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Boli Bosh! Overhead Strike Tops 2020/21 Goal of the Season Poll

 

With a convincing plurality of the votes, Yannick Boli has stormed to victory in this year’s Goal of the Season competition. Continuing the trend of foreign attacking players scooping the award, Boli’s strike is the successor to Suarez’ magnificent chip in 2019, with the likes of Boskovic and Thiago Cunha having also won the award in previous seasons.

Whilst Boli’s victory was never in doubt, there were plenty of impressive strikes vying for second place, so here’s a look at how the public vote ranked our 10 shortlisted goals. Need a reminder of the entries? Look no further…

 

 

1st) Yannick Boli (41%)

Boli was sizing up his spectacular volley from the moment the ball was nodded back in to the danger zone, and once the wheels were in motion, neither defenders or goalkeeper had a prayer of stopping his acrobatic finish. Made better by the fact that his strike in first half stoppage time set Port up for an away victory, and that Suphan stopper Deyto could do no better than to sink to his knees and smile. Us too, buddy.

 

2nd) Bordin Phala (15%)

Bordin has capped off the most memorable season of his career to date with back to back runner up finishes in our polls, and it’s nothing more than Port’s silky winger deserves. Few were better positioned to view his match winner against Chonburi, that gained 15% of the public vote, than I was. Having given up hope in Port snatching a late winner, and with 94 and a half minutes on the clock, I was on my way down the Zone B steps when Port were awarded a free kick, so I positioned myself right behind the goal. Bordin stepped up and bent a marvelous strike in to the top left hand corner, scraping the outstretched hand of Chanin and earning Port an unlikely late win.

 

3rd) Nelson Bonilla / Go Seul-ki (9%)

Two technical masterpieces share third place in the poll, with Nelson Bonilla’s mazy dribble and clinical finish against Korat and Go’s left footed volley against champions BG deadlocked on votes. Bonilla’s run put one Korat defender on his arse, while he also managed to evade several more opposition players single handedly on his way to his finest goal in a Port shirt. Go’s strike was rather more straightforward, with the Korean watching Nurul’s cross right the way across the box, before finding the sweet spot on his left boot and effortlessly driving the ball back across goal, over the head of Chatchai and in to the top corner. Technically excellent, from a devilishly tight angle and in a big game against the future champions, Go is if anything a little unlucky to have to settle for shared third.

 

5th) Nelson Bonilla vs. Muangthong (7%)

6th) Sergio Suarez vs. Buriram (6%)

7th) Pakorn Prempak vs. Prachuap (5%)

8th) Nattawut Sombatyotha vs. MOF Customs (4%)

9th) Jaturapat Sattham vs. Chonburi (3%)

10th) Bordin Phala vs. Rayong (1%)

 


 

Congratulations to all shortlisted players, who had to get past lots of stiff competition just to make it on to our shortlist. Thanks once again to Arm, who edited The Sandpit’s Goal of the Season compilation, and to all Port fans who voted.

 

The Sandpit’s 2020/21 Port FC Goal of the Season Poll

 

Once again it’s time to feast your eyes on the wonder that is the annual Sandpit Goal of the Season video. The season may have been long and by the last few rounds there was little to play for, but the standard of goals scored by Port was once again superb. The process of getting the 68 goals scored this season down to the final 10 wasn’t easy. The result is a smorgasbord with something for everyone so, whether you like slick passing and flicks, bicycle kicks or naughty chips we’ve got it all.

So sit back and prepare for 6mins of great goals. Pick your favourite and vote below.  Polls will close at midnight on Tuesday 6th, after which we’ll announce the successor to Sergio Suarez, who took down the prize in 2019.

 

 

Choose Your 2020/21 Port FC Goal of the Season

 

Thanks once again to friend of The Sandpit and video editing wizard Arm, who put together this superb compilation of goals.

 


 

Thanks to Tom and Geoff for going though the highlights of each game, culling the pens, dodgy VAR moments and tap ins to get us down to a long list of good goals, and also to The Sandpit’s Goal of the Season Committee who then used the most democratic and scientific methods to get us down to the final 10 you see before you.

 

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)

 

Ratch Me If You Can: Port FC vs. Ratchaburi Preview

 

Just under 11 months ago, Port welcomed Filipino champions Ceres Negros to PAT Stadium for an ACL second round qualifier in which we were widely expected to advance. Port had already unveiled a garish gold Champions League shirt intended to be used in the next round, and some foolhardy fans had splashed the cash on tickets to Tokyo. Losing was just unthinkable.

One masterclass in missed opportunities later, and the plucky underdogs had deservedly turned over the home favourites. Our ACL journey was over before it had started, and we’d have to wait another year at least for another shot.

 


 

Well, as it’s turned out, it’s a bit less than a year since Port’s insipid surrender at the PAT, and yet we are already one step closer to qualification than we were last season. With T1 scheduled to drag well in to next year, the FAT decided to base ACL qualification on the league table at the end of the first half of the season, which ends two games from now. With Thailand also having been granted an extra automatic qualification spot due to overtaking Australia in the AFC club coefficient, this means a spot in the top 2 after the next 2 games guarantees Port a spot in the ACL group stages next season, while a 3rd place finish would land us in the qualifiers. So how do things stand now?

Well, the fight for second place is between Port and our opposition on Sunday: Ratchaburi. We are 5 points clear, with both teams having played 13 out of 15 games. That means that a win or a draw guarantees us a second place finish, and even if we lose we can still guarantee finishing second if we win our final game, a tricky trip to Chiang Rai which has been postponed due to the champions having been participating in this year’s ACL group stages. We’re sitting pretty right now, but neither of our next two opponents are going to be pushovers.

 

Ratchaburi Mitrphol FC

Sugar High

 

The Dragons have surprised some with their form this season, and they’ve had an awful lot of fun doing it. Taking the opposite approach to BG, who invested heavily in experienced foreign defenders, Ratchaburi have packed the attack with foreign talent, and have been rewarded with the second highest goal tally in the league. Second to Port, that is.

The key man up top is Yannick Boli (10), who is strongly rumoured (we think it’s a done deal) to have already signed with Port for the second leg. He’s registered 8 goals already this season, and is on top form right now. If a deal has indeed been agreed then the clubs may also have agreed for Boli not to participate on Sunday, which would be a massive boon for Port. His main provider-in-chief Steeven Langil (11), who leads the T1 assist charts, will definitely be missing out having picked up his fourth yellow card last week against Suphanburi. So far, so good.

 

 

Lossemy Karaboue (18) completes Ratchaburi’s foreign quota trio, and unfortunately this time I can find no reason why the French midfielder might miss out. He’s only registered one goal this season, but he’s instrumental in their build-up, and his work rate will mean that Go and Siwakorn will have their hands full in the Port midfield.

20 year old Filipino defender Justin Baas (22), who I identified as a T1 transfer target last year, was smartly snapped up by Ratchaburi this season, and the youngster has already made 5 starts since joining. He’s 50/50 to start at the back alongside fellow big fella Pawee (39). His countryman Javier Patino (20) also deserves a mention for his 5 goals. A Thai League veteran who guarantees you a few goals and doesn’t take up a foreign quota place is never a bad thing.

A clash which has been great to watch in the previous meetings between these two sides has been the battle between Port’s Thai-Swede Kevin (23) and Ratchaburi’s Thai-German Philip Roller (33). Roller is Ratchaburi captain nowadays, and my word has he been leading his side by example this year. Seven goals, and more than that some truly outstanding performances, have made him one of the most impressive players in the league so far in 2020. Yes some of his goals have come from the spot, but he’s been an all-around menace since moving in to a more attacking position this year. Stopping him will be key to stopping Ratchaburi.

 

 

Form

No one has been able to stop Ratchaburi getting on the scoresheet so far this season, but they have also conceded an average of considerably more than a goal a game.

They have 4 wins from their last 6, securing victories against Bangkok Utd, Rayong, Samut Prakan and Suphanburi, but have also been beaten twice at the hands of Chiang Rai and Chonburi. On their day they can beat anyone, but they’re far from consistent.

 

Port FC

Oud-standing

 

Coach Oud has really surprised me by how he’s managed to turn things around at Port since his return to the club. Former assistant coach under Choke, Oud has been able to fix a previously very leaky defence, and the attack is even starting to get back to it’s unplayable best. Seeing Port employing Go in an advanced role specifically to press Muangthong’s defenders when they tried to play short goal kicks last week exemplifies the kind of detail-oriented preparation we’ve lacked under previous coaches. I’m not going to give him credit for picking Worawut (24), who has been a revelation alongside Dolah in defence, but the fact that he has slotted in so effortlessly after struggling in past years is certainly a credit to the current regime.

 

 

There will be a forced change in Port’s back 4 though, which will mean we’re deprived of seeing this year’s edition of the Kevin vs. Roller duel. Kevin is suspended after picking up his fourth yellow card against Muangthong, and who will replace him is an open question. Thitatorn (3) played in Port’s first FA Cup clash while Steuble (15) missed out, but the experienced Filipino full-back has been on the bench while Thitatorn has failed to make the match day squad for the last couple of games. I’d certainly pick Steuble as the best option to shackle Roller, as he’s excellent in just these kind of 1 on 1 duels where defence takes priority. A safe pair of hands, and surely the best man for the job.

 

 

 

The rest of the team should be mostly unchanged, save for Pakorn (7) potentially being replaced on the right flank. Nattawut (45) has impressed in his cameos off the bench, and his two goals in the FA Cup last week should make him the number one candidate ahead of Tanasith (11), who has looked lively but been a little light on end product. Bonilla (99) should continue to lead the line, with Adisak (9) coming off the bench, as he has been doing to great effect (on my wallet) this season.

 

Form

We haven’t conceded in T1 since October, and we haven’t been beaten since September. ‘Nuf said.

 


 

The match will be shown on Channel 5 and AIS Play at 18:00 on Sunday 13 December, 2020.

 

Bizarre Love(less) Triangle – Port, Heberty and The Sandpit

 

It was a move that generated a lot of buzz in the pre-season, and I’m not going to lie: I was quite excited initially when Brazilian attacker Heberty was signed. That being said, my initial excitement then became “wait, how will we fit him in!?” to “oh, for goodness sake, he’s killing our attacking movement.” The early signs courtesy of the Leo Pre-season Cup weren’t too good, but despite us not looking all that convincing, we still managed to pick up a [completely pointless] piece of silverware. More silverware beckoned surely!?

What I saw during pre-season from Heberty wasn’t good. He looked moody, somewhat disinterested, and to me, he was disruptive to the team. The incessant shots from 40-yards that didn’t stand a chance of hitting the back of the net, his unwillingness to make a simple 5-yard pass to a teammate in favour of spraying a 40-yard pass that was intercepted or lacked direction: he frustrated me to no end. It’s been blatantly obvious for years that we’d needed a ‘scary foreign striker’ and let’s be honest: Heberty isn’t that. He’s an attacking midfielder, and we already had a brilliant attacking-midfielder in the form of one Sergio Suarez. Whilst it’s probably fair (to some) to say that Heberty is a better player, there’s something that Suarez is far better at: working with his teammates! Shock, horror, exactly the thing you’d expect from someone playing that position.

Don’t get me wrong, the statistics attached to Heberty’s time in Thailand are impressive prior to arriving in Klong Toei:

 

 

 

When you factor in the 29 assists that he’s credited with for the 2018 and 2019 seasons for Muangthong, it’s obvious that his [statistical] output was phenomenal.

During his two 2 spells in Thailand, he won a solitary Thai League Cup in 2017 with Muangthong, as well as the Mekong Club Championship in 2017: a moment that would surely be the pinnacle of any player’s career.

 

A surly celebration after scoring away at Trat. Presumably shhhhing some home fans.

 

It goes to show how statistics don’t show the whole truth. For all of his stat-padding, he’s never truly achieved any measure of success in his career, and the way he plays (for himself, not for his team) is the very reason that he’s stuck playing in Thailand, and not still playing in Japan or the Middle-East.

 

Heberty looking miserable playing for Ratchaburi

 

During his time at the club, Heberty scored 7 goals in 11 appearances, in his latest showing of blatant stat-padding. He was a part of our disastrous Asian Champions League campaign that ended before it was able to start, and he was also credited with 2 assists on Transfermarkt, so I’ll mention that too.

What I felt of his performances for the club was this:

The goals and assists may suggest he had a huge role for the team, but our attack was disjointed, and it was 100% because of him. His insistence that everything had to go through him meant we missed out on plenty of goal-scoring opportunities. That said, there was moments against Trat and Rayong where I thought he was quite fantastic, possibly even turning things around, before being disappointed by him the next time he stepped onto the pitch for us.

 

I thought he liked them? Seemingly forlorn at signing for Muangthong.

 

It’s no secret that we’ve looked a much better side without him in the line-up, with it appearing that we’re now much more balanced. Bordin is now giving every fullback in Thailand nightmares, and is certainly benefiting from receiving the ball a bit more often. Every member of the squad is pulling their weight during the game, nobody is shirking their defensive duties, and our performances can almost be described as ‘workmanlike’ at times under Coach Oink.

I don’t think for a single second that this would’ve been possible with Heberty still at the club. You know what they say, though: one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. After departing Port, there was supposed interest from China (I’m calling bollocks on that one), before perennial under-achievers Bangkok United decided to sign him. Considering he looked miserable to be playing for a club with a stadium atmosphere that’s almost unrivaled in Thailand, at least there’ll be no fans at the Thammasat Stadium to be disappointed with his apparent lack of enthusiasm to be at their club.

Also, with the way that their players behave on matchday, he should fit right in, but in a completely different way, which I guess will make a nice change for neutral viewers that are searching for new reasons to not like Bangkok United. Just watch the way they attempt to intimidate the referee, scream bloody murder when they dive and don’t receive a penalty: you’ll be given plenty of reasons to not like them within the first 30-minutes.

 

This one I can understand. I’d have a bit of a strop on too, if I’d just had to take a big pay cut.

 

Shopping Boli

With the departure confirmed, a foreign spot has opened up, and the rumours say practically unanimously that it will be filled by Ivorian striker Yannick Boli. If Boli is to arrive it’ll be interesting to see what happens with Nelson Bonilla, who has looked incredible since his return from injury. If we’re to sign Boli, and keep Bonilla, I’m honestly excited by the goal-scoring options that we’d have on our books. Throw Adisak into the equation (sorry Tom) and there’s depth that is probably unrivaled league-wide.

Also departing the club, as mentioned in a previous article, is the incredibly likeable and all round good guy Josimar. I’ll never forget his goal last season against the Scum, as I was on an eight hour ferry ride back home. I’m surprised that I didn’t wake anyone with my celebrations of the goal, and I envy every person that was in Zone B for that special moment. I hope he’s picked up by a fellow T1 side, so that we can give him a proper send-off and express our gratitude.

 

Dolah In The Bank

In much brighter news: Elias has re-signed with the club! I was quite concerned that we were going to lose him, and I’m pleased that we’ve locked him in for the next two-and-a-half years. That goal-line save in the derby on Wednesday was a nice reminder of just how important he is to us and may be the catalyst for inspiring a big second-leg for him. If Nishino wants to win a few things with Thailand, he’d be wise to drop the ticking time-bomb Manuel Bihr and start Dolah ahead of him. Just my two cents!

With the mid-season window ahead of us, I’m sure there’s plenty of excitement [and possibly a cluster-youknowwhat] around the corner that will have us all scratching our heads. With the team looking fantastic at the moment, I’d like to see minimal changes, though I expect we may see a few of the fringe players depart on loan-deals at the very least.

With vendors allowed back at PAT for the recent FA Cup game, and performances on the pitch consistently good: there’s plenty of reasons to be excited.

 

Note From The Editor

We know plenty of you liked Heberty, so if you’d like to write a riposte with a different opinion on his time at Port, get in touch. If you like you can do it without your name appearing, as this author did.

 

see ya grumpy

 

BG’s Saturday Night Fever: Port FC vs. Ratchaburi (FA Cup Final Preview)

 

It has been a season of thirds. A triple layer hamburger, topped and bottomed by a light and fluffy, expertly toasted bap, laced with a tasty, tangy sauce and garnished with an innovative leafy salad, seasoned with a hint of balsamic. In the middle, though, an unappealing, flavourless patty, stodgy in places and miserably failing to satisfy that initial promise. This has been Port’s season in a cardboard box. An explosive start, a laboured, clueless middle, redeemed by a late, often thrilling bid for a first League title. And now comes the dessert, a dish to sweeten the Port season and one which they must devour with gusto.

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