Port Survive Light Frisking: Port FC 6-3 MOF Customs FC

 

Port laid on the entertainment in a pulsating cup tie against the reasonably named Ministry of Finance Customs United Football Club, running out 6-3 winners and advancing to the next round. The score might suggest a rout but it was far from that and our opponents should be proud of their endeavours.

Riding high after our derby victory, Coach Oud decided to shuffle the pack and select two Sandpit “favourites”, Chappuis (17) and Tanaboon (71), in central midfield. There were also nods for Nattawut (45), Adisorn (20), (Right) Thitawee (2) and a welcome return for the El Capitan Rochela (22). Sensing that this wouldn’t be a walk in the park, Kevin (23), Suarez (5), Bonilla (99) and Tanasith (11), who put in a great cameo in the derby, were also drafted into the starting XI.

 

A glorious evening at the PAT

 

Normally the best way to deal with lower league opposition in a cup tie is to steamroller them with some early goals, then toy with them for the remaining minutes and this looked on the cards when Nattawut latched onto a loose back pass and, with the aid of a fortunate deflection off their hapless keeper, strolled the ball into an empty net. Nattawut then helped himself to a second goal, surely a contender for goal of the season, when he received Tanasith’s lay off and deftly chipped the goalie from just inside the box. Pick that out, jogo bonito etc….

 

Winners are grinners , Nattawut bags his first of the evening.

 

Customs clearly were not in the mood to be whipping boys and raised their game, matching us in midfield and constantly exploiting the lack of experience shown from Adisorn and Thitawee. Customs’ midfielder Vaikainah, a wardrobe on legs, was also winning his midfield duels against Chappuis and Tanaboon far too easily. The best chance of the half fell to Deyvison, their Brazilian striker with a Brazilian on his head, sending a header against the post and the follow up was easily gathered by Rattanai (18).

And so, with Port being Port, they did the most Port thing possible and handed the initiative to Customs at the start of the second half. A cross from the weak right hand side was nodded in by Deyvison and then Rattanai took leave of his senses a clattered 2 Customs players earning them a penalty. Deyvison slotted home and sent the travelling contingent into raptures. So 2-2 and it’s now game on.

Port eventually retook the lead in the 75th minute; negligent goalie Chompong failed to hold onto Bonilla’s shot and substitute Adisak (9) scrambled the ball home at the far post. 2 minutes later Suarez pinched the ball off the customs midfield, found Freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee Nelson Bonilla in the box and he smashed home Tony Yeboah style to put Port 4-2 up. Just before the 90th minute Bonilla earned a very soft penalty which Captain Rochela coolly finished. Customs decided to add a bit of spice with striker Rachata spanking an absolutely filthy volley over Rattanai. But wait, there was still time for Suarez to square the ball across the box for Freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee Nelson Bonilla to tap in his second and make it 6-3. Moments later the final whistle and everyone involved in this encounter could finally exhale.

 

Brace buddies, scorers Freeeeeeeeeee Nelson Bonilla and another for Adisak

 

What can Coach Oud take from this game? Well Nattawut clearly has potential to make the first team and Rochela was a calming influence when Customs got back into the game but sadly cannot play in the league campaign. The B team in truth didn’t perform and several players involved would benefit from loan spells elsewhere. Suarez had his best game supporting our in-form strikers Bonilla and Adisak, which is a relief as he has been a little anonymous (when compared to his usual standards) at times. Still, a very satisfactory week for the club and we go into the next round.     

 

You ain’t seen me…….. right, El Capitan finally back in a Port shirt.

 

One final thing to note; it was great to have the food and drink sellers back at the stadium for matchday. These locals rely on this income and to see them back, happily taking my money in exchange for cold Leo, is a wonderful thing. Let’s hope further restrictions are lifted soon so we can have more fans, more community and more atmosphere at the PAT.

 

MOTM: Nattawut Sombatyotha

The lad can play. Sure, he faded in the second half but he showed skill, directness and opportunism which sadly was lacking in some of our more seasoned midfielders. Arguably he wouldn’t get a chance if Jadet was still manager so it’s great Oud is blooding him in matches like this. His second goal was a thing of beauty and will make the goals of the season list for sure.

 

All pictures: Allie Suwanrumpha  Captions: Sandpit Monkeys

 

Customs Check – Port FC vs. MOF Customs, FA Cup Round of 32 Preview

 

Port continue their FA Cup defence with a home tie against MOF Customs United on Sunday at 6 pm. With the opposition being from the second tier, l was off to the wonderful world of Wikipedia, Transfermkt and the roulette wheel of Thai club website and Facebook pages. Which couldn’t be better summed up than by the first Customs page l found having a total of two posts, including this.

 

Not a clue

 

Add to the mix that contracts signed for the original 2020 season calendar ran till the end of November and there’s a fair chance one or two players who have been Customs first-teamers will have moved on, so apologies if anyone mentioned doesn’t appear.

 

MOF Customs – What We Know

 

Their full name is Ministry of Finance Customs United Football Club. They are based in Lad Krabang, just over the fence from Suvarnabhumi airport. Their ground has two sides and the away stand has one of the best sunsets views in Thai football. So we messed up not warm balling ourselves an away tie.

 

Told you it was nice

 

They’ve managed a solitary season in the top flight in 2008 and finished rock bottom, having been champions of the second tier in 2007. They were coached by our own Sarawut Treephan in 2014. Kayne Vincent was their top scorer last season. We’ve loaned them a few players, Tom will know them all, nobody else will.

 

Easy on the sponsors lads.

 

This Season

 

Customs are currently 12th in the M150 championship. Unbeaten in 3 games and have back to back wins v the middliest of middle table pair Navy and Ranong in their last two matches. Away from home their record is 3-1-3 scoring 10 and conceding 12. Against the top 8 sides in the division, their record is a somewhat disappointing 0-1-5. Conceding an average of 2.5 goals a game. Against those below 8th, it’s a different story with just 5 goals allowed in 9 games (0.56 per game). So, it appears they can handle teams to a level and then it all gets a bit much. Also, 9 of their 15 league games have reached half time scoreless.

They were among the teams from the Championship who had to enter the FA Cup in the Qualification round, drawing fellow second tier club Uthai Thani, in a game that didn’t just get to halftime at 0-0 but remained scoreless to the end of 120 minutes before Customs advanced on penalties. In the last round, they faced the rather wonderfully named Nakhonratchasima Municipal Sport School and made like playground bullies making off with all the lunch money and a place in the next round, 3-0.

 

Who Plays for them?

 

Japanese attacking midfielder, Kenzo Nambu (7) leads the scoring with 7 leagues including a brace against Ranong and one in the previous match v Navy. He’s spent most of his career in the Japanese regional leagues and J3. Before moving to Thailand to join Kasetsart last season.

 

Kenzo scoring against Ranong United

 

Second, on the scoring charts is Brazilian left winger Deyvision (27) who has 4 goals from 11 starts and arrived from Port feeder club Songkhla, he has one of those epically nomadic Brazilian journeyman career history’s appearing to have made 15 transfers in an 8 year career.

 

Deyvison making shapes

 

Not playing for them is South Korean Yoo Byung-soo who moved to Ayutthaya after the pre-COVID part of the season but his nickname of “Ronaldo of Wolmido” is getting him a mention. He’s also currently the second top scorer in the division, maybe we’re better off not know which Ronaldo his moniker is derived from.

To stick to the Thai football stereotype, the defence appears to be marshaled by an overseas player in Swede Viktor Lovgren, who’s a vegan and had a pretty solid career in Sweden before heading over to Customs at the start of the year.

 

Imagine how buff this fella could be if was banging back bacon sandwiches.

 

Back up keeper Pisan Dorkmaikaew (35) has started the two previous rounds of the cup over league first choice Nutchanon (26). Pisan’s Wikipedia page has him down as retired, however, it seems a bit of pressure from Customs officials got him to retract his initial statement. Seemingly one of the better keepers in Thailand at his peak he was called up to the national team squad twice, eight years apart but never capped.

 

You’re going nowhere, son

 

In January, Thai Italian defensive midfielder Antonio Verzura (4) decided to call it a day at the ripe old age of 27 having spent the first half of the 2019 season at Prachuap and the second half at Sukhothai. Yet between the two and being involved in nearly 50% of matchday squads, the only appearance he made on the field came as Port thumped Prachuap 5-0. These Customs fellas are clearly pretty persuasive when they get you in a little room and start explaining the situation you’ve got yourself into. As they pulled the same unretiring stunt and Antonio found himself back warming the bench come the first day of the season. Maybe he makes a superb half time cuppa. His twin brother Gionato is at Chiangmai this season and has never retired.

The Wikipedia fun continues as diminutive midfielder Wasan Samarnsin (22) is deemed a 2016 title winner with that team we hammered 2-0 on Wednesday, for playing a grand total of 9 minutes. While Nattapon Woratayanan (9) was part of the Thai to Everton exchange in 2004 before winning the title with PEA in 2008. He would go on to be part of the Buriram team promoted to the top tier in 2011, before doing the same with Ratchaburi the following season and PTT Rayong in 2013. PTT broke his talismanic run by letting play in the top tier again for the 2014 season. Come 2017 he made a double return to PTT Rayong and the second tier but sadly the magic had gone and promotion has eluded him since.

We finish with the obligatory ex Port players, Jirattikan Vapilai (30) was part of the Foxhunt scheme spending time with both Leicester City and OH Leuven, before returning to Thailand for a spell at Port that didn’t work out, he’s been involved in every Customs game since mid October. Nattakit Fongwitoo (24) made 6 appearances for us in 2016 and l can’t say recall one moment of them, he’s only start came in the last round of the cup. Remarkably, despite having the best pedigree of the three, Tanakorn Dangthong (11) is our only former player at Customs to have registered zero appearances for Port. In our infinite wisdom, we signed the striker off the back of a stellar T2 season in which he was the division’s top Thai scorer, before realizing we had more than enough options up top and letting him go on a free. Classic Port.

 

AND NOW FOR THE KIRIN SLAYERS

 

Whilst it didn’t work out well against Bangkok FC in the last round, I’d expect an almost fully changed starting elven from that seen on Wednesday. With Ratchaburi next weekend and the possibility of a rearranged fixture against Chiangrai leaving little time for rest, it’s time to protect our starters and give the squad some match time. So I’d expect Suarez (5), Pakorn (7), Go (8), Bordin (10), Siwakorn (16), Nitipong (34) Worawut/goalkeeper (36) and Bonilla (99) to be rested. At centre back we have such depth you can give both recent starters Dolah (4) and Worarut/Baresi (24) a day off, not use either* that I’ve selected and still have several decent pairings available. Kevin (23) is suspended for the Ratchaburi game, so I’ve play him. I’d opted for Steuble (15) at right back, although if he’s the go to man to replace Kevin next week then an alternative might be considered. As much as Chappius (17) and Kanarin (31) didn’t work well in the first half at Bangkok FC, I felt they started to take the midfield over in the second half before Suarez and Bordin came on to turn the game and merit a second chance. Even if MOF Customs add to their lengthy lists of scoreless first halves we can stack the bench with players to take the game away from them in the second half. A decent side that struggles against second tier flair players isn’t going to enjoy the sight of a Suarez and Bordin double substitution as they try to hold on for the last 20 minutes. That said, hopefully we get a goal early and cruise to the next round.

*The club this morning put out a promo for the game featuring Pang (of course) along with Rochela and Tanaboon.

 

The Port official page has put out the banner below so hopefully, the game will be on AIS.

 

 

The Good New Normal: Port FC 2-0 Muangthong

 

Derby Day – or ‘Slum vs. Scum’ as it is lovingly referred to by The Sandpit, needs no introduction. Port fans’ most anticipated fixture on the Thai football calendar has been kind to us in recent seasons, and this year was to prove no different! As with many things in the COVID era, this time around it had a strangely subdued feel leading up to kickoff and during the game itself, with a usually packed-to-the-rafters PAT Stadium and its famed fiery atmosphere quashed by the current 50% capacity restrictions. From the outset it was never going to match last year’s experience (shoutout to Josimar for that wonderful goal and the celebration that will be etched in the memory of every Port fan that was there) but this is still *the* game that means the most.

Despite the somewhat different circumstances the match report could essentially read as the standard Port-MTU game checklist of recent years: Plenty of kicking and fouling from both sets of players – tick. Plenty of abuse from the Port fans to the Muangthong players, especially heckling the goalkeeper Van Lam – tick. Port score (Adisak (9), 31st min) – tick. Port score again (Bonilla (99), 86th min) – tick. The team and Klongtoey Army jubilant – tick. Another win over the old enemy – tick. So instead of some wordy recap, when “WE WON!! 2-0!! AGAINST MUANGTHONG!!” is pretty much all that matters right now, here are some matchday photos instead…

 

Bangkok’s finest prematch

 

Suarez dishing out the pain on a night of hurt for Muangthong.

 

He’s one of our own

 

Bonilla with a piledriver and this year’s entry for The Josimar Award for best goal picture v Muangthong.

 

The finest marksman in the league.

 

That derby winning feeling.

 

And the classic we won the derby scoreboard pic

Pictures Allie Suwanrumpha(@endresultphoto) Captions The Sandpit.

Man of the Match

With a well-fought team performance across the park it is honestly difficult to pick out any individuals,  so I’ll opt for the entire defensive unit this time as they were all solid throughout (and how about that one-handed save near the end from Worawut!) Special mention to our central midfield generals Go and Siwakorn who both put in a shift and constantly pressed Muangthong high up the field which effectively stifled their play.

 

Back for the Biggie.

 

If you’re going to come out of hibernation, it might as well be for a good reason and they don’t come much bigger in Thai football than the slum v scum derby. Just shy of eight months after it was originally scheduled to take place (thanks in part to a further delay beyond COVID, due to the PAT floodlight issues back in October), it’s the big one.
Port go into the game having claimed a champions league place at the weekend and can tonight enhance their chances of going directly into the group stage and extinguish the last lingering hopes Muangthong have of involvement (they need to win all their remaining games and still get a little help with results in other matches).

The Good Guys

Port come into the game in fine form with six wins in a row, with clean sheets in their last three games. The defence seems to have tightened up in recent weeks, two of those clean sheets have come away at Bangkok United (finally breaking that jinx) and last time out against a decent Chonburi team. Whilst neither saw the sparkling football going forward of the home win v Suphanburi they sandwiched, maybe the new management has installed some defensive steel and tactical pragmatism so often lacking at Port. Add to the mix that Bonilla(99) looks like the striker with killer instinct we’ve waited for the entire Pang era and there much to be hopeful about. I doubt we’ll see a winning line up changed.

 

The Baddies

This season has been somewhat of a turning point for everyone’s least favorite team as the continued attempts to cut costs have really bitten and where once you had as close as the Thai league gets to glitz and glamour. The squad is now made up mainly of players rolling off their youth academy production line.
However, we were told that would be plenty as they started the season with Gama at the helm. Give the Brazilian tactician, the lads from your local moto taxi stand, enough Carlos kickaballs to fill the overseas quota and a mid table finish was assured, seemed to be the theory in Nonthaburi. However there was just one problem with this, Gama wasn’t happy babysitting the latest batch to come off the academy line, despite the protests of some that nobody could want to leave a club treading water and get back to competing for silverware. Gama was of to Isan at the first opportunity.
He was replaced by former playing legend and current sock dodger Mario Gjurosvki. Who previous management experience amounts to a bit of youth coaching for them, during the COVID break when there wasn’t much coaching done. If nothing else he gets hyped up for every game, so expect him to get involved in a bit of back and forth at some point tonight.

An insult to style and Messi in a pink Barca shirt

 

Form

This season the numbers back up what we already knew, watching Muangthong at home really is the last thing you should choose to do, as games at Legoland have seen the least goals of any stadium in the division. Away from home things are nearly twice as goal friendly (19 v 10) but given that 3 of those came away v Rayong, with some assistance from a home goalkeeping performance, right up there with a certain ex Coronation Street star’s efforts for/against Port a few years ago, even that is a little questionable. Their away record stands at 3-0-3, with the victories being against (kinda) Rayong, Police Tero, and in the battle of the has-beens, up at Buriram. While the defeats have come at BG, Sukhothai and Chiangrai, so basically anyone decent.
The form in the four games under Mario Gjurosvki is also mixed, they opened with a 3-1 win at Police Tero. A match that saw the visitors hyped up like this was a cup final, struggle to pull clear of Police, who the last couple of months looks destined for a relegation battle, until two late screamers. Next up was the aforementioned battle of the has-beens in Buriram, entertaining stuff as the two traded blows to remain relevant. Starting with some calamity defending as a miskick from little center back Promsupa (15) allowed Buriram’s Scepovic to open the scoring. Something the little fella has form for as it was his blunder that lead to Port’s late late winner in the Leo Cup final preseason. Before Muangthong pulled clear with three unanswered goals. There was still time for Van Lam (1) to get all flappy about a header than was a routine save and make it a tight finish. Before Mario started running around like a pound shop Jose in front of the away end.
After opening with two wins things haven’t gone so well. Firstly they headed up to Chiangrai, where the only running we saw post-game from Mario was to break out the crayons and write a strongly worded letter to the league about how unfair it is that the officials no longer give all the dodgy decisions to Muangthong. The match ended in a 2-1 defeat. Then last time out they managed a 1-1 draw with Korat. Now everyone in the Sandpit loves Korat, however, they’re down there battling relegation year on year for a simple reason, they never put together a decent team. You want to be a big team you should be beating them at home. So to see the once-mighty Muangthong needing all the misfortune they felt they suffered at Chiangrai reversed in the next match, as they got two penalties the game would be better without, didn’t exactly scream form team. That one was twice taken and twice missed by Derley(87) only made it all more comic. They did go one up thanks to Popp(19) showing some competence from the spot. However up stepped Van Lam to again allow a header a mere matter of inches from his starting position to beat him.
As it’s probably clear I’m far from a fan of Van Lam, he came into the league hyped as one of the best keepers in Asia. Whilst his highlights reel, even from just this season, will feature some great saves, he’s also terrible at far too many of the basic elements of his job and always prone to letting a howler in. He was dropped by Gama for a couple of games and replaced by Somporn (29) a keeper who won’t hit the same peaks but offers a far more consistent and reliable alternative. Let’s hope we see some classic flapping from the Vietnamese number one.
At right back they should have Jesse Curran, who impressed in preseason and could be in on a Phillipino passport except it seems they haven’t sorted that yet so he’s stuck at Udon Thani playing in the second tier (all very Porty).
Derley, at 6ft might not be as big and scary as some but he’s a decent T1 striker, he’s scored five times this season. It’s just that over the period I’ve watched football in Thailand the guy leading the line for Muangthong has tended to be right there in the conversation about the best striker in the league not called Diogo. Derley is a decent middle of the range Thai league striker but then Muangthong has become more of a middle of the range Thai league operation.
Willian Popp (19) arrived at the start of the year and spent preseason and the pre shut down period, looking like a long lost South American cousin of George Weah, or a social experiment to see if you really could take any physically fit Brazilian to a footballing backwater and they’d cut it in the local league. There was a lot of huff and puff but very little end product. He looked improved when the league returned but has really kicked on since the change of manager, scoring 4 goals, two absolute screamers, and two penalties.
I could go into the details of their Thai players but let’s face it they generally all fit the same mould, hyped products of their academy who all go on to get a few caps because that’s what you do when you play for them before drifting off to have reasonable careers elsewhere. They also have Chatmongkol (14) on loan from Port, any logical club would have it in the loan he can’t play against them. So we all know who’s scoring the injury time winner.

Prediction

This is in many ways a free shot at 3 points for Port. When the game in October was canceled, it appeared that we would again be fined and the game awarded to the visitors 2-0. Maybe it would be fairer if it had been.
Having watched their recent games l think they’d currently get wound up for a game against the local under 7’s, in a game they’ll come to slightly aggrieved that they have to play rather than having nicked 3 points after the floodlight failure, with the added factor that it’s a derby, maybe they’ll be overhyped.
I certainly suspect they could boil over if the stadium was packed and away fans allowed in, creating a heated atmosphere, sadly the two clubs continue to ban away fans from these matches. Throw in the post covid new normal of only 50% attendance and the ban on drums etc and l fear it could be generally a bit flatter than a normal derby in the ground.
However, you don’t conclude Port v Scum previews predicting anything other than a win, 3-0 Bonilla hattrick.
The game kicks off at 1800 this evening.If you can’t get along the match will shown on AISplay.