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Suphanburied: Port FC 0-2 Suphanburi FC

 

Dear reader, if you’re reading this thank you but if I’m honest I have nothing to report but bad news. I could tell you about the match but it won’t live long in the memory. I could tell you about the problems in the club, team and with individual players but I’ve written and discussed these so many times before. Guess I could make light of it and tell you I missed both the goals taking my tally to 15 this season but it really doesn’t feel like something to laugh about today. At least I got a free sticker and a Madame Pang fan out of the experience yesterday.

The day started badly as I was due to cheer on Melbourne in the Aussie rules semi final against The Eagles but while running late I received a message that the Demons were 51-3 down in the 2nd quarter. Disaster. Watching the rest of the match was like watching a grown man beat up a toddler; brutal, ugly and totally unnecessary. So after that setback it was on to PAT Stadium for the last Saturday home game of the season and AFC Champions League still a very distant possibility. On arrival I was told Pakorn (7), arguably our best ‘performer’ last week, and Arthit (29) had been dropped, plus Anon (20) hadn’t made the squad. Ominous stuff. Then Tim appeared to inform me that the futsal team had lost and now dark clouds were circling overhead. He also mentioned Tottenham had won; this was going to be a bad day.

 

Oooooo pretty

 

Port did start the first half the better team and fashioned some good chances; Suarez (5)  was unable to control a header and shortly after Nurul (31) darted into the area, outwitted Anderson (3)  but fired over. It wasn’t until the 33rd minute that Port created their best chance but Suphanburi keeper Sinthaweechai (18) produced a magnificent triple save; tipping Suarez’s shot onto the post then blocking a close range effort from Boskovic (23)  and finally getting his body behind Suarez’s follow up. Suphanburi could have had a penalty thanks to Boskovic’s WWE-style defending but the referee clearly wanted an easy afternoon with as little controversy as possible. Sinthaweechai was not finished with his heroics and pulled off a Hollywood one handed save from Boskovic’s deflected shot.

So half time and obviously after a lacklustre first half I was keen to get my hands on a cold Leo and discuss the finer points of our performance. My love of the social aspects of football have been well documented and without hearing any noises from the stadium to denote any action taking place I decided to continue my conversation and take my sweet time with the ale. How wrong I was; by the time I had returned Port were 2 down and falling apart on the pitch. In truth Port could have gone 1 up with Pakorn, on for the completely ineffective Bodin (10), forcing Sinthaweechai to make another top save. As if to rub salt into the wound it was ex-Port player Meechok (20) who supplied a beautiful arcing cross into the box for Cleiton (22) to ghost between Nitipong (34) and Rochela (22) and send a bullet header into the net. Meechok, thinking that the wound needs a little more salt to be rubbed into it, controlled an excellent cross field ball to pull back to Chananan (10) who fired a beautiful first time shot low past Worawut. Chananan had been pulling the strings all game and the goal was just reward for his work, I just wish I had been there to see it.

 

 

The rest of the game played out as most Port fans have come to expect recently; Nurul did his customary dive and Rochela redeemed himself after not picking up Cleiton for the first goal to make a first rate last ditch tackle on Chananan. Pakorn had a shot deflected off the post and Romulo (9) unleashed an absolute thunderbastard of a shot that cannoned off the crossbar. There were also a few feisty moments with Suphanburi lucky to stay with 11 men on the pitch and their coach Pairoj marching onto the pitch to remonstrate with the ref but the man in the middle wasn’t in the mood to take action at all today.

So another woeful performance and our recent form, bar last week’s win, is frankly garbage. To see a team give 110% effort while your own players are going through the motions and thinking about sun loungers and pina coladas is pretty galling. Port needs players like Cleiton and Chananan next season because we can all see the attitude and effort of the players on the pitch is not good enough. We know there are several who think training is optional and that attitude is polluting the atmosphere in the club, especially as the reserve players who deserve a chance are working hard but not getting the opportunities they deserve. Jadet doesn’t have control of the team and playing with no striker for 60-odd minutes is not going to win games; to highlight this Boskovic’s best chances were both inside the area – where he should be when we’re on the attack.

Unbelievably we are still in fourth place, enjoying our best ever season and we are still not happy; it’s frankly amazing what we have achieved given the circumstances but these constant problems that hamper us make you think just what we could achieve if we were really well run from top to bottom and not this clown car of a club waiting to fall apart. Chainat finally did us a favour this season and beat those mugs from Legoland so the impossible is still possible but Jadet needs to get a grip and find some short term solutions to long term problems.

 

Best picture of the day

 

 

Man of the Match – Sinthaweechai Hathairattanakool

 

 

Nope, It’s certainly not going to a Port player this time. Only one team gave their all on the pitch and their captain and goalkeeper put in one hell of a shift, galvanising the rest of his team and pushing them onto victory. One of the best opposition performances I have seen in my short time at the PAT and watching his saves again today has been a pleasure. Go on son, you deserve it.

 

This Is The End: Bangkok United 2-1 Port FC, Port FC 1-3 Buriram United

 

It’s the hope that kills you isn’t it? I mean I’m a simple man with simple, everyday hopes; I hope the weather’s decent today, I hope there isn’t a hair in my takeaway, I hope they have proper toilets and not one of those squat jobs… But when it comes to football those hopes are elevated to something much, much bigger; glory and the sweet taste of victory against all comers. Maybe it’s the adrenaline mixed with testosterone and alcohol but pragmatism and rationality are quickly discarded when it comes to footy.

Last Sunday the Spider Ming Express, sponsored by Blend 285, zipped up to The Thammasat University Stadium with a group of supporters buoyant that maybe, just maybe, we can get a result against our bogey team which would take us level on points and keep the impossible dream alive. Jadet shuffled the pack and went for a back 3 with Adisorn (13) at RB, kept new boy Anon (20) in the XI and dropped the seemingly undroppable Pakorn (7); clearly he had a game plan in mind.

 

 

The game plan worked a charm in the first half and in the opening minutes Port took the lead; a well worked corner was flicked on by Suarez (5) and found Boskovic (23) unmarked at the far post for a simple header. Cue pandemonium in the away end followed by a nerve-shredding, backs-to-the-wall 40 minutes with Port continually on the defensive and rarely pressing forward. Things got better as we purchased cans of Leo in the car park when Bangkok were reduced to 10 men with Wanchai (24) receiving his marching orders for bringing down Kim (8). The Leo tasted even sweeter now so surely this was our time?

 

 

WRONG. Port held on like a boxer taking a Tyson-level beating against the ropes until the 82nd minute when Sumanya (11) drove into the box and his shot got a slight deflection off Rochela (2). Then, as the minutes ran down, we had a rare attack and worked the ball well into the box for Kim to lay the ball off to Chakrit (9). The ball was asking to be spanked into the net but what followed was the turning point of everything; a shot so woeful you would pull clumps of hair out of your head and smash your pint glass on the floor (don’t worry, it’s plastic and only backwash left). Then the gut punch; United snatched a winner with the final kick of the game; a screamer from Pokklaw (10). It’s a rare moment when the Port faithful are silenced but as I watched the players lie dejected on the ground there was no sound from the away end, just the distant cheering of United supporters, then out poured the screaming and frustration and finally the final whistle. There is no feeling quite like it as you walk out of the stadium covered in drizzle and disappointment.

Although it felt sickening I personally couldn’t complain that much about the performance; Jadet gave them a game plan that they stuck to for 80 minutes but then the substitutions altered the team shape and fatigue really set in while chasing a winner. The better team won with their quality and perseverance, and anyway we’ve got a cup tie against the champions on Wednesday and we’re going to give them hell and propel ourselves into the semi-finals right?

 

 

WRONG. DEAD WRONG. The first half at The PAT was Chainat, Air Force and Police all rolled into one at home. It was the constant errors and mistakes we talk about in The Sandpit and on Facebook week in week out. It was the fucking pits so let’s get this over with. After the opening exchanges Buriram won a corner in the 15th minute and their tactic was to crowd the goal line to cause confusion amongst our defenders. The corner was whipped in and Rattanai (17) scrambled to push it against the crossbar for another. The second was deadly; Pansa (3) darted off the line to steer a header into the far side of the goal unmarked. Less than a minute later Buriram had doubled their led; Todsapol (6) was robbed by the Brazilian Osvaldo (17) who sprinted into the box and squared it to Supachai (9) for an easy tap in. 2 minutes and 2 goals but worse was to come before half time; a long ball from Tunez (5) reached Diogo (40) with Dolah (4) struggling to keep up. Rochela came across to clear but inexplicably sent the ball into his own net. I really don’t want to write any more about this.

There was a brief fightback in the second half and Port grabbed a goal back by playing some decent football, ending with Nitipong (34) playing a great through ball to Pakorn who finished past Siwarak (1). Port then had a sustained 10 minute period of attacking pressure with the substitute Artit (29) showing some endeavour and Boskovic continually testing the Buriram defense, as well as geeing up the crowd, but there was no end product and our opponents regained control and closed out the game. Let’s face facts; we were never really in the game and we shot ourselves in the foot. Twice.

So now there needs to be questions asked. Why did this go so badly wrong? What exactly were the tactics and were the players aware of their roles? Why didn’t some of you turn up (Siwakorn (16), Rochela, Kevin (97) – I’m looking at you)? An hour after the match I had already received my first “Jadet out” text but looking at the squad it’s clear some of the players aren’t good enough and there is no strength in depth. Training, fitness and tactics certainly need to improve as well. Buriram set a very high standard and we are currently a distant 3rd from them in the league but will Madame Pang and her underlings execute a real plan for next season and just carry on as we are?

Yes, it sucks to be a Port fan today and maybe as fans we have been too naive about the real prospects of our team but guess what? There’s another game against the champions on Sunday and mathematically we can still win the league (stop sniggering at the back) or at least affect the championship race. There’s also pride to play for and the chance to finish above The Scum so I guess there’s always hope right?

 

Man of the Matches – Kim Sung-Hwan

 

 

Not many candidates here so I’m giving it to someone whose form has improved, gave maximum effort in both games and, most importantly, cared. Dolah and Bosko showed signs as well but Kim was the one who showed it most. This photo of him after the United game speaks volumes about what it meant to him, If only he spoke Thai; he would be handing out a few red hot bollockings right now.

 

Kim Sung “WON” It: Port FC 5-0 PTT Rayong, FA Cup 2nd Round

 

 

FA Cup 2nd round (32 teams) Wednesday 4th July

Port started this cup match with pretty much a full strength team. Worawut (36) stepped in for Rattanai (17), probably just to give Rattanai a rest. The one notable absence was Pakorn (7), maybe he was injured, maybe being rested. I’m sure he would have enjoyed being told he was too precious too risk in this match. The rest of the Port set up was familiar to us all. There was no Sergio Suarez (5) as he’s out injured due to return against Air Force.

 

Starting Line Up

 

We have seen this before Adisorn (13) as a defensive midfielder. Kim (8) looking very happy to be pushing up in an attacking midfield role creating chances, passing to the wings and enjoying some rare time in the opponent’s penalty area.

PTT Rayong currently sit joint top of T2 with two other teams on 34 points. One of those teams is Trat F.C. who they play on Saturday. So you could forgive PTT for prioritising Saturday’s match over the Cup.

Port started the game well, looking to get forward. PTT occasionally ventured forward but looked like a team ready to soak up the pressure then occasionally counter attack. The pressure took its toll as Port opened the scoring with a goal from Kim, yes Kim. Kevin (97) floated a great ball in from the left finding a diving Kim in the six yard box. Not the most graceful of players, Kim seemed to half dive half fall over. Low marks for technical merit, but a goal buried in the back of the net and that’s what counts. Kim had a great game finding space in the lackluster Rayong defence. With Adisorn  darting about the midfield Kim looked like a player on day release from prison, happy to be the midfield impresario he dreams of being while carrying out his defensive duties. He’s a bit slow at times. I’m not sure he’s got 90 minutes in him running about in the Bangkok heat. As this is the case he will idle around the midfield a bit too much, but when he needs to make a run he can turn on the pace. Del tells me he’s been on top form for the last 10 games, I’m not so sure but I’m struggling to think of a bad game he’s had for a long time.

 

Port Take Control

On the half hour mark that man again Kim set Nurul (31) free on the edge of the area to only for him to be dragged down in the box, enter the Dragan. Boskovic (23) slotted home the penalty to put Port two up. Have penalty duties switched after Rochela’s miss at the weekend or are they alternating the penalties? It will be interesting to see who picks up the ball for the next spot kick. Now Port finally started to look at ease with the game and attacked with a bit more conviction. Five minutes later chasing a long ball Boskovic muscled his way past a Rayong defender to be confronted by the Rayong keeper ten yards outside his box. The keeper had decided to charge out with roughly the same forethought and sound planning as the charge of the light brigade. Bosko knocked it past him towards the corner then set up a wide open Siwakorn (16). It was such a tap in even the goal shy Siwakorn felt a bit reluctant to celebrate it and just congratulated Boskovic on the pass. Fast forward five minutes it was Nurul sliding the ball into Boskovic to tap it in from 4 yards out.

 

Written in the Stars

With the 4th goal going in on the 44th minute the planets were aligning and this game was decided. You got the feeling if games could end by mutual consent both sides would have been happy just to call it a day and prepare for the weekend’s fixtures. But they can’t, this is the game we have chosen to play and watch, the cross we have to bear. We all had 45 unnecessary minutes to go through.

 

Raining on Kim’s Parade

God himself decided to test the patience of the fans and the players as the heavens opened at half time. Fans took a sort of shelter under Zone C. Tim and Achim argued about the exact phrasing of a question about our 4th goal scorer “Who’s got 4th?”, or “Who’s got number 4?” or was it “Who did get number 4?”. Sheltering fans were treated to a new Thai Port version of Abbot and Costello’s “Who’s on first” sketch.

 

A Second Half of Two Halves

After watching the first half from up top in Zone C (a change is as good as a break), I wandered to Zone B with my plastic raincoat on. The Port faithful now divided into two halves. Half of the fans were soaked and half of the fans were less wet but starting to sweat. The bogged down pitch saw periods of play where 22 footballers looked around thinking, “I hope he doesn’t get injured we need him to play well at the weekend”.

 

Playing it Safe

Nitipong was subbed off for Chakrit (9) which looked more like a preventative measure, maybe he got a knock, but more likely he was being saved because we have no decent back up at right back. In a similar vein Nurul was subbed off for Terens (28). Hard working as ever Terens finally had a bit more time to shine on Wednesday night but failed to light up PAT. A couple of average crosses and a shot at the keeper were all he had to show for half an hour of hard work.

Port did have more chances, throughout the evening Bodin’s work in midfield was good, but his finishing was shocking. Speaking of shocking shooting, Arthit Butjinda (29) was subbed on for Siwakorn, he came on and missed two gilt-edged opportunities. At one point Boskovic was talking to him in the box shrugging as if to say, “What was that? I just put that on a plate for you?” he then tapped him on the back by way of encouragement, but his body language was saying, “Maybe this shooting lark isn’t for you, maybe you’d be good at defending, or maybe squash is your game?”.

 

Game Set and Man of the Match

With 10 minutes to go Boskovic jinked through two defenders then unselfishly tapped the ball to Kim. Kim then thumped the ball past the keeper from point blank range to add an emphatic fun-filled full stop to the night with a fully deserved brace of goals. Man of the Match: Kim Sunghwan

 

Full Time Port 5-0 PTT Rayong

PTT Rayong largely happy they had no injuries. The group of 15 die-hard away fans drenched but banging away on the drums all night really deserved a goal for their troubles. Port’s solid defence made sure they didn’t get one, but they were duly saluted by the remaining Port fans of Zone C and B. Port advance to the last 16.

In the post-match conference the PTT manager praised Port for the team’s all round ability and wished us well in the Cup. He did go on to add the squad he put out was a mix of some first team players and some “kids he was giving a chance”.

Elsewhere in the FA Cup things went largely to form. The “favourites” were displaced in a few games with Pattaya, Ubon, and Sukhothai losing to Bankhai, Naraa and Nakorn Pathom respectively. However these three sides were no doubt a lot more focused on the hard work of grinding out three points at the weekend to save their season, rather than the old tradition of putting out a decent team the FA Cup.

 

Port Haunted Again By Late Horror Show: Police Tero 2-1 Port FC

 

Groundhog Day: A situation in which a series of unwelcome or tedious events appear to be recurring in exactly the same way.

 

Bull Murray reacts to Pakorn’s ‘clearance’

 

I had jokingly remarked to Dominick in The Sportsman prior to this game that, as I feared I may not have much time to write a report on Sunday owing to social commitments, I could just pen it beforehand, knowing full well what the outcome might be and then fill in the details later. Sadly, how right I was.

I had also remarked in my preview that Port’s propensity to shoot themselves in the foot (Latin: sagittam dirigens se in pedes) would pose a greater danger than any opponent and, once again, my words were unfortunately prophetic. Except that this was more than just a shooting; it was pedocide of the most violent kind. The nails were extracted by a rusty pair of pliers; the skin flayed with a blunt razor, the tarsals and phalanges reduced to a pulp by an industrial grinding machine, then the remains blended into a paste to be spread, with boot-clogging effect, over the sodden ground of Boonyachinda stadium.

 

Zico unveiling his tactical master-plan

 

Feet, particularly those of Pakorn’s (9), were to play a dramatic part in the opening half of this encounter, with results ranging from farce to tragedy.  The footballing monk spent most of the half falling over before he was called to the touchline for a quick change of boots; the replacement pair mismatched and perhaps not just in colour, as his other most significant contribution to the half was to sweep a harmless cross into his own net with no one around to challenge for the ball. Given the position of his body in relation to the goal and the trajectory of the cross, it was no mean feat and one that he would be hard pressed to intentionally repeat at the other end of the pitch. As the English translation of the incident on the official Port website so eloquently reported, “Pakorn will kick the ball at the second pillar. But badly into the door.”

Quite what he was doing in the right-back position at the time was colourfully debated by the Sandpit in the stands; perhaps he was covering for another fruitless Nitipong (34) raid, but he had also ended up there last Sunday, so one has to ask whether it was another bewildering Zico ‘tactic’. Meditate on that, Brother. Aside from Pakorn’s ‘foot-feats’, Port had played a neat, tidy game, prompted by an excellent, disciplined performance by Siwakorn (16), without really threatening to turn spells of dominance into goals. Suarez, set free in the box by an intelligent lob from Piyachat (88), took just one step too many and was soon crowded out; a first time effort might have paid dividends. In another attack, Josimar (30)  leapt, salmon-like, to meet a cross from the right but the ball’s arrival unfortunately coincided with his descent and another chance was squandered.

 

 

Just as we were debating at the start of the second half where a goal might come from, it did; Rochela (22) gleefully headed home a Pakorn corner via the post. This goal thoroughly revitalized Port who subsequently dominated large swathes of the half, working the ball in neat triangles, and making good use of the wings, but without delivering that telling final cross or top corner screamer. In probably the most wasteful moment, Josi again failed to connect accurately with a header with the goal at his mercy. He really is an enigma; he climbs well, although not always in sync with the ball, can make vital defensive headers and knock-ons but, for a ‘big man’, his headed cross conversion rate is poor.

With about fifteen minutes left there was some debate in the stands about whether, at this stage of the game, we would take a draw, and the general opinion was, NO, this was a game at our mercy; Police, even BEC Tero, were there for the taking. Which was true, but this is Port, and I would have been happy for the game to have ended there and then, given Port’s uncanny ability to suck you in and fill you with hope and dreams and then shatter your illusions, like finding Santa Claus in bed with your mum on Christmas morning.

Just as Tim’s last minute analysis, “Looks like Port are settling for a draw”, had fallen from his lips, the ball broke free from a slapstick collision between Nitipong and Dolah, sparking a rare Fire Dragons attack. Substitute Wichan Nantasri, who scored Police’s only goal at PAT Stadium, took the resulting loose ball around a flailing Worawut and calmly plonked it in the net. I really don’t know why we bothered to play the previous 93 minutes; they should have just set up that goal at the start and then we could all have got stuck into the ale. As always, the Port faithful remained loyal to the end, cheering their team, in spite of what seemed like a betrayal, and sportingly acclaiming the largely undeserving victors. What we would have given to have heard Tommy Duncan’s respectfully restrained appraisal of affairs right at that moment!

So what can you say? We have had our Groundhog Days all before, felt it all before, cursed about it all before, hoped it would change, all before. But, and this is the point: it probably won’t and we will be back on Wednesday night, a little bit more chastened, but ultimately forgiving. Because, for us die-hard Thai and Farang (foolish you might say) regulars, we still love it and we will keep coming back. It defies all logic but football has a logic all of its own; our devotion in inverse proportion to our suffering.  See you in the Sandpit.

 

The Forgiving

 

Man of the Match: Siwakorn; Men of the Match: The Port fans, as always.

 

What a Navy Lark! Port’s Penalty Punishment Persists: Navy 2-2 Port FC

 

Port conceded their 11th penalty of the season to throw away what would have been a precious, though scarcely deserved, three points at the Navy Stadium last night. We would have settled for a draw before the game but, just as at Sisaket, a late rush of blood to the head earned the referee’s ire and another frustrating conclusion. It was difficult to see the incident from our distant vantage point but, deserved or not, we should not be even giving the referee the option of some supplying some Home comfort.  More discipline please, Gents!

Port lined up with what our trio of travelling, farang fans considered to be a back three of Dolah (4), Rochela (22) and Pravinwat (55), with newly installed wingbacks Nitipong (34) and Pinkong (19) providing both flanking defensive cover and attacking intent. Siwakorn (16) and Adisorn (13) were to hustle and jostle in midfield with Pakorn (9), Josimar (30) and Genki (18) our main goal threats.

 

 

Well, that was the plan anyway. This is a system that has proved highly successful for many teams of late, most notably, Chelsea, but players need time to understand and adapt to it and, for the first quarter of the game, we struggled. Pinkong, in particular, didn’t know whether to attack or defend, and in the end did neither, so there was a constant threat down our left flank, with Nitipong, on the other side, only slightly more comfortable. The central three, as one might expect, were solid and the system may eventually bear fruit. However, a stronger team than Navy may well have exploited this opening edginess. As it was, both Rodrigo (23) and Andre Luis (7) hit the post within the first 20 minutes and Port were living dangerously.

Then, out of the blue in the 28th minute, Josi, who ploughed a brave, lone furrow all night, weaved his way through several challenges on the edge of the box, drifting out to the left, to provide a delightful cross (intended or not) for Genki to glide home with the simplest of headers. The travelling Port fans, recently boosted by the arrival of the Drum Majors were ecstatic. Unbelievably, that lead was doubled thirteen minutes later with another Pakorn, ‘direct from a corner’, effort. I’m beginning to think that these are no longer a fluke! 2-0, surely we can’t stuff this one up?

‘We’re Port and of Course We Can’.

Port’s second half performance, IMHO, was dismal. We were pedantic and lacking in ideas and even when we got into promising positions, mostly down the flanks prompted by a slightly subdued Siwakorn’s still accurate distribution, passes and crosses were played into unoccupied spaces (never to be filled), the nearest defender, or out of touch. We were losing possession at the rate of the post-war British Empire.

I had foolishly declared in my match preview that we were a better team than Navy but there was nothing on view to support that. Navy played with patience and a greater authority, with the inter-changeable front trio of Rodrigo, Andre Luis and Durosinmi (40) putting our central three at full stretch. To their credit, they largely held their nerve and with a combination of lady luck and stout defending, Port held on to their lead until the 67th minute with a goal conceded from an unlikely source.

Rattanai’s handling has been one of his strengths this season, making him number one choice, but when he appeared to miss a simple corner (remember, we were a long distance away), Navy full back Chaothonglang was on hand to tap into an empty net.

It was at this point that seasoned Port away followers could sadly predict the final outcome, made even more likely when Tana (99) replaced Genki. Navy were now dominating, and when the ball skidded across the box and out for a throw-in, in yet another suspense-filled raid, the sense of relief was palpable. But then, hold your breath, there was that familiar, raised arm pointing to the spot, the yellow card brandished and that sick to my stomach, here we go again feeling, as Pravinwat apparently manhandled an opponent in the box. Rodrigo duly dispatched the resultant penalty with aplomb. There was just enough time for Suarez to replace Pakorn and for Port to probably have their first shot on goal in the entire half, only for Piyachat (88, on for Adisorn) to balloon it over the bar.

 

Seaman Stains and Roger the Cabin boy reflect on another late penalty in a Ban Chang bar

 

Final emotions again were a mixture of frustration and not a little anger – but we always had Ban Chang!

As for MOTM, none of us could really recall any player having an above average game, so my Man (Boys) of the Match award goes to the Navy Cadet choir, who, although probably in their massed ranks behind the goal under sufferance, kept up their jubilant chanting and singing throughout the game, including some generous homages to Port and their fans – well done boys, you did the Navy proud!

 

Eagles Caged in Fortress PAT: Port FC 1-0 Ubon UMT

 

There was a very subdued start, with the less-than-hostile atmosphere probably aided by a strange kick off time of 17:45 as the fans continued to stream in throughout the first half. What turned out to be an interesting 45 minute stalemate sprung into life in the 10th minute with the Brazilian Tiago (7) bringing the best out of surprise starter Worawut (36) in the Port goal and Siroch (35) looking very dangerous slipping one wide of the upright. Tiago again found himself in space but this time the ball flew over the bar. Sounds familiar!

In what was a surprisingly consistent team Dolah (4) came in to replace Todsapol (6), and again the combination of Adisorn (13) and Siwakorn (16) in the middle ensuring that we were always going to have a high energy, high tempo and committed type of game.

In what turned out to be a game of two contradicting halves for Port in the first our wide men were sucked in and offered very little in terms of width and quality although Pakorn (9) always looks dangerous with the ball, and had a decent chance on the 23rd minute. Again three minutes later Josimar (9), who offered little in the first half, took a long ball down and teed up Genki Nagasato (18) who fizzed the ball just wide.

Ubon’s best chance of the game came on the 40 minute mark when Siroch (35) dribbled past three Port defenders but Worawut (36) was equal to it and had a great game throughout.

Port – cheered on by a now boisterous and passionate support – were a completely different team in the second half. Whatever the man Meelarp said at half time, or maybe they even got a visit from the Madame, certainly worked but the effort and application was different. The full backs Panpanpong (19) and Nitipong (34) started to establish themselves and cover every inch of the pitch culminating in Nitipong making a marauding run in the 57th minute and delivering a defense splitting cross to the back post where Josimar (30) was lurking to tap into an empty net. Josimar was a different proposition in the second half. He harassed the Ubon defense but he was also marked by one of the league’s best defenders Victor (6), The Ubon captain and all-around big unit.

Three minutes prior Port had justifiable appeals for a penalty and Genki (18) had again gone close. Pakorn, my favourite player, looked disinterested, with a level of consistency and work rate he would be unplayable but he drifts in and out of games, despite his undoubted ability. He should take a look at the application of his two colleagues in central midfield, who had another industrious night. Sergio Suarez (5) is starting to look the real deal, he had another very impressive night and this is assisted by the shift of the two lads behind him. Tana (99) came on for Genki (18) and whilst he was very unlucky with an offside decision, he didn’t offer as much as much defensively as his teammate had done.

Port were now under the cosh, and had to defend for their lives to close the game out. Nebihi (8), who replaced Tiago (7) saw a low shot slide just wide of Worawut’s right hand post, then Nitipong (34) defended bravely against the rather larger Victor Cardozo (6), putting his body between the big man and the ball and being sent crashing on to the turf. With tensions being raised, tempers soon flared. Adisorn (13) hacked down Ubon defender Nikom (11), who reacted furiously, kicking out at Adisorn and putting his hands around the Port midfielder’s neck. The referee gave nothing – as per usual – and a scrum was formed near the sideline, with almost every player on the pitch involved.

When play finally resumed, Ubon continued the offensive. A stunning sliding tackle denied Berriex (20) as he burst through the defence, and the Argentine then created probably Ubon’s best chance with a whipped cross from the right which veteran Thai midfielder Surat Sukha (15) could only flick over the bar from 5 yards out. After 5 agonizing minutes of injury time, the referee eventually blew the final whistle and Port could celebrate another barnstorming home win.

So this result leaves us sitting in 8th place only three points behind Bangkok Glass who are in 4th. If someone would have offered me that in January I would have snapped their hand off. In our first campaign back in the top flight we have won three and drawn two of our five home games conceding only three goals. Incredible! The million dollar question is… Which Thai Port will show up in Chiang Rai on Sunday?

Port FC Man of the Match

Photo by Supersub

 

Josimar is finally off the mark! He really came alive in the second half, scrapping for every ball and giving Port an important outlet by winning balls in the air – both in attack and defence – and holding the ball up well. If the Brazilian can keep the goals coming, he could make a huge impact at Port.