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Hells Angels Take Port for a Ride: Bangkok Utd 6-2 Port FC

 

Port’s first away game of the season ended in a crushing 6-2 defeat at the hands of last year’s runners-up Bangkok United. Port never looked competitive, suffering from poor team selection and a slew of under-par performances. Whilst Port were not expected to get a result at Thammasat Stadium, the manner in which we lost was discouraging to say the least.

 

Team Selection

Firstly, team selection was once again baffling. In a bizarre and totally unexpected move, 34 year old Suchon (11) made a rare start at left back. Whilst left back had been a problem position all throughout pre-season, defensive-minded Panpanpong (19) had his best game in a Port shirt last week against Suphanburi and looked certain to retain his place against an attacking Bangkok Utd. Suchon, who to my memory has barely started a game since 2015, looked completely off the pace, and never got close to holding his own against a quick, fluid Bangkok Utd attack.

Nitipong (34) at right back was perhaps even worse. Normally a right-winger, Nitipong has been shoe-horned in to the side at right back, with Jadet apparently being a big fan of his marauding runs forward down the right flank. Did the thought never cross Jadet’s mind that – against the side who finished second last season – picking a defender in defence might be prudent?

In midfield, it was more of the same. Adisorn (13) was once again preferred to Tatchanon (39) and Wanchalerm (40), despite all the evidence seeming to suggest that either of the youngsters would do a far better job at shielding the defence. Adisorn played an energetic but largely ineffectual 35 minutes before being withdrawn to make way for an attacking change with the team already 3 goals down.

Up front, Tana (99) was preferred to Kaludjerovic (10) and Josimar (30). After an impressive cameo last week, scoring a stunning goal and looking dangerous, this was not a complete shock. Tana, as he so often does, found the back of the net, and provided a bit of spark going forward, although he had relatively few chances to shine with Port largely preoccupied in defence.

 

The Action

As soon as the match started, Bangkok Utd showed why they finished second last season, creating chance after chance and looking by far the better team. In the 13th minute, Suchon (11) misjudged a pass which looped right over his head, but Rattanai (17) did well to get out quickly and block Macena’s (10) finish. Just 2 minutes later, Bangkok exploited a gaping hole in the Port defence, playing a well-weighted through-ball between Rochela (22) and Suchon (11) to find Macena (10), who was once again denied by a fantastic reaction stop by Rattanai.

 

Photo by Patikamol Sukcharoen

 

In the 19th minute, Bangkok Utd finally made their dominance count. Nitipong (34) was at fault for Port, trying to play tiki taka football inside his own penalty area and giving the ball away. Rochela tried to intervene with a desperate sliding tackle, but he missed the ball and sent Macena flying, giving the referee the easiest penalty decision he will make all season. Former national team star Leesaw (14) sent Rattanai the wrong way to open his account for the season, and make it Bangkok Utd 1-0 Port.

5 minutes later, Port once again sought to make their opponents lives as easy as possible. Suchon (11) was late on Ekkachai (2) in a position where he didn’t even really need to make the tackle, and although it was slightly less clear that the first penalty, the referee rightly pointed to the spot for a second time. Leesaw again buried his penalty in the bottom left corner, and after 25 minutes it was Bangkok Utd 2-0 Port.

Just after the half hour mark, things went from bad to worse for Port. A mishit shot from Sanrawat (29) found Pokklaw (39) in acres of space inside the Port box, and the Thai national team midfielder had time to take a touch, set himself and pass the ball past a defenseless Rattanai. Bangkok Utd 3-0 Port.

Three goals down and looking dejected, Jadet changed things up, bringing on Kaludjerovic (10) for Adisorn (13) and switching to a 4-4-2. It paid immediate dividends, although the goal was an individual masterpiece rather than a result of the switch. Siwakorn (16) glided past a couple of defenders and curled a beautiful shot over the keeper in to the top right hand corner from the edge of the box. The man who has kick-started Port comebacks in the past had given us some hope, and Port finally started to pick up their game for the remainder of the half. Bangkok Utd 3-1 Port.

Port started the second half brightly, threatening to get right back in to the game in the 57th minute when Siwakorn combined well with Genki (18) on the edge of the area, but Tana (99) sliced the resulting shot wide and soon enough normal service was resumed. Just a minute later Bangkok Utd hit the post after a well-worked move, and just after the hour mark they made it four. Macena (10) juggled the ball past Rochela (22), who could only make a weak mistimed challenge which the Brazilian easily evaded, before pulling the ball back to Leesaw (14) who passed the ball in to the net from 8 yards out. Bangkok Utd 4-1 Port.  

With the game effectively killed off, Port scored a consolation goal through Tana (99). Pakorn (9) played a deep cross which deceived Warut (34) in the Bangkok utd goal, and with the ‘keeper flailing around in no-man’s land Tana slotted the ball in to an empty net to make it Bangkok Utd 4-2 Port.

With nothing else for it, Port brought on Ekkapoom (8) and Wuttichai (14) and bombed forward for the rest of the game in search of another goal. Inevitably, Bangkok Utd exploited the gaps left in the defence to add two more goals, both created by substitute Mario Gjurovski (20). Firstly he played an exquisite outside of the boot pass to give Leesaw (14) his fourth, then crossed from the left for Macena (10) to score the goal that his superb performance merited. Bangkok Utd 6-2 Port

Rattanai in the Port goal looked dejected. Rarely can you say that a ‘keeper who conceded 6 goals played well, but he could not have done better with any of the 6 goals, and he made some smart stops in the first half. The blame has to go to the coach – whose team selection once again raised eyebrows – and most of the players, who simply did not perform.

 

Port FC Man of the Match

Photo by Patikamol Sukcharoen

 

The award has to go to Siwakorn (16), who fought manfully and tried to give his team a chance with his combative play in midfield. The skinny wizard even capped his display off with a Goal of the Season contender, although his fine individual performance had no impact on the outcome of the match.

 

Final Thoughts

Port have a lot of work to do before their crucial home game against Navy on March 4th. Coach Jadet has to start bringing in the players who looked so promising in pre-season, and the team need to perform to their potential week in week out if they are to have a decent season in T1.

 

MATCH REPORT: Port FC 2-0 Nakhon Ratchasima

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

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

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

Siwakorn Is Carried Off

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

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

Rochel-Ouch!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MATCH REPORT: Port FC 3-1 Pattaya United

 

Port secured a comfortable 3 – 1 win against Pattaya United, thanks to a clinical first half performance. New signing Kaluderovic looked the business, notching his first two goals on his debut. Pattaya struck back, before Genki added a third goal late in the first half to seal Port’s second consecutive friendly victory against T1 opponents.

Port started with Worawut (36) in goal, and the same back four that has started the last few friendlies: Rochela (22), Dolah (4), Meechok (20) and Panpanpong (19). Suarez (15) played in an advanced role just behind striker Kaluderovic (10), with Siwakorn (16) and Tatchanon (27) anchoring the midfield. Pakorn (9) played on the right wing, and Genki (18) on the left.

Pattaya looked lively in the early going, but had no real bite to their attack. Rochela and Dolah were fairly busy, but did what was asked of them with relative ease.

20 year old new signing Tatchanon had his best game to date at the base of the midfield, keeping the ball moving without ever looking like losing possession, and spreading the play with a couple of excellent long balls out to the flanks.

The even younger Meechok was also a revelation down the right. At times in the first half, the right back seemed to be playing a more advanced role than right winger Pakorn, so it was no surprise when his good work led to the opening goal. Meechok’s run down the right was expertly picked out by a lofted Siwakorn pass, and the right back played the ball across the six yard box where Kaluderovic swept home with ease from close range.

Spot the scoreboard #fail

Just a few minutes later, the same three combined to score a second. Meechok, pressing high up the pitch, intercepted a pass in midfield and the ball broke to Siwakorn who played a well-weighted through-ball for Kaluderovic to run on to. The Serbian made no mistake with a classy outside-of-the-boot finish to make it 2 debut goals and 2-0 to Port. Whilst neither goal was particularly special, the way they were taken seemed effortless. We don’t want to jinx it, but this might be the first time since the legendary Leandro that Port have had a foreign striker who makes scoring goals look easy!

Pattaya soon got themselves back in to the game, though. After a fortuitous richochet on the edge of the area, a Pattaya forward reacted quicker than the Port defence and managed to force the ball past an onrushing Worawut to bring Pattaya back within a goal.

Port were still playing the better football of the two sides, though, so it was probably a fair reflection of the first half that they went in 3-1 up. Kaluderovic was once again involved, this time turning well under pressure in the middle of the park before releasing Suarez down the left with a pinpoint pass. Suarez could easily have gone for goal himself, but unselfishly squared the ball to Genki who got ahead of his marker to score the tap-in.

It was an important goal for the Japanese player, who few have been expecting to stay with Port in 2017. Nevertheless, with less than a month to go he finds himself starting with Jadet’s first choice side, whilst no rumours of an AFC replacement are anywhere to be seen. It’s looking increasingly likely that Genki could retain his place in the squad, although there is of course still time for that to change.

The liveliest player of an otherwise pretty dour second half was Port’s other left winger, Ekkapoom (8). Port, once again, brought out an almost entirely different XI. Rattanai (17) came on in goal, and Nitipong (34), Anisong (31) and Piyachart (23) joined Dolah – the only player to stay out – in defence. Wanchalerm (35) and Piyachat (28) played in central midfield, with Ekkapoom wide left and Maranhao (29) wide right. Wuttichai (14) partnered (5) Tana, playing his first game after a lengthy spell out injured, in a conventional front two.

Whilst the two strikers both looked a little off the pace, the wingers looked busy and dangerous. Ekkapoom and Maranhao both hit the post after creating excellent chances for themselves, but neither could add to Port’s lead.

Midway trough the second period, left back Piyachart picked up a knock and was replaced by Suchon (11), but the substitution that got everyone talking was the introduction of Pinyo (21) late on in the half. Pinyo was injured for almost the whole of last season, but now finally seems to be getting an opportunity to prove his fitness. He came on for Ekkapoom in the 80th minute, and looked enthusiastic, although understandably short of match-sharpness.

Little else of interest happened in the second half, meaning Port claimed another confidence boosting victory against top-tier opposition. If they can secure another victory against Nakhon Ratchasima on Sunday, Port will be heading in to their opening game of the season against Rachaburi full of belief that they can cause an upset.