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Weeping Angels: Port FC vs. Bangkok United Preview

 

I can’t very well start this preview without first addressing the tragic events that unfolded on Wednesday morning. A bus carrying a group of Port fans to the away cup fixture with Nongbua Pitchaya was involved in a deadly accident, killing 5 people and injuring 3 more. Among those in the Port bus were fans that will be familiar to any regular visitor to PAT Stadium. The tireless leader of Port’s fan club who we all know as Spiderming has passed away. Saman, who carries his Pakorn banners with him home and away week in week out is in critical condition. Doubtless other fans will have seen or had personal relationships with others in that bus, and their absence will touch each and every one of us. Every Port fan contributes in his or her own way to the community that all of us know and love, and after this terrible accident that community will never be the same.

Rest in peace to those who passed away. Condolences to their loved ones, and the Port community as a whole. Those still in hospital, we wish you a speedy recovery.

There will be a service before the game on Saturday to commemorate those who have passed, starting at 17:00. Port fans are asked to wear black as a sign of respect. There will be a collection to support the grieving families.

 


 

With all that said, what follows is obviously very trivial. It’s never felt more trivial. Nevertheless, we go on with our previews and our match reports because it doesn’t feel right that we should stop what we’re doing in response to this horrific event. Did Spiderming ever stop?

 


 

Port have come through a succession of tests so far this season, and in most we’ve passed with flying colours. The ill-disciplined fiasco at Sukhothai is the only real black mark against us; we’ve shown incredible fortitude in securing a late goal to nick the 3 points away at Chonburi, we’ve gone to the SCG and beaten our biggest rivals, we’ve recovered from a goal down with 15 minutes to play to overcome Suphanburi, and we’ve won comfortably on a wet Sunday night in Chainat. The draws against Chiang Rai and PTT Rayong are the only other games we haven’t won, and in both cases the opposition employed negative, roughhouse tactics to grind out a draw. It happens.

With that said, the latest test Port face is the biggest yet this season. Bangkok United may not be among the top dogs in the table just yet, but in the last two seasons they suffered from a slow start before surging up the table at around this point in the season. They’re also a team with a habit of doing well against Port (our last league win came in 2010), and in recent seasons have come up with some really outstanding performances in doing so. Whether its luck, coincidence, or coach Mano Polking having the edge on Jadet tactically, something needs to change if Port are going to defy the spell The Angels seem to have us under. Maybe it already has.

 

Bangkok United

Players To Watch

 

I’m getting stuck in to this preview with plenty of time to spare, so rather than pick out a few of Bangkok’s top talents, I’ll just go through the team I think Mano is going to pick.

 

The Goalie

He needs no introduction, having produced one of the best goalkeeping performances I’ve ever seen last season at PAT Stadium. Michael Falkesgaard (1) is the top stopper in T1. Just wait ‘til he gets a load of Pakorn’s corners, though!

 

 

The Back 3

This season Bangkok United have gone out and brought in the players they feel like they need to make a back 3 work. Interestingly though, none of those players are themselves part of that back 3. One of the outstanding defenders of 2018, Everton (3) is a key man for The Angels, and one of the best foreign defenders in the league. No problem there, then. His partner is no-nonsense Thai-German Manuel Bihr (4) who, similarly to his counterpart at Port Elias Dolah, adds that extra physical presence without violating the foreign player quota. Bihr is a little more prone to error than Everton, but he’s worked his way in to the Thai national team set-up with a couple of years of solid defending. The third man is where Bangkok have had to experiment to find the right fit. After losing first choice Mika Chunuonsee (16) to injury early in the season, Mano first tried Puttinan Wannasri (5) in that position, before temporarily switching back to a back 4. Most recently Wisarut Imura (37) has been dropped back from midfield to fill in, but the youngster isn’t a natural there, nor does he have a lot of experience under his belt. Whichever formula Mano goes with on Saturday, it’s not ideal. Maybe going with a back 4 and using the system that Bangkok have used to such devastating effect in previous seasons is the way to go. Over to you, Mano.

 

The Wing Backs

Two of the players that Mano did bring in to make his system work are right wing back Tristan Do (7) and left wing back Peerapat Notechaiya (31). Tristan Do is of course a national team stalwart, and on his day he’s probably the best wing back in the league, although he’s not very popular among the Port faithful. Expect him to get plenty of stick on Saturday. Fellow ex-Muangthong full back Peerapat similarly has plenty of national team experience, although I’ve made it no secret before that I think he’s one of the most overrated players in the league. Naturally he must be compared to Kevin. So far in 2019… Kevin (LB): 2 goals, 2 assists; Peerapat (LWB) – 0 goals, 0 assists. Is it too soon to say I told you so?

 

 

The Midfield

I’d be lying if I said I could reliably guess who Mano is going to pick in his midfield. Thai-American holding midfielder Anthony Ampaipitakwong (6) has been wearing the captain’s armband recently, so he’s a dead cert, but alongside him either Pokklaw Anan (10) or Sanrawat Dechmitr (29) could equally get the nod. Both are excellent players, but Port fans will more likely remember Sanrawat for some devastating performances he’s put in against us in the past. I’ve always thought that he’s not a big game player though, so don’t be surprised if he reacts to a tough game by curling up in to a ball and crying. He does it for the Thai national team all the time.

 

The Forwards

Another area where injury has deprived The Angels of a key man in Vander Luiz (8). Anon Amornlerdsak (27) has stepped up in the creative role with some promising performances to help ease the loss, but the youngster still only has a goal and an assist to his name. Not great. Then there’s star man Nelson Bonilla (9). The Salvadorian striker has been impervious to his teammates struggles this season, netting 8 times in 8 starts, and he also stuck more goals than I care to remember past Port for Sukhothai last season. Mano’s biggest dilemma has been who to put up top with Bonilla, or whether to go with an extra creative player. Big new signing Mike Havenaar (9) seems to be the perfect foil for the main man, but the two have not been used together much yet this season, with the big Dutch-Japanese forward struggling for fitness early in the season and scoring twice in 5 appearances since his return. Mano also has many more options at his disposal, like using Sanrawat Dechmitr in a more advanced role, or bringing in one of their wingers Jakkapan Pornsai (13) or Rungrath Poomchanturk (17). Supersub Teeratep Winothai (14) will likely be brought off the bench if Bangkok United are in need of a goal, too.

 

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 

Form

It’s not been good enough so far. Bangkok haven’t won back-to-back since the third gameweek. Since then they’ve lost to Buriram, drew with Korat, lost to Chonburi, beat Suphanburi, lost to Chainat, beat Prachuap then drew with Chiang Mai. That’s 3 losses in 10 games, which is too much for a team with title ambitions. Bangkok have to find consistency, and a couple of injuries is not a good enough excuse. After all, Port have had to deal with the loss of their captain in week 1, and have missed several key men through injury and suspension for various games since. Our squad has coped, and so far Bangkok’s hasn’t.

 

Port FC

Trying To Keep It Together

 

Until Port reserves, who understandably may not have really had their heads in the game, slumped to a 2-3 defeat away at Nongbua Pitchaya in the League Cup, things were going rather well on the field. Jadet still has selection dilemmas to deal with, but his problems are the best kind of problems.

Newly minted national team member Watchara (1) will keep goal once again. He has kept clean sheets in 50% of his games since coming back in to the picture in the tail end of last season. Solid.

Rochela (22), despite nearing full fitness last week, has suffered a setback and will not be available, so Dolah (4) and Todsapol (6) will continue in the heart of defence. With both Kevin (97) and Panpanpong (19) unavailable, third choice Yossawat (32) seems to be in line for his first start of the season (he came off the bench against Chainat) unless Jadet opts to play Adisorn in the position he played a large chunk of Port’s last T2 campaign in. I’ve always been a fan of Yossawat; he’s got an absolutely wicked left foot, and I’ve always thought that he’s a better all-round player than Panpanpong. Here’s his chance to prove it. Nitipong (34) starts at right back. Duh.

Go (8) and Siwakorn (16), who is lucky to be available after narrowly avoiding his fourth yellow card last time out, will continue in the engine room, but ahead of them is where Thai League Manager of the Month Jadet will have to earn his money this week. Thai League Player of the Month Bodin (10) is a no-brainer on the left, but whether or not Jadet opts for Sumanya (11) or Nurul (31) on the right is the big question. Sumanya is a quality player, but he’s not a natural wide man, and this throws Port off balance, with the team so used to having Pakorn (7) hug the right touchline. Nurul, as he showed with his stunning chipped finish after being brought off the bench, is the man for the job on Saturday. Come on Jadet, let the penguin at ‘em!

Up front Boskovic (23) is well and truly in the groove now, and will fancy adding to his recent flurry of goals against his former team, while Suarez (5) will continue providing the ammunition. There’s not a player in Port’s team who isn’t worth their place right now.

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 


 

The match will be shown live on True4U And True Sports HD2 at 19:00 on Saturday 18 May, 2019. For those who can’t make it, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match on a big screen with sound. Don’t forget to wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount on drinks.

 

The Proud Junk: Port FC vs. Samut Sakhon FC, FA Cup Preview

 

Really. That’s actually their new nickname.

Port’s FA Cup campaign gets under way today in the last 64 with the visit of T2 side Samut Sakhon FC to PAT Stadium. The match was originally scheduled to be played at the home of The Proud Junk, but due to concerns with their stadium, both sides agreed the move to Khlongtoei. This year, Port will see the FA Cup as a realistic chance to win a trophy, but against a team in the bottom half of T2 it’s also a chance for Jadet to give playing time to some underused members of his squad. I expect to see a mixed team, with some regulars and a few squad players, as Samut Sakhon aren’t going to be pushovers.

 

Samut Sakhon FC

Players To Watch

 

I haven’t watched this lot, but the name that jumps off the Wikipedia page is Malagasy winger Njiva Rakotoharimalala (7). Who could ever forget a name like that! I was very surprised not to see Njiva in T1 again this season after a very useful debut season with Sukhothai, terrorizing defences along with John Baggio. He’s taken the move in his stride though, showing his quality by scoring regularly for his new side. He ought to be the main threat to Port.

 

 

Another familiar face is evergreen South Korean centre half Lee Won-young (3). Captain and defensive stalwart for Pattaya United for three seasons, 38 year old Lee has finally made the step down to the second tier as his career winds down.

Unfortunately my first-hand knowledge of these fellas only extends to a couple of their Thai players, one of which is Port’s former left back Jetjinn Sriprach (18). Off the top of my head, he made one start for Port, so don’t be surprised if your memory isn’t jogged. He’s a versatile left sided player who will probably start in defence. The Sandpit’s scouting network has also identified a little bloke, who we think is called Pongpat Liorungruengkit (39), who has looked very dangerous. Wiki lists him as a defender, but apparently he’s more of a forward, and he’s very small, very quick and very dangerous.

 

 

There are also two Brazilians who I’ve never heard of, but Wikipedia leads me to the conclusion that they are very, very bog standard as far as Brazilians go. Attacking midfielder Bruno Dybala’s (10) wiki page claims he’s never scored a goal, which isn’t ideal, and compatriot Ricardo Pires (19) doesn’t even have a page. Then again neither did Rodrigo Maranhao during his time with Port, so there is always the odd player who surprises you. I don’t think it’ll be either of these two, though.

 

 

Port FC

Tinkerman

 

Jadet has tinkered with his first team lineup more than ever before this season, albeit by necessity rather than choice, and today we expect to see another round of changes to the starting XI. Port do have a weekend off coming up due to the coronation, but Jadet may still want to rest some key players. Those who would seem to be most in need of a rest are Kevin (97), who has been struggling to complete 90 minutes of late, as well as ever-present duo Dolah (4) and Siwakorn (16). I fully expect Kevin to be given a rest, but I’m not so sure Jadet will allow either Dolah or Siwakorn to miss out, given how important both have been in Port’s excellent early season form.

Those in the frame to come in to the side are Panpanpong (19), who has provided two assists when coming off the bench for Kevin, and of course the man who was the beneficiary of those assists, Arthit (29). Arthit failed to impress in his first start, having scored three times as a substitute so far in 2019, but deserves another go tonight against weaker opposition. Nurul (31) on the other hand had a massive impact when he came off the bench on Saturday, and this is the perfect opportunity to give him some game time before Pakorn (7) returns to take his place on the right hand side. Young midfield trio Anon (20), Sansern (88) and Jirattikan (21) are also in the frame for their first starts of the season, although Jadet is only likely to choose one, maybe two of these, with an experienced head or two like Go (8) and Siwakorn alongside them. Athibordee (35) could also see some action, although I hope Jadet gives some of his younger players a chance this time. Captain Rochela (22) could get a run-out, although we’re still not sure about his fitness.

In goal, any one of Port’s three ‘keepers could get the nod, but with Watchara (1) seemingly firmly in possession of the number one jersey for now, the man who has been on the bench of late Worawut (36) is the most likely starter, although Rattanai (17) is another option.

 

Predicted Lineup

 

It’s always a bit of a shot in the dark with cup games, but here’s my best guess. This lineup would mean Port have an absolutely formidable bench should things not go as expected!

 

 


 

All we can promise is that the match will be played at 18:00 on Wednesday 1 May, 2019. Which, if any, games are shown on TV is a mystery, so for once your only choice is to head to PAT Stadium.

 

Port Suffering From Yellow Fever: Port FC vs. Suphanburi FC Preview

 

Two teams who recorded impressive victories last week face off in an intriguing encounter this Saturday at PAT Stadium. Looking at the table, top dogs Port are clear favourites to overcome Suphanburi, who were bottom of the table until their victory last week, but with the attacking talents at their disposal and the utter insanity that has been T1 so far this season, absolutely anything is possible. Port are without key central midfielder Go Seul-ki and right back Nitipong who are both suspended, but Suphan will also be without their own Korean midfielder Kim Sung-hwan as he is on loan from Port.

 

Suphanburi FC

Habitual Mediocrity

 

It’s worth mentioning briefly Suphanburi’s decline into mediocrity since 2013. After their promotion in 2012, The War Elephants finished in the top six for three successive seasons, boasting some of the league’s best talent like former Port star Pipat Thonkanya (visit our ‘Port Legends’ page for more on him) and a certain Dragan Boskovic. They were even managed by Mano Polking for a brief stint. The likes of Charyl Chappuis, who gets a lot of stick on here although when he was with Suphanburi he was without a doubt one of the best performing Thai players in the league, Carmelo Gonzalez and Thai league veteran Bjorn Lindemann were also part of a team which appeared to have an exciting future challenging the top teams in T1 for honours, but then something went wrong. It’s hard to pinpoint what, but since their initial success, Suphanburi have finished no higher than tenth, and there’s little in their current form to indicate that they’re ready to break that slump this season. They’ve got a highly rated T1 winning coach in Totchtawan, a group of talented Thai youngsters and two of the top foreign strikers in the league, but they just can’t seem to recapture that winning formula.

 

Players to Watch

 

Another T1 team, another Brazilian strike force. On paper this one ought to be among the very best in the league, but while Jonatan Reis (7) and Cleiton Silva (23) have a respectable 6 goals between them so far in 2019, their team has scored just 8 goals in total, and neither has yet provided an assist for a teammate. For some reason they’re just not quite gelling. While Reis has been spending a lot of time dropping back to pick up the ball and start attacks from midfield, Cleiton has held his position up front, and although this seems like an ideal partnership, it just hasn’t clicked yet. Either Reis has failed to find his teammate in dangerous areas, or Cleiton has missed the chances when they’ve come. I shouldn’t talk the pair down too much, though. They’re both superbly talented, and they both managed to get on the scoresheet last time out against Korat, potentially lifting spirits in Suphanburi and giving them the confidence they need to fulfil the promise their partnership holds.

 

 

Besides the Brazilians, it’s really tough to pick out anyone else on current form. The players I rate at Suphanburi have been spending far too much time on the bench. You’ll have heard me talk up the likes of exciting Thai forwards Thanasit Sriphala (11) and Chananan Pumbuppha (10) in past previews, but these guys have been in and out of the team this season. Even experienced Thai national team legends like defensive midfielder Adul Lahso (19) and goalkeeper Sinthaweechai Hathairattanakool (18) haven’t been playing recently, with former Muangthong coach Totchtawan favouring lesser known players. How’s that been working out?

One of those lesser known players will be known to most Port fans, though. Last time the sides met at the PAT, Meechok Marhasaranukun (20) provided two excellent assists from the right flank, and he will be expected to start at right wing back. Quality defensive duo Anderson (3) and Suphan Thongsong (26) will make up two thirds of their central defence, but surprisingly they’ve conceded 12 goals already in 2018, so clearly there are as many problems at the back as there are going forward.

 

 

Mark Hartmann (9) wouldn’t have merited a mention unless he’d scored an excellent header off the bench last week to spark Suphanburi’s comeback, but the English-born Filipino will almost certainly now make a second half appearance. If you haven’t seen him before, he’s not easy to miss, what with his long flowing locks and the unmistakable aura of a player who couldn’t quite cut it at the Gang Warily Recreation Ground. That’s the home of Blackfield & Langley of the Wessex League, for those of you unfamiliar with English ninth tier football. Shame on you.

 

 

Form

 

Suphanburi have been consistently unpredictable so far this season, but on balance have fallen far short of expectations. It took three draws before they finally recorded a win, but that was followed by three defeats, before they bounced back with a win last time out against Korat. Here are their results in full.

  • Chainat 0-0 Suphanburi
  • Suphanburi 0-0 Buriram
  • Sukhothai 1-1 Suphanburi
  • Suphanburi 3-0 Chonburi
  • Trat 4-0 Suphanburi
  • Suphanburi 1-2 Chiang Mai
  • Bangkok United 4-0 Suphanburi
  • Suphanburi 3-1 Korat

 

Port FC

Yellow Fever

 

Port face yet more challenges to their squad depth this week, with suspensions to key players Go (8) and Nitipong (34). The yellow cards have been coming thick and fast this season, and both have already made it to four. Go will most likely be replaced by Athibordee (35), who has seen a lot of action off the bench so far in 2019, although we are clinging to the hope that one of the breakout stars of last season Anon (20) will be picked instead. Anon performed superbly in some big games for Port last term, and is a player Port should be trying to give as many minutes of T1 action to as possible, but Jadet seems to have promoted Athibordee, so that’s probably that. That is unless Suarez is available for selection after missing out last week. If the Spaniard is fit, Jadet could also ask Siwakorn to play a little deeper, with Sumanya alongside him and Suarez further forward. The spherical supremo has certainly got options in the middle of the park.

Normally Adisorn (13) would also be part of the conversation when the DM spot is up for grabs, but with Nitipong being out, he is sure to deputize at right back instead. With no other options available to Jadet, an out-of-position defensive midfielder will have to do. If only we’d considered our paucity of right backs in the transfer window when we were signing left backs like they were going out of fashion!

The rest of the team could remain unchanged, although with captain Rochela (22) returning to near full fitness it’s a question of when not if Todsapol (6) drops back to the bench. Watchara (1) has surely made the goalkeeping spot his own with an assured performance against Muangthong. I haven’t seen a Port goalkeeper looking as confident as Watchara does in all aspects of his game for quite some time. Bodin (10) and Pakorn (7) are undroppable the way they’re playing, so Nurul (31) is going to have to wait for his chance when he returns from injury, too. What an impact sub to have!

 

Predicted Lineup

 

Please, please, please pick Anon.

 

 


 

The match will be shown live on True Sport 2 at 20:00 on Saturday 27 April, 2019. For those who can’t make it to PAT Stadium, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match on a big screen with sound. Don’t forget to wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount on drinks.

 

Wasps Extinct: Port FC 5-0 Prachuap FC

 

Challenge accepted.

Port put in the performance of the season so far to denudate 2nd place Prachuap and send Port – for the time being at least – to the top of the T1 table. Port’s play was paradisiac at times, with the all too earthly Prachuap defence unable to keep control of the chimerical Bodin, the domineering Go and the messianic Arthit. It was a display that had it all: prodigious goalkeeping, tenacious defending, sagacious midfield play and implacable finishing. It also capped an anaspectic week for Port, who will now be phrasmotic at the prospect of the upcoming break, after which they will look to cause their compunctuous rivals across town the most severe of pericombobulations.

N.B some of the above words may or may not be real.

Challenge failed.

On to the action though, and despite the eventually decisive scoreline, Port were having a tough time breaking down Prachuap’s defence for the majority of the first half. Bodin (10) wowed the crowd within the first 90 seconds, trapping a long diagonal ball from Dolah (4) with an outrageous one touch control, but his cross could only find the goalkeeper. A Dolah header from a Kevin (97) corner was the next close shave, with Orahovac (22) just about doing enough to put the big man off. In the 40th minute, Port finally broke through. A mazy Pakorn (7) run was halted by the Prachuap rearguard, but Port kept possession before Go (8) found a precise through ball to Bodin who, in a show of confidence we likely would not have seen last season, wasted no time in drilling a low shot in to the bottom corner with his weaker left foot. He’s absolutely on fire this season, playing with a poise and nonchalance that really brings something different to the team.

While the Port faithful, expecting a hard-fought game, would have been happy to go in at half time a goal to the good, the players had different ideas. Their opponents were under the cosh, and now was the time to punish them. Just three minutes later it was another smooth first touch from Bodin which started the attack. The Fresh Prince played in to Boskovic (23) who, with his back to goal, played a perfectly disguised and weighted pass to the marauding Kevin who showed excellent composure to side-foot home from close range. Right, phew. 2-0 at half time it is.

Wrong!

With most of the PAT faithful exhausted from celebrating their quick-fire brace and the clock winding down, bodies started to file out of the stadium and towards the Leo hawkers, but it was the wrong time to Go! Pakorn’s outswinging corner was allowed to bounce in the area, where it fell invitingly to just the right man. Go has shown an eye for goal and, more importantly, a technical ability which is unmatched by Port’s other midfielders. His left-footed volley absolutely flew off his boot, practically decapitating the Prachuap defender who bravely put his head between it and the back of the net, and to just about everyone’s disbelief, it was 3-0 before half time.

Port started to slow things down a little after the break. On the hour mark Bodin and Kevin once again combined down the left to create a chance for Boskovic, but unfortunately the Monenegrin was the only man in Port colours misfiring on the night. His left footed shot was the first of a few which were hopelessly misguided. No matter, we’re up 3-0!

Five minutes later you’d better make that 4-0. Pakorn originally showed little interest in a freekick which looked a little out of his range. He’d walloped on in to the Loxley car park from a similar distance in the first half, but with Suarez having placed the ball and readied himself for the strike, the Midfield Monk trotted over and whispered something to Suarez which I think was something along the lines of “I’m going to whack it really hard. Watch this.” Whack it he did, and Matheus Alves (7) in the Prachuap wall wanted absolutely nothing to do with it. He performed a similar function that Go did last week, blocking the goalie’s view and getting out the way to allow Pakorn’s freekick to sail in to the bottom corner unimpeded. Cheers, fella. Goal of the night, and Pakorn’s third from dead balls in three games. Is it too soon to say I told you so?

You may have noticed my lack of commentary on Prachuap’s chances up until now. Well, it’s not my fault they didn’t create any. Watchara could have put his feet up and finished off Dom’s large coke and it wouldn’t have made the slightest bit of difference. Sandwiched between two more Boskovic mishits they did finally have a chance from a freekick, but Caion (10) headed wide. Relax and pick up your drink Watchara, the excitement’s over.

Jadet wasn’t done with us yet, though. After both Kevin and Pakorn were stretchered off (we would suggest they might be injured, but we all know that’s almost certainly not true) he brought on Panpanpong (19) and Arthit (29), and the two cousins, who combined for Port’s fourth against Trat, soon repeated the trick for Port’s fifth. Panpanpong did his best Kevin impression, galloping down the left flank and sticking his cross right on to the boot of a grateful Pele, who sidefooted home from point blank range. That’s 3 goals now for Port’s only real striker, who still hasn’t started a game yet this season. With Bosko unable to hit a barn door and Pele knocking them in from all over the place, Jadet needs his head examining if he doesn’t give the crowd favourite the chance from the start that he has earned many times over.

 

 

Pele wasn’t done entertaining us yet, though. He burst through the middle, beating the offside trap and with only the goalkeeper in his way he hit a comically poor lob which barely made it to the goalkeeper. Todsapol then outdid his teammate for miss of the game, somehow not finding the target with a free header smack in front of the goal from 8 yards out.

The final whistle soon followed, with Port fans still a little disoriented. Yes, we played well on Wednesday, but that performance was something else. The quality was just oozing from all over the place. I could list the players who had a good game, but here’s the full lineup instead. It’s more or less the same.

 

 

The Sandpit’s Man of the Match

 

 

In a performance like this you’d think there would be some competition, but there isn’t. Bodin has been on another level these last couple of games, with his fluid, serene skills bamboozling opposition defenders, while the fresh prince has also regularly managed to convert his fancy footwork in to goals and assists. Arthit again made my night with his late goal, Pakorn overcame a poor start to once again make a telling contribution or two and Kevin is looking absolutely deadly coming forward at the moment.

 

The Wasp Killer: Port FC vs. Prachuap Preview

 

Having bounced back from the disappointing 1-3 defeat against Sukhothai, Port will try to make it a perfect week by securing their second home win in a row against second placed Prachuap. The relatively straightforward 4-1 victory over Trat will likely not be replicated on Saturday though, with Prachuap (one mental game against Chonburi aside) having one of the stingiest defences in the league thus far, as well as one of the most prolific forward lines.

 

Prachuap FC

Players to Watch

 

Having weathered the African storm against Trat, Port will be back to facing the more familiar sight of a Brazilian duo up top against Prachuap. I’m struggling with which one of the two is more dangerous, as both Caion (10) and Matheus Alves (7) have been superb in their own ways so far this season. Alves is the more creative of the pair, with his jinking forward runs frequently causing mayhem in opposition penalty areas, but he also has a dangerous shot on him, which Port will really have to watch out for when he drops off his striking partner Caion. Caion is the big goal threat though. He’s one of those strikers who isn’t especially big, strong or quick but seems to constantly get himself in the right positions and find a way to score. Dolah (4) and Todsapol (6) must be weary of giving him any room at all in the box, as one way or another he’ll find a way to score.

 

 

Prachuap were underestimated last season because of an assumed reliance on a different but also excellent forward line of Doumbouya and Reis, but this season it’s been clear there’s much more to this squad. New signing Artyom Filiposyan (16) was a very creative signing who has made a huge impact for them. Whereas just about every team in the league has signed a Korean midfielder or centre back this season, Prachuap opted to look to central Asia and sign Filiposyan, who is an absolute man mountain, and stick him in front of the defence. Such was his physical dominance in week 2 of the season that I picked him out as my player of the week, whilst also noticing an uncanny resemblance, both in aesthetics and temperament, to fellow loud-mouth rule-breaker Alex Jones.

 

 

 

Then at the back there’s Montenegrin centre back Adnan Orahovac (22), who has quietly become one of the best centre backs in Thai football in the last two seasons. He’s been partnered with new Buriram loanee Nattapon Malapun (27) who has impressed so much this season that was a surprise pick to start in Thailand’s upset victory over China a few weeks back. Solid.

 

 

The other top Thai threats are Amorn Thammanarn (17) on the left flank, Chitpanya Tisud (11) through the middle, and even two national team strikers Siroch (35) and Supot (9) on the bench. This side has a lot going for it, and Port are going to have to match or surpass their attacking form against Trat to break through this much more stubborn rearguard.

 

 

Form

 

Second in the table. They’ve put Muangthong, PTT Rayong, Chainat and Most recently Korat to the sword, and been beaten by Buriram and Chonburi. The one thing that Port fans can be encouraged by is that in their three away games so far, they’ve lost two and won one, although in fairness their opponents have been Muangthong, Buriram and Chonburi.

 

Port FC

Learning From Mistakes

 

I dished it out to Port’s players after their immature reaction to adversity in the Sukhothai game, but the worst offenders in the team really looked like they’d learned their lesson on Wednesday. The referee was an absolute disaster, particularly when it came to Boskovic (23), but the Montenegrin showed rare restraint, routinely laughing off the ridiculous decisions given against him. The result was relative calm throughout the team, who responded to the comedy refereeing, as well as Trat’s fortunate equalizer, with a collective coolness we haven’t seen from Port so far in 2019. Full marks, boys.

In terms of personnel, we saw Kevin (97) subbed off early with what looked like a niggling muscle injury, so Kevin must be a doubt for Saturday, but Sumanya (11) will return after serving his one game ban for his red card against Sukhothai. Also pushing for a chance in the starting XI is a Sandpit favourite Arthit (29), who once again not only inspired a flood of Port chances after his introduction, but also had the ball in the net twice (one, which would have would have been a goal of the season contender, was ruled out for offside) in yet another fantastic cameo appearance. The only natural striker in Port’s squad is long overdue a real chance in the league. Come on, Jadet, don’t just wait for the cups.

Who to drop in case of the return of Sumanya or the inclusion of Arthit is the real question though. Bodin seems like the obvious answer to accommodate Sumanya, but The Fresh Prince’s performance on Wednesday was among the best in the team. Leaving Siwakorn (16) out is another option, but one which Jadet has showed absolutely no interest in so far this season.

For Arthit there are also several options, but there were also several top performances from starting players, who would be hard done by being left out. I have found a solution, though. Boskovic has started every game and returned one goal (from the spot) and one assist so far this season. Arthit has plundered two goals from a handful of substitute appearances. Port need to reward good performances to maintain a competitive attitude throughout the squad. It has to be possible to play your way in to the team, and picking Pele for his first start of the season would really show that. Do it Jadet, DO IT!

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 


 

As always, those who like to support our sponsor The Sportsman are welcome to watch the game there on Saturday 6th with the usual big screen, sound and 99 baht Tiger pints on tap. There is also a 10% VIP discount on drinks for those who wear a Port short or mention The Sandpit. Kickoff is at 17:45 on True4U.

 

Victorious Secret: Chonburi FC 2-3 Port FC

Port sealed a stunning comeback after going behind twice in a pulsating Friday night encounter at Chonburi. The hosts will feel a little hard done by but thanks to a wonder save from Worawut (36) and some sterling defending Port snatched all three points.

Jadet was forced to change personnel and formation dues to injuries to Rochela, Pakorn, Kevin and Nurul, selecting a midfield trio of Siwakorn (16), Go (8) and Sumanya (11) with Bodin (10) taking a wide attacking role. The pre-match conversation as we settled into our spot at arguably T1’s worst away end was a little nervy and unsure; Jadet clearly motivates his players but his tactical awareness, or lack of, sometimes lets him down. This was either going to go extremely well or very, very badly.

Chonburi started the first half a little brighter than Port with Kroekrit (10) flashing his shot across goal in the 11th minute after some lax defending from the Port centre back pairing of Dolah (4) and Todsapol (6). Nitipong (34) then sent a speculative long range effort towards the Chonburi goal which diminutive keeper Chanin (35) fumbled, then both Suarez (5) and Dolah wasted good chances from set pieces. Chonburi drew first blood, seizing on a short pass from Dolah, the ball was worked across the forward line to Lukian (91) who coolly finished the move. The lead didn’t last for long and Port drew level in injury time; a goalmouth scramble saw the ball loop to Go and he dispatched the ball on the volley for his first goal in Port colours. It was a deserved goal and a fitting end to the first half.

Regulars on the terraces and this website might know that I am ridiculed for missing goals but a second source of ridicule is my choice of bags. My choice for this trip was ripped apart even before the minivan left Bangkok (“Ethnic traveler bag. I’m surprised you’re not wearing trousers with elephants on it.”) but inside that bag was another; a Victoria Secret’s bag, the first thing I could find as I was leaving the flat. It contained a gift for one of the group (not lingerie). Now some of you might not know this brand so to help you out here’s a picture from one of their recent fashion shows:

 

 

The bag somehow made its way to the stadium and became a lucky charm, showing off its versatility by being held in either hand, aloft with both hands, or as a hat to ponder on the finer points of the beautiful game. Here’s a selection of us modeling said bag:

 

 

Port should have taken the lead at the start of the second half but Bodin’s shot was stopped on the line by child-like Chanin and then cleared. Chonburi retook the lead after Todsapol’s header went straight to Worachit (8) and he sent the ball into the bottom corner of the goal. A third goal for Chonburi was averted thanks to a great instinctive save from Worawut, diving in front of Lukian from a few yards out. Port continued to press and got the equaliser in the 66th minute; a peach of a cross from Bodin found Dolah who headed across goal for Suarez to flick in. This set up a great final 20 minutes. Both teams could have got a winner but in the 78th minute Boskovic (23), far more effective playing in a wide left position, sent a great ball over the Chonburi defense and waiting at the far post was substitute Arthit (29) who fired into the roof of the net. Young Pele wheeled off in delight but Chonburi urged the referee to consult VAR for offside. After a few nervous minutes the referee gave the goal and the Port faithful started the party. Port saw out the rest of the game and 6 minutes of injury time to claim their second victory of the campaign. Sadly, an attempt to get the Victoria Secret bag to the players failed but it sure did us proud tonight. You might see more pink and white carrier bags as the season progresses, just don’t give us any funny looks.

There is no need to look at the negatives today; this game was a rip-roaring thriller and Jadet should be hailed for his team selection, tactics and substitution. The midfield trio looked awesome together and Go worked tirelessly at the base of midfield to allow Siwakorn and Sumanya to flourish. Bodin showed that he is a team player with a dangerous range of passing and Boskovic plays with more purpose in his natural position. This will give Jadet a happy headache when the injured players return but, knowing his past track record, he’ll probably stick to his preferred formation and players. Anyway, three points on a Friday night makes for a very happy weekend. Now I’m off to buy some more lingerie.

 

The Sandpit’s Man of the Match: Sumanya Purisai

There he is, the player we’ve been waiting for. I hadn’t been overly impressed with what I saw in the previous games but tonight he was awesome; a swashbuckling performance which drove the team to victory. He brings more energy and directness to the team and interestingly it seems he has made Siwakorn raise his game as well which bodes well for the rest of the season.

 

On-Mo Time: Chonburi FC 2-5 Port FC Match Report

 

 

Port’s impressive second half performance was enough to secure a comfortable 5-2 victory in Chonburi, although the friendly match was just one of a series of events put on by The Sharks to give legendary forward Pipob On-Mo a rousing send-off as he finally calls time on his playing career and moves in to coaching. The 39 year old is one of very few footballers in the modern Thai game to have stayed with a club for such a long time – 12 years to be precise – a feat for which he and Chonburi deserve enormous credit. To put that in context, Port’s current longest serving players, Worawut and Siwakorn, joined the club in 2015. Pipob made over 400 appearances and scored over 100 goals in his time with The Sharks, but unfortunately he wasn’t to make an appearance in the first match of the night – the 17:00 kickoff with Port.

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China Crisis: Port FC 0-3 China U21

 

Port’s first pre-season match of the off-season ended in a disappointing 0-3 defeat to Guus Hiddink’s China under 21 team. Port fielded a second XI in the first half, before fielding a stronger XI in the second half. Whereas Port played at a pretty sluggish pace – understandably considering that the players are coming back from their holidays – China played at a high tempo with plenty of intensity, and although they were not the most talented team to grace PAT Stadium they were effective and clinical where Port were anything but.

 

 

Port’s starting XI featured one new face, alongside a host of squad players and returning loanees. And Elias Dolah, who for some strange reason was included with the second string, despite being one of Port’s best performers in the second half of 2018. The new face was young Fox Hunt left back Nutchanon Sojit, who looked a little off the pace on his debut.

With Nutchanon starting in his favoured position at left back, Sandpit favourite but clearly not Jadet favourite Yossawat Montha was pushed forward on to the wing, and was Port’s most threatening player in the early going. In the 17th minute, his wicked free kick from the right beat the goalkeeper, before cannoning off the bar and then the post before being hacked away by some desperate Chinese defending. Two minutes later, Arthit almost latched on to a ball through the middle, but couldn’t quite gather the ball under pressure.

 

 

Port were soon punished for not taking their chances, with China being rightly awarded a penalty after a clumsy challenge from right back Adisorn. Adisorn has been used regularly in central midfield in recent seasons, but started several games at right back in 2016. Jadet seems to be considering having Adisorn as his backup right back next season, as there aren’t as yet any rumours linking Port with a replacement for Meechok, who left midway through last season. Adisorn will want to iron out mistakes like the one he made here though, if he is to convince Port not to go looking for a specialist full back. Caught out of position, Adisorn made up ground on his opponent, but a change of direction caught him unawares, and he clearly upended his opponent in the box. The Chinese forward sent Worawut the wrong way to give his side the lead against the run of play.

The rest of the first half seemed to have passed without incident before more Port mistakes in added time handed China a simple chance, which they took. Nutchanon – the lone defender back after a Port corner had been cleared – misjudged a high ball, allowing an attacker to ghost past him and get a clear run on goal. Worawut obligingly stayed on his line until the last second, by which time the ball was already past him and China were celebrating a 0-2 advantage.

 

 

Port fielded an entirely new XI in the second half, with the one big selection shock being the other new Fox Hunt addition Jirattikan Vapilai. He must have impressed in training to have been included with the first team, although it looked like he would rather have been playing in a more withdrawn role than the one he was handed. Boskovic was in the stadium but didn’t make it on to the pitch, meaning that either of Suarez and Jirattikan had to try to lead the line. Neither did so to much effect, although Suarez did show some lovely touches.

China struck first once again with a goal coming down Port’s right hand side, but although the result was now beyond much doubt, Port were by far the dominant side. Anon looked excellent in the middle of the park, but Suarez and Bodin were Port’s most threatening attackers. In the space of two minutes, both broke through down the left, but failed to find a teammate from promising positions. In the 77th minute, Jirattikan found Nitipong with an inviting layoff, but Nitipong blasted the ball wide. A minute later Siwakorn skied a similar effort after some good work from Suarez. Port were well on top, but the goal was not to come and Port’s visitors ended up securing a victory far more comfortable than the scoreline suggests.

Still, results in friendlies mean little, and having played a well-drilled team who have just had a military-style training camp, Port shouldn’t be too worried about the score in a game they looked on top in for long periods.

 

La Fin: Port FC vs. Chonburi FC Preview

 

Thai football’s biggest inter-club bromance resumes on Wednesday night at the PAT, as Port welcome Chonburi for the final home game of the season. The home side should be buoyed by a 5-0 win at the weekend over Navy, while the Sharks ensured another year of top-flight football thanks to a 3-1 win over Korat.

Having done more than was required of them on Saturday night in Sattahip, the advantage in the battle for 3rd place appeared to be back with us, as the forces of darkness from Legoland went into injury time on Sunday evening lucky to be at 2-2 with Sukhothai, only for substitute Sanukran to pop up with an entirely undeserved winner.  They play Pattaya at the same time as this match takes place. Good luck Pattaya, may you join the long list of teams to celebrate a victory in the away dressing room’s party lounge at Legoland, hopefully a party that stretches into the coming weekend.

Being the last home game you hope the club lays on something to mark the occasion. Back home you might see next season’s kit given an appearance. Given the recent record of Port failing to have kits ready for the start of the season I’ll hold my breath.

 

Our Opposition

 

As ever when playing Chonburi, I got in touch with Dale Farrington to find out whats going on with the Sharks (and save myself messing about on Wikipedia and and Transfermarkt trying to work out who their decent players are).

  • Chonburi secured top flight football for another season at the weekend, a pleasing end to the season?

Not really. Staying up is clearly better than getting relegated, but I don’t think it’s any cause for celebration. If anything, it should be a big kick up the backside to those who run the club. Sadly, I actually believe they think it’s an achievement. A sign of how far we’ve fallen and what little expectations we (they) have these days.

  • Overall a good or bad season for the club and do you expect an improvement next year?

Overall, a bad season. A new coach, who was showing potential and had the side well organised, was forced out after just eight matches and we never really recovered from that. Unless they employ a new coach – who actually knows what they are doing (unlike the current one) – and invest in some new players – preferably decent foreigners – next year will be much the same as this one. Or even worse!

  • Do you still have that goalkeeper who thinks he’s a sweeper, if so will he play and what other players should we look out for?

Chanin (35)? Yes. He’s still here. I’m not his biggest fan, but he has been outstanding over the past few weeks. His saves against Ubon Utd probably kept us up. Watch out for his kicking though. I’d say about 90% of his clearances go straight into touch! Otherwise, the centre backs, Gyeong Min (30) and Kritsada (42) are worth keeping an eye on. The former showed a lot of class before getting injured (he’s only recently returned) and the latter is a promising youngster, who hopefully will go on to bigger things.

 

Chanin Sae-ear, Kim Gyeong-min and Kritsada Kaman

 

  • And finally a prediction for Wednesday? Any chance your players have had a week off and want to donate 3 points to their besties up the road?

A prediction is almost impossible. I never know which Chonburi will turn up – the poor one or the slightly less than average one. If we’ve switched off after Saturday, you could get three or four.

 

Thanks to Dale for answering, especially at rather late notice.

 

Line Up

 

Given Jadet’s noted resistance to change and that his preferred outfield 10 just won 5-0 away from home, I wouln’t expect any changes by choice. Bodin (10), having served his suspension, will probably return to the bench and here’s the standard mention that should Rattanai (17) frame of biscuits be up to it he could start/be on the bench.

 

Form

 

Despite only achieving mathematically safety from relegation with their win last time out, Chonburi have spent most of the season hovering just above mid table.  Their form in 11 games since a defeat to this season’s shock underperformers Rangsit Glass, has seen them win 4, draw 3 and suffer defeat 4 times. 3 of those defeats came against the current top 3 and the other in their derby against Pattaya, while the wins have come against 3 teams currently in the relegation zone and (woeful) Korat. Very much that of a solid mid table grinder. Only twice have they kept clean sheets in that spell, with those matches averaging just under 3 goals (2.91), which is just a tad above the league average of 2.84.

Port’s form is somewhat more unpredictable. The two wins since the resumption have come against a Navy side so poor they make the decision to reduce the number of teams in the top tier look prudent and a Korat team whose survival, could be used to justification a similar reduction next season.  The first half against Suphanburi was encouraging and the result would probably have reversed if we’d found the net in the first half.

 

Prediction

 

If we are serious about third this is the kind of team – mediocre form and with an inability to keep clean sheets – we need to be putting away. As they also have nothing to play for, I’ll go 3-0 Port. Hopefully Dragon Boskovic can bag a brace and pass 100 career goals in Thailand as well.

 


 

True have had to get a bit creative with their choice of channels, what with all of the games being played simultaneously. This means that the match will be shown live on True Tennis HD at 18:00 on Wednesday 3 October, 2018. For those who can’t make it to PAT Stadium, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match on a big screen with sound. Don’t forget to wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount on drinks.

 

Port Float into Navy to Sink or Swim: Navy FC vs. Port FC Preview

We’re hanging on in there. Just when we thought we were out of it, Muang Thong prove once again that they are just as shit as we are when it comes to sealing 3rd place, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory at Chainat, which makes Saturday’s humbling defeat at the hands of a resilient Suphanburi even more galling.

 

 

This fan-torment from Jadet’s Jesters is almost Shakespearean, “As flies to wanton boys, are we to th’ Port, they kill us for their sport”.  And so, with spirits raised and brimful of eternal optimism, we work out the permutations once again: three ‘winnable’ games while Muang Thong face tricky Sukothai and Bangkok Utd in their closing run.

Talking of which, Sukothai’s 3-2 win at  Bangkok Utd featured a classic hat-trick from Salvadorean international Nelson Bonilla, the first from a seemingly impossible angle and well worth watching – the other two the kind of finishes we have come to expect from the League’s second highest scorer: 24 to Diogo’s 29, but in a much inferior team. Now this is a proper centre forward and one I would willingly swap for our currently flailing Montenegrin. You can see Bonilla’s hat-trick here – it helped to brighten up my Sunday, anyway.

 

Sattahip Stadium

 

So what are our chances at Navy? Our record at the Sattahip Stadium is poor; in fact I don’t recall ever witnessing a victory there in the League, with last season’s fixture ending in a disappointing 2-2 draw, after Port went in at half-time 2-0 up. And I seemed to have written so many Navy previews and match reports that I have run out of nautical puns and quips, so this will just be a straightforward assessment – even the delights of nearby Ban Chang, featured so prominently in last season’s preview, will have to take a back seat.

 

Ban Chang Cheerleaders

 

The corresponding home fixture ending in a pulsating 7-1 victory but this was in the middle of a run of 11 wins in 12 games with only the freakish, mad 3 minutes at home to Muang Thong spoiling the fun. We now go into Saturday off 3 wins in 13, one of those against lowly Trat in the F.A. Cup. The reasons for this slump are discussed ad-nauseum in the Sandpit: lack of fitness, the International break, injuries and suspensions, poor coaching and selection (what has happened to Anon?), lack of motivation, loss of key players’ form; maybe it’s a bit of all of these.

But football matches hang on such fine margins and Saturday was a good example. Port were actually not that bad in the first half, having more of the lion’s share of the game and creating several good chances, some of which would have been converted had it not been for some astounding saves from the Suphanburi keeper. The second half opened in the same way and Cleiton Silva’s headed goal was so out of the blue and against the run of play that it left everyone in stunned silence. The second, shortly after, came as a result of the War Elephants’ new found buoyancy and Port’s sudden deflation.  In fact, the first half was scarily similar to recent ones against Chainat and Nakhon Ratchasima, but in the latter we were gifted an early second half penalty which turned the game in our favour.

There was to be no second half redemption this time. Plus, we had brought on Pakorn, who, after early promise, became, well, Pakorn. It didn’t help either that players who had such an impact early in the season were poor – Kevin being a prime example.

I have just become one of the 63% that want to see Jadet gone at the end of the season and I firmly believe, at last, that the time is right. Even if he now ‘inspires’ us to a third place finish, it will be more down to other teams’ failings than our own brilliance.  A top four finish, although not our best ever (we actually came second in the top flight in 1999) should satisfy even the most pessimistic pundit after the recent yo-yo years, and should prompt further investment, especially if next season is the Madame’s final fling and she wants to go out with a bang, as it were. But I don’t think Jadet is the man to take us that further step.

Back to Saturday: Navy are down already, but with consecutive draws against Port’s top six rivals Prachuap and Chiang Rai, they will be no pushovers. Sailors do have some pride, even if the only young tars present will be those watching from the free seats.

Port, and Jadet, have three games left to make some kind of statement – will it all end in a bang or a whimper?

I am not highlighting any Navy players to watch because I won’t be watching them; this week, I am only interested in how Port perform, although Amadou Ouattara (81) looks to stand out from the crowd with 11 goals and 6 assists. I don’t even have the enthusiasm to poke duck orientated fun at Gabriel Quak (22), who incidentally got the only goal at Port – hopefully he won’t be ruffling our feathers this week. Oh dear, I’ve gone and done it.

 

Amadou (81) and Athibordee (63), who is on loan from Port so should be ineligible against his parent club.

 

For my Port line-up I have gone for the eleven (injuries and suspensions willing) that I sense that the Sandpit would like to see:

Rattanai (is he fit?) [Ed – he’s been back in training this week, but probably not match fit.]; Nitipong, Dolah, Rochela, Kevin; Anon, Kim, Siwakorn (or Adisorn – it’s a toss-up); Nurul, Suarez, Boskovic.

It would be great to see Terens and Sammy Slot on the bench with Arthit. Let’s have a bit of fun at least – Navy is a long way back when you’ve lost. [Ed – Bodin is suspended having picked up his 4th yellow card last week, so there’s a good chance we’ll see at least 2 of these fellas come off the bench.]

 

 


 

The match will be shown live on True4U, True Sports 2 and True Sports HD2 at 20:00 on Saturday 29 September, 2018. For those who can’t make it to Sattahip Stadium, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match on a big screen with sound. Don’t forget to wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount on drinks.