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Contenders or Pretenders? Port FC vs Sukhothai FC, 17 March 2018

 

Saturday 17th March 2018
7.00 p.m. Live on True Sports 6

It’s 2nd vs 3rd this week. You would’ve got fairly long odds if you’d suggested this fixture would be 2nd vs 3rd at the start of the season. Both teams splashed some cash pre-season, but so did Air Force and they are rooted to the bottom of the table with 0 points. Port and Sukhothai have managed to turn their purchases into points. Both sides have managed to do it scoring goals, averaging two goals per game. So we should see a game full of goals this Saturday (cue a 0-0 draw).

The Fire Bats’ Form
Sukhothai have beaten Chiang Rai 2-0 in this season so their 12 points haven’t all come easy. Their only loss came last week against 4th placed Korat in Korat. In Nelson Bonilla (a real number 9 with 6 goals) they have the T1 top scorer, which has to be a bit of a worry for Port. Everyone is talking about the top goalscoring sensation. However Port must understand Sukhothai are far from being a one man band. The left winger Njiva (7) has 4 goals, and match him up with Baggio (10) coming in on the right and Sukhothai have a scary foreign trio.  The whole defence will need to keep one eye on Nelson, and still have an eye on Njiva and Baggio. Effectively the Port defence needs to have 3 eyes each. Is their a Triclops available in the mid season transfer window?

Both teams have shown good form then lost away to a decent side. Form would suggest a home win and an away loss..

What do Port need to do to change this on Saturday ?

I still have a lot of faith in this team, I don’t think there needs to be any changes; we just need to convert more of the opportunities we create. Kevin needs to forget about being bogged down in Bangkok Glass and remember the battling performance he put in against Ratchaburi. Boskovic (23) needs to remember as long as the team is scoring he’s doing well. He showed this putting Suarez (5) through on goal. You get the feeling Dragan is linking up well with his team mates, but missing the free flowing football and free flowing goals of 2017 Bangkok United.

I’d like to see a bit of variation occasionally trying out two strikers at some point in 2018. But we all know Jadet; he is not likely to change his 4-5-1 system away, or at home, or ever in his life. With this team playing 4-5-1 I still think we have a good side. With Nurul (31) we will always have chances; we just need to be more clinical when the opposition are being cynical. Yes Ubon, I’m looking at you. I think Sukhothai will be after 3 points from this game. Port have to take the chances they will be given by an attacking team. Athibodee (35) had a good game in central defence last week and I think he did enough to stay in the starting lineup. Unfortunately Port will face a tougher test than 11 men lying down glancing at the clock this week.

Worawut (36)

Nittipong (34) Aithbodee(35) Rochella(22) Kevin (97)

Nurul(31) Suarez (5) Kim(8) Siwakorn(16) Pakorn (7)

Boskovic(23)

Key match up
Bonilla v Rochella ? This would suggest itself as the key match up. However all the more dangerous is Njiva coming in from the left wing being picked up by Athibodee (or Dolah 4) or Todsapol (3).

Bonilla celebrating, but don’t forget Njiva.

Njiva v Athibodee
If Port focus too much on Bonilla they could get caught out. I like Athibodee but this Saturday will test his defending credentials.  We have seen Port go down early away from home. The Fire Bats need to be kept in check early doors. If Port can do that then they can exploit the space that should come their way.

Prediction: Sukhothai 2-3 Thai Port (All goals scored in the first half, so myself and the other Port fans with Doug Stanhope tickets can enjoy the goals then nip off to see some top quality standup.)

The Sportsman on Sukhumvit Soi 13 will be showing the match live on Saturday.

 

Sandpit Songs of the Season 2018: Week 6

 

Apologies for the absence of a Song of the Season for last week’s Ubon game as I was freezing my wuttichais off in Berlin. But this week normal service is resumed as Port face a crucial game away at fellow second-placers Sukhothai FC, aka The Fire Bats.

Hopefully Port will follow Captain Beefheart’s advice and pull the chain on the Bats’ title ambitions, consigning them to the watery U-bend of T1 along with other turds like Muangthong & Ratchaburi.

 

 

Appetite for Self-Destruction: Port FC 3-3 Sukhothai FC

 

Is there any point writing these match reports any more? Once Port went 3-1 up the outcome of this game was so predictable it could have been written by Barbara Cartland. I may as well simply copy & paste any one of half a dozen match reports from this season. Anyway, to sum up, in what was undoubtedly an entertaining game for the neutrals (of whom there were plenty in Zone B – a night at the PAT seems to have become a leading Bangkok tourist attraction) Port drew 3-3 with struggling Sukhothai after being 3-1 up with 10 minutes to play, conceded a late penalty, blah blah fucking blah.


Zico made one change from the 0-0 draw at Bangkok Glass, a result that was celebrated at the time as if Port had won the League, the FA Cup and the Nobel Prize for Physics all in one evening, bringing in Panpanpong (19) for Yossawat (28). I can only assume Yossa was injured or otherwise unavailable as the change made no footballing sense, and seasoned Panpanpong watchers were not in the least surprised when, in the 4th minute, he fluffed a defensive header which went straight to former Port star Maranhao who, with a sublime backheel, set the miniature Madagascan John Baggio free down the right to cross right onto the head of an unmarked Boonma to put the visitors a goal up. Simply appalling defending from Port who have now conceded 48 goals in 26 games – the worst record of any team outside the bottom 3.

 

Chompoo & set (piece)

 

Port thankfully weren’t behind for long, and in the 9th minute a superb cross from Genki (18) landed right in the path of Suarez (5), and the Spaniard buried his volley in the bottom corner to put the home side back on terms. And it got better 4 minutes later when the Sukhothai defence failed to properly clear a corner, Nitipong (34) being first to the ball on the edge of the box and firing home through a crowd of players to put Port 2-1 up.

The early rush of goals led to a thoroughly absorbing first half with both sides going all out. Suarez hit the bar for Port, whilst Sukhothai’s front two of Maranhao and Baggio were causing all manner of problems for Port’s creaky defence. The former was clearly fired up on his return to the PAT and his skill, pace and guile, contrasted with Port’s moribund front line, sent out a clear message to the Port hierarchy and stung Worawut’s palms on several occasions; whilst Baggio, a man so small he makes Saruta look like Peter Crouch, was a continual irritant, as well as finding himself on the receiving end of some rough stuff from the likes of Pakorn and Nitipong, who were both clearly delighted to finally have someone smaller than them to pick on. Nevertheless Port were overall the better side and Sukhothai would’ve gone in at half time fully relieved to only be a goal down.

 

 

Their relief lasted just 13 minutes into the second half. Pakorn (9) broke into the box and was unceremoniously scythed down by a defender for the clearest penalty you’ll see all season, with El Capitan Rochela (22) dispatching the spot kick with his usual aplomb. 3-1 to Port, and with the home side largely on top, all those neutrals in the crowd were no doubt thinking it was game over. But those of us who follow the team week in week out know that Port are the last team you’d trust to walk your dog because…(drum roll)…THEY’RE INCAPABLE OF HOLDING ONTO A LEAD!!! I thang yew. And it was with a mounting sense of dread that we watched the inevitable disaster unfold, beginning with possibly the most inexplicable substitution I have ever seen at the PAT. Now I think it’s well known that I’m no fan of Sergio Suarez; however Port do look a much better side with him in it, he gives Josimar (30) someone to play off, and he was having one of his occasional good games, so why Zico chose to take him off is a mystery, and why he replaced him with the utterly dreadful Siwapong (97) is one for Mulder & Scully. It was the turning point of the game: it left Port toothless in attack and limp in midfield, and Sukhothai would’ve been delighted to see the Spaniard leave the field. The later removal of Pummared (41) for Adisorn (13) further weakened Port’s midfield and would ultimately have disastrous consequences.

True to the usual script, Port began to unravel in the 81st minute, Maranhao (again) feeding a winger down the right who popped a cross into the edge of the six yard box. Dolah (4) failed to track Baggio’s run into the area and the wee fella stuck it into the back of the net to make it 3-2. And seven minutes later, the prophecy was fulfilled. Baggio skinned substitute Jetjinn (51) on the edge of the box, only to be clumsily body-checked by Adisorn, and yet again Port had given away a late penalty. Maranhao grabbed the ball – clearly noone else was ever going to take this one – and buried it past Worawut to put Sukhothai level, celebrating joyously with the away fans as well he might.

So yet another late cave-in by Port against inferior opposition. It’s very fortunate that the team amassed so many points in the first half of the season because right now they’re playing like relegation contenders, with little creativity up front and a defence that is leaking goals and giving away penalties with alarming regularity. A win at Police Tero next Saturday is needed to calm the nerves, with tough games against Chonburi and red-hot form side Pattaya to follow, and one hopes Yossawat will return to the side. I’d also think about freshening up central defence by giving Dolah a rest and bringing in Tossapol or Pravinwat to partner Rochela, or even switching to a fashionable back 3, because with the amount of goals Port are leaking, something has to change. Whatever happens, the jury is still out on the Zico Revolution and I don’t think anyone can honestly claim that we’d be doing any worse under Jadet.

 

Man of the Match – Rodrigo Maranhao

Yes, I know this is supposed to be a Port player but fuck it, Mazza should still BE a Port player. Whilst there were some good performances in the home ranks – Nitipong, Suarez, Genki and Pakorn all deserve honourable mentions – this was Maranhao’s game. The young Brazilian had a hand in all 3 of Sukhothai’s goals and was a lively and creative presence throughout, the kind of player that Port’s attack has been missing all season. Whilst I was gutted at the late equaliser, I also enjoyed the sight of Maranhao giving the middle finger – metaphorically at least – to the watching Port management and once again reminding us how utterly clueless our club’s recruitment strategy is.