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Friendly Fire: Port FC 4-0 Bangkok Thonburi

 

For the second consecutive year, Port began their pre-season preparations against University side Bangkok Thonburi. Last season saw Port secure a comfortable 4-1 victory, with French trialist Saer Sene bagging a brace, and giving Port fans some hope that they had found themselves a top striker. It’s a year later, and Port once again find themselves in a similar situation. The competent if not exceptional Josimar was allowed to leave, the very good but arguably not exceptional Marcel Essombe has been signed and loaned to Police Tero, and Port are currently left with Wuttichai and Tana up front. Nevertheless, Port’s first XI excelled in a promising second half which yielded four goals, narrowly bettering last season’s scoreline, even if there wasn’t a recognized striker to speak of. Onward and upward!

Due to a shortage of photographic/video evidence of the game at the time the report was written, I will be inserting alternative artwork of my own choosing. In honour of retired Port midfielder Piyachart they will be a symbolic or artistic representations of what happened in the game, with some kind of Instagram-like filter applied to them.

 

‘The Football Match’ by LS Lowry with ‘Glow Edges’ filter applied to make it look less like a 5.6 million pound piece of art and more like one of Chris Coles’ representations of Soi Cowboy.

 

Port started with something between a second and third XI, and appropriately they turned in a performance that belonged somewhere between T2 and T3. Quite possibly below that, actually, as their opponents were a University team and Port certainly didn’t outplay them.

 

Tracy Emin’s ‘Messy Bed’ with a ‘Concrete’ filter. The huge turd on the bed represents Port’s first half performance.

 

Incidents of note during the opening period included several diabolical first touches, a missed header from 2 yards by Wuttichai and an argument between him and Jadue which had to be broken up by Pakasit. Jadue had just made one of about a hundred school-boy errors that had been made by the team in the first period, but Wuttichai took particular umbrage with this particular mistake and gave Jadue a dressing down which he was in no mood to listen to. The two were eventually told to go their separate ways back to the dressing room by Pakasit, and presumably their ‘conversation’ was continued behind closed doors during the break.

 

Wuttichai and Jadue as David Goliath with ‘Cut Out’ filter applied to represent the fact that both should be cut out from the Port squad ASAP

 

In terms of Port’s first half personnel, there were a few unfamiliar faces worth mentioning. Thanakorn (37) and Supachai (30) were sold to Songkhla and Sukhothai respectively last season, and appear to be training with Port until they find other club. Pinyo (21) is a winger who was on loan at Prachuap in the second half of 2017, and was injured for more or less the entire year and a half before that. Pinyo is a player with excellent potential, but that certainly wasn’t realized in this performance. Narakorn (29) is a left winger who joined Port from BBCU in 2017, but didn’t manage to make a competitive first team appearance. It’s pretty clear why. Port also brought Burmese trialist Aung Lwin (18) on up front, and in a team chock-full of pretty poor players he managed to stand out for being particularly awful. We’re going to tentatively predict that even while Wuttichai and Tana are the only available options, his trial will not be a successful one.

 

A representation of Aung Lwin’s first touch, with ‘Pencil Sketch’ filter applied to emphasise the sketchiness of his performance.

 

Things got going very quickly indeed in the second period, though. Port started with new signings Bodin (15) and Nurul (31), who played in a fluid front four with Pakorn (7) and Suarez (5). For the most part it was Pakorn on the right, Bodin through the middle and Nurul on the left with Suarez playing as a kind of ‘false nine’. Port immediately showed what the gulf in class should look like between T1 and University. Nurul was the stand-out performer, showing energy, dynamism and most of all superb skill. He was robbing the ball from his opponents, dribbling around them at will and linking up well with his teammates. Bodin was also excellent, playing in teammates on both sides of the pitch from his outpost in the centre and playing a lot of one and two touch football. In didn’t take long for the gulf in class to turn in to goals.

 

Port’s new formation, with Brightness and Contrast turned up to the max as Port’s performance was so bright and in contrast to anything we’ve ever seen before.

 

The opening goal was typical of Port’s early play, with Bodin playing in Nitipong (34) on the right, who fizzed in a dangerous cross which Suarez nonchalantly flicked past the goalkeeper. The Spaniard was looking very happy indeed with the tiki-taka football going on around him, although this was one of the rare occasions that he got on the end of anything as you would expect your ‘striker’ to do. A few minutes later it was Nurul’s turn to cut the defence to ribbons, which he did all by himself. First he broke through on the right and dinked an ambitious chip just over the bar, then after another jinking run he was scythed down well inside the area, although the referee charitably gave a freekick rather than a penalty, which Pakorn fired in to the wall.

The second goal was another combination between the two wingers, with Pakorn this time on the left and Nurul coming in from the right. Another flowing Port moved ended with Pakorn dinking in a cross with his weaker foot, and 5 foot 4 Nurul somehow getting the better of his defender to head the ball back across goal and in to the net. Something tells me he’s not going to be scoring many headers in T1!

 

Nurul Dinklage from Port of Thrones

 

The poor old Thonburi defenders just couldn’t get to grips with livewire Nurul, and before long he again bamboozled a defender down the right and was scythed down inside the area. This time the official did point to the spot, and interestingly Pakorn (7) rather than Rochela (22) stepped up to take it, comfortably beating the ‘keeper from 12 yards. It was to be Pakorn’s last action of the half, as he was replaced soon after. If he’d only stayed on another couple of minutes he would have had another penalty to take.

 

Salvado Dali’s impression of Pakorn’s penalty, with a ‘Smooth’ filter applied.

 

We weren’t sure what this one was given for, but it was in the middle of a move where Port embarrassed so many defenders with one-touch flicks that the referee may just have awarded it as a kind of mercy killing. Port weren’t done with gratuitously humiliating their opponents, though. With Pakorn off it was Rochela’s turn, and in the fine tradition of Johan Cruyff and most recently Lionel Messi, Rochela tapped the ball to his left where Suarez was waiting to score the simplest of tap-ins. Ay Caramba!

 

A representation of Rochela and Suarez’ penalty.

 

In terms of what we learned from the personnel in the second half, we learned that Pakorn, Nurul and Bodin all being on the pitch together works a treat! Admittedly they will need to do the business against better opposition than this, but this performance was certainly a good sign. The left back battle is well and truly on, with Yossawat (28) and Panpanpong (19) both getting a run-out with the first XI. Todsapol (6) has also maintained his position ahead of Dolah, and on a day where practically no defending was necessary nothing will have changed with the pecking order. Adisorn (13) has hung on to his place, but he looks very much like a placeholder until Kim Sung-Hwan starts his Port career. We would be nervous about him not being there today if we hadn’t already seen him on Madame Pang’s Instagram! Speaking of which, Chakrit, Athirbordee and Nebihi have all yet to be inducted in to the Madame Pang timeline of Fame, so their transfers may potentially still be up in the air.

 


 

First and second half lineups

 

MATCH REPORT: Port FC 4-1 Thonburi University

Port got pre-season up and running with a low-key friendly win against Thonburi University on Saturday. The Sandpit, along with a couple of hundred fans, watched Port run out 4-1 winners in an unusual match played over three thirds.

Trialist Saër Sène opened the scoring for the Khlong Toei Army in the first period, before Todsapol (6) and then Ekkaphum (8) profited from the excellent wing-play of Pakorn (9) to put Port 3-0 up. Thonburi fought back with a smart freekick, before Sène capped a successful trial by rounding off the scoring in the dying minutes.

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In the first period of the match, Port fielded a combination of trialists and squad players. Young ‘keeper Rattanai (17) enjoyed a meteoric rise last season, winning a starting berth and making his debut for the Thailand Under 23 team. He looked comfortable, despite not having much to do, as Port controlled the game against their unfancied opponents without ever really looking likely to score. It took a mistake to break the deadlock. Thonburi passed the ball dangerously across their own goal and Sène pounced, intercepting the ball and showing composure in front of goal to give Port the lead.

In the second period Port fielded what looked like Meelarp’s first choice team. A front four of Sène, Genki (18), Ekkaphum (8) and Pakorn (9) turned up the heat, playing with more fluidity and creating chances consistently. Pakorn showed his class midway through the period, when he earned a freekick and delivered an inch-perfect cross which Todsapol (6) met with a textbook downward header, leaving the Thonburi ‘keeper with no chance. Port soon made it 3 as Sène flicked a clever pass through to Pakorn who, instead of opting to shoot from a tight angle, squared to the better placed Ekkaphum. On his weaker right foot, the fan-favourite made no mistake with a cool side-footed finish.

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Thonburi, determined not to go home empty-handed, scored a clever goal that they will remember for a while, but Worawut in the Port goal will want to forget. The Thonburi midfielder shaped to cross, but curled a delightful lob over the head of the Port ‘keeper, who was caught out of position. The ball ricoched off the far post and into the net, ensuring that the visitors could celebrate a goal if not a positive result.

15272343_1475582245789796_4163520404342404121_oIn the final period Meelarp sent out a Port team comprised of mostly trialists who played out an uninspiring 30 minutes until Sène once again underlined his credentials with a goal in the final seconds of the game. Unfortunately, all we can tell you about the goal is that it was well-applauded by the home fans, as we were on our way off to The Sportsman, where we would bump in to Captain David Rochela.

One of the stars of last season’s successful promotion campaign with his consistent rock-solid defending and invaluable leadership, Rochela proved to be as nice a guy off the pitch as he is a formidable defender on it.

We will be bringing you more pre-season match reports in the coming weeks in preparation for February 11th, when the long-anticipated 2017 season is scheduled to get under way.

 

Photos by Tim Russell