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Port take the Venom out of the Cobras; Port FC 2-0 Khon Kaen United

 

The weekend was upon us again, which meant just one thing: matchday 3 and the visit of Khonkaen United to PAT Stadium, although the lack of fans in the terraces was still a major miss for our lads. Whilst other clubs may be possibly benefitting, or not even noticing the lack of fans in the stands: it’s a big miss in Khlong Toei. Regardless, it is what it is, and I hope that everyone that’s reading this is doing well, and in good health.

 

This place needs fans back.

 

It was an unchanged Port XI that lined up, and after the performance against Bangkok United, I was hopeful that if they put in a similar shift: a big win would be on the cards. It was our visitors that would carve out the first chance of the game, after less than 60-seconds, with some lax marking at a corner allowing the Khonkaen United attacker Verapat (22) an almost free header from 4-yards. Worawut (36) made himself big, but he was nowhere near the ball, but it was enough to put Verapat off. Bullet dodged: get the action up the other end, please!

We did just that, with some of our lads looking up for it early on. Sergio (5) was menacing, Siv (16) seemed to be everywhere, Pakorn(7) was causing problems: it had the Khonkaen United players at sixes and sevens. A through ball from Roller (33) with 6:29 on the clock had Go (8) in acres of space in the box, although he got the ball stuck under his feet, which allowed Douglas Cobo (30) to make a challenge before our Korean midfielder could get a shot off. It was a missed opportunity, and he should have done better.

 

Marking seems to be optional this weekend in Thailand

 

It didn’t take us much longer to find the breakthrough, with a poor defensive header from Filipino central-defender Josh Grommen (4) going straight to Pakorn, who played a first-time ball to Siv. I’m not sure why the Atthawit (10) felt it was necessary to foul Siv outside the box: he should’ve encouraged him to shoot instead! The foul gave Pakorn the chance to do Pakorn things, and my goodness: it was a thing of beauty! There’s been a real change from the midfield monk this season and although he’s had a few ‘false dawns’ in seasons gone by: I’m truly hopeful that this time it’s for real. There’s never been any doubts surrounding his technical ability, but there have always been questions as to whether he has the hunger/desire to become a top player. I’m not sure if we can give Dusit the credit, but regardless: Pakorn is looking magnificent so far this season.

If you see this as an opposition player: get ready to pick the ball out of the back of the net!

 

You give Pakorn freekicks here, you get punished.

 

Truly, it was a magnificent freekick, and unlike a certain Brazilian who left midway through last season: you can sense there’s a genuine technique to Pakorn’s efforts. It’s not just an “I’m going to hit this as hard as I can, and hope like hell it ends up in the net somehow” type of thought process. The fact that the Khonkaen United goalkeeper KNEW where he was going to hit it, yet still couldn’t keep it out: pinpoint precision. Sorry to wax so lyrical about the goal, but it’s well worth watching on loop for a while… I swear.

The goal allowed the lads to relax, the tricks and flicks, tiki-taka and first-touch football all came to the fray. After a smart press in the heart of the midfield, Go nicked the ball from the Khonkaen United midfield and on to Bordin (10), who took a touch and played the ball back to Go. Once again: he had time and space. This time, he didn’t get the ball caught under his feet, and he hit the ball forward to Nelson Bonilla (9).

It was never in doubt that he’d want to get back onto his right-foot, and after rinsing the Khonkaen United central-defender Apisit (26), he was [kind of] one-on-one with the goalkeeper and sent a luscious dink over the ‘keeper, to put the ball into the back of the net. It oozed class from the El Salvador international, and if he can do this with regularity, it could see him once again become one of Thai League 1’s most feared strikers. A fully fit Bonilla is a striker that will score 20-plus goals over the course of the season, and it’s exactly what we need from him this season.

 

Freeeeeeeeeeeee phone? Bonilla scores for the second match in a row.

 

With just 19-minutes on the clock, it was looking quite precarious for the King Cobras, with our midfield seeming to swarm all over the pitch in search of the ball. After Siv was fouled [again] in the 22nd minute, Pakorn forced yet another save from their goalkeeper from the resulting set-piece, although it was a much more straightforward save this time around. A few minutes later, Bordin won the ball back [after losing it] and received a kick for his troubles, giving Pakorn yet another opportunity to test out Nakchamnan (27) in goal. What followed would’ve been comedy gold if the ball had found its way into the back of the net, but a quick scramble from Grommen got the ball cleared away from danger.

Grommen was involved again a few minutes later, when Roller breezed by him, went down, and earned the Filipino central-defender a yellow card. It earned protestations from the defender, which would become a theme over the course of the 90-minutes, but he should be more frustrated that an opposition player had gotten by him as easily as Roller.

The King Cobras were edging their way back into the game, and a shot from Ibson Melo (71) at 32:39 forced an acrobatic save from Worawut. His matchday 1 performance had been below-par, but his performances last week, and here, have at least given justification as to why the club didn’t sit him on the pine. Regardless: I’m sorry for suggesting it Worawut!

Our next opportunity would come after a through-ball from Siv, with it reaching Bonilla. Unfortunately, it was on his left-foot, and after taking a touch: he could only get a corner. Could he have played a ball back to Jaturapat (15)? Possibly. The goalkeeper was well out of position, and if Jaturapat couldn’t have got a shot off himself: he could’ve at least squared it to someone who could. After watching the highlights again, it would appear that Roller had been unmarked at the back-post. Hindsight is always 20:20 though, and I won’t begrudge Bonilla for attempting to get a second for himself. It’d be our final attacking chance of the half, although our opposition wasn’t done just yet.

Over the course of the match, Ibson was a constant menace, and on another day: he could’ve easily had a first-half brace. We’re quite lucky that Worawut was in such inspired form, and he spared Dolah’s (4) blushes at 43 mins on the dot when he parried an Ibson shot, and then quickly recovered to pounce on the ball. Ibson had gotten by Dolah far too easily, and although his shot seemingly lacked power, it had good placement. In first-half stoppage time, some poor defending [again!] would allow the Brazilian to go one-on-one with Worawut, with the Thai national team understudy once again coming up big for us.

 

Worawut saves, the Cobra’s showed their fangs repeatedly but couldn’t beat the inform keeper.

 

This is where the empty terraces hurt us so much. If you’d had fans at this game, we would’ve been urging the lads to push on to get goals 3, 4, 5 or even more. The opportunity was there: we didn’t take it. It seemed like we went back into our shells, got complacent, and decided that we’d done enough to get the 3-points. It’s such a dangerous way to operate, and we’re very lucky that we weren’t punished for it. It’s up to Dusit to stop this type of complacency creeping into games, and I’m hopeful that in time: he will. It’s still early days from our ‘new’ head coach, and after what played out on matchday 1… it seems that he’s at least allowed to pick his own team, and in the shape that he feels will get the desire results. A head coach picking his own team and tactics? What an intriguing concept!

How long this is allowed to happen? Your guess is as good as mine.

Khonkaen United had made a change during the half-time interval, with Apisit being replaced by Kitsada (7) which saw their captain Douglas Cobo pushed back into central-defence. It’d be the King Cobras that would carve out the first opportunity of the second-half, with a gaffe from Rochela (22) allowing Ibson yet another shot on goal. Fortunately: Worawut was intent on preserving his clean-sheet. From the resulting corner, I honestly thought that Ibson had finally gotten his goal, so I was stunned when the replay showed that Worawut had prevented the WHOLE BALL from crossing the line. Khonkaen United must be disappointed to not have had the same VAR official as Muangthong last week, who’d have without doubt given the goal.

It was more worthy of the “super save” comments that he’d gotten from the commentary team for other saves he’d made throughout the game, although this time: he didn’t receive said comment! What!?!?!?

 

Super save from Worawut to stop the ball from crossing the line

 

We finally carved out our first proper opportunity of the second-half at 56:04, with a cross from Bordin being nodded down to Go by Suarez, with the Koreans effort being blocked by Douglas Cobo. It was a great passage of play from us, and a goal at the end of it would’ve been delightful. Alas: it wasn’t to be.

Just after the hour-mark, Dusit began to make some substitutions, with Nitipong (34) replacing Jaturapat, and Nattawut (45) coming on for Bordin. It meant that Roller moved over to the left-hand side, and although it would make his attacking play a bit more predictable: there’d still be that excitement factor about it too. In truth, the game began to fizzle a bit after the changes, with neither side truly carving out an opportunity that would force either ‘keeper into a save. In the 67th minute, Khonkaen United had made a double save of their own, and we responded again in the 79th minute with another double substitution: this time Nurul (13) coming on for Pakorn, and Kannarin (31) replacing the hero Siv.

The second-half hadn’t produced as many exciting moments as the first-half, bar the save from Ibson by Worawut from the corner, and I found my interest waning at times. A lot of the second-half performances from the Thai League 1 games that I’ve watched so far this season still have that pre-season friendly feel about it, and I’m hoping that it’s something that’ll change in the near future. Ibson forced Worawut into action at 86:31, and with Worawut prevailing once again: the Brazilian attacker must’ve finally realized that it just wasn’t going to be his night. Ibson was fantastic for the King Cobras, as was Douglas Cobo, and if they can both maintain the level of performance from last night: I think that Khonkaen United will surprise a few teams this season.

One final attack from our visitors in the 92nd minute saw Worawut make his ‘final’ save of the night, and he sealed a cleansheet that was well deserved by him. A few minutes later, the full-time whistle was blown, and it was a Port game that was truly lacking any controversy about it. The ‘tinfoil hat brigade’ will have to think of another conspiracy at this rate, though I’m sure there’ll be a decision in the near future that has them screaming their lungs out.

 

MY THOUGHTS – PORT FC

I thought the first-half was pretty damn good from us, so there was a hint of disappointment from me that we couldn’t push on in the second-half and truly capitalize. Whilst I thought Khonkaen United were decent enough, I also think they were definitely there for the taking, and with a bit more intensity from us: we could’ve given our goal difference a real boost. It was a lot tougher for us in the second-half with Douglas moving back into defence, but with us seemingly in second-gear for most of the half… we didn’t exactly help our cause either.

Regardless, it’s 3-points at home, and that’s the name of the game. There’s still quite a lot of improvement to come, but there’s been a noticeable improvement after the disaster that was matchday 1. If we could do some work on our defensive positioning, so that the opposition striker doesn’t get 600 shots a game: that’d be much appreciated! In all seriousness, the defensive unit needs to do a lot better, because we shouldn’t have to rely on our goalkeeper having a ‘worldie’ every week in order to get a result. If the opposition can’t shoot: they can’t score. Get it sorted.

 

MY THOUGHTS – KHONKAEN UNITED

In regard to our opposition. I thought Khonkaen United were quite solid, but a slow start like they had last night was always going to leave them in a lot of trouble. If they can sort that out: they’ll be okay. I’ve watched all of their games so far this season, and they’re a hell of a lot better than the likes of Rayong and Trat were last season, and probably Sukhothai too. Ibson looks so dangerous for them this season, but it’s the backline that’s their biggest weakness at the moment.

There’s some things that they’ll need to fix, probably in the mid-season window, but there’s enough there to suggest that they could secure survival this season. In their two losses [Ratchaburi & us] this season, they faced goalkeepers having great games, whilst Steeven Langil was in inspired form against them too.

Good luck to them, and see you again in the second-leg!

 

Worawut man of the match photo, getting alot of use this season

 

MAN OF THE MATCH – #36, WORAWUT

Was it ever in doubt? Seriously: he’s silenced me with his last two performances. I lost count at the number of times that he saved our bacon last night, and without him: we would’ve been in a world of hurt. An inspired performance from the shot-stopper, and he should be the first name on the team sheet next week. We travel to Suphanburi next week, so hopefully, he can make it back-to-back cleansheets.

Honourable mentions should also go to Nelson, Siwakorn and Pakorn for their efforts, but with the drop-off in performance from the entire outfield: there could only be one winner.

 

Strike First, Strike Hard, No Mercy -Port V Khon Kaen United Preview

 

 

For their second home game of the season, Port are again the early 1730 Saturday kick off, hosting “Hilux Revo Thai League” newcomers Khon Kaen United. Those of you with a season ticket can once more bask in the glory of its value, as the game is a behind closed doors affair.

Port will be looking for a first win of the season against opposition widely expected to be involved in the relegation battle. Building on a respectable draw away to Bangkok United in round two, that showed many signs of improvement. As coach Dusit displayed a willingness to shuffle the squad and tactics, traits rarely seen from a Port manager in recent seasons. Switching from the back 3/5 that served him well last season, to a back 4 to start the game. In midfield Siwakorn (16) returned for the much maligned Tanaboon (17) and his presence, the change of tactics or a combination of the two meant the gaping hole between defence and midfield, Police exploited so successfully in round one, wasn’t on show. Resulting in another intriguing tussle between Bangkok United and Port where both could feel disappointed to not collect all three points. Bangkok United would have felt the win was theirs when awarded a late penalty but Worawut (36) saved Heberty’s poor spot kick and Port headed back to Bangkok with a well earnt point.

 

 

Dusit comes over a bit Phil Brown at Hull

 

Khonkaen United

 

The King Cobras have started the season with two home matches picking up three points. They opened with a defeat to Ratchaburi, there’s no shame in losing to a side who despite falling away from the highs of their first leg performance last season, remains a very solid T1 (its far easier than using “Hilux Revo Thai League”) outfit, especially when Steeven Langil goes on a slalom run and scores a superb goal. Their second match was one that will inspire hope they can stave off relegation as they beat Prachuap. On one of those terrible September in Thailand pitches, they were victorious 2-1, claiming the points from the penalty spot late on. Thanks to a VAR review with the officials seemingly as eager not to award a clear penalty as their colleagues elsewhere were to award one for a clean tackle.  Converted by Ibson Melo, who is becoming very much the gun for hire in Thailand, as Khon Kaen Utd are his third club in as many seasons. Having previously turned out for Samut Prakan Dons and Sukhothai, the striker has managed a double figure haul of goals in each of those campaigns and Khon Kaen season will benefit greatly from a repeat.

They are managed by Carlos Eduardo Parreira, who’s time in Thailand started working with Gama at Buriram. Before striking out on his own, with spells in charge of both Chiangmai clubs, prior to taking up his current role in the closed season. In both matches, they have used a 3-4-1-2 formation and looked to break at pace. Despite his history, Parreira defence has looked vulnerable. Looking at the squad it appears a particularly weak area, even for a squad that is packed with players whose playing careers are very much yoyo T1/T2 journeyman. That they went out and signed Alef and Grommen to strengthen the backline doesn’t bode well. Alef was a great watch last season playing for Suphanburi, for non Suphanburi supporters, as he was liable to throw in a clanger at any moment. Something we may be denied on Saturday night as the Brazilian season ground to a halt at halftime in the Ratchaburi game. When having been booked for clotheslined Sanarawat Dechmitr, he was subbed off and didn’t feature against Prachuap. Trying to protect the backline is skipper Douglas Cobo who has been with the club as they’ve risen from Thai League 4 via successive promotions. He’ll need to be at his best if his team are to get anything from the fixture. I’m expecting them to look to sit deep and frustrate as we’ve seen teams come to the PAT and do many times and attempt to deliver a killer bite on the break.

 

Other Khon Kaen pictures exist but this remains the best.

 

Port

 

The big question is will Dusit stick with the back four or revert to three, Worwut-Baresi (24) was brought on for the last 10 minutes in Rangsit replacing Jaturapat (15) who took his place on the starter roster (gotta appeal to our Yank readers now and then), although the aim there was too sure up, late in the game. At home with Bordin (10) and Roller (33) as attacking wing backs, going with three is a far more aggressive formation. While Go (8) and Siwakorn in midfield offer the defence more protection, closing down space and the whole group getting better drilled at how to play the system, l feel it will be tried again.

 

 

With everyone in the division having dropped points, Ports return of two combined with a victory here and several matchups featuring teams who sit above us in the embryonic table, hopefully, the weekend brings a victory and a move much closer to the top of the table. I’m expecting that to be the case and will go for a 3-0 win.

 

The match will be shown live on AISPLAY (possibly limited to AIS network users) at 17:30 on Saturday 19th September, 2021.Fans are not allowed to attend the game, so the best way to watch with fellow Port fans is to head to The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 who will show the match on a big screen.

 

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

 

Port and Ref Prach Things Up. Match Report Prachuap 1 -3 Port.

 

 

 

This winning thing appears to be a habit as Port made it two wins in a row, emerging from last nights trip to Prachuap with a 3-1 victory. Whilst it was once again basement dwellers that were beaten this was a higher stand of opposition than the Rayong side faced at the weekend. Although they were weakened by the continued absence of William aka Thin Bill. Port meanwhile made 5 changes and seemed to approach the game with a different style to the normal 4-3-3.

Which had little time to become apparent before Port put the ball in the net. As one of the changes, Boli (94) got on to the end of a Pakorn (7) corner and headed home. Sadly, the referee had blown for a foul by the scorer on Prachuap’s Filiposyan (16), who as the saying goes went down rather easily for a big man, after what appeared to be the merest of touches from the (non) scorer.  The process would be repeated in the 6th minute as Prachuap keeper Natthapong’s (13) hospital pass to Adul (25) was nicked by Suarez (5) on the edge of the box who squared for Boli to send the ball goalwards. Sadly it would be the officials in the VAR room who would deny Boli this time, as no matter how many angles and lines they looked at, they all showed he was a matter of inches ahead of Suarez at the moment the ball was played.However, the Ivorian would enjoy his most productive appearance in a Port shirt since signing from Ratchaburi, looking somewhere close to the player who bagged 8 goals in 13 league appearance for the Dragons. Seemingly enjoying a more fluid system that saw him and Bonilla (99), often playing more centrally with one dropping deeper into spaces normally occupied by Suarez. Who at times played as a more traditional central midfielder.

After that spell of initial Port dominance, Prachuap grew into the contest and would create a series of half chances of their own, the best of which saw an unmarked Saranyoo(87) just fail to get a touch on a deflected shot with the  goal at his mercy. Prachuap’s right wing back was a pugnacious irritant for the 72 minutes he lasted on the field, at the forefront of what appeared to be a tactic to rough certain Port players and generally break the game up while the scores where level. However, the deadlock wouldn’t last long, as from the resultant corner Port broke with Go (8) sending a well weighted long ball down the left flank for Bonilla, who once gain turned provider and crossed for the on rushing Boli to send a diving header home. Leaving the officials with absolutely no means of denying him the opening goal for a third time. The official in charge was Natee Choosuwan, who last took change of a Port game, for Burriram in 2019, putting a sterling performance to get the Thundercastle a 3-1 win.

 

Third times a charm, Boli gives Port the lead

He would have a hand Port’s second of the night, just after the half hour, as he awarded a freekick (rightly) for Suarez being brought down on the edge of the Prachuap area. Just one of a succession of fouls, as he seemed to be the primary target of the previously mentioned targeted fouling. Pakorn  stepped up and with Port forming their own wall in front of the defensive one, which may have impeded its positioning before disintegrating just as the winger struck the ball or perhaps its was just a wonderful freekick that was going in anyway, sent the ball into the top corner.

 

Pakorn makes it 2-0

 

 

As is traditional when Port go 2-0 up they set about making things uncomfortable. As the second halfs better chances generally came the hosts way, first Chutipon (6) would rattle the woodwork. Then a loose pass from Go was collected by Willian Mota (30), who’s though ball allowed Pumin (9) to poke the ball past the advancing Rattanai (18) and make it 2-1. A trick Mota nearly repeated moment later this time it was Chutipon on the end but Rattanai collected at the second attempt. With the risk of an equalizer leading to Oud engaging in some touchline self flagellation growing by the minute, the match was settled by a comic goal, thankfully the way of Port. As Natthapong raced out to clear Suarez’s ball into pace for substitute Adisak (9), just getting there first, only to succeed in blasting his clearance on to the boot of the striker and back into his net.

 

An “instinctive” finish by Adisak to wrap things up

This weekend Port face Bangkok United at home, the game will have fans in attendance capped at 25% of capacity, at the time of writing there is no word on how tickets will be allocated, we’ll let you know as soon as we hear.

 

 

Man of the Match.

Its not often you score 3 and don’t get man of the match but Boli is technically only credited with one. Pakorn’s freekick was a thing of beauty and nearly get him over the line. Kannerin had a good game covering for the suspended Siwakorn, to the point that one member of the Sandpits Sivisgod cult referred to  him as “the next Siwakorn” – praise doesn’t come much higher. However once again most of the good things that happened for Port had Suarez heavily involved.

 

(Less) BAD VS. (Close to) WORSE: PORT FC VS. PRACHUAP PREVIEW

Port travel to Prachuap for this evenings fixture, well given that I’m writing this at lunchtime on match day, you’d hope they’d already travelled. Maybe even been rewarded with a night by the sea by the club, for ending a run of six games without a win last time out against Rayong. The game will be part of the first round to allow fans to attend since the most recent restart, with stadiums, allowed 25% of their capacity to be used. Good news for this weekends home match v Bangkok United.

Tonight’s host find themselves in what increasingly looks like a three way battle to escape the last relegation spot along with Suphanburi and Sukhothai. A relegation battle which is looking like a disaster for those of us who like a beach based football away weekends, with Rayong and Trat’s plight looking beyond salvation, the possible of Prachuap joining them would be somewhat of a disaster. Sadly the T2 promotion race offers absolutely nothing in the way of possible coastal replacements.

 

Prachuap Form

Since the league returned at the start of February, they’ve managed 11 points from 7 games. A repeat of which from their remaining 7 fixture would almost certainly be enough to stave off relegation. The highlight of which was a 1-0 home win over Chiangrai United. The Killer Wasp’s sole victory against top 7 teams this season, against whom their record is 1 win 2 loses and 7 defeats so far. Scoring in just 3 of those 10 games. Although that does include their visit to (not) the PAT, as Port emerged victorious 2-1 in a home game played at the Leo Stadium, way back in the floodlight failure period of this protracted season. The last week of February saw a bit of a dip with a 4-0 defeat to the Samut Prakan Dons, followed by back to 1-1 draws with Ratchaburi and Police. The match v Ratchaburi being particularly remarkable, set for 4 minutes of second half injury time, it saw penalties scored in the 98th and 103rd minutes. As you may have guessed the wonder of VAR arrived to once again improve everyone’s match experience, first giving one of its ball to hand penalties to Prachuap converted by Mota (30). There was still time for Ratchaburi to earn a penalty of their own, with Roller’s spot kick saved by Nattapong (13), resulting in a joyous pile on of Prachuap players. Sadly for them, Filiposyan(16) had entered the penalty area before the penalty was taken and given that it was he who hacked the rebounding ball clear, there was no option other than a retake. Converted by Langsil, some 13 minutes after the scheduled end of the game.

Players to Watch.

 

Thin Bill and his little shorts, still striking fear into defenders across Thailand.

To be honest, I’ve not seen a whole heap of Prachuap this season and given the limited time I’ve got to write this preview, I’ll not be diving deep into the youtube highlights. So in classic style its based on a couple of games, one of which is their last match against Port and some outdated opinions from past seasons.
Hence the obvious starting point Wiliam (10) aka Thin Bill the former Chiangrai player. A well know menace to Thai defences, he did miss the last match but if he plays whoever gets the nod in Port’s problem left back role can expect a tough evening. He’s performances appear to have maintained the level of past seasons to the point, l recently saw Prachuap described as William plus 10 others. Fellow Brazilian forward Willian Mota (30) has managed a respectable 12 goals so this season.
Which means the Brazilian striking due have managed 18 out of a total of 27. The next best is Chutipon (6) who is the only other player to score more than once.
Keeping duties have recently been taken over by Nattapong (13), the one game he’s missed since getting his first start, saw the Wasp’s concede 4, while he has conceded once in each of his 3 league starts. However, the real reason for mentioning him is he A) wears a Petr Cech style scum cap and following on from yesterday’s report he is the only keeper to wear 13 to face Port so far this season.
We next come to their pair of hulking centrebacks the earlier mentioned Uzbekian Atyom Fliposyan (16), who signed for Prachuap when they joined T1 in 2018, returning in January this year having departed before the start of this season for Indonesia. Alongside him is Montenegrin Adan Orahovac (22). What you get from these to is classic physical centre back play, such that you couldn’t rule out them continuing their partnership beyond football making a career in low budget action movies credited as henchman 4 and 5.

 

Port

Siwakorn (16) and Bordin (10) picked up yellow cards against Rayong. While Dolah (4) has served his and is available for a return. Will we rotate ahead of the bigger challenge of Bangkok United at the weekend? Should we, given the lack of form shown by some? Do those who offer their opinion and influence on team selection even take these things into account? I’d personally start Suarez (5) and Go (8) on the bench for a bit of a rest and start Nattawut (45) and Kanarin (31).

The match kick off at 1900 Thai time and is being broadcast on T Sports and 1 play. As well as being shown by The Sportsman on Sukhumvit soi 13.

A Tale of Ray-ward finishing. Port 3-1 Rayong.

 

Rejoice, Port got back to winning ways, picking up three points, against bottom of the table Rayong FC. Points that were much needed as recent form has been… terrible, would probably be a fair description. Such that come kick off on Sunday, Buriram had climbed into second and fourth place Muangthong were a just a point behind. A situation that seemed unlikely at the start of February.

Whoever was on team selection duties this week decided to ring some changes as Dolah (4) missed out through suspension, replaced by the returning Tanaboon (71), while Jaturapat (21) got his chance at left back coming in for reliable Steuble (15) who’s spell covering for Kevin (23) has looked anything but, while the pace of Tanasith (11) and Bordin (10) in the wide positions was replaced by the somewhat less mobile Adisak (9) and Pakorn (7). Upfront Bonilla (99) having missed the derby in mid week was back and straight into the team to replace Boli (94) who dropped to the bench.

Hopes of something akin to Port’s 7-2 victory in the reverse fixture were soon raised as after 5 mins Port were one up as Bonilla and Siwakorn (16) exchanged passes, allowing the Salvadoran to pull the ball back from the touchline for the diminutive skipper to blast home his first goal of the season.

 

Celebrations as Siwakorn gives Port the lead.

 

 

The tone was set for the much of rest of the match, as Port set about enjoying themselves putting on a show of neat football, showboating and clever flicks, that weren’t quite to come off as a succession of blocks and the last ditch keeping, that would bring numerous “super save” and chuckles from the Thai commentators, kept them at bay. With Bonilla and Adisak (9) in particular, heading into the half time break aggrieved not to have scored.  Not so Suarez (5), who met the kind of cross that keeps Pakorn (7) on the payroll in the 38th minute at the back post and headed back across goal and for once past the star jumping Anusit (39)* and into the net.

 

Suarez makes it two.

 

Rayong decided to make some major changes at the break making 3 substitutions and one of the introduced trio Karati (30), would have an immediate influence as his long shot beat Worawut (36) but cannoned off the upright. A reminder that Rayong had offered some threat going forward and had recently held Chiangrai and champions in waiting, BG Pathum United to single goal victories. A threat they made good on just inside the hour, as the ball was nicked off Siwakorn allowing Rayong a 3 v 2 break. Matee (92) was picked out in acres of space on the left, with Jaturapat being stranded some way upfield. The striker bagging his first of the season from just inside the box, to make it 2-1. At which point the failure to convert some of the pressure, would have caused the faint whiff of a classic “operation f up” to be picked up on the terraces if there had been any fans allowed in, to be aware of it.  A whiff that became an absolute stench five minutes later, as Jaturapat, with no excuse for being out of position this time, left Ritthidet (11) unmarked to just failed to make contact with a cross at the far post, when doing so would have almost certainly level the match.

Port had throughout this kept up the own efforts at the other end, continuing to create a series of unconverted chances. Ultimately it would take the involvement of VAR to get the third goal and seal the victory.  As a diving Rayong defender’s outstretched hand was struck by Bordin’s shot. Numerous players stopped, some made the TV sign in the refs direction. Play went on for nearly 30 seconds before, the official had chance to speak to the VAR room and set about wasting a couple of minutes of everyone time to decide the obvious. Suarez stepped up to convert in front of the empty zone B and make it 3-1.  Some would call it VAR karma for the ridiculous penalty given for the ball striking the back of Go (8), on Wednesday, especially as VAR would rule out a Muangthing third that night and gain Trat a penalty on Saturday evening v Muangthong ( for the ball striking Rocha’s arm). I just saw more evidence of bad rules and a system that at this point doesn’t work.

The remaining minutes would see Port coming up with a series of comic misses as the visitor’s finally seemed to accept there would be no point in their almost hopeless battle to avoid making it a single season in the top flight.

 

 

 

Man of the Match

 

Sergio Suarez. While many around him have seen their level dip recently the playmaker has been consistently the standout for Port.

 

 

 

Pictures Allie Suwanrumpha(@endresultphoto) Captions The Sandpit.

 

 

*what happened to keepers having squad numbers “1” and “13”. Rubbish stat time: The last 3 Port games have seen a total of zero keepers from either team wear 1 or 13. The last number “1” we faced was Chatchai of BG and just one sighting of a “13”.

Bad vs. Worse: Port FC vs. Rayong FC Preview

 

It’s that time of year again. After foolishly holding out hope that Port might be reinvigorated by a trip to the SCG, there is no longer any room for doubt that Port are deep in to our traditional mid-season slump. Five winless games is troubling enough, but two of those results – the 0-2 loss against Police and the goalless draw with Trat – came against poor teams who were themselves struggling.

So what do Port need in order to start looking like the team who were challenging for the title just a few weeks ago? Well, the easiest fixture on the calendar might be just the ticket. Port may be winless in 5, but Sunday’s opponents Rayong have lost 7 on the bounce. Port may have failed to find the back of the net twice in our last 5 league games, but Rayong have failed to score in 6 of their last 7.

That’s not to say we’re not capable of accommodating an upset. When we’re bad we’re really bad, and Rayong have beaten a couple of half decent sides this season. So let’s see who we should be looking out for in opposition colours.

 

Rayong FC

Players to Watch

 

At the back they’ve recently brought in English centre back Adam Mitter (6). Having played non-league football in England, Mitter has gone on to tour some of the world’s least fashionable leagues: a semi-professional club in Australia, an Indian third tier outfit and a handful of teams in the Philippines. And those are just the highlights; he’s gone through 16 teams in his 10 year career. I believe ‘well-travelled’ is the appropriate euphemism. Since arriving in Thailand. It’s taken Mitter precisely 4 games to get 4 T1 yellow cards and get himself suspended, but he’ll most likely be back in action against Port. Boli will be quaking in his boots.

 

 

In midfield they’ve got a Japanese fella who has actually played to a good level in Thailand. Several years ago. He’s now 34. Goshi Okubo (40) has still got some tricks up his sleeve, though. He fired in an absolutely audacious strike from the centre circle as well as a well-struck penalty in their 2-3 loss to Chiang Rai last week, proving that he’s still got something to offer at this level.

 

 

There’s not a lot else to talk about in terms of attacking options. The magnificently named Agaldisio Pitbull (10) is comfortably the pick of the bunch, but he’s been out for a few weeks, while fellow Brazilian Bruno Paulo (36) looks thoroughly unremarkable. In the bits of highlights I’ve caught, Mehti Sarakham (92) has been the only other bright spark. He’s quick, likes to run with the ball and could cause us some problems. Although he hasn’t managed a goal or an assist this season. So his end product might need a little work.

 

 

Form

 

It’s ugly for both sides, but Rayong’s results are truly noteworthy for how bad they’ve been. They’ve scored in only one of their last seven games. Having said that, they did find the net twice last week, before only losing by a single goal against league leaders BG. It would be a stretch to describe them as ‘coming in to form’, but the way we’re playing any sort of performance from the opposition could be enough to secure a result at the PAT.

 

Port FC

On The Way Oud

 

In my last preview I touched on a few players who I thought needed to be dropped. They weren’t, and we were so poor at times against Muangthong that I’ve added to my list. Nitipong (34) has really regressed this season, and desperately needs a rest. Thitawee (2) is the only natural replacement, and he looked unreliable earlier this season, but could be worth a try.

Dolah (4) is suspended having picked up his fourth yellow on Wednesday, and the way he’s been playing since returning from injury that’s probably a good thing. Worawut (24) has continued to look decent at the back, but who knows who will be partnering him on Sunday. Todsapol (6) was the only centre back on the bench last week, so he’s probably the best bet. Let’s hope he lasts the 90 minutes.

Steuble (15) continues to look well below his best, and with their being far more value in attacking rather than defending full backs against Rayong, Jaturapat (21) should really be getting a run-out.

In midfield Siwakorn (16) hasn’t looked awful, but we need to instil a sense of competition among our squad, and rotation is one way to go about that. Kanarin (31) is the most deserving of a start in my book, but again I’ll take any old fresh legs at this point. Youngster Tawin (14) was on the bench against MTU. Give him a go.

Tanasith (11) was rotated in on Wednesday, which I was happy to see, but he didn’t do himself any favours on the pitch. Looking dangerous and failing to provide end product can only get you so far, and with plenty of other options on the wings, it’s likely that Port will give someone else a go on Sunday. Pakorn (7), who came off the bench only to balloon a shot in to the carpark, is one option, while Adisak (9) could also start wide on the right. My preferred selection would be Nattawut (45), but for whatever reason he is only being used as an impact sub.

Up top we’re in that spot we find ourselves in almost every year. We’ve signed one of the top-scorers in the league only for him to struggle in front of goal. Boli (94) is at least still contributing with some solid all-around centre forward play, but it would help if he also converted chances when they come his way. Suarez is doing his best to provide opportunities, but looks a little frustrated at the minute. Whether it’s his teammates, the officials or at times himself getting in his way, he isn’t quite firing on all cylinders at the moment.

The way things have gone I’d be very surprised indeed if Port are not in the process of finding someone else who is willing to take the blame when the team that is picked for them loses. Coach Oud had an exceptional start, but has hit the same bump in the road as all of his predecessors, so despite Mme Pang’s recent comments to the media, which could also be described as the dreaded vote of confidence, Oud looks very much to me like a dead man walking. To be honest I’m surprised how well he’s done and how long he’s lasted.

 


 

The match will be shown live on Channel 5 and AIS Play. Kick off is at 18:00. 

 

Port’s “Battle of Who Could Care Less” Muangthong United 2 – 1 Port

Derby day: the day where no matter what’s going on, the players should be up for it. Despite our current form, which is mediocre at best, we could draw confidence from the fact that our recent form against Muangthong was good. Looking at the starting-11: I was nervous.  Steuble (15) has been shaky at best in recent games, and Tanasith (11) hasn’t done enough to justify a place on the bench, yet surprisingly: they were starting in a game that is of the utmost importance. Rattanai (18), after playing well, was dropped to the bench, which shows that if you like and share a certain person’s Facebook posts, you’re more likely to get a game.

Before I forget here’s a lovely picture of Pang from earlier in the week. Anyway back to the match report.

 

With that being said, we started quite well, though we ultimately did nothing with it. Muangthong looked quite good too at times, and it’s hard not to be impressed with Mirzaev, who in my opinion is the best foreign player on their books. The first-half was end to end at times, with neither side able to find the back of the net, though Suarez drew first blood (the claret kind) when he collided with an obstructing Muangthong player. So, we went into the interval level, but in standard Port fashion: we came out for the second-half looking nothing like the team we were in the first half.

Muangthong drew first blood (of the goal kind) in the 51st minute, when we allowed Wattanakorn all the time in the world to pick his cross to an untracked back-post run by Mirzaev, who slammed it home. It was horrendous defending, and sadly… it’s not the first time this has happened. There are certain players in the backline that are so badly out of form at the moment that they could use a few games in the stands, although they appear to be at the point where they just wouldn’t care if they were dropped. Regardless, we were soon awarded a penalty when Chatchai collided with Adisak (9), in what was his only meaningful contribution after replacing Boli (94) at half-time. Sergio (5) stepped up and tucked the spotkick away with venom in the bottom-left corner. Game on.

But this is a Port game, and we don’t like to do things easy! Instead of taking control of the game, we began to play around with the ball at the back, and instead of building out from the back: we built our downfall. Go (8), who is usually quite reliable, made a mistake, and although we scrambled well: VAR called upon a check from the referee on the monitor. To me, it looked like the ball hit his body and deflected onto his shoulder/armpit. Usually, that would mean that it wasn’t a penalty, but this is Thai football, and we do things a bit differently! My expectations of Thai match officials are incredibly low, so I was hardly surprised when a spotkick was awarded to the hosts. To which, Popp tucked it away, and ultimately consigned us to defeat.

 

The ball hits the back of Go, unquestionably a penalty and a yellow card. All hail the miracle of VAR that has come to save the game.

The final 20-minutes was dire at best, with the only meaningful thing to happen being Nattawut (45) handling the ball twice and tucking it away, with it correctly being chalked off. Apart from that, we were aimless in attack, and the final whistle was soon blown. It’s never easy to lose a derby, but when you see some of the performances tonight… it’s tougher to swallow.

 

Sergio Suarez, goal scorer and bright spot

 

So: what next? We have Rayong on Sunday, and if we play as we have been recently… they’re getting their 4th win of the season. With his time at Port well and truly up, it’s time for Oud to wield the axe, and show the bigger name players that enough is enough. There are only a few players at best that aren’t playing poorly in my opinion, with Suarez and Worawut Namvech (24) the only players to come out of this game with pass marks, though I felt that Bordin did quite well too, but his end product was lacking.

What would I do for the Rayong game? Drop a lot of the players. Watchara (1) seems to not be allowed to play, so get Rattanai back in goal. Nitipong (34) out for Thitawee (2), who despite being underwhelming in his games so far for the club: deserves a chance at redemption. He couldn’t be any worse than what we’re getting at the moment… Get Tossapol (6) in for Dolah(4) and Jaturapat (21) in for Steuble. It might be a makeshift defence, but again… it couldn’t be any worse than our defensive unit at the moment, which funnily enough [for opposition fans at least] has forgotten the basic skills and requirements of defending.

In the midfield, get Kannarin (31) in at the base of it, and play Go alongside Sergio, with them both being given a bit more license to go forward. Suarez is carrying us at the moment, and his back must be incredibly sore from all the deadweight. We’d be in a world of hurt without him, and we really can’t afford for him to get injured. Go looks a little tired to me, but he’s still a good player, but that mistake that led to the penalty, was frustrating, to say the least! Sometimes you need to just pump it long and push the defensive line up and get the shape, maybe we can try that next time?

For our front-3: drop Tanasith from the squad altogether. He’s had more than enough chances now, and we’re better off giving them to Nattawut (45) instead. We should persist with Bordin (10), who will play himself into form, and if Bonilla (99) isn’t fit, persist with Boli. It’s a real shame what we’ve done since signing him, as he’s a proper number 9, but if we can’t give him any service, he’s going to struggle. That being said, he’s had a few chances in recent games, and fluffed them, so it’s up to him to stick a few in the back of the net and silence some of the boo boys.

At the rate that we’re going, 2nd place is looking very unlikely, and at the end of the season when we’re reviewing what went wrong, we’ll be highlighting this run of games. I think there’s less than a 1% chance that Oud remains in charge next season, and I genuinely wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t make it to the end of the season. When you consider our form before the break, and what’s happened since the resumption of the league… Questions should [but won’t] be asked. To me, it appears that he’s gone from being allowed to pick his own team, to being told who he’ll play, and it’s little surprise that we’ve struggled since that’s begun.

Hopefully, we will see a better performance on Sunday, one that can make us believe that the players ACTUALLY care, because looking out there tonight: you wouldn’t know. With a return of fans to stadiums rumoured to be on the way, there’s at least some hope that we can play our part in a return to form. We can make the PAT a fortress once again, and let the lads know exactly what we expect from them. To put it simply: we expect BETTER.

 

Another match another frustrated Oud pic

 

The game on Sunday is at PAT Stadium, with kickoff at 6pm. If the rumours are true, PAT will be allowed 50% of its capacity. If you’re unable to make it to the stadium, the Sportsmen will show the game on one of their big screens. Despite this appearing to be quite negative, I’m hoping to see the lads turn things around ASAP.

Let’s finish this season strongly, and start that off by getting a convincing win on the weekend!