring.

Port’s chase for silverware now begins on two fronts (three if the outrageously optimistic/bonkers amongst you believe we have any sort of shout in the league) with a trip to Kanchanaburi to face Thamuang FC. They are an amateur side plying their trade in some corner of T5 and as you can probably imagine, information on them is scarcer than a blemish on The Radiant She of Pang’s porcelain, milk-bathed skin. (The team picture above suggests they have Nick Cave playing at right-back – Ed)

Sadly then, there is little I can tell you. Their Facebook page is awash with impressive photos of the tickets for Wednesday’s clash, and seemingly photos of the players giving these tickets to school children – lots of school children each one individually photographed at the handing over of the ticket ceremony. The club, or some local Del Boy, has also rattled up quantities of merchandise for the game which have limited runs – hopefully much like their cup run this year. Place your orders now! It is understood that the match will be played at Kanchanaburi Municipal Sports Stadium, which has an ambitious capacity of 13,000. The stadium also looks nearly fully roofed for those seeking shade or shelter.

 

 

How about Port? Well, we do want to take these cups rather seriously as they are the most likely route to seeing a return of silver for all of Pang’s gold she laid out at the start of the season. Playing a T5 side should allow some of the less used players to get a run out, and given this, I am loath to try to second guess any line up (and it is fair to say, a touch ‘tired and emotional’ from England’s show against Panama, and therefore lazy). This should be a stroll in the park for Port, so expect a 1-0 loss. I still can’t shake the feeling of imminent destruction, despite the season we are having so far.

Seriously though, this should be double figures regardless of who we put out.

All this without a single railway, bridge or river pun. Things are improving.

 

Say Hello to the Angels: Port to Face Bangkok Utd in FA Cup

 

The draw for round 3 of the 2017 Chang FA Cup was made just a few minutes ago, with Port being handed a very tough test – away at high flying Bangkok Utd. Tough for the fans, facing a midweek trek out to Rangsit to endure one of the worst views in Thai football; and tough on the players, facing opponents who have already handed out two spankings this season, scoring 9 goals in the process.

That said, with Port’s T1 season limping to a fairly miserable conclusion, coach Zico seems to be taking the cups seriously as his only chance of glory this campaign, and with BUFC’s recent stellar winning run having come to an end at Pattaya over the weekend, a cheeky win isn’t entirely out of the question. With Port also still in the League Cup, there are still a few reasons for excitement in what remains of this stop-start season.

The game will be played on Wednesday 27 September, KO time 18:00. To whet your appetite for what should be a pulsating Bangkok derby, check out my interview with BUFC coach Mano Polking from earlier this season.

Here are the other fixtures, with Glass v Buriram standing out…