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.

 

Hiring & Firing: Port’s 2020 Shopping List

 

Let us briefly forget 2019’s mid-season shopping window, when Port’s management acted like a Thai Visa regular in 7-11 who’s just been informed that an election day booze ban is taking effect in 30 minutes’ time and fills his basket with a terrifying collection of Snowy Weizen, Federbrau and that stuff in the psychedelic cans that claims to be craft beer but tastes like something squeezed out of the local soi dog’s anal glands; and instead let’s look back to the 2018-19 window when Port did their business good and early, getting rid of dead wood and strengthening where required.

This is what is needed for 2020; a sober analysis of a squad that took Port to third in T1 for the second season in a row and brought them their first silverware for a decade. No major overhauls are needed, just a look at where the weak points are and what is needed to strengthen them. Here’s my look of where Choke and Pang need to fire and hire before the 2020 season kicks off.

 

Coach

No changes needed here. We said last year that whilst we hoped otherwise, the limited but amiable Jadet wasn’t the guy to take Port to the next lebel and so it proved. Replacement Choketawee is a lot more pragmatic, tactically flexible, and ballsy enough to leave the likes of Pakorn on the bench when required, and under his leadership Port have been mean at the back and prolific in attack. For 2020, in Choke we trust.

 

Goalkeeper

Once again, none of Port’s three decent but unremarkable keepers made the shirt his own in 2019. Watchara started the season as first choice but took some of the blame – unfairly in my opinion – for Port’s mid-season slump, and was replaced by Worawut, who did a solid job. Rattanai’s few appearances showed yet again that he’s simply not robust enough to be a professional goalkeeper. For me, this is one area where Port need to improve. Worawut and Watchara are both solid keepers who would be first choice at most T1 clubs, but when you’re cup winners and title contenders, that’s no longer good enough. Apart from Kawin there are no top keepers out there, so an ASEAN, mixed nationality or even foreign keeper should be a priority given the importance of the position.

 

Defence

Port had one of T1’s meanest defences last season and this is an area where few if any changes are required.

Full-backs

In Nitipong and Kevin, Port have arguably the best pair of full-backs in T1, and in new signing Martin Steuble, they have a player who can deputise more than ably on either side. Which, given Kevin’s injury record, is just as well.

Central Defence

2019 was the year Dolah was finally recognised as one of Thailand’s top CBs, and David Rochela’s superb FA Cup performances, along with rumours I hear coming out of the PAT, suggest he’ll be retained for 2020. Todsapol had a good 2019 too and so should continue as back-up, but more backup is required here – regardless of what Choke may think, Tanaboon is NOT a CB & is incapable of playing in this position against T1’s better clubs.

 

Midfield

The arrival of Go Seul-Ki and the return to top form of Siwakorn meant that Port’s 2019 midfield had a much more solid, steely look about it, and the continued excellence of Suarez at AM meant the disappointing Sumanya didn’t see as much action as he was probably expecting when he joined.

Central Midfield

First, the good news: after spending 2019 on loan from Buriram, Go Seul-Ki is now a Port FC player! Probably the most important signing of the window in itself. Go showed in the cup final that he’s at his best pushed a little bit forward from his usual DM role. At DM, Port have Tanaboon and Anon – the former was excellent in his preferred position in the cup final, and whilst the latter barely got a look-in during a season in which he was expected to be a regular starter, Choke clearly fancies him a bit more than Jadet did and so I’d expect him to either figure more next season, or at least spend the first half out on loan getting himself back up to match speed. With Siwakorn back to his best, and the promising Sansern back from his loan, competition for places here is looking very healthy indeed.

Further forward, as yet we have no word on whether Suarez is planning to extend his stay at the PAT for another year, but given the excellent season he had and his very clearly improved fitness, it would make sense to keep him around, especially as his potential replacement – Sumanya – has been such a disappointment. Young Chanayut looked lively on his full debut against Samut Prakan and will undoubtedly get more game time in 2020, either on loan or off the bench – Choke is clearly far more keen to use youngsters than Jadet ever was. So, no changes required here.

Wings

Here’s an area where we could see some changes, with 2018’s first choice wingers – Pakorn and Nurul – both having poor seasons; Bodin nailing down a regular starting spot as a result; and Port having already snapped up free agent Tanasith. I suspect Nurul could well be heading for the exit, and Pakorn is unlikely to be too enthusiastic about getting too familiar with the bench in 2020. Expect to see the Afro Boys on the flanks for Port next year, with maybe a couple of new faces at backup should Port decide to dispense with Pakorn & Nurul and use their presumably hefty salaries elsewhere.

 

Attack

Here’s the one area that Port need to get right, after years of getting it wrong. Players who have scored for fun elsewhere – Thiago Cunha, Kaludjerovic, Boskovic etc – have all dried up at Port, mainly due to Port’s strategy of signing a big name striker without giving any thought to whether they might actually be a good fit. This season, Bosko laboured in the first half, whilst Josimar embarked on a one-man goal of the season campaign in the second, going for quality rather than quantity when it came to scoring. Blackburn showed a talent for 3-yard tap-ins and absolutely nothing else. Chenrop looked like someone had taken ‘Bring Your Daughter to Work Day’ a little too far and should be dispensed with immediately.

We believe Josi is contracted until the end of 2020 and, given he pretty much guarantees you 15 goals a season, will probably be kept on; but Port need to make a big statement here and recruit a striker who can bully and/or outfox defences and hit 20+. The name of 2019 T1 top scorer Doumbouya has already been mentioned, which would certainly be a good thing given the amount of crosses Port continue to throw into the mixer – I think given Port’s disastrous record in bringing in strikers from overseas, a proven T1 goalscorer should indeed be the target.

 

THE SHOPPING LIST

1 big ASEAN or mixed-Thai goalkeeper

1 backup central defender

1 backup winger

1 scary foreign striker with T1 experience

 

 

 

Peak or Basecamp? Tim’s Review of 2019

In the second of our 2019 season reviews, Sandpit founder Tim Russell looks back on an unforgettable season for Port…

 

Almost a week since we won the FA Cup, and I STILL feel like shit. When your team win their first trophy since you began following them five years ago, you simply have to celebrate, and celebrate we did. It was the end of a season that promised much, almost fizzled out halfway, and ultimately ended in glory, with the usual rollercoaster ride that we’ve come to expect from Port.

February

Port kick off their season with a trip to Chiang Rai, drawing a typically bruising encounter 0-0 despite finishing the game with 9 men thanks to red cards for David Rochela and, on his debut, Go Seul-Ki. The airport departure lounge after the game looks like A&E with several Port players hobbling around thanks to some agricultural Chiang Rai challenges, and even the most usually mild-mannered Port players threatening revenge in the return fixture.

March

Very much a mixed-bag month as Port struggle to get their season into gear. A somewhat fortunate 1-0 win against Ratchaburi is followed by an exhilarating 3-2 win away to Chonburi, but the month fizzles out with a disappointing 1-1 draw at home to PTT and a shambolic 3-1 defeat at Sukhothai, during which the disappointing Sumanya is red carded for slapping the ref.

April

Port bounce back from the Sukhothai defeat by hitting top form, with big home wins (4-1 and 5-0) over Trat and Prachuap, followed by a comfortable away win at their second home the SCG over struggling Muangthong. A perfect month is completed with a thrilling comeback with over Suphanburi, with Boskovic’s late winner sparking absolute mayhem on the terraces & proving to be his last meaningful contribution in a Port shirt.

May

May proves similarly fruitful. Whilst a largely second-string side tumbles out of the League Cup to T2 side Nongbua Pitchaya, there’s an auspicious start to the FA Cup with a 6-0 win over Samut Sakhon. And things go well in the league too – a comfortable 3-0 win away to Chainat is followed by, at last, a point at home to Bangkok Utd in an absolute cracker of a game in which Suarez gets a red card for a bout of handbags with Peerapat. Port then draw 1-1 at Nakhon Ratchasima, with Arthit missing a late sitter that would’ve put the game to bed. It proves to be his last kick as a Port player as he’s loaned out during the mid-season window, much to my colleague Tom’s chagrin. The month ends with a comfortable 3-1 win over cellar dwellers Chiang Mai, aka Chiang Rai Reserves. Port are top of the league.

June

Port top of the league in June? Time for Operation Fuckup! The month begins with a six-pointer at home to defending champions Buriram, in which Port never recover from giving away an early penalty and go down 3-1. Sukhothai are dispatched 4-1 in the FA Cup but things get no better in the league with a limp 2-1 defeat at Samut Prakan followed by a 4-1 home thumping by Chiang Rai. The wheels are well & truly off, and following her Women’s World Cup humiliation, La Pang rings the changes, with Boskovic dumped, Rochela scandalously reduced to cup duty, 2017 top scorer Josimar returning, and Panamanian international Rolando ‘Tony’ Blackburn joining on loan from The Strongest.

July

Port’s misery continues into July which begins with a piss-poor 1-1 draw at Ratchaburi, followed by an equally poor 2-2 draw at home to Chonburi. A 2-0 win at Muangthong in the FA Cup, Blackburn scoring on his debut, provides some respite, but an awful 1-0 defeat at PTT Rayong three days later proves the final nail in Jadet’s coffin. He’s moved upstairs and replaced by former Thai U23 coach & national team assistant manager Choketawee, who gets Port straight back to winning ways with a nervy 1-0 win over Sukhothai and a scrappy 2-1 win at Trat. The season is back on!

August

After beginning the month with a 1-1 draw at Prachuap, Port really get back in the groove in two of the best games of the season. First there’s an absolute cracker of a cup QF at home to Chiang Rai – Port race into a 3-0 half-time lead before being pegged back to 3-2 and holding on for a semi-final place; then Muangthong are beaten 2-0 at home with THAT goal from Josimar sealing the win late on. However the month ends on a disappointing note as Port go down 2-0 at bogey team Bangkok Utd.

September

That bogey is laid to rest in extraordinary fashion in September as the two teams meet in an epic FA Cup semi-final. What with normal time, extra time, a biblical downpour and penalties, the match takes almost 4 hours to complete, with Port edging it 5-4 on pens to reach their first cup final since 2011. With a cup final to look forward to, Port then revive their title bid with a 3-0 win at Chiang Mai followed by a 3-0 home thumping of Nakhon Ratchasima…

October

…followed by a 4-0 home thumping of doomed Chainat. It sets up a 1st v 2nd squeaky bummer at Buriram, but after taking an early lead through Suarez, Port go down 3-1 thanks to some ‘dubious’ refereeing. But with 33,000 fans packed in, including an amazing 2000 from Port, it’s an amazing occasion despite the result. It also means Port are guaranteed third place and, with the cup final a week away, they play out a tame 2-2 draw at home to Samut Prakan in the final league game of the season.

November

You don’t need reminding already do you? Port 1-0 Ratchaburi (Suarez, 48). Euphoria.

 

So an up & down season for Port but still there are signs that that FA Cup win is merely a basecamp on the climb to greater triumphs, rather than the final destination. Port just get better every season and with the more tactically flexible and pragmatic Choke in charge, Port finally seem to have found the coach who can take them that extra mile. And most hearteningly, Port have hit the heights this season whilst regularly fielding several players who were regulars in T2 back in 2016. No buying trophies here. I’ll look at Port’s squad and what they should be looking at in the window next week, but to be brief, Port are one top goalscorer, and maybe a reliable goalkeeper, away from being the finished article, and if they can implement a recruitment strategy based on what the squad needs, rather than simply signing up marquee names, 2020 could be even better.

 

Game of the Season

Several contenders here including the win at Chonburi and the home win against Muangthong, but my pick is the 3-2 FA Cup win over Chiang Rai. There’s been a fair bit of beef between the two teams since 2018’s away defeat, and after that crushing 4-1 home defeat Port’s pride was clearly at stake, and they raced into a 3-0 half-time lead, demolishing one of the best teams in T1 in the process, and ultimately hanging on to win 3-2. Absolutely thrilling stuff from KO to whistle.

Goal of the Season

The mid-season return to Port of 2017 top scorer Josimar, who had spent the previous 12 months in T2, raised a number of eyebrows amongst the PAT faithful, and four games without a goal suggested the likable Brazilian maybe wasn’t the man for the job. The jury may still be out, but his late goal against Muangthong in August made his return worthwhile in itself. With the game poised at 1-0 in the 88th minute, Josi seized on weak defensive clearance and absolutely spanked a 22-yarder into the back of the Muangthong net, sparking delirium on the terraces and an ecstatic, bug-eyed celebration from the man himself. An honourable mention to Suarez for his sublime chip against Trat. If Messi had scored that etc etc.

Player of the Season

No contest this time round. Nitipong Selanon has progressed from being Port’s occasional right-back, to nailing down his place in 2017, being consistent week-in week-out in 2018, and being simply irreplaceable – and getting a national team call-up – in 2019. The guy seems physically incapable of having a bad, or even average, game, and took it to a new level this season. Whilst we hope he stays at Port, his dedication to constantly improving himself could earn him a move to bigger things. Honourable mentions to Siwakorn, whom we thought might be a peripheral figure this year but knuckled down & remained a guaranteed starter; Bodin, who took advantage of Nurul’s early season injury to finally fulfill his massive potential down the left; Go Seul-Ki, who brought calm and organisation to Port’s once chaotic midfield; Elias Dolah, who had his most consistent season yet; and new signing Martin Steuble who proved to be a very astute piece of transfer business indeed.

Disappointment of the Season

Refreshingly few contenders here. Boskovic failed to recapture the form he was showing in late 2018 and looked utterly uninterested most of the time, playing as if the penalty areas of T1 had taken out a restraining order against him. Nurul looks a shadow of the player Port signed in 2018. And Sumanya bears no resemblance to the highly-rated BU player of 2018, to the point where you might almost suspect he’s an imposter. But the ‘winner’ here has to be Pakorn, who showed up for pre-season friendlies looking lean, mean & ready for action, but had his poorest season in a Port shirt, with a mere three assists all season and of course that unseemly spat with his own fans when he couldn’t be bothered to chase a long ball. With coach Choke clearly having no compunction about benching him, and nippy right-winger Tanasith having joined up for 2020, the writing could well be on the wall for the Midfield Monk.

Away Trip of the Season

Buriram. No, the result didn’t go the way we wanted & the refereeing left a bad taste in the mouth, but the atmosphere was simply unforgettable and the Port fans were just awesome. Sukhothai is a close runner-up, both for the sightseeing (and watching Dom almost overturn a golf cart in the Historical Park), and the warmth & hospitality of the locals.

Best Away Ground Food Award

Following previous wins for Chonburi & Ratchaburi, this year it’s Sukhothai‘s turn, with some delicious fried chicken on sale in a very well-appointed away end food zone. Black marks for the fried cheese at Thammasat, which had both Bal and myself hocking it up into the nearest bin; and to PTT Rayong, who didn’t have any food – or beer – on sale at all.

 

That was the season that was – see you in 2020!

 

Mission Accomplished: Tom’s 2019 Season Review

 

It’s been quite a season for Port. Third place and a cup win represents our best effort in at least 20 years, and there’s plenty of acclaim to go around. Port’s owners have invested heavily in the team, the fans have come out in numbers we haven’t seen in recent years, the players took the fight to win the league down to the wire and after a nail-biting final we ended up with an FA Cup to show for it all. It’s a good time to be a Port fan! Here’s a look back at a few things that made this season special.

 

Match of the Season

 

There were some great league games this season, with my pick of the bunch probably being the two 3-2 wins over Chonburi and Suphanburi and the 2-0 home victory against Muangthong.

In all three games the final goal was scored by a Port striker with a point to prove. First Arthit showed the damage he could do as an impact sub with the winner against Chonburi, then Boskovic belied his deteriorating form to snatch the game late on against Suphanburi, and finally Josimar made up for a shocking earlier miss by blasting in a beautiful goal from outside the box, making the game safe against Muangthong. All three goals sparked wild celebrations, not just for their significance in their respective games but for giving us hope that our strikers were going to turn the corner and make a big impact on our season. The degree to which that happened is not the point; in the moment we believed, and that’s what made them so enjoyable.

None of these three matches scoop the award, though. We did after all win some silverware this season, and I’m plumping for the most hard-fought win on our road to glory: the 5-4 penalty shootout victory against Bangkok United.

 

 

Was it a great game? No, by the time the heavens had opened we were practically playing in a swimming pool, and the standard very much reflected that. There’s something about standing outside for hours in a torrential downpour, though, that makes victories that much sweeter when they eventually materialize. Captain Siwakorn saw red, putting Port a man down with the whole of extra time to play. We survived. Worawut made that stunning save with his legs, slicing his back open on the goalpost in the process. If the ball had gone in, that was probably that. His replacement Rattanai went in to the shootout facing off against the finest stopper in the league, and against all odds won his duel. Don’t even get me started on Rolando’s outrageous penalty.

An amazing evening at Army stadium, where Port put us through the wringer, but ultimately defied the odds to set Port up for their first FA Cup win in a decade.

 

Away Trip of the Season

 

I had it as ‘best game’ in our mid-season review, and I don’t think it was topped by another away trip in the second half of the season. The 3-2 away win against Chonburi had it all, and although the trip to Buriram was certainly memorable for many reasons, the feeling of helpless anger brought on by a loss against Buriram’s 14 men is no comparison to the elation felt after a late Arthit winner.

 

 

Goal of the Season

 

The polls are still open, with Sergio Suarez’ gorgeous chip against Trat currently out in front by a mile. It wasn’t even my favourite chip of the season, nor was it my favourite of Suarez’ goals. Nurul’s lofted effort against Chainat was the cheekier chip for me, whilst Suarez’ long range banger against Buriram held far more significance.

I’m in a massive minority though, and my choice for winner isn’t even in the top 5 according to the popular vote. I’m going for Josimar’s volley against Chainat, which featured wonderful buildup between the Brazilian, Bodin and Suarez, before an emphatic finish from a tricky position. First, Go’s freekick was flicked on by Bodin, before Josi took it on his chest and backheeled it back to Bodin. The Fresh Prince laid it off for Suarez, whose chipped pass found Josimar with barely any goal to aim at and a goalkeeper fast closing down his angle. Unphased, he took it first time, blasting it goalwards and finding an unlikely gap. From my spot in Zone B, Josimar was so close to the byline that I couldn’t even see him connect with the ball, but I sure as hell saw it nestle in the back of the net, and promptly joined in the slightly shocked celebrations. What a screamer.

 

 

Player of the Season

 

This is just an impossible call for me. By my reckoning, several players have been in the running for player of the year at various times, with no one standing out quite enough to take the award.

  • Worawut had some absolutely outstanding moments after winning his place mid-way through the season, and after his cup final heroics I thought he was in with a real shout. Unfortunately a couple of sub-par performances in the last few games somewhat sullied his earlier form, and he fell out of contention for me.
  • Dolah became leader of the back 4, earning his way in to a seemingly never-ending string of teams of the week, as well as some pundits’ team of the season. He even managed to get a long-overdue call-up to the national team squad, making his debut when he came off the bench against Congo. His steady performances gave Port the confidence (ill-advised confidence, one might argue) to dispense with the services of Captain Rochela in the second half of the T1 campaign, and he will go in to 2020 one of the first names on the team sheet.
  • Nitipong was once again unerringly consistent, also earning a spot in most pundits’ team of the season and forcing his way in to the national team setup. His consistency prompted our readers to vote for him in droves, as he won our poll comfortably. I’m not sold that he’s done any more than Dolah, Go or Suarez to earn the award, though.
  • Go crowned his season in the best possible way during Port’s FA Cup Final triumph. He provided a masterful assist for Suarez’ winner and was chosen as MVP, reinforcing his status as one of the top foreign players in T1. His consistent performances at the base of Port’s midfield were crucial in Port’s improved defending, and I think the South Korean can take as much credit as anyone else for Port’s most successful season this millennium.
  • Siwakorn was superb in the first half of the season, and was among those to force his way in to national team contention. His link-up play with Go and Suarez was excellent, and he really carved out a role for himself in midfield. I’m going to have to call him out on not producing enough, though. Playing in a more advanced role than go, Siwakorn scored twice and only managed one assist, while the South Korean scored three and assisted four. He just has to do more with the ball going forward for me.
  • Bodin looked like the favourite in this race until the last month or two, when his confidence faded and the goals and assists dried up. He’s still finished with a pretty damn handy nine goals and six assists, but if he’d kept the electric form he’d shown earlier up for a little while longer I think the Fresh Prince would have won. He’s shown us what he can do, now he’s got to show that he can sustain it.
  • Suarez is always in contention, and I think at times we’re guilty of taking the Spaniard for granted. He was used in an unfamiliar position up front at times, and even when he was in his favoured role he often had little to work with in front of him. His cup final winner was no more than he deserved for another excellent campaign, and his 13 goals and 9 assists were absolutely crucial in firing Port in to third place. Great work once again, Sergio.

It’s a shared award, then. I had seven players in contention at various times, and there are still four that I find it impossible to choose between. Congratulations to Dolah, Nitipong, Go and Suarez for their excellent contributions.

 

Most Improved Player

 

 

Bodin takes this one at a canter. The Fresh Prince’s extraordinary close control and his shooting from distance were outstanding, and he’s got a lot to do next season to prove that it wasn’t a fluke and that he can maintain the same form for an equal or longer period of time.

 

Most Disappointing Player

 

Unfortunately despite Port having a successful season there are a few candidates for this award.

  • Nurul isn’t 100% to blame for his decline, as it was brought about by Bodin’s superb performances. It’s tough sitting on the bench and having to produce in 15 minute bursts, but we still needed to see more from Nurul than he did in his cameo appearances. His embarrassing attempt to finish off the cup final was the final nail in his coffin, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him loaned back to Chonburi next season with Thanasit coming in.
  • Pakorn had by far his worst season in a Port shirt. I’ve always used numbers to defend him in the past, but this season I’m going to use them to beat him over the head.
    2017 – 36 apps, 6 goals, 18 assists
    2018 – 38 apps, 7 goals, 14 assists
    2019 – 28 apps, 6 goals, 3 assists
    Sorry Pakorn, but that’s just not going to cut it.
  • Boskovic, in contrast to Nurul, is entirely to blame for his poor half-season. The Monenegrin combined a stubborn refusal to enter the penalty area with abject laziness in his last few games before being dropped, and for me thoroughly deserved to be let go for the second leg. What a waste of money.
  • Unfortunately we replaced one flop with another, as Blackburn was brought in to the squad at Boskovic’s expense. The Panamanian couldn’t even nail down a place in the team, making most of his appearances from the bench. His return of five goals was actually very useful, but his performances were pretty poor. There were a couple of moments from El Toro that save him the ignominy of taking this award though, namely his magnificent bicycle kick against Suphanburi and his outrageous penalty against Bangkok United.
  • Does Chenrop even count as a disappointment if I already knew he was going to be absolutely useless?
  • Tanaboon, just because he’s so highly rated. His performances weren’t terrible, but they were in no way befitting a player getting in every national team squad. Whereas he always had Thitipan to babysit him in midfield in the past, this season he relied on Dolah to win the headers and the tackles, while he flounced around passing the ball sideways. He did perform well in the FA Cup Final, but he’s going to have to do much more to convince me he’s worthy of a place in our starting XI.

 

 

I’m picking a winner this time. Boskovic was among the highest paid players in the league, but became the latest in a long line of players to fail miserably to lead the Port line. Was he playing in his best position? No. Could he have at least tried to perform the role given to him? Yes. He didn’t.

 

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.

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The Sandpit Readers’ 2019 Port FC Player of the Year: Nitipong Selanon!

 

The votes have been counted and we’re delighted to reveal that, after wins for David Rochela (2016-17) and Sergio Suarez (2018), we have our first ever Thai winner of The Sandpit’s Player of the Year award – right-back Nitipong Selanon! Niti won by a big margin, getting 37% of the vote, with Go Seul-Ki second on 13%, & Suarez third on 12%.

In my opinion, no player deserves it more. Whenever we interview Port players/staff we ask them which player at the club is the hardest worker on the pitch and in training, and the answer is always ‘Nitipong!’. His progress in the last few years has been remarkable, going from second choice T2 right-back to FA Cup winner and Thai national team starter, and – at just 26 and with his level of dedication – his best is almost certainly yet to come. He never lets the team down, never has a bad game, and – unusually for a defender – rarely ever gets booked, such is his ability to read the game.

Congratulations Niti!

 

 

No More Years of Hurt: Port FC 1-0 Ratchaburi FC (Chang FA Cup Final 2019)

 

 

We did it. We bloody did it. After 90 exciting minutes with chances galore for both teams, two red cards and the unwelcome return of VAR, Port lifted their first trophy for 10 years and deservedly so. The Khlong Toey Army got their big night out and we certainly made the most of it. I am typing this with a sore head – sore everything in fact – and I’m certainly not the only one.

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