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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.

 

Third or Turd: Pattaya Utd vs Port FC Preview

So here we are. Last game of the season. We have something to play for, which doesn’t involve dropping in to the abyss of T2. We are on the cusp of an Asian adventure.

Wednesday’s training session was my first Port game in some time due to crushed balls at home. Seems 5-0 is becoming a trend. We didn’t play with a great deal of panache, but there was enough there to suggest we can comfortably beat Pattaya, who were a place below Chonburi before Wednesday’s game, and remained there following an epic tragi-comedy 5-5 draw with MTU.

For those not aware of events under the flyover in Muang Thong Thani (of which you must number about one, given the vibrations in Zone B on Wednesday), Pattaya raced into an unassailable 4-1 lead after 25 minutes, only to surrender like timid mice in the 96th (ninety sixth) minute to an equaliser to make it 5-5. Two bottles of Leo to the person who can tot up the amount of ‘injury’ time MTU opponents have ‘enjoyed’ this season. It must be at least a full game of 90 minutes, if not two. That result though saw us leap over MTU in to third.

I’m not one to trawl through statistics at this time of season, particularly given that it is win or bust for us. A win (or equaling) the result of MTU v. Bangkok United means we have a fair chance of making the Asian Champions League, providing Buriram lift the FA Cup. A sizable contingent of Port fans will be expected at the FA Cup final should this become a genuine possibility after Sunday.

So, what can we expect from a trip to Pattaya for the game? Well, a bus back. A bus back all the way to Suvarnabhumi or Ekamai given the consummate professionals of the Thai FA’s decision to move the game from anywhere near Pattaya to as close as possible to the middle of f*cking nowhere, due to electricity being in short supply around Dolphins Stadium. As far as their team is concerned we should be keeping a close eye on Lukian, who has bagged 18 this season, and Carlao who chipped in with a brace on Wednesday.

Us? Well, I’d be very happy to see Bodin start given his very perky display at the back end of the game on Wednesday. But who could blame Jadet for not changing a thing following back-to-back 5-0 wins? Stick with it Jadet, we’ve smashed the coastal teams of Navy and Chonburi. We’re about as welcome as a fleet of Viking longboats appearing on the horizon of the North Sea right now to any team down that way. My likely line up is a facsimile of Wednesday’s. I believe there were no significant injuries and there is no good reason to break up a team that’s scored 10 in two games. Particularly against a team who has leaked 8 in two.

We have our future in our own hands. FORZA PORT. SU-SU PORT. ALLEZ LE PORT. Fucking get up ‘em.

And in the interests of fair play, I asked the legend of Pattaya that is Robin Lennon a few questions. Yes Leos had been involved.

Q. Using a maximum of one word per goal – which must only be an adjective – care to talk us through each of the 10 goals from Wednesday?

A. Brilliant [0-1], shit [1-1], terrific [1-2], fantastic [1-3], orgasmic [1-4], jammy [2-4], sporny [sic] [3-4], cracker [3-5], flukey [4-5], heartbreaking [5-5].

Q. Can you guess how many minutes of ‘injury’ time the opponents of MTU have ‘enjoyed’ this season?

A. 1 minute too many [and then some, Robin].

Q. Is there a lack of electricians in Pattaya? Has nobody there got NVQ level 3 sparky certificates?

A. I guess this situation is a prime example why our owners want a new stadium so we are not at the mercy of Nongprue municipality who own the stadium. I was in Buriram so didn’t experience the storm but my friend who I was with saw the aftermath when we got back on Sunday and the damage was pretty evident in that area.

Q. Is anyone from Pattaya actually likely to bother traipsing up to Minburi?

A. I think everyone is gutted as I’m sure if it had been at home we could have expected something approaching a full house and a cracking atmosphere. As it is we’ll have a couple of bus loads and maybe the same again of independents. Probably be the first game in Thailand I’ve been to where the Away fans will outnumber the home fans (it’s pretty normal if you follow Port! Ed). A somewhat bizarre choice of venue.

Q. If you had to sum up your season in a facial expression, what would it be?

A. A smile

Q. For those readers who booked villas, other accommodation and transport to Pattaya this weekend, what words of comfort can you give?

A. None whatsoever as I can understand the frustration and disappointment, I’ve experienced the same thing the previous two seasons and they both included flights, Chiang Rai when the King passed and the remainder of the season was cancelled and then Ubon when our match was switched to Chonburi because a Farang held up a sign about ref corruption. I think the powers that be seem to think fans turn up on a whim rather than pre-plan their trips.

Q. And what words of comfort would you give the Thai FA?

A. No comment they aren’t listening or have a clue about fixture scheduling.

Q. Last season in Pattaya there were slight handbags between Pattaya farang supporters and the fence between them and the Port fans. Is Pattaya a hotbed of pathetic machismo?

A. Things have been particularly tetchy of late, maybe our beers are being spiked. Our VIP section had a somewhat heated altercation with the Korat manager and staff after the match the game before last and last game a riot nearly broke out caused by that Korean idiot from Ratchaburi inciting our fans, I understand he has form with Port fans as well. I didn’t see what caused that last season as we prioritise things and left our usual minute before half time to avoid the beer queue and get to our table. To be honest I had a bit of a concern something might happen this match but those concerns are now alleviated by sticking us in the middle of nowhere.

Q. Port have finally got a game to look forward to at the end of the season. Would you prefer Pattaya to gain an extra 3 points on Sunday and move up to 7th from 8th, or lose to Port and potentially drop 4 places so that Port can gloriously lord it over MTU?

A. I’m afraid finishing above Chonburi is more important for me so hopefully Muangthong will lose and you’ll finish above them anyway. The fact you have something to play for will hopefully make it an entertaining final game and if our goalie has as bad a game as he did on Wednesday we should be guaranteed seeing goals.

Q. Name your most favourite ever 7-inch single.

A. Geno – Dexy’s Midnight Runners

 

Pattaya Utd vs Port FC, Sunday 7 October 18:00 at 72nd Anniversary Stadium, Minburi.

 

Red Lights Out! Pattaya Game Switched to Minburi

 

It was all going so smoothly. The pool villa was booked, the minivan was ready to go, and we were looking forward to the final weekend of the season. But no, once again the end of the season has been reduced to a farce, with a mere 4 days’ notice this time. To paraphrase John Lennon, “If you want to make the FAT laugh, tell them your plans.”

Apparently, last weekend’s storm did some damage to the electrics in the Pattaya area (whilst obviously leaving the rest of the country totally unscathed), and it seems the city’s electricians are unable to fix the lighting at Pattaya’s stadium, the Cialis Arena, in time for Sunday’s game. Too busy dealing with faulty vibrators one imagines.

One might think that the logical solution for this would be for Pattaya, unable to fulfill their obligations and provide a stadium fit-for-purpose for a fixture that has been on the calendar since January, to either forfeit the game or play it at the PAT, paying a fine either way; but no, this is Thailand we’re talking about it here, and so the game has been switched to a neutral venue – The 72nd Anniversary Stadium in Minburi, a ground so inaccessible that even Bear Grylls, when he attempted to get there for a Thai Honda game in 2016, said “Fuck this for a lark” and gave up halfway there (and even had he arrived, he’d have had to drink his own piss, so hard is it to get a beer at that godforsaken shithole).

The Sandpit has asked the FAT why the hell Pattaya have been allowed to move a game at 4 days’ notice and not get sanctioned for it; I doubt we’ll get an answer but we’ll update you if we do.

 

Wicked ‘Vic: Port FC 3-0 Pattaya Utd

 

The most hotly anticipated Port FC season in living memory kicked off at a jam-packed PAT last night with a win over a Pattaya side who were organised and physical but lacked a cutting edge up front. Stunning debut screamers from Boskovic (23) and Bodin (10) sandwiched a Suarez (5) goal to give Port just the start they wanted and to increase fans’ appetites for what is to come.

 


 

Ah, the first day of the season. The familiar taste of Leo and ice in a plastic glass. The meeting up with old friends. The unveiling of a rather tasty new shirt, then being told you can’t buy it until next month. Some things never change.

Quite why new Port shirts are treated with the kind of secrecy normally afforded to MI5 missions or buying beer on Buddhist holidays is a mystery; an even bigger mystery is how the club can spend over 100mBHT on new players but still not get the club shop stocked for the opening day of the season. Yes, I was given a free can of Leo with my season ticket, but I’d rather have had the option of BUYING A BLOODY SHIRT. Sort it out.

 

It was easier to find a Super Mario outfit than a new Port shirt

 

OK, rant over, because apart from the annual shirt debacle there was nothing whatsoever to moan about. The decision to put ModernDog on stage before the game was an inspired one, with their derivative but highly anthemic Thai rock music working the local fans up into a frenzy of excitement before kick-off. With Zone B visibly filling up, we took our seats 30 minutes before KO and found the stadium already full to the rafters, and Port’s performance will ensure that’s likely to be the norm this season.

Port, as expected, went at their opponents from the whistle, and although their first half performance wasn’t quite as fluid as it would become later in the game, the result should’ve been done & dusted by half-time. Boskovic in particular was serving notice that he’s here not just to score goals, and his all-round play, dropping deep or moving out to the wing to look for the ball, was a revelation to fans so long starved of a genuine Scary Foreign Striker. On 4 minutes, the bearded Montenegrin bombed down the wing, skinned two defenders and fired in a low cross, which rebounded off a Pattaya defender straight back onto his head, forcing the Dolphins’ excellent keeper into the first of many smart saves.

Port came closest to opening the scoring on 7 minutes when an excellent inswinging free kick from new left-back Kevin (97) found the head of Todsapol (6). Tossa directed his header into the corner but somehow the keeper pulled off a miraculous, Gordon Banks-esque save to keep it out. And on 15 minutes Pakorn (7), sensing that he’s no longer the only game in town when it comes to dead balls, hit the crossbar directly from a corner.

Despite their superiority, it took Port until the last minute of the half to break the deadlock. Suarez fed Boskovic down the left and he appeared to overrun the ball before cutting back, leaving two defenders for dead with a sublime bit of trickery, and firing an unstoppable strike into the top corner sparking scenes of delirium on the terraces. Port finally have a real SFS, one who can create goals out of nothing, and it feels damn good.

 

The PAT at its best – packed to the rafters & in full voice

 

Half-time saw the kind of frenzied beer queueing not seen since the repeal of prohibition, so your correspondent decided to forego the usual HT bevvy and thus made the start of the second half. 10 minutes in the referee – who had a generally poor game – awarded Pattaya what I initially thought to be a highly dubious penalty. But after using the VAG system – Video Assisted Guesswork – I can see that Pattaya’s big no9 Lukian has a wrestle with Rochela (22) on the edge of the box, the cap’n goes down, then has a little kick at the Brazilian as he tries to get away. Well spotted ref, and it looks as if Port’s penchant for piffling penalties is continuing into 2018. Thankfully Worawut, with his only real action of the night, pulled off a stunning save to keep it 1-0, with Suarez amusingly appearing to tell the ref where he could stick his penalty.

This proved to be the first of two incidents that turned the game, the second being a red card for Pattaya on the hour mark after Nurul was – for the umpteenth time – upended on the edge of the box. It was now 11 v 10 and, with Nurul restored to his preferred position on the right, Port were playing some champagne football and looking dangerous every time they crossed the halfway line. And yet the next chance fell to Pattaya, with a cross from the left spectacularly volleyed over Worawut but against the Port crossbar.

On 73 minutes, Port finally got the second goal their football deserved. Pakorn picked out Nurul in the box and his shot was again brilliantly saved by the Pattaya keeper, only for the rebound to fall to Suarez who gleefully blasted it into the roof of the net for hopefully the first of many goals this season.

It was Pakorn’s last act of the game as he was replaced by new boy Bodin (10), who almost announced his arrival in the most spectacular fashion, smashing a shot against the post in the 76th minute. Five minutes later, Nitipong (34) went down in the box and the referee, for reasons best known to himself, decided it was a penalty (the VAG tells me Niti was going down before the defender, who played the ball, touched him). Rochela, still taking pens despite the arrival of Boskovic, stepped up to take it but his shot was weak and the keeper saved it comfortably.

Seasoned Port fans may have seen the penalty miss as the beginning of Operation Fuckup, that post-80th minute phenomenon that seems to kick in every time Port have a two-goal lead; but thankfully this team is made of sterner stuff and they put the game to bed on 89 minutes, with the boy Bodin curling a delightful free-kick into the top corner and celebrating with a funky dance routine in front of Zone C. Nurul then went off to a standing ovation and to have the rare experience of being replaced by someone smaller than him, with Terens ‘Flash’ Puhiri making a late debut. Sadly the popular Indonesian didn’t get a touch, but his time will surely come.

So a comfortable, and thrilling, 3-0 win to start off this most anticipated of seasons, and the job done in very impressive fashion. There wasn’t a weak link on the pitch, with the defence solid, the midfield quick and creative, and the forward players often dazzling. Pattaya may not have been the strongest opposition Port will face this season, and they offered little goal threat, but the way Port dispatched them – and, for once, closed out the game – bodes well for 2018. The four new players all made quite superb debuts, and the incumbents visibly raised their game to match their new superstar teammates. Jadet has the winning start he wanted – and needed – and with Kim Sung Hwan soon to take his place at DM, the future is surely bright for Port. Hopefully starting at Muangthong next week!

 

The Sandpit Man of the Match – Nurul

A very, very tough choice this week, with all 11 starters, plus Bodin, staking a claim for the coveted Sandpit MOTM award. I was initially going to give it to Rochela, who put in a masterclass in calm, unflustered defending, however his giving away a penalty at one end and missing one at the other mean he misses out. Boskovic was also a contender, as was Suarez, who revelled in his new free role. But the award this week goes to debutant Nurul who, particularly once he switched to the right, absolutely terrorised the Pattaya defence, drawing fouls, free-kicks and cards almost every time he got forward. Only a miraculous save from Pattaya’s keeper prevented him from scoring on his debut, and his partnership with Boskovic looks like a recipe for goals.

 

Sandpit Songs of the Season 2018: Week 1

 

Introducing a new feature in which we dedicate a song to our opponents of the week. Pattaya are in town on Sunday, so here’s Shed Seven with a highly appropriate and long-forgotten mid-90s indie disco favourite

 

 

ModernDog Day Afternoon: Port Reveal Opening Day Programme

 

The new season is a mere five days away, and with Mme Pang splashing the cash on young Thai talent like an oil rig worker on shore leave, it’s no exaggeration to say this is the most hotly anticipated Port season in living memory.

As per usual, the opening day will consist of more than just a game of football, with the club laying on a veritable cornucopia of entertainment to get fans into the stadium early.

Opening Day Programme – 11 February 2018

(NB – the programme is only available in Thai and so my esteemed colleagues Earls & Cartwright have had a stab at translating it, and we apologise in advance for any errors)

15:30 – ‘check paperwork’ – we are unsure if this refers to season ticket collection or some kind of lucky draw. I’m assuming the former, given that there’d be little point having a lucky draw before people actually arrive

16:00 – welcome speech from La Pang. Weeping crowds. Flowers. Farang eye-rolling.

16:15 – video presentation of new kit – as yet it is not clear if said kit will be available for purchase. Based on previous experience, I wouldn’t get your hopes up

16:30 – La Pang thanks the club sponsors and poses for pictures with them. Farangs prostrate themselves at the feet of the Leo representatives

17:00 – ModernDog live. ModernDog are a pretty decent Thai rock band – if memory serves me correctly they supported Mogwai in 2011 and were quite good

18:00 – ModernDog leave the building, Elvis-style (ie sitting on a portaloo eating burgers)

19:00 – the small matter of Port FC vs Pattaya Utd

21:00 – post-match drinking and discussing how long Jadet is going to keep his job if they carry on playing like this

Essentially it means up to 6 hours of drinking, so you are strongly advised to write off Monday, and possibly Tuesday if we win.

The club have also released a short and fairly pointless video teaser, with the club’s 2018 slogan “Never Stop”. I would share it here but unless you were hitherto unaware that David Rochela had a beard you wouldn’t learn anything from it, so here is another, much better video also entitled “Never Stop”.

 

 

 

Crystal Balls 2018: Pattaya Utd

 

Last season Pattaya surprised many observers by finishing 8th in T1, after a long unbeaten run was only ended by Port in Jadet’s first match back at the helm following the Zico experiment. Following last season’s performance, despite losing star players Wellington & Stojanovic, optimism is high amongst Dolphins fans that they can improve on 2017. Here’s friend of the Sandpit Robin Lennon with his thoughts…

 


 

What was your highlight of the 2017 season?

The run of only 3 defeats in 17 in the second leg was pretty special, specifically the away draw at Muangthong, defeats of Bangkok United and Bangkok Glass in that run showed how far the team progressed through the season and could compete with the best.

How will your team fare in 2018?

Management are targeting 6th but I’d be happy with another top half finish to consolidate last season which should be realistic.

Who is your most exciting new signing?

Although the permanent signing of loanee Peeradol Chamratsamee was a huge deal showing the club’s ambition, I think all eyes will be on our new Brazilian attack of Lukian and Rafinha. ” It’s just like watching Brazil ” has a nice ring to it.

Which departed players from 2017 will you miss the most? Who are you glad to see the back of?

Wellington Priori and Milos Stojanovic are very surprising and disappointing exits, their contribution to last seasons success was huge and both were big fan favourites, particularly Wellington. However it’s the loss of loanee goalkeeper Somporn Yos without a replacement so far that worries me the most. Port fans who enjoyed the away game at Pattaya witnessed the kind of shambolic display between the posts I fear we may have to endure without Yos. No particularly negative opinions on departed players but I wasn’t overly impressed with loanee Mongkol Tossakrai’s contribution given the fanfare on his arrival.

What changes would you like to see at your club? Or are you happy with the way things are going?

I’m extremely happy with how the new owners are moving the club forward, what they have achieved from taking over only 6 weeks before the start of last season is impressive. I think it speaks volumes that our crowds improved last season given the breaks and what I felt was particularly poor home game scheduling.

Which teams will be in contention for the T1 title, and who will win?

I expect Buriram to win it but hopefully the next 6 or 7 including Port and Pattaya will be closer matched to make the chase for second and third spot exciting. Quite a few big changes in personnel at several clubs makes for an interesting season in the top half I hope.

Which 5 – yes 5 – teams will go down to T2, and which 3 will come up to T1?

I would hope at least 1 of the promoted 3 stay up so I would go for Sukothai, Navy and Nakhon Ratchasima to join them. I fancy Udon with the ex Pattaya M&M’s strikeforce of Milos Stojanovic and Milan Bubalo, hopefully PTT Rayong for another derby and Sisaket to return to T1

Which fixtures are you most looking forward to in 2018?

It goes without saying the opener against Thai Port is the perfect curtain raiser to see how both teams new players fare and with a Sunday kick off I’m hoping we can bring a noisy respectable sized support to add to the occasion. Prachuap away in GW3 for a few days, a scenic train ride and a small stadium atmosphere and my first trip to the Leo stadium which I’ve missed the last 2 seasons.

Thai football crowds are declining year on year. Why do you think this is, and what can be done to make the game more popular?

Match scheduling and the continual breaks are the most frustrating aspects at the league organisation level, even though Pattaya bucked the trend with an increased average of just over 3,000 the fact we pulled in 4,000+ in our last 2 games when we had weekend evening kick-offs demonstrates the impact of TV scheduling and fixture planning. The TV deal is necessary to support the league but the breaks don’t appear to benefit anyone.

The clubs have to do everything in their power to provide a decent product on and off the field on matchday and market it effectively and I think that’s why our crowds improved. A big pre-season launch event, a good season ticket deal, continual communication via facebook and a thank you party for the fans after the last home game of the season were all positive steps within the club’s control not being done by the previous regime.

Finally, give us your three wishes for the 2018 season.

1) A committed cup effort from Pattaya, my one gripe last season was fielding a below strength team when realistically cup success is our only chance of a trophy.

2) That no clubs get cast adrift at the bottom early, with 5 going down a tight relegation scrap should make for more meaningful games for all clubs and hopefully decent crowds.

3) Away cup draws to lower league teams where I haven’t been before. Football and travel in Thailand, the perfect combination.

 


 

Thanks Robin & good luck to Pattaya this season! Want to tell us about your team? Fill out our questionnaire!

 

Pitiful Port Punished by Poor Pattaya: Port FC 0-2 Pattaya Utd

 

The Dolphins swam into Khlong Thoey this evening, no doubt expecting a tough game, only to be pleasantly surprised when an out-of-sorts Port side not only handed them 3 points on a plate, but also threw in brandy, mints and a taxi home.

 

The Lineup

Jadet – or whoever picks the team – stuck largely with Port’s regular starting XI in a game they would’ve expected to win fairly comfortably. The only changes from Wednesday’s narrow defeat at Chonburi were Elsie Tana (99) coming back in for Genki (18), thus replacing a guy who can run for hours and sweat blood for the shirt with a bloke who visibly does not give a shit; and LB Pinkong (19) dropped in favour of Piyachart (23), for reasons best known to Jadet himself.

 

The Siwakorn Fanclub

 

The Game

When we interviewed Josimar a few weeks ago, he made the telling observation that whilst Port play well against better teams, when they can soak up pressure and attack on the break, they struggle when they’re required to take the game to inferior opponents, and tonight’s performance bore that out. Right from the start it was obvious that Port had no gameplan – they were even struggling to take goal kicks in the first 5 minutes. Pattaya’s strategy seemed to be to confuse Port by playing a high line to prevent them from calmly beginning attacks from their own half, and it worked like a dream for the first 20 minutes, with Port unable to retain the ball for longer than a few seconds and the Dolphins’ big midfielder Wellington providing the kind of calm head in the middle of the park that Port lack.

From the 20-minute mark Port started to impose themselves on the game, with Josimar (30) coming closest to scoring when fed in by Suarez (5) down the left, but chances were few & far between. Piyachart and the typically lethargic Tana offered little threat down the left, and the absence of the suspended Nitipong (34) deprived Port of the usual dynamism down the right, meaning Port were more often than not going down the middle, where Suarez was ineffectual yet again. When he’s on his game he’s unplayable, but his problem is he’s not on it nearly as often as Port need him to be and once again I found myself pining for Maranhao.

The half finished 0-0 and I hoped that the break would see the most obvious change, ie Tana replaced by Genki; however the same XI emerged from the tunnel for the second half, as did the same shortcomings.

 

Nothing to see here

 

The game changed during a 5-minute period near the hour mark. Firstly, Suarez fed Josimar (30) on the edge of the box and the big Brazilian decided not to shoot but to check back and play a marvellous ball to Tana, who only had to sidefoot it over the line to give Port the lead. So why he decided to chip the keeper, and spoon it into Zone B, only he knows. I apologise to those around me for the torrent of abuse that flowed from my mouth at that point (the kind of Russell meltdown not seen since the dark days of Brent McGrath in 2015) but I’ve been saying since early last season that Tana is a waste of space, and once again tonight he proved it. There are limbless beggars on Sukhumvit Road who would’ve stuck that chance away.

Minutes later Pattaya caught Port on the break and a cross from the right found Picha who, unchallenged, slotted it past Worawut to give the Dolphins the lead.

Port belatedly introduced Genki but for Pakorn (9) who went down with a knock just as Tana’s number appeared on the board, and the Japanese winger’s energy livened up Port’s attack considerably, but there was simply no invention, no creativity, and no gameplan for dealing with highly mediocre opponents who had found themselves a goal up and intended to stay there. But it would be unfair to say that Pattaya simply parked the bus; they were dangerous on the break and hit the crossbar twice in a matter of minutes, whilst Port could’ve played for another hour without creating a scoring chance.

On 92 minutes, another Pattaya break led to another cross, from the left this time, which found that man Picha on the far post where, once again unchallenged, he nodded it easily into the Port net. Whether anything of note happened after this I cannot say, for I was out of there and heading for the taxi home.

A sobering defeat – against one of the poorest sides we’ve played this season – after the euphoria of recent weeks, and one which, following the defeats to Bangkok Glass and Chonburi, suggests that Port aren’t quite as good as we – or they – think. Good players – Hansson and Tachanon, to name but two – are being left on the bench, whilst players who simply aren’t good enough for this level – Tana, Piyachart – are starting games. Playing with a lone striker is fair enough when you’re playing Buriram, but not at home against the likes of Pattaya, where attacking should mean more than leaving Josimar to feed off scraps. And what Port really miss in games like this is a calm head in midfield – Siwakorn and Adisorn’s bustling style is great when you’re up against it, but not required when the opposition are clearly there for the taking. And Port’s “big” players, such as Suarez and Pakorn, just aren’t consistent enough. Yes, 8th after 13 games is a fantastic start but we should be building on it, rather than – as looked to be the case tonight – stepping back and admiring our handiwork.

With two tough away games coming up – Nakhon Ratchasima and Muangthong – Port’s season is in danger of fizzling out into mid-table obscurity or worse. One can only hope that the mid-season break will see Port’s somewhat unimaginative midfield and attack given a bit of spark. Maranhao and Asdrubal are both waiting in the wings and one – or both – are sorely needed right now.

 

Man of the Match – Genki Nagasato

Not many contenders for the MOTM award tonight – even Rochela was out of sorts. But at least the Genk livened things up when he came on and tried to make things happen. It must kill a player with his commitment and workrate to be sitting on the bench watching a player like Tana play in his position, and when Genki came on, he straight away showed what Port had missed in the first hour of the game. No, he didn’t set the game alight, create any good chances or score, but he was the best of a very bad bunch.

 

Photos by Tim & Linny Russell

 

Crystal Balls 2017: Pattaya Utd

 

There’s more to Pattaya than Russian gangsters, ladyboy muggers, and Germans throwing themselves off hotel balconies – they’ve got a T1 football team too, and here’s Pattaya Utd fan Robin Lennon with a look at what 2017 may hold in store for the Blue Dolphins…

 

How will your team fare in 2017?

New owners, a new manager and virtually an entire new team make this campaign likely to be as unpredictable as last season. From the depths of post season despair when it looked like we were Udon bound, there is a renewed sense of excitement and optimism associated with the ownership change. The new manager is a former Pattaya manager who has brought what is hopefully the cream of his Bec Tero crop with him, but it is the return of fan favourites Milan Bubalo, Wellington Priori and ” The Helicopter ” Lee that have got the fans buzzing. Throw in 4 Muang Thong loanees and a few stalwarts from last season, if the manager can get them to gel over this next month in pre-season training and we get a kinder opening fixture run than last year I would hope for a mid table finish. We did it under less favourable circumstances last campaign.

Who is your most exciting new signing?

Who doesn’t want to see Brazilian flair, so for me it’s Wellington Priori. I wasn’t around at the time but I keep replaying the you tube clip of his astonishing goal on his original debut for the Dolphins, it would be up there for a goal of the season anywhere in the world. Worth a watch.

Which departed 2016 players will you miss the most?

On my Brazilian theme again, it was sad but inevitable that we’d lose last season’s goal machine Junior Negro and midfield playmaker Antonio Pina. Throw Soony Saad into the mix and the trio on their day made us an exciting attacking team last season.

What changes would you like to see at your club?

It was my first season following Thai football and Pattaya United and I was shocked at the complete lack of commercial and retail marketing presence supporting the club, travelling to the other cities/clubs put these deficiencies into perspective. The biggest change has now happened, ownership, and I’m hoping that the family conglomerate who’ve now taken control will develop the successful promotional model you see at clubs like Buriram, Muang Thong, Chiang Rai etc. I’m sure there is significant potential to expand the fan base if the club is actively promoted and marketed.

Hopefully a bit of momentum behind the club might encourage a bigger travelling away support. There was some seriously impressive turnouts from other clubs at our stadium last season.

Which teams will finish at the top of T1?

If it’s not Pattaya United, hard to see past Muang Thong, ( sorry ), Bangkok United and Chiang Rai. I want to see the title winners rotate each year to keep interest growing in the league.

Which teams will go down to T2?

I’ll give the newcomers the benefit of the doubt since I haven’t seen them play. I’ll go for Navy who I thought would have gone down last season had it been completed, the new incarnation of Osotspa and (Udon) Bec Tero.

Which fixtures are you most looking forward to in 2017?

All away games but the shortest trip and local derby against Navy was a highlight of last season, they have a great pre-match live music and beer set-up. Unsurprisingly it was our biggest travelling support and the covered away section amplifies the noise level and is situated right next to the young Navy recruits packed singing section, bouncing atmosphere. Thai Port if your owner does selfies with the away fans.

Finally, if you could change one thing about Thai football, what would it be?

If it happens, the ability for another club to jump the promotion queue by buying and relocating another with no thought for the fan base of the acquired club.