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Boskovictory! Dragan Wins 2018 Goal of the Season Award

 

2016: Star striker Thiago Cunha took the Inaugural Sandpit Goal of the Season prize – presumably smashing it on the dressing room door in a fit of rage – with the winning goal being a sublime lob in Port’s memorable cup encounter with Muangthong.

2017: Star striker Josimar didn’t win a fan vote – none was held after we decided pickings were rather too slim – but a plurality of our season reviewers picked his stunning volley in the behind-closed-doors upset of… yes, you guessed it, Muangthong.

2018: …

 

Winner: Dragan Boskovic (27%)

Yes, once again Port’s star striker takes the Goal of the Season prize, but which of his 3 shortlisted efforts persuaded 27% of voters to award him the gong?

Well, it took him less than forty five minutes of his Port career to register. Boskovic received a pass from Suarez down the left flank, cut inside – nutmegging an unsuspecting defender in the process – before curling a sublime finish in to the top right hand corner. I’m talking of course about his effort in Port’s 3-0 home victory against Pattaya. Boskovic would go on to find the net a further 27 times in all competitions, but none would equal his very first.

 

 

2nd: Pakorn Prempak (21%)

A scorer of spectacular goals, there’s no doubt about that. 3 of Pakorn’s finest efforts in 2018 made our shortlist and, remarkably, we didn’t include any of his freekicks. Pakorn thrilled the crowd twice in the home fixture against Air Force, first driving the ball in to the top corner from the corner of the penalty box, and secondly launching home from close range after receiving a delightful through ball from Nurul. Neither of these efforts wooed more than 4% of voters though, with his standout goal adjudged to be his speculative, spectacular long range screamer in the 7-1 triumph over Navy.

 

 

3rd: Dragan Boskovic (15%)

Edging out Kim’s only entry, which finished 4th, Boskovic’s first goal in the final game of the season rounds out our podium finishers. Apparently Dragan really likes playing against Pattaya. Suarez was once again provider, with Boskovic turning on the style to rifle an unstoppable volley in to his favourite corner of the net. He would go on to score a further 3, guaranteeing Port’s 3rd place finish in T1, along with bagging 3rd place in our Goal of the Season poll.

 

 


 

 

‘Korn: Freak on a Lease?

 

Several Thai websites are reporting that Port right-winger & assist freak Pakorn could be heading back to former club Police Tero on a season-long loan. With the club having signed Thailand international right-winger Nurul, Pakorn could be faced with a choice of either playing out of position on the left or sitting on the bench, and it appears that the Midfield Monk doesn’t find either option particularly attractive.

Pakorn had a superb 2017 season with 6 goals and an amazing18 assists, and was on particularly good form after his somewhat bizarre mid-season spell at the monastery, working much harder for the team and playing much more unselfishly. There are few better crossers or dead-ball strikers in Thai football, and so it would be a shame to lose him. That said, Port clearly haven’t spunked 20mTHB on Nurul (the only T1 player with more assists in 2017) to play him out of position, so it would be no surprise to see ‘Korn try his luck elsewhere.

Of course, if Pakorn does leave, it means Port will be in need of a left-winger, with ASEAN winger Terens ‘Flash’ Puhiri not likely to get much game time due to foreign player restrictions. Watch this space for more news as we get it!

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk: Nebihi, or not Nebihi?

 

Transfer season is well and truly upon us, and unsurprisingly rumours are aplenty. The latest gossip has had Port signing a 12-goal midfielder, whilst teetering on the brink of losing a star player. But don’t panic everyone… Tana’s probably staying!

We start with the exciting news that Bajram Nebihi is being strongly linked with a move to PAT Stadium. The big Ubon attacking midfielder was integral in his team’s electric start to the season, scoring 5 times in his first 4 games, and he ended the season with 12 goals and 2 assists in the league, despite falling a little out of favour and completing 90 minutes just 4 times in the second half of the season.

 

 

29 year old Nebihi hails from Germany, but was born in Kosovo. The nomadic European played for 11 clubs across Germany, Turkey, Finland and Iran before being signed by Ubon in 2017. He is a big, strong player – 1.94m or 6 foot 4 – and that extra height and aerial ability could be just what Port’s attack needs in 2018. My only concern with this rumour is how exactly Port intend to use the big man. He performed best at Ubon playing ‘in the hole’ behind a striker, although he was used up front a few times too. If he is being touted as a replacement for Suarez in attacking midfield then I think he is probably an upgrade on the Spaniard, but he certainly isn’t a natural striker, and if he’s being signed as one then Port could be making a mistake. Thus, even if he is signed, the search for a Scary Foreign Striker should continue, although an even more pressing concern for Port has been the future of their main provider, the 18-assist dead-ball-machine himself…

Yes, the man who has been dominating the rumour mill over the last few days is our very own Pakorn Prempak. Fresh from coming third in The Sandpit’s player of the year poll – making him Port’s best performing Thai player of 2017 – Pakorn had been repeatedly linked with a move back to his old club Police Tero. Quite why Pakorn would want to make a backwards move to a club who finished below Port in the league was beyond me, but the most recent stories thankfully seem to suggest that Pakorn had been using the interest of his former club to coax a better contract offer out of Port.

 

 

SMM Sport reported that Jadet also weighed in yesterday, reminding Police that the Midfield Monk still has a year remaining on his contract and would not be going anywhere just yet. If Pakorn has indeed been using his former club as leverage to get a pay-rise then we can’t say we blame him. Pakorn, nicknamed Bas, has become Port’s most important Thai player in 2017, and his contract should probably reflect that. With Jadet having stood by his man and made his position clear, the club have now had to show that they are serious about backing him, and keeping Port’s star players. News has just now emerged that Pakorn has got what he wanted and joined El Capitan in signing a brand spanking new contract, so the Port fan groups’ #savebas hashtag can now be put to rest!

Tied in to the same SMM Sport article is a similar if as yet  not concluded story about Tana. Port’s erstwhile non-impact substitute is apparently also of interest to Police Tero, where he played for 4 years before joining Port. Incredibly, Tana banged in 25 goals in 2015, making him equal top-scorer in T2. What on earth happened?! Unfortunately, Tana also still has one year remaining on his contract and Jadet has issued the same ‘hands-off’ statement about the Karaoke Kid is he did about the Midfield Monk. Oh, well, swings and roundabouts…

 

The Sandpit’s Port FC Player of the Year 2017 is….David Rochela!

 

Last week we once again opened the polls for the Player of the Year competition, and voting was very lively with over 600 Port fans clicking on their favourite player. The last couple of days’ voting saw some rather suspicious voting patterns, with 36% of our site traffic coming from SPAIN, which possibly explains why it turned into a two-horse race between Port’s two Spaniards, with the rest of the candidates trailing in their wake.

Voting is now closed, and we can reveal the top 3…

 

1. David Rochela 38%

For the second year in a row, Port’s popular Spanish captain wins the award, though not with the landslide we saw in 2016. David has had another solid season at the PAT, leading by example, playing the game with honesty and respect, and even banging in 7 goals. The naysayers may point to Port’s poor defensive record this season, but it has to be said that without David, our Goals Against column would undoubtedly look even worse. As yet, we have no word as to whether the captain will lead Port in 2018 but our gut feeling says he will. Congratulations David, and hope you’re around to go for the hat-trick in November 2018!

 

 

2. Sergio Suarez 36%

You’d have got pretty long odds on this back in June, when many Port fans – myself included – were calling for Maranhao to take Suarez’ foreign player slot at Port, after the Spaniard had an inconsistent first half of the season. But in the second leg, Sergio was a different player and, had the vote been based solely on the last 5 months, he’d almost certainly have won outright. He’s been a lot more focused, given the proverbial 110% in every game, and weighed in with 14 goals – almost unheard of for a Port midfielder. As with Rochela, we don’t know if he’ll still be around next season but given his late-season form, we suspect he might.

 

 

3. Pakorn 6%

Thanks to the Spanish mafia monopolising the vote, the rest of the candidates are a loooooong way back, with the chasing pack led deservedly by the Midfield Monk himself, Pakorn. This was the season in which the Port winger finally realised his potential and added workrate and discipline to his undoubted talent to become Port’s most productive player with 6 goals and a staggering 18 assists. Sadly we are hearing very strong rumours that he may be returning to his old club Police Tero for next season, which would be bad news for Port and surely a backward step for a player who should be looking to get a national team place before long.

 

 

Thanks, or should I say gracias, to all who voted, congratulations again to David, and watch out for more Sandpit fan polls coming soon!

 

Ayu the Win That I’ve Been Waiting For: Port FC 2-0 Ayutthaya Utd

 

As expected, Port dispatched T3 high-flyers Ayutthaya Utd at the PAT last night to take their place in the last 16 of the Chang FA Cup, with a dynamic attacking performance which, had the finishing been more clinical, could and should have produced a hatful of goals.

 


 

August 2nd is my dad’s birthday and were he still with us, he would’ve been 77 yesterday. So what better way to celebrate the birthday of the man responsible for so many of my formative footballing – and drinking – experiences by having a few beers and watching Port? It might’ve lacked the glamour and significance of our most memorable game together – Coventry v Spurs in the 1987 FA Cup Final – but as a man who played and refereed Coventry Sunday league football for over 30 years, I’m sure he’d have appreciated the earthiness of the surroundings, and the coldness of the Leo. I know I did.

Anyway onto the football. Zico once again showed that he’s up for the cups by picking a full-strength team, the only change from Sunday’s lineup v Chiang Rai being the return of Adisorn (13) for Ittipol (7). Ayutthaya, on the other hand, seem to be more focused on their T3 promotion battle so whilst star player Noah Chivuta started – and put in a performance that showed he truly belongs at the top level – last weeks MOTMs Jirawat and Kendall were rested. The sight of Ayutthaya’s team sheet led to excited predictions of 4-0 and 5-0 amongst the farang faithful, and in the first half Port did their best to make those dreams reality.

Because for the first 45 minutes, Port absolutely battered their opponents, with Suarez (5) and Siwakorn (16) bossing the midfield, Genki (18) charging down the left with his socks down a la Peter Barnes, and Pakorn (9) & Nitipong (34) rampaging down the right. Chance after chance was created, with pretty much every outfield player having a shot at some point without a single one hitting the target. Josi (30) in particular was having a right mare, missing an open goal midway through the first half and generally still looking out of sorts since his return from injury.

Ayutthaya did have a few chances, normally due to Panpanpong (19) once again not bothering to do his defensive duties and leaving acres of space down Port’s left. When will Zico realise that he simply isn’t good enough to play as a wing-back and replace him with Yossawat? With Chivuta pulling the strings in midfield and lively Brazilian forward Maraba keeping Port’s defenders on their toes, they frequently threatened an opening goal which, given Port’s wastefulness, could’ve been fatal to the home side.

 

 

Thankfully, 13 minutes into the second half Port got the goal their sparkling attacking play deserved. Nitipong fed Pakorn with a somewhat overhit pass down the right – a pass which, pre-monastery, the no9 might well have given up on. But the Midfield Monk is a player reborn and he kept the ball in, steamed down the right, and pinged in an inch-perfect cross right onto the head of Josi, who showed he can head the ball after all and buried it into the Ayutthaya onion bag for 1-0.

But any thoughts that this might open the floodgates were somewhat misplaced, as Port, seemingly torn as to whether to park the bus or go for a second, found themselves on the back foot for much of the last 20 minutes, with Worawut making a couple of smart saves and Ayutthaya grazing the crossbar on a couple of occasions.

On 90 minutes however, Ayutthaya, as they did last week, found themselves down to 10 men when one of their midfielders put the boot in on Prawinwat long after the ball had gone and was given his marching orders. A couple of minutes later, in the last meaningful action of the game, that man Pakorn skipped past two defenders and once again found Josi in the box, and the Brazilian had time to round the keeper and a defender before sticking it in the net for 2-0.

So, as with the Chiang Rai game on Sunday, Port looked very lively and played some wonderful attacking football, only to be let down by poor finishing. You can get away with that against T3 teams, but we’ll need to take any chances we get against Glass on Saturday. Still, we’re now into the last 16 of the FA Cup and have as good a chance as anyone of going further. With the team looking faster, fitter and more motivated under Zico, Josi finding his scoring boots again, and players like Pakorn and Suarez finally finding some consistency, the rest of the season should be a lot of fun to watch.

 

Man of the Match – Pakorn

There were a few contenders for the coveted Sandpit MOTM award last night. Suarez managed his third impressive performance in a row – a record for him; Genki put in one of those balls-out left wing shifts that made us all love him in the first place; Nitipong complemented Pakorn beautifully down the right; and Adisorn was the usual Tasmanian Devil-esque whirlwind of energy and tackling in midfield.

 

 

But once again, and for the third game in a row, the award goes to Pakorn. Whether it’s the influence of Zico or some higher power, the right-winger is finally fulfilling his potential and becoming the star player he’s always hinted he could be. Once again he provided both assists, and at one point he even got straight up after being tackled and carried on running, and you’d have got pretty long odds on that earlier in the season. The big question is – can he do it at Bangkok Glass on Saturday? He’ll need to if Port are to stand any chance of getting something out of the game.

 

Photos by Tim Russell

 
 


 

Ayutthaya Take Port to the Wire: Ayutthaya Utd 1-2 Port FC (AET)

 

Port got their 2017 League Cup campaign off to a winning start at T3 Ayutthaya but made hard work of it, winning 2-1 after being taken to extra time.

Running Thailand’s finest English language football website isn’t all cocktail parties, adoring groupies and VIP boxes, and your correspondent had to cancel his trip to Ayutthaya at the very last minute after his big toenail got infected & had to be somewhat painfully removed on the morning of the game, so this brief report is based on watching the match on a dodgy (is there any other kind?) internet stream.

As is so often the case in away games, despite Zico signalling his intent to have a real go in the cups Port started rather limply and it was Ayutthaya who made the early running – having knocked Chonburi out of the FA Cup they clearly fancied their chances of taking another T1 scalp. On 16 minutes a giant-killing became even more likely when a cross from the right found big striker Kendall on the edge of the box, who steered his header past a somewhat static Worawut (36) into the top corner.

The shock of going a goal down sparked Port into life but as usual passes were going astray in the final third, with Kalu (10) putting in another lacklustre performance which had many of us watching pining for Maranhao. Nevertheless, the Serb is lethal in front of goal and had a header acrobatically turned round the post by Ayutthaya’s excellent keeper who made a number of superb saves – just before that he managed to fingertip a deflected Siwakorn (16) shot away from goal. Just before HT, a thunderous Pakorn (9) free kick cannoned off the post. The Midfield Monk didn’t have one of his better games with numerous crosses, free kicks and corners flying over the bar, but he was still at the heart of most of the good things Port did.

In the second half Port laid siege to the Ayutthaya goal only to be continually denied by that goalkeeper and some desperate goalline defending. Kalu was replaced by the Moustachioed Assassin Tana (99) with predictable results (ie an utter lack thereof), whilst Suarez (5) came on for Genki (18), somewhat more successfully, and it was the rangy Spaniard’s presence that led to Port’s equaliser, after a Pakorn free-kick was saved and Ayutthaya’s defenders got in a bit of a flap trying to clear it. I don’t think Suarez got the last touch as the ball flopped over the line – it was an OG in my opinion – but any 92nd minute equaliser is a thing of beauty, and it took Port into extra time. And there was another bonus in store when, after a tangle with Siwakorn, Ayutthaya forward Noel Chivuta complained to the referee that he’d been elbowed and was bafflingly given a red card.

The break saw some entertaining shenanigans with Ayutthaya’s coach and Port’s goalkeeping coach both having an attack of the Cunhas and walking around pointing at people, before play resumed, at which point it was clear that Ayutthaya were knackered and the game was Port’s for the taking. Pakorn came closest in the first half with an absolute thunderbastard of a shot against the crossbar, though Ayutthaya almost caught Port on the break a couple of times.

Just when it looked as if the second half was going to be equally goalless and penalties loomed, Pakorn skinned the home left-back and chipped in a lovely cross right onto the head of Suarez, who buried it into the net. 2-1 to Port, and into R2 after a bit of a scare.

Whilst this wasn’t Port’s best performance of the season, they just about did the job against a lively Ayutthaya team who deserve a lot of praise for their performance. It’s good to see Zico taking the cups seriously and fielding a full-strength team (if any team with Tana in it can be described as full-strength), and Port should dispatch the same opposition in the FA Cup next week with hopefully a bit less huffing & puffing.

 

Man of the Match – Pakorn

The mercurial no9 was at his most frustrating last night. On the one hand he continually misplaced passes, crosses & corners; on the other, he hit the bar twice and notched up assists for both goals, and it’s that that wins him the coveted MOTM award, on a night when it has to be said there weren’t too many contenders.

 

Offside Hassle at Thunder Castle: Buriram Utd 1-0 Port FC

 

Today I am going to talk as much about the away day experience as I am the game. By the way for any of you that missed it, we lost.

The day started with me having to get up at 04:00 to put a bit of a shift in at DKSH towers to enable me to bonk off early for an “offsite meeting” yeah that old chestnut, the perks of being the boss. Remember always, family, football and work in that order.

As I sat in the departure lounge at Don Mueang I noticed a few familiar Port faces – Achim my German buddy and Big Bubba, who were to become my trusted lieutenants. I also noticed a small chick in  Adidas trackie bottoms with an entourage – it was our owner Madam Pang, who greeted me on the way on the plane with a huge smile, having spotted I was in her team’s colours. On arrival at Buriram Airport, my tenth time there, we were informed that the club had hired a car and Madame insisted we get in. We were staying at The Amari, and if you ever get a chance put this on your bucket list, it is one of the best hotels I have ever stayed in and I’ve been to a few. Its simplicity merged with a real hospitable friendliness made the defeat a lot easier. Off to Paddy’s for some beers and a throw of arrows and then back to the game. We shook hands with every single Port fan before the game: we had about ninety in total.

Both teams adopted the exact same formation, our now familiar 4-4-1-1.

Kalu (10) was always going to have a tough task in that lone striker role against the league leaders complimented by Suarez in the hole, they did OK to be fair. Buriram on the other hand had a samba double operating these roles and again they did OK.

First twenty minutes they came at us strong, our midfield battled hard. Ittipol (7) and Siwakorn (16) knew straight away they were in for a tough time and they weren’t helped by the Thunder Castle full backs who had the pace of thoroughbreds.

In the 27th minute one of the aforementioned Brazilians broke the deadlock in unbelievable circumstances. Well unbelievable to anyone who hasn’t watched Thai football before anyway. A kick out from Rattanai (17), who has now established himself as our number one stopper in my opinion, fell straight to the Buriram center midfielder who hooked a right footer over the top to Coelho who was two yards offside and to our disbelief ten seconds later the ball was in the onion bag, Rattanai on his arse!!! 1-0 Buriram. That said if you watch the goal our defensive positioning would not be out of play at the red arrows display at Duxford air museum. How the hell Rochela was ten yards from his partner Dolah and the two fullbacks I’ll never know. Think back to the Invincibles – you would never see Tony Adams two yards from the high line never mind ten.

The second half Zico, my friend, you earned your corn. We were fantastic in every department and my team put in a display worthy of my trip and the expense and as a football fan if you come away from a midweek away came having ticked those boxes then you have done well. We had a couple of half chances, Pakorn (9) started pulling the strings and was assisted ably by Nitipong (34) down the right. Listen to me here, when these two bring their A-game there is no better right hand side in the league. Defensively we were solid although we rode our luck at times but we were playing against the league leaders. Adisorn (13) and Tana (99) entered the fray and performed admirably and Genki, though substituted, put in his usual shift. In the 81st minute Pakorn fizzed in a free kick that took paint off the crossbar but it wasn’t to be but we yet again proved one point, on our day Thai Port are a match for anyone. Onto Ubon where I am that convinced of a victory I will be discussing as serious investment with my compatriot Paddy Power. Peace out my fellow sandpit members, boarding has been called!

 

Tim’s Man of the Match – Pakorn

As with Sunday’s win over Honda, Port put in a much improved performance with a greater degree of intensity, better organisation and crisper passing than seen during the last days of Jadet, and as such there were several contenders for the coveted Sandpit MOTM award. Rattanai, who loves playing against Buriram, bossed his area and made some superb saves when needed; Nitipong for once managed to combine both attacking and defensive duties; and the midfield duo of Siwakorn and Ittipol didn’t give Buriram a moment’s peace.

But my MOTM this week is the Midfield Monk himself, Pakorn, who has come back from the Wat with a new lease of life. His corners and free kicks could, if there had been anyone on the end of them, given Port the win, and when he moved into a more central role – as our own Tommie Duncan has long advocated – he looked even more of a threat. If he can keep up this level of performance in the next few weeks, Port will be hard to beat.

 

Pakornholioooooooohhh!!! Winger Wins Sandpit June POTM

 

TP (Thai Port) for my bunghole! June was, let’s face it, not the greatest month in Port FC history. Limp defeats to Suphanburi and Bangkok Utd, the all too common late collapse at Navy, and an FA Cup win against Thai Fleet that was played, appropriately enough, under water, coupled with a transfer window of such staggering incompetence you wondered if La Pang had been replaced by Teresa May…it was a bad month to be a Port fan, and this was reflected in the less than enthusiastic reader response to our June POTM poll.

But anyway, here are the top 3 voted by you…

 

Pakorn – 41.3%

He may be teeth-gnashingly frustrating, but the stats don’t lie – Pakorn is, when you add up goals & assists, Port’s most productive player, and there was indeed much gnashing of teeth when he missed the trip to Suphanburi after returning somewhat out of shape after his spell as a Buddhist monk. Possibly the only time such a sentence has been written in the history of football blogging. Port’s poor attempts at corners & free-kicks in that game made us realise just how much the Ballin’ Bonze contributes to the team and his return in the Thai Fleet game, in which he scored straight from a corner, was most welcome. And he did it again against Navy. So it may have been a fairly poor month for Port, but Pakorn’s spell of making merit was enough to win him his first POTM award.

 

Genki Nagasato – 29.3%

Genki Nagasato! Genki Nagasaaaaaaaaaaatoooohhhhhhh

 

Rodrigo Maranhao – 14.7%

I would comment further on this but I’d only start banging my head against the wall and crying.

 

Look out for July’s POTM poll coming up, somewhat unsurprisingly, at the end of July.

 

The Sandpit’s Port FC Player of the Month for March – Voting Closed

 

Voting opens today!

Every month, The Sandpit is going to choose the Port players we think have played the best, and let our readers decide who should be named Player of the Month.

In March Port secured their first clean sheet with a 1-0 win at home to Navy, before succumbing to a miserable 1-5 thrashing away at Thai Honda. The final game of the month saw Port host giants Buriram at home, where they upset the odds to hold on to a 0-0 draw.

Here are the nominees in order of squad number…

 

Pakorn Prempak (9)

Siwakorn Jakkuprasart (16)

Rattanai Songsangchan (17)

David Rochela (22)

Nitipong Selanon (34)

 

ร่วมโหวตที่นี่

 

 

MATCH REPORT: Port FC 2-0 Nakhon Ratchasima

Port overcame Nakhon Ratchasima 2-0 on Sunday to extend their pre-season winning streak to three games. Port endured a tough first half, suffering numerous injury scares, but came back strongly in the second half to win the game with two goals from a red-hot Maranhao.

Port lined up with Rattanai (17) in goal and a back four of Rochela (22), Dolah (40), Meechok (20) and Suchon (11). Piyachat (28) was given a start alongside Siwakorn (16) in central midfield, with Suarez (4) once again playing a more advanced role just behind striker Kaluderovic (10). Pakorn (9) and Genki (18) took their usual places on the wings.

Korat started brightly, with Ghanaian international forward Dominic Adiyiah (10) causing Port all sorts of problems with his pace and skill. Port’s defence held firm, but the midfield was caught out a few times trying to do too much with the ball and losing possession in dangerous areas.

Siwakorn Is Carried Off

Korat couldn’t find a way through, with Rochela and Dolah martialling a strong back line, but after 9 minutes of sustained pressure Port suffered a blow potentially much more serious than conceding a goal. Midfield maestro Siwakorn picked up a nasty-looking injury to his right leg and was piggy-backed off the pitch, unable to even limp. Young midfielder Tatchanon (27) came on in his place. Port will be hoping the injury isn’t as serious as it looked, as Siwakorn is set to play a key role in Port’s starting XI this season.

Just 10 minutes later, disaster seemed to have struck again. Rochela went for a brave header just as Adiyiah was attempting a bicycle kick, but beating Adiyiah to the ball came at the price of taking a brutal boot full to the face. Rochela seemed to be out cold for a few moments, but with the help of both the Port and Korat physios, he regained consciousness and walked gingerly off the pitch, being replaced by Todsapol (6). Port’s captain should be back to full fitness for the opening game of the season, but he will be carrying a battle scar with him when he meets The Sandpit on Monday for our very first exclusive interview!

Rochel-Ouch!

Port still weren’t done with injuries yet, though. Both Meechok and Kaluderovic were replaced before half time, although neither looked to be particularly serious. Nitipong (34) came on for Meechok at right back, while Maranhao (29) replaced Kaluderovic up front.

The one bright spot in an otherwise disappointing first half was goalkeeper Rattanai. The youngster made some good saves, claimed a couple of tricky crosses and looked more comfortable with the ball at his feet than he did last season.

Port held out to go in 0-0 at half time, but they probably deserved to be a goal or two down against an impressive-looking Korat.

The second half brought with it another round of substitutions, and the tide began to turn in Port’s favour. Pakorn was inches away from the top corner with a sweetly-struck free kick, and Ekkapoom (8), who has had a bright pre-season, once again looked lively after replacing Genki. Maranhao was to be the one who really made the difference, though

His first goal came in the 66th minute after a long spell of possession. Port worked the ball out to the right hand side, where Pakorn laid the ball back to Nitipong, who fizzed in a dangerous cross. Maranhao got ahead of his marker and glanced his header past the Korat ‘keeper in to the far corner. He received a booking for his hilarious celebration – taking his shirt off and showing Zone B some choice dance moves – but Maranhao didn’t care.

Minutes later he added a second goal, this time of his own making. Maranhao ran at the Korat left-back, who tried to stop him with a desperate lunge. The referee pointed to the spot, and the confident Brazilian took the penalty himself, calmly sending the ‘keeper the wrong way.

Maranhao – not for the first time this pre-season – looked like Port’s best player when was brought on, prompting questions as to why he hasn’t yet found another club. Surely a player of his ability should be in high demand if not in T1 then at least in T2. Is there another reason he’s still here? With new striker Asdrubal on the bench but not featuring at all for the last two games, some fans have been speculating that the door could could still be open for Maranhao to make a shock return, but at this stage with the foreign player quota filled, that is just speculation.

Port continued to look dangerous throughout the final 20 minutes, but Maranhao could not complete his hattrick with a tricky half-chance from the edge of the area.

Port can be happy with the 2 – 0 win and their first clean sheet of the year, although the first half performance and the injuries were both causes for concern. They will continue their preparation with an away game on Saturday 28th January at PTT Rayong, where Port will hope to extend their winning streak to four games and avoid further injuries.