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Effin’ & Reffin’: Port vs the Men in Black

 

Following Saturday’s controversial yet ultimately self-inflicted defeat at Sukhothai, during which midfielder Sumanya was sent off for slapping the referee, Port have launched a two-prong attack on T1 officials. Firstly, Port striker Dragan Boskovic posted the following statement on his Instagram feed yesterday:

 

 

Secondly, the club also announced yesterday that Chairwoman Pang would be filing an official complaint about Saturday’s ref with the FAT this afternoon.

Whilst it can’t be argued that there is considerable room for improvement in Thai football refereeing and that poor or biased officials are indeed a blight on the game, it’s somewhat curious that Port have chosen the Sukhothai game as their hill to die on. The ref was no worse than others we’ve seen this season, and had no choice other than to send Sumanya off for his utter stupidity. All the talk around our table after the game was not of the ref, but of the players, Sumanya in particular, who let us down. However bad the ref was, had they kept their heads, and eleven men on the field, they would have won that game fairly comfortably. And I didn’t hear too many complaints from Port about the very generous refereeing during our recent 1-0 win at home to Ratchaburi.

Thankfully the voice of reason came from coach Jadet, who yesterday said that some Port players clearly have trouble controlling themselves on the pitch and need to focus more on winning football matches than arguing with refs. Rather than issuing statements and lodging complaints, Port would do better to address this issue and also focus on this week’s two must-win games against Trat and Prachuap. Yes, fostering an us-against-the-world mentality and putting psychological pressure on refs is a proven tactic that may pay off (it worked for Alex Ferguson), but Port don’t need to lower themselves to such mind games and have a good enough squad to beat the likes of Sukhothai every week, regardless of how dodgy the refs are. It wasn’t the ref who stopped us scoring more against PTT. It wasn’t the ref who cost us 3 points at Sukhothai. And it isn’t refs who are making Port play 4-6-0 then wonder why they aren’t winning games. Thai referees are generally poor, we know that, and we’ve known it for years. It hasn’t suddenly become an issue, and players should know how to handle it – physically attacking referees certainly isn’t the answer.

 

From Podgorica to Port: The Sandpit Meets Dragan Boskovic

 

“Can you take that bit out?” Dragan Boskovic asks me after having a quick look at the first draft of this interview. “I don’t want to make any enemies.” Whilst that may sound surprising to anyone familiar with his, shall we say, ‘combative’ on-field presence, off the pitch he’s a thoughtful, articulate and likeable character, as passionate about books, films and politics as he is about the game he plays – very successfully – for a living.

With over 100 league goals scored in the top division, Dragan is a bona fide Thai football legend, and arguably the biggest star in T1. And yet, Thai football media being virtually non-existent, very little is known about one of the game’s most recognisable figures. So as he prepares to spearhead Port’s 2019 T1 campaign, The Sandpit sat down with the big Montenegrin for a chat about his formative karate years, his assimilation into Thai culture, and his optimistic look at what the new season holds…

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The Sandpit Readers’ Player of the Year 2018 Is…

 

The voting is over and the results are in, and we can finally reveal the winner of the 2018 Player of the Year poll! And there’s a new name on the imaginary trophy this year – Port skipper David Rochela won the award in 2016 & 2017, but only finished a distant 5th this time round. That shouldn’t be seen as an indication of the capn’s declining powers; more the fact that there’s a lot more competition this year with Port having splashed the cash & brought in some top quality players. And yet, as you’ll see from the results below, it was an old hand who won the prize…

 

Winner: Sergio Suarez (41%)

Suarez was narrowly pipped to the prize by Rochela last season; this year there was no doubt who would win with the Spaniard winning in a landslide. Suarez was handed a more attacking role alongside Dragan Boskovic most of the season and revelled in it, scoring 18 goals and contributing 13 assists in all competitions. He may have his critics, particularly here at The Sandpit, and it has to be said that those stats could be even better if he was more consistent and less fond of getting into pointless on-pitch squabbles with referees and opponents, but Port would struggle to replace those kinds of numbers if he left.

 

 

2nd: Dragan Boskovic (11%)

Port’s much-vaunted big winter signing started with a bang (that goal against Pattaya), then went quiet, culminating in the unsavoury scenes of Chainatgate, then went on a run form, then went quiet again, and just as we were about to name him as the disappointment of the season, exploded into life late on, scoring 6 goals in the last 2 games to take his tally to 28 in all competitions. To be fair to the big Montenegrin, Port haven’t exactly played to his strengths and he’s had to go looking for the ball far too often, but his late season form gives us hope that, in 2019, we’ll see the best of Bosko.

 

 

3rd: Nitipong Selanon (9%)

The winner of our Writers’ POTY Award also got some love – though not as much – from our readers, finishing 3rd overall. As we have said already, you’re not going to get MOTM performances from Niti but you are going to get 110% effort, and virtually zero mistakes, week in and week out, and in a season when Port’s stars alternated stellar performances with no-shows, that counts for a lot. Niti’s improvement since 2016 has been a joy to watch and 2019 should be the season when the rest of T1 sits up & takes notice.

 

 

Images (c) Shutterstock

 

 

Singing in the Rain: Pattaya Utd 1-4 Port FC

 

 

And it ended with a bang. And what a bang! Fourteen goals in three games (nearly a fifth of our goals all season); just another one yesterday would have given us a goal tally in those games of 555 – now that would have been a laugh.

 

Port went into this match knowing that a win would secure third place while any other result that matched Muangthong’s would have the same effect.  With the match switched from Pattaya to the ever-so-slightly more accessible (in distance anyway) 72nd year anniversary stadium in Minburi, the opportunity for a large, vocal support to spur Port over the line was in place. The Klongtoey Army did not disappoint, the 1000 tickets on sale quickly snapped up with others getting in by virtue of the Pattaya allocation. The scene was set.

 

Port opened brightly with Rochela’s glancing header from a Pakorn free-kick in the 9th minute just evading the far post. Pattaya had the better of the play after that with a clear threat coming from their tall boys, most notably Korean centre back and captain Lee Won-Young, whose head-on from a free kick was scuffed past the post by left-winger Chayawhat.

 

Port were to take the lead, slightly against the run of play, in the 24th minute, Suarez’s (try saying that) left-foot cross from the right wing being perfectly taken on his chest by an unchallenged Boskovic, before hammering a right-foot volley into the top left hand corner of the goal; after reaching the ton last week, the muscular Montenegrin was on a roll. It certainly brought a smile to the face of Madame Pang, sheltering in the dug-out in what looked like a cheap 7-11 rain mac, but then I’m no judge of fashion.

 

The lead was increased on the half-hour with a sumptuous team goal. Pakorn’s long cross-pitch ball from the left was headed into the box by Nurul for Suarez to run onto and, when his prod was deflected by the keeper, Bosko was on the spot like a true poacher to nudge the ball over the line. It may have got there without him but this was a man scenting blood and he was not to be denied.

 

Eleven minutes later the travelling fans were sent into raptures with a third Bosko goal; Suarez once again providing the assist with another left-footed cross from the right, inch-perfectly placed for Bosko to nudge home back across the goal. This was Suarez again in creative midfielder mode – the mint was back. 3-0 at half-time and surely there was no way back for Pattaya. Muangthong were being held 0-0 by Bangkok Utd and third place was in sight.

 

Then the heavens opened. It had been raining with varying severity throughout the first half but the teams had no sooner left the field than the rain swept across the stadium with a biblical vengeance, quickly turning the pitch into a sodden mess, with large puddles soon gathering in both halves. It seemed almost impossible that play would continue; certainly not in the English Premier League but, thankfully, this is Thailand and the rules are, as it turned out, different and viewed with more optimism. However, I was already pessimistically imagining a midweek replay at Pattaya where we just couldn’t replicate our form of the past three games, to surrender our coveted third place spot without a fight.

 

Then news filtered through that the second half was to be delayed by 20 minutes while the groundsmen performed their best Canute-like miracles and, even though there were still significant pools of water at both ends, play thankfully resumed.

 

It was rumoured that Terens might appear in a blue and orange diving suit, complete with snorkel, to lurk in one of the puddles on the edge of the opposition box before rising to the surface to grab his precious first goal, coveted by his adoring fans as much as Terens. Sadly, it was not to be.

 

Pattaya seemed to adapt better to the atrocious conditions, and long balls into the box to their big lads was always going to be a legitimate tactic. Nittipong got away with a potential handball in the box on 50 minutes before Peeradon blasted the resultant clearance over the bar from the edge of the box. Port were living on the edge, giving away free kicks in dangerous areas and, from one of these, Lee Won headed home a curling free kick, virtually unchallenged. Another goal for the Blue Dolphins at this point would have made for a nervy last half hour. Suarez was having a running battle with Korean midfielder Kim Tae-yeon, which provided much peripheral entertainment. Fortunately, Port weathered the storm and with just four minutes of normal time to go, substitute Arthit, the Port Pele, made a ploughing run through the puddles on the right before crossing to Man of the Match Bosko to sweep the ball home in majestic fashion. The shirt came off, Madame Pang got excited again, whether at the sight of Bosko’s pecs or the amazing scoreline and the Port fans entered a state of delirium.

 

There was still time for Watchara to provide some first class entertainment with at least two spectacular saves and a charge outside the box to twice defy onrushing Pattaya forwards. At times his reflex saves are almost casual, like a man on a sofa reaching for the remote and you think, is he taking the piss? I, for one, hope to see more of him next year.

 

The final whistle heralded in some exuberant celebrations, kicked off by the traditional team slide towards the fans, while shirts, shin-pads and other assorted paraphernalia were hurled into the crowd who were belting out their Khlongtoey anthems with gusto. The mutual respect and affection between players and fans was palpable.

 

And rightly so. There will be other reflections made on this site about the Port season but for now let’s just bathe in the glory of our best finish since 2003, with 73 goals scored, only 3 fewer than Champions Buriram. Now we await the Thai Cup Final on Saturday, October 27th when we will all be Buriram supporters.

 

Finally, a sight for drowned rats: Legoland has fallen.

 

3การท่าเรือ เอฟซี FC Port3461
4 4เอสซีจี เมืองทอง ยูไนเต็ด SCG Muang Thong United3459

 

The Sandpit Man of the Match: Dragan Boskovic

There can be only one. This was the kind of dominant attacking performance we signed Bosko for, and which has been sadly all too rare this season. He was simply unplayable and took his tally to 28 for the season in all competitions – the best return from any Port striker for many a year. Let’s hope he can continue his late season form in 2019.

 

Suph – Dragan on Fire as Keeper Drops Clanger: Suphanburi FC 1-2 Port FC

 

Port secured an important three points on Friday night against fellow top-five team and one of the home form teams in the league: Suphanburi.

With just two of us going we made our way to Suphanburi via public transport and allowed plenty of time for mishaps or a little sightseeing. There were mishaps aplenty but nothing too serious, it started small with an off-road detour though Chatuchuk Park as we made our way to Mo Chit Bus station. Upon reaching the station we quickly found a booth offering seats on a mini van to Suphanburi for 100 baht and were waved off in a general direction by the sales woman. After heading outside we were directed to the bus area by an official looking guy, we found a bus with our number on it and were told by the driver that she wasn’t leaving for an hour and to go to the row behind. There we moved from blue shirted driver to blue shirted driver, each sending us to a different location or colleague. At one point we spent 5 minutes on a bus with fellow passengers also going to Suphanburi, only to then be told it was going to a different Suphanburi and we had to get off and the process began again. With the weather closing in, we where taken under wing of a shouty woman under a parasol as it began to rain and eventually directed back to the sales window where it all started, where rather than being told we’d wasted our ticket money, we were met with a smile and informed that the sign for over there on this occasion means “stand here Farang muppets we’ll get someone to show you the odd place our buses depart” and so 50 mins later than planned and with the thunder getting heavy we were off and rolling. By the time we reached Suphanburi we had got ahead of the rain and arrived to see a 20ft Zico smiling down on us in the blazing sun.

We made our way to our hotel only to find it devoid of humans like the set of a post-apocalyptic film, eventually a maid approached us and via our limited Thai and her limited English assisted via google translate we established we weren’t expected and that “lungs don’t like pollution.” As Tim pointed out, it could have been worse. The word “cuddle” didn’t feature in any of the translations. Finally checked in the maid knocked to return my passport, looked at the picture page of both before handing me Tim’s, I guess to Thais us farangs really must all look the same. We made ourselves ready and headed into town, but sadly the rain we’d seen en route was now reaching Suphanburi, and as we left it started spitting. With us in the town proper and the rain now reaching downpour levels we decided to head for the first available place that looked acceptable for lunch. Upon entering there was a moment of panic as Mr Walker was handed a menu devoid of Leo. However, our waitress reassured us that The Sandpits cocktail of choice was served. And so, we settled in to see out the storm and put the world to rights, we were the only customers sitting outside on the veranda. As the customers inside left and new ones arrived it became clear we’d found our way to Suphanburi’s lesbian communities café of choice, complete with copies of playboy in the magazine rack. With kick off a couple of hours away and the rain virtually stopped we left and headed to the ground, only to find that the transport options in Suphanburi are close to nil. Eventually we flagged down the worlds smallest Baht bus, driven by a Benny Hill beret clad guy who had decided to complete his look with a Hitler moustache, who agreed to take us to the stadium, then attempted to deposit us at a McDonalds and bar en route before dropping us at the gates of Suphanburi Stadium.

The stadium itself is modern and impressive, were it not for the running track it would be rather good. The food and drink around were plentiful but they only serve Chang and the atmosphere was some what muted due to there being no entertainment and only a very small number of home fans.

The weather had settled for the evening drizzle more common for an evening game of an English autumn, even if the temperature was somewhat different. And so it remained for kick off. Port lined up with the Jadet standard line up of recent weeks.

The first chance of the game came after just 3 mins. Romulo (9) ran on to a ball down the right and fed the ball into the middle where Dolah (4) with time to deal with the ball choose to play it blindly into space behind him, where an unmarked Tanasith (11) was lurking but he sent the ball weakly towards goal allowing a combination of Dolah and Rattanai (17) to steer it to safety. It was the first of several Titus Bramble moments for the man who had looked to be moving ahead of Todsapol (6) in the battle to start regularly. Romulo was proving to a handful, shortly after a perfectly weighted chipped through ball from inside the Suphanburi half saw him get behind the Port defence, but fortune was on our side as the ball struck the back of his head, inches either side and the league’s second-best mop topped Brazilian would have been though for a one on one with Rattanai. A few moments later Suphan attacked again leading to two corners the second of which found Romulo, 10 yards out from goal and more importantly 2 yards in front of Dolah, the free header was grateful dispatched beyond the dive of Rattanai and inside the left post. 1-0 to the home side. They probably weren’t quite worthy of it, but equally you couldn’t massively begrudge them it.

So, the tone for much of the first half was set, played at an amble, spoiled by regular misplaced passes, each team probing. On occasions Kim (8) dropped back to play sweeper and allow Rochela (22) and Dolah to bring the ball out of defence, possibly to upset Suphanburi’s man for man system, whilst Dolah wasn’t having the great start defensively he was showing a higher level than normal with the ball.

For a moment there was a hope that the game might develop greater intensity as in the 29th min Pakorn (7) was clipped in the foreign land of the far end leaving both him and the defender on the ground and the referee allowed play to go on (something he had already done and would pleasingly do though out the game). Suphanburi won possession and showed no interest in stopping the game. The ball found its way to Romulo, whom Dolah had been taken an ever closer interest in as the game progressed, sensing he was about to be roughed up again the Brazilian flung his elbow out and made contact with the defender’s chest. A little shoving and pointing followed, and as ever Nurul was on hand with his Scrappy Doo “let me at em” impression whilst confronting someone double his size. Dolah v Romulo was now a running theme and would remain so for the rest of the match, its worth noting that whilst Elias the enforcer might not have had his best match of recent weeks, from the point he decided to get tighter on the Brazilian, Romulo went from the game’s stand out player to near ineffectual. Besides, watching the running battle provided an interesting aside to the football.

However, with 15mins left in the half the (very onside) Romulo would escape Dolah to attempt to reach a pacey through ball down the middle. He either didn’t quite have the legs or decided to leave it for Tanasith (11) coming in from a wide angle. Which allowed the diminutive wideman to slot the ball between a Rochela slide and Rattanai for a 2-0 lead. It looked to be game over before half time. The video screen behind us ran its silly goal video. The home fans erupted as much as a few hundred people per stand that can contain thousands can. And then there it was, the linesman’s flag standing proudly to keep Port in the game. Having seen a replay it’s hard to tell what the correct call was and thankfully VAR wasn’t available to waste 10 mins trying to decide before the ref had to get a coin out. End result: no goal, and Port still in with a shout of rescuing the game.

A moment later the largely anonymous Siwakorn (16) decided to remind us all that he was in fact taking part by taking a 10 yard run up before diving in studs up on Suban (23). quite why he felt it so important to suddenly up his effort and to do so in such a way to win the ball with such a low probability challenge, in a position it couldn’t harm us, is beyond me, much like Siwakorn’s place in the team of late. We really couldn’t have complained if the card had been red. There was still time for a Pakorn free kick to fly just over the bar and a Suarez header to fly wide of the post, yet the half ended without Port managing a shot on target.

The second half was to be somewhat different. Within a minute Pakorn crossed to Boskovic who under pressure from the keeper and defender had a shot deflected for a corner. Pakorn was again trotting about but it was a trot with more intent than recent weeks and at times threatened to even reach the canter of some of his better early season performances. Behind him Nitipong (34) sat deeper than normal and offered less going forward but put in a tighter performance defensively.

On the left Nurul (31) and Kevin (97) were full of vigour and bustle as normal. A Kevin burst out of defence resulted in a Siwakorn blocked shot. Nurul went through all his standard moves, when fairly tackled in the box he managed to exaggerate his fall (some would say into a dive) just in case the referee was in the mood to hand out a random penalty. They still hadn’t tested the keeper but the tempo from Port was already much greater than we’d seen in the first half. Dolah flattened Romulo to show there wasn’t a total change of approach. Siwakorn having been largely lost to the game in the first half had decided to get more involved and after a bright first few minutes began man-handling anything that moved.

Then something truly remarkable for Thai football happened. Nurul burst down the wing, pursued by Suban who soon trailed behind. He squared for the oncoming Boskovic, who was put off by a hip to hip challenge form Pitfai, which resulted in both challengers going down and the ball being cleared, in the process Suban collided with Pitfai and then Boskovic and stayed on the turf. The ball had been collected by Kim (8), who set Suarez (5) off on a burst though the middle (something he seems to be doing more regularly since return from injury), Suphan wanted the game stopped, Suarez shot and it was deflected for a corner. Firstly well done to the referee for again showing a level of common sense seldom seen in Thai football and secondly the behaviour of experienced Suphan keeper/skipper Sinthaweechai (18), who was pulling his own players away from the officials as they called this league’s most self defeating etiquette over the rules (it wasn’t the only time he did his, so he is officially added to the very short list of good blokes in Thai football not playing for Port).

The resulting corner was fired in by Pakorn to the near post where Rochela nodded it goalwards. It should have been Ports first attempt on target and an easy save for Sinthaweechai, but he decided to up the stakes on his good bloke standings by spilling the ball to Bosko, who smashed the ball home from a yard out. Whatever had been said to them at half time had certainly worked. In under 15 minutes of the second half the game had completely changed.

Port were now bossing the game, dominating possession but not working any openings of note. At this point Siwakorn had a moment, firstly giving the ball away, then having allowed Sirimongkhon (38) to get past him deciding to attempt some form of chin grab. It merited a yellow on its own and it was more than time he was given one for the official recorded “repeated fouling”. It had been inevitable for some time, and the only question is why he was left on the field long enough to allow it to happen, especially given his sub-par performance in the first half. So, with a probably 30 minutes to go the mood changed from ‘can we find the chance to win this?’ to very much ‘let’s try and hold on for a point.’ However, Port kept pressing and got their reward. A yellow dot at the far end brought down a dark blue one, the Suphan players, bench and fans appealed for a foul, the ref decided otherwise, Pakorn beat a man broke into a gallop, cut in from the right and over the half way line and played a peach of a through ball to Suarez, who bust though and drew Sinthaweechai to him, before smartly squaring to Boskovic who was just ahead of his marker to double his tally for the evening from about double the distance of his first. True fox in the box style from the… erm… Dragon. Suphan decided to moan maybe about the claimed foul, maybe about the possibility of offside. From our angle directly behind it and about 400 meters away to a man/woman/child the Port away following didn’t care and went into full party mode. A reasonable number had made the trip and now set about being the 11th man to pull the team over the line. It certainly wasn’t hard to win the battle of the fans against a disappointing, small and sparse home support.

After the goal it became backs-to-the-wall stuff as the ball spent ever more time being battled for by the small yellow and blue dots in the distance, the blues were taking control and in the 75th minute Chananan (10) curled a shot from the edge of the box that had Rattanai beat but not the woodwork. The ball stayed in play and seconds later the slightly taller yellow dot of Dolah had to head clear, which lead to a further cross which Rattanai collected. At this point, an offer of escaping with a point would have been gratefully accepted. Suphan were dominating, Port took to the dark arts, Rattanai made sure to end up on the floor pretty much every time he collected the ball, Suarez and Nurul cramped. Meanwhile the clock on the massive score board had ground to halt, each time l looked up after two minutes of play it answered that just 40 seconds had passed. Port occasional broke out but with little effect. The game was now all about the small dots at the far end. One attempt to break free saw Nurul body-checked by Suphan’s Suphan (26). As Paulo Di Canio once said, “To be sent off the opposition need to get a machine gun out and shoot Nurul down in the penalty box.” Yes he’s a diving git at times but week on week the guy is getting a rough treatment with little protection from refs and most weeks that includes at least one red card worthy incident (of which this was far from the worst).

The ball returned to the far end for the dots to battle over, Bodin (10) replaced Pakorn and the clock slowed some more. Every headed battle or 50/50 resulted in a worrying moment as the ball hung in the air, unclear if it would reach the ground revealing itself to be joyously closer to us or with the disappointment of more pressure. Suphan weren’t creating anything from their possession and territory advantage. Port spent a spell down to 9 men when the referee refused to allow someone straight back on after treatment for cramp. When Suphan did create chances, they were wasted. Suphan’s Suphan attempted an overhead kick well above the attacking paygrade of Thai centre backs. Chakrit (9) and Adisorn (13) prepared to come on but were sent on separately to waste a few more seconds, first Chakrit for Nurul. Then finally Suphan had their moment, a ball from just in the Port half was punted to the edge of the box and flicked on, Romulo escaped everyone and controlled with his right foot before swinging his left wildly from 6 yards and sending it wide. Suarez was booked for time wasting then replaced by Adisorn. Rattanai was booked for time wasting. And then finally it was over.

Its hard to know what to make of the result. Once Port got on top of Romulo, Suphanburi offered very little going forward, they are big strong and well organised but nothing special, due to the nature of it this goes down as a great snatch and grab and important away win, especially given their form and strength at home but l’m not entirely convinced that it will against a team that finishes in the top 6.

The normal fan/player post match singsong was a particularly happy one. Pretty much every shirt not swapped was sent into the away end. The players had clearly enjoyed their victory. The video footage of Dolah’s dad-dance is out there but he was joined by some youthful bouncing from Kevin and some Latin snake hip moves from Rochela, Kim, who had his best performance in a Port shirt for some time, was smiling.

And then we left hopeful of finding a taxi or lift back to town only to be disappointed. The home support had was almost entirely gone and there were no taxis or public transport, even in the day time it seemed. So, we were faced with a 6km walk back to town, upon which signs repeatedly told just how close Chainat was and yet it was a night when Chainat felt further and furtheraway.

 

The Sandpit Man of the Match: Dragan Boskovic

It seems quite predictable to give it to the player scoring both our goals, but it would seem equally contrary to not give it to him, especially on a night were nobody really stood out. Boskovic seems much improved since Suarez came back into the team and maybe we’re starting to see a partnership that develops to the level of his one with Mario last season.

 

A New Career in a New Town: Rating Port’s Debutants

 

Following a close season of lavish spending, Port took to the field against Pattaya on Sunday with three debutants, and another two coming on as subs later in the game. So how did the new boys fare on their first day in the office? Here’s our verdict…

 

Dragan Boskovic

The big Montenegrin striker with a beard you could hide a badger in came with a huge reputation and a price tag to match, and so expectations were sky high – and the Bosk probably exceeded them. He’s more than just a striker and was frequently found dropping back to midfield or moving out to the wing looking for the ball and creating chances for teammates – his interplay with Nurul in the second half was electrifying.

But scoring goals is what Dragan does best and he can’t have scored too many better than his debut effort for Port. In the 44th minute he picked up the ball on the left, ran into the box at high speed, pretended to overrun the ball, bamboozled two Pattaya defenders with some nifty footwork, and then fired an absolute thunderbastard of a shot into the far corner, before celebrating in front of a packed terrace – an unfamiliar experience for him after 3 seasons at Bangkok Utd.

DEBUT RATING: 5 stars

 

Nurul Sriyankem

The Thailand international also arrived with a hefty price tag, and before the game the talk was of how Jadet could accommodate both 2017’s top assister and Port’s own king of the assists, Pakorn, in the same team. He tried, Nurul starting on the left whilst Pakorn began on the right, but it wasn’t until the second half when the pocket rocket from Chonburi switched to his favoured side that we saw him at his best.

With incredible pace, lovely technique and a very low centre of gravity Nurul is a defender’s nightmare, and he gave Pattaya’s defenders a torrid time, winning a host of free kicks and drawing yellow and red cards, as well as creating Port’s second goal (his shot was saved and rebounded to Suarez) and striking up an early understanding with Boskovic. He was my MOTM and looks like one hell of a signing.

DEBUT RATING: 5 stars

 

Bodin Phala

In years to come, Port fans will be boasting that they were there when the young ex-Port Futsal player made his debut. Given just 15 minutes to make his mark, having replaced Pakorn from the bench, he grabbed the chance with both hands and made himself the main post-match topic of conversation.

After crashing a shot against the post with his first touch, he then took on free-kick duties and curled in a sublime Ronaldo-esque effort in the last minute to give Port a 3-0 win and close out the game, before celebrating by doing the funky chicken in front of Zone C. A brief debut, but he crammed more into those 15 minutes than last year’s left-wing substitute Tana has managed in two seasons.

DEBUT RATING: 5 stars

 

Kevin Deeromram

The young Thai-Swede only joined on deadline day and so hadn’t had much preparation time with his new teammates, but with only Panpanpong and Jetjinn for competition he went straight into the first team and didn’t disappoint. Like Panpanpong, Kevin likes to get forward and has a cracking cross on him (his 7th minute free kick almost led to a goal for Todsapol); unlike Panpanpong he doesn’t require a motorbike taxi to get him back into position and he fulfilled his defensive responsibilities admirably.

It was a solid, unspectacular start for the defender, which is exactly what you want from a left-back, and a rare clean sheet for Port was testimony to the fact that we no longer have a weak link at the back.

DEBUT RATING: 4 stars

 

Terens Puhiri

The inch-high Indonesian had a flash symbol shaved into his head in readiness for today’s game, ready to delight his army of Indonesian (and, increasingly, Thai) fans. Sadly The Flash only got a couple of minutes and didn’t get a touch, though he’d have been away if Boskovic had picked him out late in the game. So it would be unfair to give him a rating, but his proximity to the first team suggests we’ll be seeing a lot of him in 2018.

 

 

 

Enter the Dragan! Boskovic Joins Port

Just when we were getting worried about the lack of a decent striker at Port, the club today announced the signing of 2017 T1 top scorer Dragan Boskovic from Bangkok Utd. Yes, that Dragan Boskovic. The one who scored 38 goals in 33 games last season. The one who has scored 71 times in 95 games for Bangkok Utd. HIM. Mme Pang described the deal as “an early new year present for Port fans” and she’s right about that.

 

 

As of yet we don’t have all the details of the deal, but frankly, we don’t care. We assume he hasn’t come cheap and we also guess it’s probably a 1-year deal. But whatever the T&Cs, Boskovic is a Port player and we finally have the Scary Foreign Striker we’ve been crying out for for so long. Our mouths are already watering at the prospect of Boskovic teaming up with the likes of Pakorn, Nurul, Bodin and Nebihi in Port’s attack next season.

If Port can just tighten up at the back and stop conceding penalties and silly goals, then 2018 looks like being a very, very exciting season indeed.