After Port’s glass was shattered by the Rabbits last week the faithful were hoping for a decisive win in this week’s match against Ubon to cement our case as contenders.
With health scares for all three first team keepers, it was great to see Worawut (36) starting with Rattanai (17) in reserve. One surprise in the lineup saw Athibordee (35) lineup at center back next to Rochela (22). With Wuttichai (8) out injured and Yossawat (32) on loan, Piyachart (99) was the only ex-Portman in the Ubon lineup.
From the opening whistle Port were the aggressors, with Ubon managing very little possession. The Ubon keeper was tested early with Kim (8) ripping a shot at him 3 minutes into the game. Soon after Bole (23) fired a great cross that was just a bit too far for Suarez (5) to reach. Within a few minutes we had our first use of VAR at PAT where a play was reviewed for might have been a possible handball offense. [Ed – someone in Zone B suggested that a Suarez elbow was under review, but we’re not sure either.] After about a minute of review time the crowd began to get a bit restless. Guess they share Tim Russell’s view of VAR! And after the delay… nothing happened and the game resumed.
Port’s dominance continued with Ubon conceding a few corners, one coming when the Ubon Keeper flubbed a kick that was intended to give possession back to them after one of the first of many feigned injuries. The rest of the first half was more of the same; Port dominating possession, taking it wide, attempting a cross, and coming away with nothing.
Ubon’s one opportunity came at the 40 min mark when Worawut was forced to make a save from an on-target Aguinaldo (9) header off a Piyachart free kick.
The second half started with more of the same with the addition of endless time wasting due to “cramps” and other assorted “injuries.” For Port it was again possession, cross, miss and corner, miss. At 70 min Bodin (10) replaced Bole and immediately created a chance, which was of course again missed. Two more subs were made before injury time, Panpanpong (19) for Kevin (97) and Arthit (29) for Nurul (31). With the 5, minutes, which could have been 10 with all the Ubon “injuries,” of injury time running out Arthit electrified the home crowd with an on-target header into the top left corner of the net off a Pakorn (7) corner. The joy and relief among the PAT faithful was immense.
Athibordee was a pleasant surprise at center back. A midfielder by trade, he was drafted this week to try and shore up a rather shaky back line and he did quite a nice job.
Ubon were abominable. As our resident Rottingham Crotchspur supporter Tim Walker observed, Ubon started wasting time from the 27th minute. Faking injuries, enough cramps to reanimate Lux Interior, the keeper delaying the kick, etc., etc. And to add to it, we allowed them to do it by kicking the ball out of bounds when one of their players went down. I am still flabbergasted that teams choose to kick the ball out of bounds before the ref blows the whistle. I really think if teams stopped doing this we’d see less of these incidents that occur all too much in Thai football. Port were not totally innocent as Nurul and Suarez each had a few dives during the match. Nurul goes to ground way to easily and would do far better staying on his feet, especially in the box. No wonder so many potential local fans shun the league in favor of the EPL. Watching a poor English side park the bus for 90 min is preferable to the mess we saw at PAT.
A win is a win. We’ll take it. Good teams win or draw when they don’t play well. But in this case, well, we kind of did play well, but were unable to capitalize on our many opportunities, which was a replay of last week’s second half. In all honesty the Port offense is very predictable; take the ball outside, cross it, try to score. Lather, rinse, repeat. And just a few matches into the season, I am sure other teams know our style and are prepared as Ubon was to defend against it. We are winning, but it is our superior talent that is carrying us, not our teamwork or our game plan. We can ride this only so far as we saw last week. We should have been up 2-0 at the half this week and scored another two against this very poor side in the second half, but instead we were left waiting for the miracle that occurred in the last minute, which truthfully is not a very convincing way to play and does not inspire confidence. For a talented squad, creativity is very low and I really don’t see that changing under the current regime. We’re a good team in a league with lots of mediocre teams. We can stake out a high finish on talent and individual effort alone, but if we want to get to the top, we’re going to have to play a different brand of football; one that we have never seen from a Port side. One that the top teams play. After watching two of those teams, BU and Buriram play each other Saturday night, I think Port have a ways to go before we can really consider ourselves contenders for the throne.
Port FC Man of the Match
Man of the match should go to the player who made the difference in the game, and that could only be one player, Arthit Boodjinda, the only Portman who was able to hit the target against a dismal Ubon side. It was a very good header.
Song of the Match
From The Cramps!