Posts

The Sandpit’s Goal of the Season 2019: Suarez Cashes In Chip

 

Sergio Suarez’ nonchalant chipped finish against Trat has earned him his second Sandpit award in as many years, following up his Player of the Year award in 2018 with the Goal of the Season gong in 2019.

 

 

1st Place – Sergio Suarez (38%)

 

 

It may not have been one of the more important goals, but boy was it stylish. The Spaniard is well known for being one of the most talented foreign stars in the league, and he showed off his incredible vision and technique with a high, looping finish which 38% of Sandpit voters chose as their pick of a very competitive bunch. The Trat ‘keeper was about as close to keeping it out as any of the other goals on our list were to catching Suarez’ strike: nowhere near.

 

2nd Place – Bodin Phala (14%)

 

 

There’s an understandable history of Port goals against Muangthong faring well in our polls, so it is perhaps unsurprising that Bodin’s wonderful long-range strike in the away fixture against Muangthong picked up 14% of the vote, which was good enough for second place. It was a goal of great import in that it gave Port the lead against their bitter rivals in a game we would go on to win, but it has to settle for second best in our poll.

 

3rd Place – Sumanya Purisay (12%)

 

 

Taking the final spot on the podium with 12% of the vote was the best goal from Port’s memorable FA Cup run. Scored in the 3-2 victory against Chiang Rai by a player who didn’t stand out all that often in 2019, but put in an absolutely outstanding performance on the day: Sumanya. Picking the ball up in the centre circle, Sumanya bamboozled Chiang Rai’s midfield and defence, scything straight through them before wrong-footing the ‘keeper with a calm right-footed finish. It ended up being a crucial strike, with Port almost letting a 3-0 lead slip, but doing just enough to hang on for the win, thanks in large part to Sumanya.

 

The Sandpit’s 2019 Port FC Goal of the Season Poll

 

Port’s most successful season this millennium saw us top-score in T1 with 55 goals, while a further 17 were netted on the road to FA Cup glory. Add in 2 more goals in Port’s short-lived League Cup campaign and The Sandpit’s Goal of the Season panel finds itself with 74 goals to narrow down in to a short-list of just 10.

Read more

Port End 10 Years of Hurt, Turning the Sandpit in to a Moshpit

 

What a result!

Indulge me if you will as I attempt to see through the fog of beers and cheers and try to remember what was a truly enjoyable once upon a (life)-time experience.

If memory serves me correctly, an evenly balanced relatively non-eventful first half sparked into life around the 30 minute mark as Port began to exploit ‘Tongs weakness on the left-side of their midfield and defense. 4 clear cut chances came and went as Port peppered coaches’ favourite ‘danger area’ in and around the apex of the six yard box. (More of this later.)

As is always the case, first touch football tore ‘Tongs defence to shreds time and again only for Port to graciously fail to take advantage, the worst culprit being Josimar who came on as a replacement for Pakorn who got all carried away with the occasion and uncharacteristically tracked back, injuring himself in the process. Admittedly playing out of position on the right side of midfield, somehow the Brazilian striker contrived to scoop a ‘sitter’ over the bar when passing the ball into an empty net seemed the easier option. Cue hands in heads all round and seeds were sown in the back of Port minds that, ‘please god it’s not going to be one of those nights is it?” sprouted around the stadium as half-time arrived with Port in the ascendancy but profligate and still level.

 

 

All the half-time chat was whether Port could maintain their dominance or would ‘Tong, having surely been on the end of a rocket from their management team during the break, come out guns-a-blazing determined to make Port pay for their generosity.

Ten, or was it twelve, or fifteen beer-befuddled minutes into the second half and Port and Josimar finally made amends and sent the sell-out crowd into paroxysms of delirium as a flowing one-touch move (funny how that works eh?) down ‘Tongs right this time ended with an overlapping Suarez pulling the ball back into the perfect place at the apex of the near six-yard box for Sumanya to gleefully pass-smash the ball into the net at the keepers near post. Cue pandemonium in the stands and on the touchline as even the owner, un-missable in her fetching candy-striped pants, joined in the players’ celebration and relief.

 

 

Could they do it?

A brief period of Port ascendancy ensued as they sought the second killer goal, but soon they were visibly tiring, especially Sumanya who had also clearly decided that having scored he could now spend the rest of the game showboating and basking in the glory of his goal.

As Port retreated closer and closer to their own goal allowing ‘Tong to push on dominating possession and territory, supporters hearts crept closer and closer to their mouths. Would they hang on or would ‘Tong fashion a largely undeserved equalizer?

A couple of astute substitutions allowed Port to start threatening on the break and in turn the defence grew in stature, confidence and self-belief as time and again different Port players stepped up to the plate and snuffed out ‘Tongs attacks before they could develop into truly heart-stopping chances.

As the 90th minute approached Port swept forward on the counter-attack and just when it looked like a fast-flowing one-touch move (yet again) had ended with Port losing the ball, the impressively hard-working Josimar nipped in at the perfect time at the edge of the penalty area to calmly curl the ball past an unsighted keeper into the inside of the same near post as the first goal and round off of a truly splendid copy-book counter-attack.

 

 

Krakatoa couldn’t have competed with the eruption from the stands as older fans suffered pulled groins and tweaked hamstrings celebrating the second sweet goal of the game which guaranteed a thoroughly deserved victory and meant the 3 minutes of added time were simply 3 minutes of singing and basking in the glory of a first home win against the hated ‘Tong in 10 years as well as becoming a prelude to several hours of post-match moshing, quaffing and even talking pleasantly to plain-clothesed farang ‘Tong fans who’d had the balls to brave the potentially hostile Port terraces only to witness their team handed a comprehensive footballing lesson and a thoroughly comprehensive defeat.

Yes friends this was one of ‘those’ games, one of those ‘you should have been there’ nights. One that will live long in the memories of those 8,000 or so fortunate fans who went mental from minute one to minute 90 and beyond. Well, for those that can remember it of course.  I think I was there, wasn’t I?

Until the next time.

Now, bring on Bangkok United!

 

Port Stamp Out Beetles to Give Their Fans a Semi: Port FC 3-2 Chiang Rai

Arriving at the PAT this evening with the drab 1-1 draw at Prachuap fresh in the memory, my expectations for the evening were somewhat low. They were lowered even more when Chiang Rai announced a full strength side, followed by Port’s team sheet showing no out and out striker, plus the continued selection of Sumanya. I was itching for a more simple time when the “gaffer” would just hand in the team sheet on the back of a fag packet and we’d just play 4-4-f**king-2! …At least El Capitan was restored to the team, for what could potentially be his last match at Port.

 

 

With Port now a few games into the Choke experiment, I still wasn’t sure what was actually changing and what his master plan is in terms of the teams tactics and style, the system was still very similar to Jadet’s with the only real difference being Josimar round pegged into a very square hole on the right flank. After all the out and out fuckery during the transfer window to bring in a striker and ditch the one we already had, Roland “Tony” Blackburn (99) was again to be sitting on the bench.

 

First Half

Port were very quick out of the starting blocks with Suarez (5) forcing a save from the Chiang Rai keeper in the first minute of the match after a neat pass from Sumanya (11) allowed Sergio to unleash a low drive towards the bottom corner. This intense opening from Port would continue with Steuble (15) hanging in a nice low cross on his right foot (does he even have a left?) which Go (8) stooped in to head off the post. Ports early pressure finally paid off in the fifteenth minute when the much maligned Sumanya finally put in a decent corner that wrong-footed the Chiang Rai defence and deflected into the net with Dolah (4) in hot pursuit of a final touch.

Five minutes later, Sumanya produced his finest moment in a Port shirt this season, although to be fair, his highlight reel for 2019 prior to tonight could have easily fitted on a Vine clip (if that platform was still going…). He picked the ball up just inside the Chiang Rai half and charged through the centre into the penalty area, shaking off pursuing Chiang Rai defenders before calmly slotting it into the corner past the onrushing keeper. It was certainly the first time this season I can recall seeing this image on the Port scoreboard…

 

 

A couple of minutes later and Suarez almost killed the contest dead, latching onto a stray pass from the Chiang Rai keeper and unleashed a rasping thunderbastard of a shot from 25 yards that hit the underside of the crossbar and came out again. Port kept this tempo up for the rest of the first half and Chiang Rai didn’t know whether they were coming or going. Every time Bodin (10) had the ball, the Beetles’ back line had no real answers except to foul him. The Chiang Rai defence were being pressed in their own half and given no time on the ball. “Friend” of the Sandpit and full-time pantomime villain (fat) Bill (9) was being kept very quiet, especially after an early challenge from Dolah….”a reducer” as Big Ron used to call them.

As the half-time whistle went, it was still hard to take in what had just happened. A Port team that have looked out of sorts ever since the Buriram game had just played the current 2nd place team off the park with Sumanya actually having a big impact on the game.

 

Second Half

Attacking Zone B, Port continued with the same pace as the first half. Pakorn (7) had a free-kick right at the start of the second half which whistled just wide of the post. A few minutes later and Port went up to a 3-0 lead. A free kick was worked out to the wing where Martin Steuble floated in an absolute beaut of a cross for Suarez to leap up and head into the bottom corner. A quick look around the terrace confirmed the goal had indeed come in Toby Time ©. This was getting almost too easy, but this is Port after all… Chiang Rai went straight up the other end with a quick counter attack, A bouncer of a cross evaded the Port defence and Worawut (36), leaving Big Bill with a tap in at the back post.

Back up the other end and Pakorn had a free-kick cleared off the line but Chiang Rai were starting to work their way into the game, the shithousery was beginning to dial up with their entire bench seemingly up off their seats and in the linesman’s ear in front of Zone A, joined by Big Bill who at one point, seemed more interested in protesting on the touchline than actually running around on the pitch. As Chiang Rai began turning the screw more, a handball was awarded against Dolah in the penalty area and up stepped Bill with the penalty to move us into squeaky-bum time. The onset of nerves were not helped by the substitutions, the excellent Bodin was withdrawn for Tanaboon (71) with Pakorn making way for Nurul (31). While Pakorn had redeemed himself somewhat this evening, his replacement Nurul went on to have somewhat of a stinker, blowing chances for Port to put the tie beyond doubt. With just over ten minutes to go, Worawut produced a great save after a free-kick took a wicked deflection on the way through that could so easily have wrong-footed him, yet he produced a great save to keep Port in the lead.

Just as fears of operation f**k-up were creeping in, Chiang Rai’s shithousery finally caught up with them. William (11) was given his second yellow for taking out Go right in front of zone C. With Chiang Rai down to ten, Port were able to get back to doing what they did so well in the first half. Quick passes, neat one-twos and stretching the play. But… as we’d withdrawn Pakorn, Bodin and then Suarez (for Rolando), the replacement attack wasn’t quite up to the task of adding a fourth goal.

There was a sight to behold on injury time as Steuble ran the ball out of defence, pursued by Bill, who soon ended up flat on his face and probably blew a couple of arteries in the process of trying to chase down Steuble in the first place.

The full-time whistle signaled the end of a fantastic performance from Port, who now go into the semi-final draw with Buriram, Bangkok Utd and Ratchaburi.

 

 

The Sandpit’s Man of the Match

My heart says Bodin, who was unplayable in the time he was allowed on the pitch tonight, but I will have to go with Sumanya. I never thought I’d be saying that at all this season! His performances all year have ranged from ref shoving, to anonymous, to flat out awful….tonight he actually looked the part as Ports attack dominated the first half. A key assist in the first goal and a stunning second goal, it goes without saying he needs to turn in more than one of these performances a season.

 

I Smell A Trat: Port FC vs. Trat FC Preview

 

What was shaping up to be the most straightforward of home fixtures for Port this Wednesday has, after the weekend’s results, taken on a rather different complexion. Whereas Port’s lack of discipline led to a surprising 1-3 surrender against a Sukhothai side they were expected to beat, winless Trat absolutely hammered undefeated Suphanburi 4-0 in one of the shock results of the season so far. With two coaches having already claimed gold and silver in this season’s sack race, Jadet will be uncomfortably aware that if at least one positive result is not delivered in the first week of April, then he could well find himself the final man on the podium.

Read more

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.

 

Kannoo Believe It? Thitipan Deal On?

 

The familiar feeling is back. After a quiet start to the transfer window, there are so many transfers in and out of Port at various stages of completion I have absolutely no idea what’s going on. But seeing as we’re here, I’ll tell you what I do and don’t know, and what I think might end up happening.

 

What We Know

Done deals get cancelled, so we don’t really know anything, but the incoming transfers that everyone seems to be able to agree on are Fox Hunt duo Jirattikan Vapilai and Nutchanon Sojit, and Go Seul-ki, who has joined Port on loan from champs Buriram.

Out of the exit door have gone Jetjinn Sriprach and Sammy Slot while loanee Terens Puhiri has rejoined Borneo FC and Somprasong Promsorn has just joined Khon Kaen.

Likely Deals

There are a host of deals that some are claiming are confirmed, but haven’t yet gone on most websites’ lists of done deals. We expect some of them to be confirmed in the new year, but it’s possible that some will still be called off. The players in question are all from Bangkok United: Sansern Limwattana, Ernesto Phumipha and Sumanya Purisai.

We can’t very well have Kim Sung Hwan still on the books next season, so one way or another he’s sure to be out of the door. Apparently he’s not making things easy though, with a rumoured loan move to Suphanburi not yet any closer than when it was proposed to him by the club. Bajram Nebihi is also in the unwanted foreigner category, but he’ll be straight off as soon as he’s got his last month’s salary in the bank.

 

Thitipan’s Japanese Deal Off

BG’s superstar midfielder and my man crush Thitipan Puangchan has gone from being an outside transfer punt to maybe a 50/50, with his proposed move to Japan apparently dead in the water. Last time I wrote about him, the rumour was that if his Japanese move fell through he would join Port on loan, and now the latest news is that Bangkok United have joined the race for Thailand’s most exciting central midfielder.

This deal certainly could happen for Port, but at the moment there are no details. This deal could also affect the transfer of Bangkok United midfielder and recently named 2018 Thai League MVP Sumanya Purisai. With Sumanya carrying a hefty 40 million baht price tag, and the Thitipan loan deal sure to cost a pretty penny in loan fees and wages, we imagine that with Go’s signing already confirmed, Port will want one, but not two more good but expensive midfielders on the books. This is pure speculation on my part, though, so take it for what it’s worth.

 

Kan-Who?

 

 

Now I’ll be honest, this is the lowest kind of rumour. Port’s Wikipedia page currently shows young forward Sittichok Kannoo as a Port player, but I haven’t heard any noise anywhere else hinting that this deal could be a goer. Anyway, he’s one of the more promising Thai forwards around, with an excellent record for Thai youth teams at all levels. He has struggled a bit stepping up to T1 level though, netting 6 in 26 for Honda in 2017, then 1 in 5 for Bangkok United last season. Anyway, we need more depth up top, and he’s young and promising. Can’t argue with the logic.

 

My Prediction

Jirattikan and Go will stay, Nutchanon, as one of 5 left backs, could very easily be gone before the start of the season. Either that or he’ll stay but only play for Port B. Ernesto will arrive, meaning that Yossawat leaves on a permanent deal. Sansern will join, but Sumanya’s deal will fall through at the last minute, as Thitipan makes a dramatic late move to Khlongtoei. Sittichok will rightly deny any link to Port, and the only remnant of the rumour will be this Transfer Talk. Port will go on to sign another striker who won’t be as good as Arthit, because, let’s face it, no one is as good as Arthit. Port will not sign a right back, and end up playing Adisorn there in some critical league games, where he will run around a lot before giving away penalties which cost us points.

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk: Sumanya, My Lord, Sumanya

 

Sumanya Purisai is Port’s first big signing for the 2019 season, although his acquisition hasn’t yet been confirmed by Port. The move has, however, been all but confirmed by Bangkok United coach Mano Polking, who cryptically stated “Actually easy to explain… but not here!” when asked why he was letting one his best performers in 2018 leave the club. The reported fee is a whopping 40 million baht which, bearing in mind Sumanya is 32 years old, is quite a statement of intent from Port, and could well be the easy explanation Mano is teasing us with. This transfer could be interpreted as a pretty shocking example of overpaying for an aging player, but I’ll shelve the skepticism for now as I think this is an excellent signing from the perspective of improving Port’s chances next season.

 

 

Sumanya is an attacking midfielder capable of playing in an advanced role (think Suarez) or a central role (think Siwakorn). Considering Port’s propensity to rely on width and their lack of penetration through the middle in recent seasons, playing Sumanya and Suarez together with a solid defensive midfielder behind them (think Anon or Port’s Asian quota midfielder) could really address this imbalance. Sumanya would offer Port a much more potent attacking threat, while also providing competition for set-pieces, which Pakorn has had a monopoly on for the last few seasons.

This is a really positive move from Port management, who have had a few fans worried by the lack of early movement this transfer window. Those doubters can now be assured that the club intends to strengthen their squad once again this season – whatever the cost – and with another big announcement possibly set for the coming days (my lips are sealed… for now) Port could yet be fielding a significantly stronger first XI than they did in 2018.

As always, new signings go straight on to our Squad Page where we have player profiles including everything you need to know about our players. Sumanya’s is here.

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk: Port Court National Team Duo

 

After a shockingly quiet off-season so far, Port rumours have become the talk of the town in the last couple of days. We’ve been opining for some time that in order to make any kind of league challenge Port’s central midfield would need bolstering, and this is very much in line with the big rumour of the moment, concerning two Thai national team stars.

The rumour which started all of this said that the Thai Busquets (more on that nickname later) Tanaboon Kesarat and Bangkok United’s prolific midfielder Sumanya Purisai would be playing together next season at a Bangkok club. The link was quickly made with Port, but what really makes these rumours sound likely was the follow-up story that Madame Pang intends to announce three big signings after the new year.

Whilst the bigger name of the two is undoubtedly Tanaboon, I’m firmly of the opinion that Sumanya is a much better fit for Port in 2019. Or pretty much any team at any time for that matter.

One of the most highly rated stars of Thailand’s ‘golden generation’, Tanaboon is lauded for his ability to play in both central defence and defensive midfield, hence the link to Barcelona’s wily, horrible but bloody brilliant master of the dark arts Sergio Busquets. The problem is that two more different players have seldom existed.

While Busquets is famous for his gamesmanship and exists almost exclusively in the grey area between legal and illegal, Tanaboon wouldn’t recognize a tactical foul if it clipped his ankles from behind, just as he was ready to break forward. Nor would he recognize a gratuitously firm challenge if it knocked him on his arse. He’s a technically sound player, I’ll give him that, and his positional sense is better than most, but what Tanaboon lacks for me is the aggression and nous needed to be an effective defensive midfielder. Put simply, he’s just a bit of a wuss. One only has to watch him in partnership with his polar opposite Thitipan in the Thai midfield to see what I’m talking about. Whilst Thitipan incessantly harasses and fouls opposition players off the ball and drives forward on the ball, Tanaboon calmly stands around in his position and passes the ball sideways and backwards. It’s all well and good when you’re winning, but in big games and tough situations, I just can’t be persuaded that Tanaboon is good enough for Port, let alone Thailand.

 

 

Sumanya, on the other hand, was one of the stars of 2018, and would fit nicely in to Port’s midfield. The 32 year old struck a remarkable 12 goals and provided 8 assists last season for Bangkok United, with the hallmark of his game being his shooting. Where most Thai midfielders will almost always look for the extra pass, Sumanya is quite happy to have a pop at goal, and is also useful from dead ball situations, as Malaysia found out on Wednesday just seconds after he was substituted on. He’s obviously not a long term solution, but on current form he’s among the best Thai attacking midfielders around, and would surely displace Siwakorn in Port’s midfield. And seeing the pair of them doing shooting practice side by side would be a thing of hilarious beauty.

 


 

In closing, it’s probably worth mentioning that I’m still more than a little annoyed about Thailand’s pathetic exit against Malaysia in the Suzuki Cup last night and that some the shade I’m throwing Tanaboon’s way is not entirely unrelated to that. I’ve thought for some time that he’s Thailand’s most overrated player, but his signing would certainly be a positive statement of intent if nothing else. Needless to say his name and number won’t be going on my 2019 shirt if we do sign him. Oh, and he used to play for the scum.