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The Sandpit’s Player of the Year 2020/21 is… Sergio Suarez

 

The votes for this year’s Sandpit Player of the year award are in, they’ve been counted and verified and finally, we can reveal the winner of the coveted trophy (that doesn’t exist)…………..long pause……… and the winner is………………..Sergio Suarez. Taking the award for the second time (having previously won in 2018). It means the award has now been taken by Port’s Spanish duo of Rochela and Suarez in 4 of its 5 season in existence. So here’s a run throw of where the votes went.

 

Sergio Suarez 45%

The rise of Suarez has mirrored the rise of the club, arriving into the top tier in 2016 as somewhat of an unknown quantity the playmaker has beaten off numerous challengers to his place in the team to become the main creative force for Port and one of the marquee stars in the league. Quite simply Port look better with Suarez conducting the play.

 

Sergio (possibly) reacts to news of a second Sandpit POTY award

 

Bordin 26%

The temptation in seasons past has been to see Bordin as somewhat of a mercurial talent, the showman for Port, who will put the lesser teams to bed, turning a tight 1-0 lead into 3 or 4.  However this season Bordin stepped up to become a much more consistent performer, putting in great performances in tight games and when the pressure was on. Whilst his combination with Kevin is probably the best wide duo in Thailand.

 

Bordin now nearly unstoppable

 

Adisak (8%)

The battle for the third spot was the real contest this year. With Adisak getting the better of defending Sandpit POTY Nitipong by just a single vote. That AK9 did so whilst never having the sense that he was a first time regular and having arrived from the clubs crossed town rivals is quite an achievement. Throw in that most of his minutes were spent out wide rather than in his preferred central role and it seems even more bizarre. However, Adisak won the Port crowd over from day one by simply putting in a shift in (he took at least one MOTM this season for his commitment to tracking back) and scoring plenty. The striker would finish 3rd top Thai scorer in the league with 11 (with a better goal per minute ratio than those above him) and second only to Suarez for Port. They’ve always like a no-frills grafter at the PAT and in Adisak the Port faithful have a no-frills scorer who got the votes in to beat his rivals for the final place on the podium.

 

We saw this goal celebration enough times to cost a brewery.

 

Also on the shortlist were

 

Nitipong 7.5%

Kevin 7%

Go 5%

Boli 1%

Bonilla 0.5%

 

The Sandpit’s 2020/21 Port FC Player of the Year Poll

 

The season that felt like it would never end finally did, and as such is time to look back and reflect on what it meant for Port. Over the coming days we’ll have reviews, a Goal of the Season vote and a couple of other awards to dish out.

Kicking things off though, is the biggie: the public vote for The Sandpit’s player of the season. The first three editions were won by the Port’s Spanish contingent; first Rochela scooped the prize in 2016 and 2017, before Sergio Suarez took over in 2018. Last season Nitipong scored the first domestic win. Now it’s up to you, the public, to decide who out of the shortlisted players takes the prize. Voting will close at 7pm Thai time on Sunday.

 

กรุณาโหวตนักเตะยอดเยี่ยมประจำปี 2020/21 ครับทุกคน

 

Vote for your 2020/21 Port FC Player of the Year

 

On The (ACL) Road Again: Port FC 3-1 Ratchaburi

 

The billing had this as a Champions League decider, second vs. third in a slugfest, as the division’s two most prolific sides met to decide who would bag a place in the group stage. Except it didn’t work out that way, if the expectations were for Hagler v Hearns, what we got was something closer to Floyd Mayweather Jr. Port out thought Ratchaburi, with the Dragons barely able to land a blow of note over the course of the contest. Admittedly the opposition was greatly weakened as an attacking force, due to the suspension of winger Steeven Langil (11) and leading scorer Yannick Boli (10) being benched. With Boli’s transfer to Port supposedly already a done deal, there had been much discussion regarding what role, if any, he’d take against his future employers. Yet, even with an injury to striker Patino (20) forcing their final substitution after 65 minutes and the game drifting away from them, the Ratchaburi bench turned to local striker Sittichok (24) rather than Boli. Statement made, l guess.

Port themselves made a number of changes, with Kevin (23) suspended Steuble (15) came in. While an injury to Bordin (10) meant that Adisak (9) would start wide on the left. Also out was Dolah (4), replaced by Sandpit favourite (and surely soon to lose that tag) Tanaboon (71), who was actually rather good.

 

Tanaboon, back from injury and looking sharp. pic Allie Suwanrumpha

 

To continue the boxing analogy, Port in recent years have tactically been a slugger happy to simply stand toe to toe with the opposition and trade blows, in the knowledge that more often than not their attacking prowess would deliver a knockout. However, since Oud took over, slowly a new Port has emerged; one with tactics and a game plan seemingly designed for each opponent’s style and key men. No longer a collection of individuals lacking a system to excel, slowly they’ve morphed into a team, more about the system and collective hard work than individual flair. It’s all very strange and most unPorty.

 

Port finally a team with a system pic Allie Suwanrumpha

 

The rhythm of the match was soon established, Port would dominate possession, happy to probe at the opposition (who seemed equally happy to risk little and try and hit on the break). There were long periods of both teams feeling each other out before occasional the game would spring to life, typified by Port’s two first half goals. Firstly Nitipong (34) played a ball to Pakorn (7) and there’s a quick one-two with Suarez (5) that leaves Roller (33) and Yeo (5) out of position. Pakorn beats a defender creating an area of space for Adisak, who gets a couple of yards on Pawee (39) and with the goal machine bearing down on the keeper, there is only one outcome. 1-0 Port. The second comes at the conclusion of a spell of Port possession as the ball was moved repeatedly across the backline. Throughout the match Suarez, Go (8) and Siwakorn (16) would drop back to play as a libero, attempting to draw an extra opposition player out and allow the quick break. Here over more than twenty passes each of the three would at different points be the deepest and most advanced midfielder. With Suarez deepest, and after a minute of possession,  the break out occurs quickly down the left, leading to a ball infield to Adisak, who exchanges touches with Bonilla, after 27 passes a Ratchaburi player finally gets to the ball but only succeeds in returning it to Bonilla and Freeeeeeeeeeeeeeee of his marker the El Salvadorian makes it 2-0 with a smart finish.

The second half continues in the same vein as the first, Port have more of the ball but aren’t creating more than the odd long shot. For Ratchaburi Karaboue (18) is busy, but without Boli and Langil there is seldom an outlet for him, as the away team struggle to create an opening of note, reduced to their own hopeful long shots and crosses to a striker stuck on the bench. Adisak and Steuble have the better of Roller and Nurul (35), who’s return to Port was pretty uneventful and saw him subbed off inside the hour.

 

 

Go advances with the ball pic Allie Suwanrumpha

 

The comfortable mood however is broken after 73 mins. Karaboue plays in Eakkaluck (17) who attempts to cut the ball back from the touchline 10 yards wide of goal. Worawut/Baresi (24) makes a sliding block and seemingly puts the ball out for a corner. However, in so doing the ball has bounced off his leg and into his arm. There’s zero intent but its undeniably a penalty under the current laws. A terrible rule, enforced by an even worse system of investigation. However, right now we are stuck with both. What we shouldn’t be stuck with is a process that takes over 3 minutes to award the penalty. One view of the incident is all it should have taken, 15 seconds to make the decision and be done with VAR. Instead some 4 ½ minutes after the incident, Roller finally stepped up to send Worawut/keeper (36) the wrong way and bring the game back to life. In days past this would be the moment Port’s self-sabotaging tendencies came to the fore and we’d be lucky to escape with a draw. Ratchaburi ears pricked, did they up their game or was it the lingering fear of times past, tricking us that every Ratchaburi touch was about to lead to the equalizer. Murmers of worry could be heard from the terraces “operation…… something?” But Oud’s Port is made of stronger stuff and rode out the temporary storm and set about finding a third.

Substitutes Tanasith (11) and Nattawut (45) came close before in the last minute Siwakorn’s shot across goal received the merest of touches from Nattawut to send the ball past the keeper and though Yeo’s legs to seal the win against his former club. There was still time for Ratchaburi to create a great chance for Karaboue but Worawut/keeper was able to pull off a wonder save. That it was their first major chance from open play, sums up Port’s efforts. A 3-1 win against a team that is a worthy third. Who given the chance plays some of the nicest attacking football in the league but here were made to look ordinary. The defence was again solid, the run of clean sheets is over but they haven’t conceded a goal from open play since just after half time in the game at Rayong, nearly 600 minutes of league football has pasted since. Playing against several teams in and around the champions leagues places and a derby, to have won them all has been a fantastic effort.


Man of the Match

 

Always dependable and always puts a shift in MOTM Steuble

 

This was the epitome of a team performance, the system and tactics were a 10, individually nobody really excelled, and nobody had a poor game, 7s and 8s across the board. So, the award goes to Steuble, not often a fullback gets the award but off the back next to no game time, he came in shut down Roller, did everything that was asked of him and contributed going forward and had a hand in the second goal.

 

WE ARE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE (group stage)

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk: New Year Transfer Roundup

 

We’ve had a lot of comings and goings this transfer window, and it’s not even 2020 yet. By my count there have been 14 arrivals (7 permanent signings, 2 loan signings and 5 players returning from loans) and 9 departures (6 permanent departures, 1 loan departure and 2 players returning to their parent club after loans).

Quite a busy window then, although most arrivals and departures haven’t done much to effect the first choice XI that will take to the pitch most weeks.

The most notable arrival is of course Heberty, who joins on loan from Muangthong, and is expected to be Port’s key player next year. Tanasith may also threaten to break in to the first XI, although he’ll have to dislodge Pakorn first, which is no mean feat. Adisak will likely see significant playing time from the bench, and Jaturapat has an outside chance of challenging for a berth at left back, although if there is no more transfer activity in that position, he will likely remain down the pecking order.

There are players capable of making a contribution returning from loan too, but the fact that they were loaned out in the first place tells you all you need to know about the regard they are held in at Port. Things don’t look good then for Arthit, who made a big contribution from the bench last season, Yossawat, who had a successful loan at Nongbua, and Sansern, a highly rated youngster outside of PAT Stadium.

Notable exits include some big name players. Boskovic was released from Port some time ago, and has been spotted training with Chonburi recently, although no deal has been announced yet. 2018 Thai League MVP Sumanya has been snapped up by BG Pathum Thani, and Port’s marquee Thai arrival from 2017 Nurul has been loaned to Ratchaburi after struggling for form in 2019. One of Port’s vice-captains Adisorn Daeng-rueng has been released, while fellow defensive midfielder Anon has finally been let go after being continually overlooked by multiple Port managers.

Striker Rolando Blackburn, who will be remembered for some key goals and some terrible performances, has returned to his parent club after his 6 month loan spell, as has Piyachanok Darit, who made a solitary league appearance for Port.

Here are all the moves in full.

 

Ins

Tanasith Sripala (Suphanburi)

Nattawut Sombatyotha (Ratchaburi)

Kanarin Thawornsak (Ratchaburi)

Tanakorn Dangthong (Army)

Heberty Fernandes (loan from Muangthong)

Chatmongkol Thongkiri (Chainat)

Jaturaphat Satham (Chainat)

Patchara Chainarong (Debsirin School)

Adisak Kraisorn (loan from Muangthong – pending confirmation)

 

Returning from Loan

Chakrit Rawanprakone (loan to Customs complete)

Yossawat Montha (loan to Nongbua complete)

Arthit Boodjinda (loan to Chonburi complete)

Pinyo Inpinit (loan to Nongbua complete)

Sansern Limwattana (loan to Ayutthaya complete)

 

Outs

Sumanya Purisai (BG Pathum Thani)

Adisorn Daeng-rueng (released)

Panpanpong Pinkong (released)

Anon Samakorn (Nakhon Ratchasima)

Jirattikan Vapilai (released)

Dragan Boskovic (released)

Nurul Sriyankem (loan to Ratchaburi)

 

Loan Expired

Piyachanok Darit (loan from BG complete)

Rolando Blackburn (loan from The Strongest complete)