Posts

Samut Smash and Grab: Samut Prakan City FC 2 – 1 Port FC

 

 

Judging by its ramshackle condition, the pet shop opposite the away end of The SAT Stadium has been around a lot longer than Samut Prakan City. Well, we all know SPC is actually Pattaya in disguise, unceremoniously uprooted at the end of last season by a “local businessman” and depriving us of one of our favourite away days. I’m guessing the owner of the pet shop must have been rubbing his hands in glee; specialising in rabbits, it’s the perfect place for irate football fans to pacify themselves after watching their team lose. The “Sea Fangs” (no, I don’t have a clue) are riding high in the league and judging by their performance yesterday many away fans are going to be running to those rabbits.

 

Here Hares Here

 

This includes Port fans, the latest victims of SPC, who watched their team concede 2 goals in the first 10 minutes, miss a penalty and generally play without any cohesive game plan. The absence of Dolah from the back four spoke volumes and, with no striker leading the line, Port suffered their second consecutive defeat and now find themselves in 3rd place in the chasing pack behind Buriram. Our rivals seem to be moving through the gears and grinding out victories while we seem stuck in neutral with no clue how to get out of this rut.

 

Big turnout from the Farang Army

 

Let’s deal with the first half. SPC took the game by the scruff of the neck and on the sixth minute took the lead with a well worked corner. Jakkapan’s near post corner was flicked on by Tapla and Brazilian forward Ibson Melo was at the far post to head it in. Worse was to come a few minutes later when a swift counter attack stretched Rochela and Todsapol out of position and Melo provided the low cross for Yoryoei to tap home. Both goals were clearly rehearsed on the training ground, with the coaching staff looking to disrupt our defensive shape and take advantage of our best defender’s suspension. SPC would have scored a third were it not for Watchara’s instinctive point blank save.

Port huffed and puffed but created only a few chances; Suarez with 2 headers and Bodin screwing his shot wide. Watchara saved at the feet of Melo to keep us in the game and then Suarez had an excellent curling shot saved by Patiwat. Then a lifeline; Suarez is tripped in the box by Sarawut and the ref awards a penalty. Both our regular penalty takers, Rochela and Boskovic, didn’t step up and gave the responsibility to Suarez. His effort was poor, a tame shot straight down the middle of the goal and saved by Patiwat’s legs. A miserable end to a truly wretched half.

The concept of “Toby Time” is well known on the terraces and, with no hope in this Port team, I set off for an ale with some mystical goal-getting juju. Pakorn almost provided this with an audacious long range lob and Bordin tested the keeper from distance. Sarawut then compounded his evening with his second yellow, a reckless challenge on Pakorn. In conclusion, Toby Time can work in other transcendent ways. So with wind in our sails and the opposition down to 10 men surely Port could pull this one back from the brink?

 

 

Errrr no. SPC were happy to play conservatively and Port were limited to long shots and arcing crosses which means headers cannot get any power or placement. Only once did we fashion a chance on the floor which Boskovic, putting in yet another lacklustre performance, prodded wide. Port finally made a breakthrough in the 89th minute; Nurul racing to the byline and squaring the ball for Suarez to smash into the roof of the net at close range. Sadly there was no more momentum after the goal and SPC closed out the 4 minutes of injury time largely untroubled.

So Port find themselves at a crossroads with this latest defeat; teams are starting to suss out our tactics; Go or Siwakorn bring the ball forward then play out wide and try to influence play around the edge of the box. The lack of a striker means opposition centre backs can set their positions with no disruption and just have to deal with balls into the box. Our creative players don’t have an outlet for their final balls and no one wants to play upfront. Sacrificing a defender or a midfielder would have been the obvious thing to do in this match but Jadet decided to bring Kevin on for Panpanpong which is frankly ridiculous. For me the signing of Josimar is good but not enough; he can certainly bang in the goals in T2 but will he do it every game in T1? I’m not so sure but I hope to be proved wrong.

 

The Sandpit Man of the Match: Watchara

Some fine saves to keep us in the match and more fighting spirit than the rest of his teammates combined.

 

Sharks & Recreation: Port FC 5-0 Chonburi FC

 

 

In the end, a rousing climax to the home season; just a pity there wasn’t a bigger crowd to witness it. Chonburi proved to be the perfect fall guys as Port racked up their second 5-0 win in a row – surely unprecedented; certainly since I’ve been watching the club anyway.

 

On a heavy, draining surface, Port aimed to carry on where they left off on Saturday with some neat link-up play, with the stylish Suarez at the heart of most of what was good. The silky Spaniard has been a bit of an enigma this season; at his best he is unplayable, making things tick and bringing out the beast in Boskovic; at his worst, he is a moody, argumentative, unproductive hole in the middle, like a Polo without the mint.

 

Kevin, who for most of the evening seemed bent on picking out every single Chonburi defender with his crosses, actually got it right on eleven minutes to set Nurul up with an unmissable chance on the penalty spot. He missed, skying his shot over the bar and probably Zone D as well. Minutes later, Suarez burst into the box only to slightly over-run the ball into goalkeeper Chanin’s legs, with Boskovic in a good position to his right. Nurul’s follow up shot was well saved by former Port keeper Chanin, who at this point had done enough to provoke fears of another heroic goalkeeping performance frustrating the home team before the inevitable breakaway goal.  It was not to last.

 

Chonburi at this stage were reduced to some long-range efforts, although one decent cross from the right was expertly guided over the bar by Dolah.

 

The game was becoming a bit scrappy with both teams finding the conditions  unconducive to intricate, flowing football, at which point Kim took the most sensible option, sending a route one ball over the top for Boskovic to pursue. Chanin had a rush of blood, charging out of his box and missing the ball completely, leaving Bosko with a virtually empty net to aim at. 1-0.  At the other end, Watchara had a similar panic, flailing at a left wing cross but his resultant weak punch was not punished. One disallowed Port goal later, it was half time.

 

Watchara, apart from that one moment of indecision, was catching the eye with his handling, distribution, defensive cover and general tomfoolery, like a Thai Bruce Grobbelaar. One particular save on 53 minutes, turning a fierce shot around his near post, would have made Bruce proud. With that mild fright over, Port were to extend their lead when Pakorn’s cut back from the right was met by Kim, arriving late in the box to send a perfectly timed header into the net off Chanin’s legs.

 

Bodin replaced Nurul in the 69th minute and two minutes later was brought down in the box after a nifty side step. There was some consternation on Zone B that Bosko might be taking the pen after his horror show last time out but Captain Rochela did indeed give him the thumbs-up. This time, there was to be no mistake, his stop-start run-up sending the hapless Chanin the wrong way, with the ball calmly dispatched into the opposite corner for what turned out to be, apparently, his 100th goal in the Thai League, thereby explaining Rochela’s selfless decision. Well done, Dragan, or Darius, as he seemed to be called by Madame Pang in her post-match tribute.

 

Port were on a roll now and ten minutes later were awarded a free kick in a perfect Pakorn spot after an unfortunate reflex handball by defender Kritsada Kaman resulted in a rather harsh red card. Pakorn delicately curled his shot to Chanin’s left; placement instead of power for once. Chanin was having a bit of a nightmare on his return to PAT, sad for a keeper who figured so prominently in our excellent 2014 season in the TPL, fondly remembered for his creative time-wasting in a 1-0 home victory over Champions, Buriram. The scorer of Port’s goal that day, Kroekrit, was also in Chonburi’s by now well-defeated ranks.

 

There was still time left though for a moment of pure theatre, involving Port’s best loved small person, Terens Puhiri. With Chonburi in total disarray, the ball was pushed forward to Terens, who found himself alone in the Chonburi half with a clear run on goal. The ball was dispatched ahead for himself to chase, like a dog in pursuit of a bus disappearing round the corner, with Boskovic, Bodin and Adisorn trailing in his wake but hoping to pick up some scraps. Zone B held its breath for a moment before urging Tiny Tot Terens to deliver us the goal we had been waiting for all season. Then, inexplicably, the diminutive dunderhead got all lovey-dovey and team-matey, unselfishly picking out Bodin at the far post to slot home, by-passing a now hat-trick, 101 goal-less Bosko on the way. The disappointment from the Port faithful was palpable – a moment frozen in time forever.

 

At the final whistle there was a nerve-wracking wait to get the final score from an insane match at the SCG, which at one point had Pattaya leading Muangthong by 4-1, only to be pulled back more than once for a final score of 5-5. Madness.

 

That draw to savour moved Port ahead of Muangthong on the head-to-head rule: a win each but 4-3 to Port in goals scored. Port now go to our most hated venue, after the SCG – the 72 years anniversary stadium in Minburi, home of Thai Honda and a ground on which none of us, I believe, have seen Port win or even play well. It would take another page to debate the ineptitude of the Thai League in allowing this late change to be made from Pattaya and the sorry choice of alternative venue but the positive side is we are on the back of two 5-0 wins and if that does not give the team the confidence and the momentum to grasp the chance of a third place finish and possible entry into the ACL, we will only have ourselves to blame. Plus, Muangthong are playing Bangkok Utd. There’s always hope.

 

The Sandpit Man of the Match: Watchara

Man of the Match is a tricky one as once again there were many good performances but no outstanding ones so, wishing to spread it around, I am going to nominate Watchara; a confident, eye-catching show – where have you been all season?

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk: Left Back in the Changing Room

 

Confirmed Transfers IN

 

Yossawat Montha

This youngster reminds me a lot of Nitipong (34). He joins Port from Buriram, having represented Thailand at under 23 level. The 21 year old is an attacking full-back who possesses quick feet and a cultured left foot, which will hopefully give Port another set-piece option on the all-too-common occasions that Pakorn (9) is misfiring. Expect Yossawat to be challenging Panpanpong (19) for a place in the First XI from the off, although with Jadet’s proclivity for more experienced players, he may have to wait longer than we would like. Read Yossawat’s player profile here.

 

Jetjinn Sriprach

Jetjinn is another young-ish left-back, emphasizing how unhappy Jadet is with his options in that position. The arrivals of Jetjin and Yossawat almost certainly signal the exit of Piyachart (23) and Suchon (11), who are out of favour and well down the pecking order at PAT Stadium. 25 year old Jetjinn, who joins from Thai Honda, is most likely to start out at third choice behind Panpanpong (19) and Yossawat, and will have to impress in training and friendlies to get his chance. He looks to have decent pedigree, having played 10 games for Honda (including the 5-1 thrashing of Port) in the first half of 2017. Interestingly, he played half of those games in left midfield, where he could also be challenging for a spot on the bench with Tana (99) and Ekkapoom (8). For Jetjinn’s player profile click here.

 

Narakorn Khana and Pummared Kladkleep

Narakorn and Pummared both join from defunct BBCU, and are expected to add depth to the squad rather than challenge for first team places. Red-haired Narakorn is an attacking midfielder who could be an option to come off the bench when Port are chasing a game. Before representing BBCU, the 25 year old played for a host of teams in the top two tiers. Blonde bombshell Pummared is a central midfielder with a good range of passing. He started out at Chamchuri United from before jumping on to sinking ships at Khon Kaen and BBCU. Pummared joins a whole host of midfielders already on the books at Port, and will most likely be competing with the likes of Ittipol (7) and Tatchanon (39) for a place on the bench. Read Narakorn’s player profile here, and Pummared’s here.

 

Watchara Buathong

Port’s erstwhile odd man out at PAT Stadium has been loaned out for 2 seasons in a row, and is only back because of BBCU’s dissolution. He’s a good young goalkeeper to be fair – much better than Weera (1) – but it’s probably not in his or Port’s interest to have him kicking around as a third choice when he could be starting for a lower-league team. Expect him to find another club on loan, possibly Super Power (remember their goalkeeping nightmare?) or another T2 team. Check our Watchara – or as he is also known, W-Hot – rapping here (seriously, do it right now, you won’t regret it!) and his player profile here.

 

Rumoured Transfers OUT

 

Wanchalerm Yingyong

It’s fair to say that Wanchalerm’s (40) time at Port has been a waste of everyone’s time. The young defensive midfielder who is on loan at Port from Chiang Rai has made just one appearance, and despite some promising performances in friendlies Jadet clearly doesn’t rate him. He will likely be loaned out to another club where he will get more minutes.

 

Piyachat Srimarueang

Piyachat (88) has failed to break in to the first XI, but is still first-choice back-up to Adisorn (13) and Siwakorn (16). There are rumours that the midfielder will head back from whence he came, joining Sukhothai in a loan deal. The arrival of two new midfielders would seem to support this rumour, although I doubt that either Narakorn or Pummared are better players than him. File this one under doubtful.

 

Andrija Kaludjerovic

Kalu has one foot out of the door already. The one-goal Serb has not been a hit at PAT Stadium, being replaced by Josimar (30) in the starting XI, and failing to even make the match day squad for the last few games of the first leg. Kalu has been casting flirtatious glances back to Lithuania, where he scored 21 goals in 19 games before joining Port. The move makes sense for everyone, so will likely be concluded sooner rather than later. For The Sandpit’s analysis of who will be replacing Kalu, check out Episode 2 Part 3 of our new podcast The Portcast which will be going online on Thursday.

 

As always, I will be trying my best to keep the squad list (click here) up to date, but I will not be adding squad numbers for the new arrivals until the official list is announced. Until they are official, they’re liable to change every week and confuse the hell out of us!

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk – 17 Jan 2017

 

It’s Transfer Talk round-up time! The start of the season is nearly upon us, meaning all of the transfer tomfoolery is nearly at an end. As always, there have been lots of coming and goings, so we’re going to do our best to summarize them for you here.

Out

 

Thiago Cunha (10)
Last year’s big-name signing was expected to make a splash in D1, but ended up being a huge flop. His antics got less and less bearable as the season went on, although he did scoop The Sandpit’s Goal of the Season award!

Rodrigo Maranhao (29)
Maranhao looked like a worldbeater at the start of 2016, but his performances tailed off in the second half of the season. Nevertheless, most Port fans would have preferred to keep hold of the likeable Brazilian. Only time will tell whether letting him go was the right decision or not.

Renan Oliveira (25)
Oliveira was the forgotten man at Port last year. He played a couple of games, didn’t look great, then got dropped from the squad altogether. It’s no surprise he has not been retained for 2017.

Wagner Carioca (35)
Wagner followed the opposite trajectory to Maranhao, really coming in to his own in the second half of last season. Another player who many fans would have been happy to keep hold of, although his replacement in centre midfield does look bloody good.

Artit Daosawang (19)
On loan from Muang Thong last season, Artit played a few games in centre midfield. He will return to Muang thong as planned in 2017.

Sathaporn Daengsi (15)
Sathaporn arrived on loan from Buriram for the second half of 2016, becoming first choice left back and performing consistently if unspectacularly. He will return to Buriram in 2017.

Narong Wisetsri (39)
Narong was third choice goalkeeper last season, never managing to challenge his two younger competitors for a place in the first XI.

Naronrit Samonpan (4)
Naronrit was a bit-part player for the last few seasons, supplying cover in defence and occasionally midfield in the case of injuries and suspensions. He is considered surplus to requirements after the arrival of Dolah.

Artit Promkun (24)
We don’t recall the other Artit getting any game-time at all last season, so far was he down the left back pecking order. It’s no surprise that he has moved on.

Watchara Buathong (1)
Watchara returns to BBCU on loan for a second consecutive season. He’s a good ‘keeper with lots of potential, but can’t find his was past Worawut or Rattanai.

 

The New Signings

In

 

Sergio Suarez (4)
Suarez has impressed in pre-season since joining from Songkhla. His touch and passing have looked top-notch, and he seems to have slotted effortlessly in to the team. We expect big things from him in 2017.

Asdrubal Padron (24)
Asdrubal brings a big reputation with him to Port, having played in La Liga for Las Palmas. It’s too early to tell how well he will adapt to his new surroundings and a different style of football, but we have high hopes nevertheless!

Andrija Kaluderovic (10)
Kaluderovic scores goals for fun, and he does it all over the world. If he can reproduce anything like the 20 in 19 strike-rate he managed in Lithuania last season, he will be a star. It will be interesting to see whether Asdrubal or Kaluderovic are preferred up front, or whether they are played as a pair with either Suarez or Rochela dropping to the bench. Only time will tell.

Elias Dolah (40)
Dolah has lived up to the hype in his brief pre-season appearances. The Thai-Swede who signed from Songkhla has been winning almost everything in the air, and tackling powerfully. He could end up being the signing of the season for Port in 2017.

Patrick Bentley (30)
We know very little about 20 year old Bentley. We know that he’s Thai-Australian, and we don’t think he’s played professionally before. To be filed under ‘one for the future’.

Siwapong Jarernsin (35)
Journeyman Siwapong joins from Sisaket to add strength in depth to the midfield. He can take a lovely free-kick, as he did against Navy in pre-season.

Wanchalerm Yingyong (26)
Wanchalerm has joined on loan from Chiang Rai, giving Jadet another midfielder to choose from.

Tatchanon Nakarawong (27)
Tatchanon at just 20 seems to be a good signing in the long term. Whilst he joins the ever-lengthening queue for midfield game-time, he has time on his side, and has been playing regularly in pre-season.

Panpanpong Pinkong (19)
Panpanpong joins from Bangkok Utd, where he provided cover at full back. He seems to be being considered for a starting role this season at Port, but we’re backing Piyachart to be preferred come the start of the season.

Weera (1)
Weera was first signed by Port in 2015. He has since left and now come back. We think. We’ve definitely seen him training and playing in friendlies, although nothing has been announced by the club.

Unfinished Business

 

Whilst it has been strongly rumoured that Genki (18) was not going to be kept in 2017, his departure has not been announced, and no replacement has been signed. Genki continues to train with the club, and was given a start in the most recent friendly against Sukhothai. We still think it’s likely that another AFC foreign player will be brought in to replace him on the left wing, but time is running out with the season fast-approaching.

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk – 7 Jan 2017

 

The big news is that former La Liga forward Asdrubal has become Port’s third Spanish signing, as regular readers of The Sandpit will already know.

A lot else has happened since the last Transfer Talk though, so we’ve got a lot to cover here. Let’s start with what didn’t happen.

Bernardo Cuesta, 28

As we suspected a couple of weeks ago, Frenchman Saer Sene didn’t do enough to earn himself a contract, meaning that attention turned to the ‘mystery Argentine’ – the subject of our last Transfer Talk – who was expected to be unveiled after new year. It was eventually revealed that the forward in question was Bernardo Cuesta, but he ultimately decided to stay with FBC Melgar in Peru. With no potential signings on the horizon and the start of the season getting closer, eyebrows were starting to be raised.

Then came Asdrubal. The relatively short but stocky 25 year old forward has been at Las Palmas since the age of 6, but decided to join the ever-growing Spanish contingent at Port as he was stuck on the fringes of the squad, unable to force his way in to the First XI. We’re absolutely delighted that we’ve managed to bring in a player of his calibre with La Liga experience, and somehow we don’t think he’ll have the same problem here!

In other news, Transfer Talk favourite Panpanpong Pinkong’s move to Khlong Toei is now confirmed, meaning he will battle it out with Piyachart (23) and Suchon (11) for a regular starting berth at left back, The Sandpit are already sharpening our puncils.

Watchara, 23

The battle to be next season’s starting goalkeeper has also claimed it’s first victim. Watchara (1), who was loaned to BBCU last season, will once again make the temporary move to The Pink Panthers, leaving Worawut (36) and youngster Rattanai (17) to slug it out for a starting place.

Now after all of that confirmed news, we finish with our bread and butter: good old fashioned gossip.

As we reported earlier in the closed season, all of last season’s foreign players from 2016 besides talisman David Rochela are likely to be replaced. With Rochela already being joined by countrymen Sergio Suarez and Asdrubal, two foreign spots remain; one for any nationality, and one for an Asian player (Dolah is not included as he is half Thai). We are hearing whispers that the final two foreign players will be announced next week on January 11th, the day before the team go for a 6 day training camp to Hua Hin. Once again there is no word on who the new signings might be, but it seems likely that the club will be going after a left winger to replace Genki, and either another striker or an attacking midfielder.

Tom’s Transfer Talk will be back to be discuss the results – or lack thereof – of the January 11th announcement. We hope to be reporting more good news!