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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

FIRST-HALF ENTERTAINMENT

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

SECOND-HALF BATTLE

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

THE LACK OF VAR!

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

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

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

 

 

MY THOUGHTS – PORT FC

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

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

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

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

 

MY THOUGHTS – MUANGTHONG UNITED

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

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

A quick trip to wiki showed me the following stats:

 

 

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

 

MAN OF THE MATCH – PORT FC

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

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

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

 

 

Port’s “Battle of Who Could Care Less” Muangthong United 2 – 1 Port

Derby day: the day where no matter what’s going on, the players should be up for it. Despite our current form, which is mediocre at best, we could draw confidence from the fact that our recent form against Muangthong was good. Looking at the starting-11: I was nervous.  Steuble (15) has been shaky at best in recent games, and Tanasith (11) hasn’t done enough to justify a place on the bench, yet surprisingly: they were starting in a game that is of the utmost importance. Rattanai (18), after playing well, was dropped to the bench, which shows that if you like and share a certain person’s Facebook posts, you’re more likely to get a game.

Before I forget here’s a lovely picture of Pang from earlier in the week. Anyway back to the match report.

 

With that being said, we started quite well, though we ultimately did nothing with it. Muangthong looked quite good too at times, and it’s hard not to be impressed with Mirzaev, who in my opinion is the best foreign player on their books. The first-half was end to end at times, with neither side able to find the back of the net, though Suarez drew first blood (the claret kind) when he collided with an obstructing Muangthong player. So, we went into the interval level, but in standard Port fashion: we came out for the second-half looking nothing like the team we were in the first half.

Muangthong drew first blood (of the goal kind) in the 51st minute, when we allowed Wattanakorn all the time in the world to pick his cross to an untracked back-post run by Mirzaev, who slammed it home. It was horrendous defending, and sadly… it’s not the first time this has happened. There are certain players in the backline that are so badly out of form at the moment that they could use a few games in the stands, although they appear to be at the point where they just wouldn’t care if they were dropped. Regardless, we were soon awarded a penalty when Chatchai collided with Adisak (9), in what was his only meaningful contribution after replacing Boli (94) at half-time. Sergio (5) stepped up and tucked the spotkick away with venom in the bottom-left corner. Game on.

But this is a Port game, and we don’t like to do things easy! Instead of taking control of the game, we began to play around with the ball at the back, and instead of building out from the back: we built our downfall. Go (8), who is usually quite reliable, made a mistake, and although we scrambled well: VAR called upon a check from the referee on the monitor. To me, it looked like the ball hit his body and deflected onto his shoulder/armpit. Usually, that would mean that it wasn’t a penalty, but this is Thai football, and we do things a bit differently! My expectations of Thai match officials are incredibly low, so I was hardly surprised when a spotkick was awarded to the hosts. To which, Popp tucked it away, and ultimately consigned us to defeat.

 

The ball hits the back of Go, unquestionably a penalty and a yellow card. All hail the miracle of VAR that has come to save the game.

The final 20-minutes was dire at best, with the only meaningful thing to happen being Nattawut (45) handling the ball twice and tucking it away, with it correctly being chalked off. Apart from that, we were aimless in attack, and the final whistle was soon blown. It’s never easy to lose a derby, but when you see some of the performances tonight… it’s tougher to swallow.

 

Sergio Suarez, goal scorer and bright spot

 

So: what next? We have Rayong on Sunday, and if we play as we have been recently… they’re getting their 4th win of the season. With his time at Port well and truly up, it’s time for Oud to wield the axe, and show the bigger name players that enough is enough. There are only a few players at best that aren’t playing poorly in my opinion, with Suarez and Worawut Namvech (24) the only players to come out of this game with pass marks, though I felt that Bordin did quite well too, but his end product was lacking.

What would I do for the Rayong game? Drop a lot of the players. Watchara (1) seems to not be allowed to play, so get Rattanai back in goal. Nitipong (34) out for Thitawee (2), who despite being underwhelming in his games so far for the club: deserves a chance at redemption. He couldn’t be any worse than what we’re getting at the moment… Get Tossapol (6) in for Dolah(4) and Jaturapat (21) in for Steuble. It might be a makeshift defence, but again… it couldn’t be any worse than our defensive unit at the moment, which funnily enough [for opposition fans at least] has forgotten the basic skills and requirements of defending.

In the midfield, get Kannarin (31) in at the base of it, and play Go alongside Sergio, with them both being given a bit more license to go forward. Suarez is carrying us at the moment, and his back must be incredibly sore from all the deadweight. We’d be in a world of hurt without him, and we really can’t afford for him to get injured. Go looks a little tired to me, but he’s still a good player, but that mistake that led to the penalty, was frustrating, to say the least! Sometimes you need to just pump it long and push the defensive line up and get the shape, maybe we can try that next time?

For our front-3: drop Tanasith from the squad altogether. He’s had more than enough chances now, and we’re better off giving them to Nattawut (45) instead. We should persist with Bordin (10), who will play himself into form, and if Bonilla (99) isn’t fit, persist with Boli. It’s a real shame what we’ve done since signing him, as he’s a proper number 9, but if we can’t give him any service, he’s going to struggle. That being said, he’s had a few chances in recent games, and fluffed them, so it’s up to him to stick a few in the back of the net and silence some of the boo boys.

At the rate that we’re going, 2nd place is looking very unlikely, and at the end of the season when we’re reviewing what went wrong, we’ll be highlighting this run of games. I think there’s less than a 1% chance that Oud remains in charge next season, and I genuinely wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t make it to the end of the season. When you consider our form before the break, and what’s happened since the resumption of the league… Questions should [but won’t] be asked. To me, it appears that he’s gone from being allowed to pick his own team, to being told who he’ll play, and it’s little surprise that we’ve struggled since that’s begun.

Hopefully, we will see a better performance on Sunday, one that can make us believe that the players ACTUALLY care, because looking out there tonight: you wouldn’t know. With a return of fans to stadiums rumoured to be on the way, there’s at least some hope that we can play our part in a return to form. We can make the PAT a fortress once again, and let the lads know exactly what we expect from them. To put it simply: we expect BETTER.

 

Another match another frustrated Oud pic

 

The game on Sunday is at PAT Stadium, with kickoff at 6pm. If the rumours are true, PAT will be allowed 50% of its capacity. If you’re unable to make it to the stadium, the Sportsmen will show the game on one of their big screens. Despite this appearing to be quite negative, I’m hoping to see the lads turn things around ASAP.

Let’s finish this season strongly, and start that off by getting a convincing win on the weekend!

Back for the Biggie.

 

If you’re going to come out of hibernation, it might as well be for a good reason and they don’t come much bigger in Thai football than the slum v scum derby. Just shy of eight months after it was originally scheduled to take place (thanks in part to a further delay beyond COVID, due to the PAT floodlight issues back in October), it’s the big one.
Port go into the game having claimed a champions league place at the weekend and can tonight enhance their chances of going directly into the group stage and extinguish the last lingering hopes Muangthong have of involvement (they need to win all their remaining games and still get a little help with results in other matches).

The Good Guys

Port come into the game in fine form with six wins in a row, with clean sheets in their last three games. The defence seems to have tightened up in recent weeks, two of those clean sheets have come away at Bangkok United (finally breaking that jinx) and last time out against a decent Chonburi team. Whilst neither saw the sparkling football going forward of the home win v Suphanburi they sandwiched, maybe the new management has installed some defensive steel and tactical pragmatism so often lacking at Port. Add to the mix that Bonilla(99) looks like the striker with killer instinct we’ve waited for the entire Pang era and there much to be hopeful about. I doubt we’ll see a winning line up changed.

 

The Baddies

This season has been somewhat of a turning point for everyone’s least favorite team as the continued attempts to cut costs have really bitten and where once you had as close as the Thai league gets to glitz and glamour. The squad is now made up mainly of players rolling off their youth academy production line.
However, we were told that would be plenty as they started the season with Gama at the helm. Give the Brazilian tactician, the lads from your local moto taxi stand, enough Carlos kickaballs to fill the overseas quota and a mid table finish was assured, seemed to be the theory in Nonthaburi. However there was just one problem with this, Gama wasn’t happy babysitting the latest batch to come off the academy line, despite the protests of some that nobody could want to leave a club treading water and get back to competing for silverware. Gama was of to Isan at the first opportunity.
He was replaced by former playing legend and current sock dodger Mario Gjurosvki. Who previous management experience amounts to a bit of youth coaching for them, during the COVID break when there wasn’t much coaching done. If nothing else he gets hyped up for every game, so expect him to get involved in a bit of back and forth at some point tonight.

An insult to style and Messi in a pink Barca shirt

 

Form

This season the numbers back up what we already knew, watching Muangthong at home really is the last thing you should choose to do, as games at Legoland have seen the least goals of any stadium in the division. Away from home things are nearly twice as goal friendly (19 v 10) but given that 3 of those came away v Rayong, with some assistance from a home goalkeeping performance, right up there with a certain ex Coronation Street star’s efforts for/against Port a few years ago, even that is a little questionable. Their away record stands at 3-0-3, with the victories being against (kinda) Rayong, Police Tero, and in the battle of the has-beens, up at Buriram. While the defeats have come at BG, Sukhothai and Chiangrai, so basically anyone decent.
The form in the four games under Mario Gjurosvki is also mixed, they opened with a 3-1 win at Police Tero. A match that saw the visitors hyped up like this was a cup final, struggle to pull clear of Police, who the last couple of months looks destined for a relegation battle, until two late screamers. Next up was the aforementioned battle of the has-beens in Buriram, entertaining stuff as the two traded blows to remain relevant. Starting with some calamity defending as a miskick from little center back Promsupa (15) allowed Buriram’s Scepovic to open the scoring. Something the little fella has form for as it was his blunder that lead to Port’s late late winner in the Leo Cup final preseason. Before Muangthong pulled clear with three unanswered goals. There was still time for Van Lam (1) to get all flappy about a header than was a routine save and make it a tight finish. Before Mario started running around like a pound shop Jose in front of the away end.
After opening with two wins things haven’t gone so well. Firstly they headed up to Chiangrai, where the only running we saw post-game from Mario was to break out the crayons and write a strongly worded letter to the league about how unfair it is that the officials no longer give all the dodgy decisions to Muangthong. The match ended in a 2-1 defeat. Then last time out they managed a 1-1 draw with Korat. Now everyone in the Sandpit loves Korat, however, they’re down there battling relegation year on year for a simple reason, they never put together a decent team. You want to be a big team you should be beating them at home. So to see the once-mighty Muangthong needing all the misfortune they felt they suffered at Chiangrai reversed in the next match, as they got two penalties the game would be better without, didn’t exactly scream form team. That one was twice taken and twice missed by Derley(87) only made it all more comic. They did go one up thanks to Popp(19) showing some competence from the spot. However up stepped Van Lam to again allow a header a mere matter of inches from his starting position to beat him.
As it’s probably clear I’m far from a fan of Van Lam, he came into the league hyped as one of the best keepers in Asia. Whilst his highlights reel, even from just this season, will feature some great saves, he’s also terrible at far too many of the basic elements of his job and always prone to letting a howler in. He was dropped by Gama for a couple of games and replaced by Somporn (29) a keeper who won’t hit the same peaks but offers a far more consistent and reliable alternative. Let’s hope we see some classic flapping from the Vietnamese number one.
At right back they should have Jesse Curran, who impressed in preseason and could be in on a Phillipino passport except it seems they haven’t sorted that yet so he’s stuck at Udon Thani playing in the second tier (all very Porty).
Derley, at 6ft might not be as big and scary as some but he’s a decent T1 striker, he’s scored five times this season. It’s just that over the period I’ve watched football in Thailand the guy leading the line for Muangthong has tended to be right there in the conversation about the best striker in the league not called Diogo. Derley is a decent middle of the range Thai league striker but then Muangthong has become more of a middle of the range Thai league operation.
Willian Popp (19) arrived at the start of the year and spent preseason and the pre shut down period, looking like a long lost South American cousin of George Weah, or a social experiment to see if you really could take any physically fit Brazilian to a footballing backwater and they’d cut it in the local league. There was a lot of huff and puff but very little end product. He looked improved when the league returned but has really kicked on since the change of manager, scoring 4 goals, two absolute screamers, and two penalties.
I could go into the details of their Thai players but let’s face it they generally all fit the same mould, hyped products of their academy who all go on to get a few caps because that’s what you do when you play for them before drifting off to have reasonable careers elsewhere. They also have Chatmongkol (14) on loan from Port, any logical club would have it in the loan he can’t play against them. So we all know who’s scoring the injury time winner.

Prediction

This is in many ways a free shot at 3 points for Port. When the game in October was canceled, it appeared that we would again be fined and the game awarded to the visitors 2-0. Maybe it would be fairer if it had been.
Having watched their recent games l think they’d currently get wound up for a game against the local under 7’s, in a game they’ll come to slightly aggrieved that they have to play rather than having nicked 3 points after the floodlight failure, with the added factor that it’s a derby, maybe they’ll be overhyped.
I certainly suspect they could boil over if the stadium was packed and away fans allowed in, creating a heated atmosphere, sadly the two clubs continue to ban away fans from these matches. Throw in the post covid new normal of only 50% attendance and the ban on drums etc and l fear it could be generally a bit flatter than a normal derby in the ground.
However, you don’t conclude Port v Scum previews predicting anything other than a win, 3-0 Bonilla hattrick.
The game kicks off at 1800 this evening.If you can’t get along the match will shown on AISplay.

Third vs. Turd: Port FC vs. Muangthong Utd Preview

 

This week’s outstanding if nerve-wracking cup victory over Chiang Rai was arguably our best performance of the season, but Port will need to put in another considerable effort against their fiercest rivals to keep up the pace at the top of the table this weekend. 2 wins and a draw in our last 3 league games can’t hide the fact that we have flattered to deceive recently and the team selection shows there is still a lack of tactical awareness from the coaching staff.

And so it’s that shower of absolute bastards from Nonthaburi who come rolling into town this weekend and it couldn’t have come at a better time for them. But relax mate, you might counter, it’s a derby innit? The form book goes out the window. Well, the scumbag’s form book is so heavy with positive momentum it would be hard enough just to pick up the damn thing let alone chuck it. Also, don’t tell me to relax.

It was all so hysterically funny only a few months ago when those inept mugs found themselves stuck in the relegation zone and going through several managerial changes. Port even managed to rock up to Legoland twice and ran off into the night with 2 victories; firstly their third consecutive league victory in 3 seasons and more recently an absolute mugging in the last 16 of the FA Cup thanks to gifts from pretty boy Chappuis and the gargoyle-esque Teerasil (See above. Truly a hauntingly ugly man; I would hang his picture above the fireplace to keep the children away from the flames). But 7 wins and a draw in their last 8 league matches tells a different story and they now find themselves sitting comfortably in 6th position. Their away form is still a bit patchy (W2 D3 L6) but they are only 4 points off Port who only the good lord knows how still sit in 3rd position.

 

Ones to Watch

Heberty Fernandes

 

 

 

Heberty. Heberty. Heberty. Say his name 3 times and you develop an Irish accent but that’s where the joke ends. The Brazilian/Timorese attacker is their star performer, drifting ominously around the final third and popping up with key goals. On top of his 7 goals this season he’s racked up 8 assists and generally lifts the team’s all round performance. You could argue that if you stop him, you’ll stop the whole team, which I’m slightly inclined to agree with, so our full backs and defensive midfielders will have their work cut out tracking him around the pitch.

 

Alexandre Gama

 

 

If one individual is responsible for their return to form and march up the table then it has to be their Brazilian manager. A serial silverware winner for both Buriram and Chiang Rai, Gama has already taken an underperforming talent pool and molded a team that can play adventurous football in a 4-3-3 or 3-5-2 formation. My real reason for putting him in here is that he is also an absolute shithouse manager; every single time I have watched one of his teams in the flesh, he has walked onto the pitch to remonstrate with the match officials and most of the time he gets what he wants. With no away fans traveling to the PAT this weekend expect some dark arts from the bench if the chips are down.

 

The Home Team

 

The midweek cup performance will have given Choke/Spencer/Madame Pang (delete where applicable) a headache for team selection. Clearly width supplied by Bodin (10) and Pakorn (7) is the key to this team, and out of nowhere the usually woeful Sumanya (11) put on a high quality show which will surely justify his selection. This means Suarez (5) will probably find himself playing as a false 9. Or maybe the fear will creep into the training staff’s thinking and they opt for Josimar (30), back after being cup tied, who will defend more than Pakorn. Maybe. Probably. Rochela (22) will take his place in the stands after being cut from the league squad so either Tanaboon (71) or Todsapol (6) will come into the centre of defense. Most farang supporters prefer the latter but we all know Madame has her favourites so the ex-Glass man will probably get the nod.

 

 

Prediction

 

4-2 Port and I miss one, maybe 2 goals. You heard it here first. Cheers!

 


 

The match will be shown live at 18:00 on Sunday 11 August, 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.

 

Kirin Me Softly – Port Take On Weakened Rivals: Muangthong Utd vs. Port FC, 17 February 2018

 

In an early top of the table clash, T1 leaders Port will take on second place Muangthong United at the Theater of Corrugated Iron on Saturday. With Port fan groups calling for a boycott after numerous violent clashes between the fans at the SCG, both sides opted for an ‘away fan ban’ this year, meaning that Port fans won’t be able to watch the game live this Saturday, and Muangthong fans will also be banned from PAT Stadium when the two sides meet in June.

It’s a big let-down for fans that the game can’t just be policed responsibly, as it’s one of the biggest fixtures in Thai football. Surely if fan representatives and police came up with a plan to bus Port fans in and out of the stadium through a secure entrance then the game would be able to go ahead as normal, but instead both sides seem content to let the issue fester and deal with it again at a later date.

For fans still up for watching the game alongside the Port faithful, there will be a big screen at PAT Stadium which is expected to draw a pretty decent sized crowd. We’ll see you there!

Leaving off-the-pitch issues aside, Port have more reason for optimism in this season’s first Slum vs. Scum derby than they have for many years. With Madame Pang spending big bucks to fix all of Port’s major weaknesses, we now have more of a complete team than I’ve ever seen don the famous blue and orange.

The way Pattaya were dispatched also gave fans reason to hope that that Port’s game-management issues might be behind us. Adding a late third goal to secure a comfortable victory, rather than throwing away two late goals to slump to a disappointing draw, was certainly a welcome change!

Port can also call on the memory of their stunning 3-2 victory at the SCG last season, when a four minute masterclass in finishing put such a crushing dent in Muangthong’s title challenge that they never recovered.

Whereas that game was played in a completely empty SCG though, this game will be attended by all of the Yamaha Ultras and their ‘Curva Sud’ balaclavas. With the noise they’re sure to generate – when they’re not dribbling on their ridiculous ‘Money Can’t Buy History’ banners that is – Port will certainly have an uphill battle in a hostile atmosphere.

 

Muangthong United

Players to Watch

 

Muangthong may have lost some key players in the transfer window, but they still have some pretty useful replacements coming in. And some terrible ones, but we’ll get on to them later.

 

The Brazilians

 

The strike force of Heberty Fernandes (7) and Jaja Coelho (50) needs no introduction. Two of the finest forwards in Thai football brought together in a classic little-and-large partnership will certainly give Port’s defence plenty to think about. In replacing Leandro Assumpcao with Jaja, Muangthong have strengthened on the foreign-player front.

 

Heberty Fernandes, Jaja Coelho

 

Then at the back there’s Celio Santos, one of the best defenders in the league. An extremely imposing figure, he will present a tough challenge to Boskovic if he starts, although after missing out on the opening weekend we’re hoping the burly Brazilian is still indisposed.

 

The Thais

 

This is where things are looking significantly weaker for Muangthong this season.

Replacing Port fan-favourite Theeraton Bunmathan (you know him as Hia Um) is Peerapat Notechaiya (2), and whilst he’s second choice in the national team he’s not fit to lace the boots of the assist freak who will be spending 2018 with Vissel Kobe. I’d certainly take Port new boy Kevin Deeromram over Peerapat, and Muangthong must agree as they tried desperately to sign the Thai-Swede on deadline day, before Port swooped in and hijacked the deal. Chin up, fellas, you can have Panpanpong if you want!

Replacing Thailand’s finest striker of the last decade Teerasil Dangda is either the Thai Heskey Siroch Chatthong (35, Pipo to his friends) or the smaller, weaker and even more profligate Thai Heskey Chenrop Sampaodi (22). Whilst Pipo has stuck manfully to his principles, failing to find the net for Muangthong in T1 for half a season and counting, Chenrop went absolutely mental last weekend. The Thai under 23 striker bucked a trend which has seen him net just 3 times in 60 T1 games, firing in a hattrick after coming on at half time to help his side overturn a 2-0 deficit against Bangkok United. Well, I say firing in, but for the third goal he really just tripped over the ball on the line. I don’t know what on earth possessed Chenrop (a professional footballer, perhaps?) but I suspect he’ll be back to his inept best when Port come to town. The evidence of the previous 60 games holds rather more weight than 45 minutes of weirdness!

 

Siroch Chatthong, Chenrop Sampaodi

 

Replacing Thailand’s best ever goalkeeper Kawin Thamsatchanan is Kampol Patthom-attakul (1), who has played 4 games in 7 seasons for Muangthong. Now, to be fair to Kampol he’s been on loan almost the entire time, and has played something like 100 T1 games, but he’s no Kawin.

Replacing Thailand’s most talented player Chanathip Songkrasin is Thai-Swiss Charyl Chappuis (23) who picked up a silly second yellow card on the opening weekend but won’t miss out on Saturday * as suspensions are only given to players who get a straight red card. With defensive midfielder Wattana Playnum who started that game missing out with injury, reliable captain Sarach Yooyen (6) and back-up Thossawat Limwannasathian (8) should start, which should make for a competent but hardly inspiring midfield.

Also looking competent but not exactly fearsome is the defence, with aforementioned left back Peerapat being joined at the back by Japanese veteran Naoaki Aoyama (4) and Thai national team duo Adisorn Promrak (25) and Tristan Do (19).

 

Naoaki Aoyama, Adisorn Promrak, Tristan Do

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 

 

Port FC

Full Strength?

 

I’m actually going to enjoy previewing our line-ups this season. At full strength Port are solid all over the park, with a few outstanding players to boot. There are even selection headaches for Jadet due to an overabundance of attacking talent in the ranks. What a time to be a Port fan!

We have no idea if Rattanai (17) is back to full fitness or not, but regardless, Worawut (36) dealt with everything Pattaya sent his way, including a second half penalty, with aplomb.

At the back the usual suspects Nitipong (34), Rochela (22) and Todsapol (6) should be joined by Kevin Deeromram (97), who did enough to hold on to his left back slot in his debut on Sunday. Sound defensive work, largely mistake-free play in possession and some tasty dead-ball deliveries put Kevin well ahead of his competition. It’s sure to be a tough day at the office for the Port back 4 though, with Heberty and Jaja posing some very difficult and very different problems. Heberty will be trying to find pockets of space in and around the area to unleash his pinpoint finishes, whereas Jaja will be using brute force to crash through.

 

Kevin Deeromram

 

Port’s fit-again defensive midfielder Kim Sung-Hwan (8) should be the only change to Port’s first XI. Kim will provide more reliable protection for the back four and better distribution than Adisorn (13). Siwakorn (16) was one of many names in the Man of the Match hat last week with a typically smooth display. He even whacked someone in the first couple of minutes and didn’t get booked. Remarkable! Against a weakened Muangthong midfield, Kim and Siwakorn must try to give Port a solid platform from which to attack.

Bodin (10) certainly gave Jadet something to think about with his electrifying cameo, but I doubt he will lose faith in Pakorn (7) just yet. Nurul (31) was practically unplayable in the second half, and will enjoy himself on the right wing against Peerapat if he gets a chance to play there, but with Do at right back, it seems unlikely that either Pakorn or Nurul will make too many inroads on their less-favoured side of the pitch.

In what seem to be more loosely defined roles this season, Suarez (5) and Boskovic (23) were popping up all over the place on Sunday. It worked a treat, as Port overran their opponents in midfield and never seemed short of attackers. Breaking down the Muangthong defence will be more of a challenge, but you have to fancy Port to get on the scoresheet at some point.

 

Dragan Boskovic

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 


 

When the article was first published, I wrote that Chappuis was suspended, but Dom informed me that only a straight red card or an accumulation of four yellow cards gets you a suspension.

 


 

The match will be shown live on True 4U and True Sport HD2 at 18:00 on Saturday 17 February, 2018. Again, away fans are banned so for those who can’t make it to PAT Stadium to watch on the big screen, 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.