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Despite Holding On, Police Cut N Run With A Point: Port FC 3 – 3 Police Tero

 

 

 

Port opened the season against a Bay City Rollers themed Police Tero side. Come full time any fears the arrival of pragmatic coach Dusit, would stop Port matches being entertainment were put to bed, as the sides produced an enthralling 90 minutes, with the spoils ultimately shared.  The fun started with the arrival of the team sheet, as Dusit began his mission to bring back the good times to Klong Toei by springing a few surprises from the mega mix of a Port squad. The biggest being the absence of Siwakorn (16) from the matchday squad, presumably injured. With his normal central midfield spot, alongside Go (8) going to Tanaboon (17). As expect Dusit deployed his a wingback system with the central defensive roles going to Rochela (22), Dolah (4) and Worawut-Baresi (24), Roller (33) came in at right wingback and Bordin (10) was surprisingly deployed in a more defensive role than normal on the left. Supporting Bonilla (9) were Port’s two standout performers of the evening in Pakorn (7) and Suarez (5).

 

Police Tero- Criminal away kits

 

For Police one former Port cult hero, Arthit “Pele” Boodjinda, started while the other Anon was nowhere to be seen. And it was their side who would make the first decisive play of the evening, Isaac Honey collected a misplaced Port pass and from on halfway played a ball to Evandro Paulista, who was in rather too much space between the Port defence and midfield, the Brazilian carried the ball forward unchallenged and from 25 yards unleashed a swerving a shang-a-lang of a shot to the left of Worawut(36). 1-0 Police.

There after Port began to apply the pressure and were rewarded in the 23rd minute, as some neat work by Bonilla evaded three Police defenders, giving the El Salvadorian the space to place an exquisite cross onto Suarez’s head, who guided the ball into the far corner. 1-1. Anyone thinking Tero’s first was just a case of early season rustiness and Port would kick on and to the expected victory, was to be disappointed. As the cobwebs were on show again just a minute later, as Evandro Paulista thought I’d do it again and worked his once upon a star success for the second time, scoring from near identical build up, this time he received the ball inside the centre circle and was again allowed to advance unchallenged towards the Port box, before unleashing a drive from slightly further out and sending the ball into the other side of the Port goal. It was an angel baby of a strike, only let down by the sight of a man just shy of his 34th birthday unironically doing the Ronaldo celebration.  2-1 Police.

 

It was one of those nights where Sergio Suarez was flying

 

If Worawut could be given the benefit of doubt for the first two goals, Tero’s third, on 32 minutes, was a classic howler. In my season preview, l spoke about each of our keeping options being flawed, with Wozza the biggest has always been coming for crosses and here it showed again as ball and keeper were like strangers in the wind as he ran into a group of four Port defenders marking only one Police attacker and succeeded in only flapping the ball into space on the edge of the six yard box. Where it was a case of on the money (Isaac) Honey as the unmarked Ghanaian showed his noted attacking ability, sending a bicycle kick into the unguarded net. 3-1 Police.

Port again took control of the game, pushing for the goal that would get them back into contention. They were rewarded when with 5 minutes left in the half, Roller’s cross evaded everyone in the middle and was collected by Bordin, who shot for goal, with a Police defender, diving to block it. Before the ball has sailed wide, the appeals started. As soon as the review was confirmed and the first replay shown, it was easy to see why. The ball clearly strikes Ekkachai’s outstretched arm. Here we go VAR moan one of the season, sadly l suspect numerous more to come.  The issue is, why it takes nearly four minutes to agree upon the obvious and get the penalty taken. That’s before we get on to what should and shouldn’t constitute handball and the issue of consistency when you add the handball penalty VAR reviews against Maungthong and Buriram for similar in the league.  Considerably shorter and less enraged than normal, that’s either progress or acceptance of this deeply flawed system. Back to the game. Rochela stepped up and fired his spot kick to the left, keeper Kittipong was able to get a hand to it and steer it onto the post but el capitán was Johnny on the spot, getting to the ball first and steering it home. 3-2 Police at halftime in one of the more entertaining halves for neutrals.

The second half saw Port again dominating proceedings and they were rewarded inside 10 minutes, as a Bordin shot was parried by Kittipong, the attempted clearance fell to Roller, whose debut whilst not quite Rollermania, still showed plenty of promise. The ex Ratchaburi man pulled the ball back to Suarez on the edge of the box, who span away from his marker and fired home. All square 3-3.

On a typical Saturday night at the PAT, with this match unfolding, the place would be rocking and the crowd playing their part, as the home team went on the hunt for a winner. As it was Police found themselves holding on in front of empty stands. There would be chances at both ends, with Worawut earning at least one “super save” from the commentators, something I’m glad remains with coverage having moved to AIS. Suarez was denied a deserved hattrick as the merest flick of Kittipong’s palm sent the ball onto the woodwork. Go would then lay on two opportunities, firstly for Nurul (13) heading the ball to the diminutive substitute, who may have been offside but avoided the need for a VAR check by fluffing his lines for 7 yards out unmarked. Before in injury time, Bonilla didn’t quite have the electric wheels required to get on to a through ball from the Korean, which would have left just the keeper to beat. Add in a free kick on the edge of the box for the impressive Pakorn and there were chances to claim all three points. The match however finished with Evandro Paulista clearly thinking the way l feel tonight I might as well go for a third long range spectacular but it was a case of there goes my baby as it sailed well wide to end the match.

A what could have been moment for Nurul

 

A disappointing result but at this stage of the season all we can do is keep on dancing, show the required dedication in training this week, ensure as a group the lads don’t stop believing and hopefully we’ll have a magic feeling at fulltime in the weekends trip to Bangkok United. It’s far too early to pass judgement on the Dusit era and even a defeated out in Rangsit would be too early for calls to see him back on the street. Give him time and the results will come. After all 90 minutes into his time at Port, we’ve conceded nearly a quarter of the goals his BG team did in a season, things surely improve. It was also the first time a Dusit led team have conceded three league goals in just under 3 weeks shy of two years – the last team to do it were Ayutthaya United in T2, hopefully, he can go as long before it happens again. With all our expected rivals at the top of the table dropped points bar the one we face next, there’s still everything to play for.

 

 

Man of the Match – Sergio Suarez.

New season same Sergio Suarez, long may it continue.

 

And finally, incase you missed it, a great shot from the Klong Toei VIP section.

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%

 

Wut a Performance!: Port FC 3-1 Bangkok Utd (Friendly)

 

It may have only been a pre-season friendly, but for me this was a hugely significant result – in over six years of following Port, I had never seen them beat Bangkok Utd, and whilst the result means nothing in terms of points or prizes, the ease with which Jadet’s side eventually dispatched their perennial bogey team certainly bodes well for the coming season.

Not that we were there to see it of course – due to the ongoing virus situation the stadium was surrounded by a cordon sanitaire, with only players, club staff and match officials allowed in. Even the hallowed Thai FA media pass, which would normally get you into Fort Knox, the Vatican and Area 51 without any questions being asked, was cutting no ice with the PAT officials on this occasion, so we decided to watch the game in the fashionable and upcoming district of Bang Chak, in Buddy’s Bar & Grill, a bar run by a Port fan who was more than happy to stick the game on his big screen and watch with us.

Bangkok Utd began the game ominously, despite missing several of their big cheeses, looking sharper, fitter and simply readier than Port, who looked laboured and were giving the ball away with frustrating regularity. And it was no surprise when they took the lead on 23 minutes, albeit with a huge helping hand from some calamitous Port defending, Kevin (23) nodding past an onrushing Rattanai (18) into his own net.

However, somewhat against the run of play, Port levelled ten minutes later. A lovely pass from the impressive Adisak (9) put Suarez through on goal and the Spaniard seized his chance, chipping over Falkesgaard to make it 1-1. At which point Port arose from their slumber and started bossing the game, with only some iffy finishing preventing them enjoying their half-time KFC in the lead.

The second half began in the same vein, with Port’s tails up and BU shrinking into defensive mode. Early in the half Jadet brought on the excellent Kannarin (31) for the lethargic Chappuis (17), and immediately Port’s energy levels shot up, increasing even further with the introduction of the livewire Nattawut (45), one of the most exciting young players we’ve seen at Port in a long time. Five minutes into the half Port took the lead, with a deep Suarez cross to the far post being turned in by Kevin, thus atoning for his earlier OG. And 18 minutes later the game was put beyond doubt when the excellent Nattawut skipped past several BU defenders before firing home a powerful shot past Falkesgaard, who made some excellent saves to keep the scoreline respectable.

A phoney war perhaps, but that fact that Port beat one of T1’s most fancied sides (and the current table-toppers of course) without getting out of third gear should give them considerable optimism as the league restarts. They will struggle to accommodate their wealth of talent, particularly in attack where Heberty again looked like a great player in the wrong team, and in midfield, where several quality young players are competing with a few older lags for places (no prizes, sadly, for guessing who will win that particular contest); but the fact that most of the squad have been playing together for a long time, and their familiarity with the ways and tactics of Sir Det, suggests that Port will have another bright season. The blind spot over signing a decent goalkeeper remains, but otherwise Port have assembled a squad that is more than capable of competing with the best and if they are ever going to win the title, this is the season.

The Sandpit Man of the Match – Sergio Suarez

The silky Spaniard picked right up where he left off in March, and was at the heart of everything good that Port did.

Swat a Start! Port FC 4-1 Nakhon Ratchasima FC

 

 

The day before the game Dom, Tom and I shared our pre-season previews which were unanimously pessimistic about Port’s T1 chances this season. 90 minutes into the season and Port made us all look a little bit silly with a performance of style, energy and panache which, although it was against truly abject opponents, bodes well for the weeks to come.

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‘Wut a Mess: Port FC 0-1 Ceres Negros FC (ACL Qualifying Round 2)

 

“They already booked their tickets to Japan? This is Port! You can’t rely on them!” So said a highly amused French Port fan friend of mine after last night’s game when I pointed out a few of our fellow farangs who were due to be jetting off to Tokyo on Sunday. And they weren’t alone in their overconfidence – before the game the club was selling limited edition gold away shirts, specially designed for Tuesday’s anticipated clash against FC Tokyo. The absolute epitome of hubris from a club for whom such arrogance really doesn’t sit well. As it is, those gold shirts will no doubt be on sale at half price before long; the first team will be playing in the Leo Cup instead of the ACL; and several friends of mine will currently be Googling “what to do in tokyo on a freezing cold tuesday night.” Read more

Pangdemonium! Port FC 2-2 Chonburi FC

 

 

Port’s off-field chaos spilled over onto the pitch and the terraces last night as the team played out a pitiful 2-2 draw against struggling Chonburi in an increasingly poisonous atmosphere. Port were simply dreadful in the second half and their cause wasn’t helped by three of the most ludicrous substitutions I’ve seen all season, and their fading title hopes are now surely all but extinct.

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Reality Bites: Port FC 1-3 Buriram Utd

 

Until now, Port v Buriram has always been very much a David v Goliath affair, but this season, with Port top of the league and Buriram struggling for consistency, it had the feel of a T1 title summit, a game that would tell us whether Port’s title bid was the real deal, or whether we were just the lucky – and temporary – beneficiaries of slow starts by the big boys. Sadly the answer wasn’t the one we were hoping for…

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Trat’s the Way to Do It! Port FC 4-1 Trat FC

 

 

Trat FC travelled to Klong Toei looking full of confidence after a comprehensive beatdown of Suphanburi at the weekend. They sported an all white away kit with red and grey stripes running down the front.  This immediately had me thinking of our last three black away kits that even the keenest Port supporter couldn’t tell apart. The two clubs have only had the pleasure of meeting a couple of times. The first came when Port was briefly labeled Singhtarua FC, our mascot a winged lion, Mighty Kiatjaroen the captain and King Leandro the top scorer in the league.  Those were happy times at the PAT and the sight of the “White Elephants” galloping up from the eastern beaches near the bottom of the table couldn’t have come at a better time.

 

Port had struggled to score in the last two league fixtures and there was an uneasy atmosphere at the start of the game from the home supporters. Both teams came out full of energy, looking to take points from a crucial mid week game.  Port were attacking Zone B in the first half and the first chance of the evening came in the fifth minute when Suarez (5) found himself with the ball at the corner of the left goal box. Pakorn (7) was positioned in front of the goal for an easy square ball but the shot from Suarez was easily saved by the Trat keeper (Tossaporn).  

 

The next 10 minutes of action were muted by poor passing but quickly pick up when Port started to move the ball wider to the wings, all three of them.  Pakorn (7) was menacing down the right all night and the play of Bodin (10) and Boskovic (23) was excellent teamwork down the left but often “left” us without a striker in the middle.  Port earned its first corner of the game after 15 minutes and the crowd finally came to life when the defender (40) miss played the Pakorn corner and clearly handled the ball, the ref waved play-on to the dismay of the fans behind the goal.  This was the first of many poor refereeing decisions followed by customary decent that had plagued the team in Sukhothai. Several waves of attacked followed with no result and the frustration of the last home game versus PTT could be felt with chances gone lost.  But the Port faithful didn’t have to wait much longer to “open the door” when Bodin collected the ball at left side of midfield and ran at the defence like a young Ryan Giggs. Kevin made a parallel run down the left wing in support, Bodin cut inside at the top of the box drawing the defence. He looked at goal but pushed the ball to Kevin on the wing, Kevin cut a pass back to a Suarez one timer that finished splendidly in the upper left corner for the first goal of the half.

 

Port were now in control but the referee seemed to be channeling Howard Webb (never trust a cop) and kept blowing the whistle at every chance he could get, thus killing the flow of the game.  Port immediately started complaining and challenged the ref about a foul at midfield. While half the team was bitching about the call, Trat striker (10) took a quick free kick down the right channel to (23) who moved into the box shooting low, the keeper parried the shot but the winger (40) scored on the rebound.  All even and frustration filled the stadium. However, Port’s reaction to the equalizer was fierce, they woke up and were stronger after conceding the goal.  Siwakorn (16) and Go (8) quietly bossed the midfield, distributing nce nice passes to the plethora of wingers selected for the contest. Just two minutes later Pakorn raced down the right side and looked to find Boskovic with a sublime cross. The crowded roared at the second clear penalty shout when the defender (41) clearly handled the ball, again waved off by the ref.  Two minutes later Nitipong (34) made an overlapping run down the right flank, he moved to the edge off the box and slipped a pacey square ball to Suarez who sent a curling chip over the keeper to the left side of the goal. Brilliant strike and a lead for Port going into halftime.

 

Slow starts to the second period are a Port trademark but this game was different. At halftime I imagined the team talk from Jadet going something like this, “Hey guys, we usually start slow but we have the lead so let’s be smart, keep our heads and go on to win this game.” To the contrary the boys came out flying, aggressive and undisciplined.  Five questionable and unnecessary fouls in the first five minutes gave Trat chances they didn’t deserve. A few corners and two free kicks just outside the box had the opposition looking good to equalize early in the second half. Port were not flustered and strong defending from center backs Dolah (4) and Tassapon (6) shut down any Trat attack. Port again started attacking from wide positions.  Boskovic found himself on the right this time and raced towards the goal. He reached the box and sent a weak cross to Suarez who jumped over the ball and tumbled like he had been hit by a car which drew yet another free kick. Pakorn spotted the ball about 25 yards in front of the goal and seconds later sent a screaming shot through the wall for the third goal of the game for Port.

 

Relief for the fans but the pace of the game was still unpleasant. Quite frankly it was ugly, “a horrible game” according to Peter, “The refs not allowing them to play,” said James.  Suarez a yellow card for complaining about a bad foul. By the 75th minute I was frustrated too but Arthit (29) was to come to the rescue. The boy has energy, and every time he’s on the pitch we look like scoring.  He came on for Pakorn which gave us a third option down the left wing. Port then earned a corner with attacking play from a much improved Boskovic. Panpanpong (19) delivered a beautiful ball to the six yard box and Arthit headed a thumping goal to wrap up the game and give Port an emphatic 4-1 home win.  

 

The Sandpit Man of the Match – Sergio Suarez

There were impressive performances all over the pitch last night, notably Dolah, Niti, Go, Bodin, Siwakorn, Boskovic & Arthit, but the MOTM award has to go to the SS, who scored two absolutely sublime first half goals that would’ve had pundits absolutely creaming themselves if Messi or Neymar had scored them. Sergio has been slow to get up & running this season but those two goals, and two yellows in two games for arguing with referees, show that he’s getting back to his best, which can only be a good thing for Port’s title campaign. (TR)

 

The Sandpit Readers’ Player of the Year 2018 Is…

 

The voting is over and the results are in, and we can finally reveal the winner of the 2018 Player of the Year poll! And there’s a new name on the imaginary trophy this year – Port skipper David Rochela won the award in 2016 & 2017, but only finished a distant 5th this time round. That shouldn’t be seen as an indication of the capn’s declining powers; more the fact that there’s a lot more competition this year with Port having splashed the cash & brought in some top quality players. And yet, as you’ll see from the results below, it was an old hand who won the prize…

 

Winner: Sergio Suarez (41%)

Suarez was narrowly pipped to the prize by Rochela last season; this year there was no doubt who would win with the Spaniard winning in a landslide. Suarez was handed a more attacking role alongside Dragan Boskovic most of the season and revelled in it, scoring 18 goals and contributing 13 assists in all competitions. He may have his critics, particularly here at The Sandpit, and it has to be said that those stats could be even better if he was more consistent and less fond of getting into pointless on-pitch squabbles with referees and opponents, but Port would struggle to replace those kinds of numbers if he left.

 

 

2nd: Dragan Boskovic (11%)

Port’s much-vaunted big winter signing started with a bang (that goal against Pattaya), then went quiet, culminating in the unsavoury scenes of Chainatgate, then went on a run form, then went quiet again, and just as we were about to name him as the disappointment of the season, exploded into life late on, scoring 6 goals in the last 2 games to take his tally to 28 in all competitions. To be fair to the big Montenegrin, Port haven’t exactly played to his strengths and he’s had to go looking for the ball far too often, but his late season form gives us hope that, in 2019, we’ll see the best of Bosko.

 

 

3rd: Nitipong Selanon (9%)

The winner of our Writers’ POTY Award also got some love – though not as much – from our readers, finishing 3rd overall. As we have said already, you’re not going to get MOTM performances from Niti but you are going to get 110% effort, and virtually zero mistakes, week in and week out, and in a season when Port’s stars alternated stellar performances with no-shows, that counts for a lot. Niti’s improvement since 2016 has been a joy to watch and 2019 should be the season when the rest of T1 sits up & takes notice.

 

 

Images (c) Shutterstock

 

 

The Decline of Thai Sea Power: Navy FC 0-5 Port FC

 

The headline for this report is derived from the title of the debut album of British indie rockers British Sea Power. A band with more than a passing similarity to Port, at its best a night spent with BSP is a near riotous evening of beautiful noise, with a band of likeminded souls. Its noisy, oddball (random stuffed animals replace Japanese guys in fancy dress) and you’re left with the sense that all those who have forgone the show to consume more mainstream fare (be it Coldplay or Man United at West Ham) have missed out. At their worst you know the people you are watching are professionals, you know they’ve performed together numerous times before, its just you question if since the last time you saw them if they’ve bothered to get together and maybe give it a run though and discuss how the 90mins they’ll be stood in front of their crowd should unfold. Saturday in Sattahip Port put in a performance very much in the former category. As the swagger the team played with though out May and June returned and Navy were gunned down 5-0.

Navy’s recent relegation, alongside Air Force having fallen though the trap door some time previous and Army finishing mid table in the second tier, means next season there will be no military representation in top level Thai football for the first time since records began (well as far back as Wikipedia goes and Hockers remembers, which is good enough for me). However, the weekend’s news from the second tier was generally good as PTT Rayong were crowded champions and Trat and Chang Mai took the other two promotion spots. So, three good away trips should the fixture computer be kind next season. PTT’s arrival will be applauded by the culture vultures who will had feared that the loss of the Navy away trip would mean the end of the annual cultural exchange to Bang Chang. Thankfully it is equally well positioned to act as a base for matches in Rayong as Sattahip so will remain on the calendar.

And it was from Bang Chang that the Sandpit representation arrived, thanks to that rarest of things an honest taxi driver who asked for less than the quoted fare. We made our way around the stadium past what looks like a great little bar overlooking some water that could be worth a visit should Navy return to the big time or draw us in a cup game with an early kick off. And moved past a boule pit similar to our own sandpit, now I’m not saying Navy lack fans, but this place was still being used to play weird French games an hour before kick off rather than as a make shift pub garden. Before reaching the away end where we were met with, thanks to the various thunderstorms of the past few days, a mud pit to enjoy prematch refreshments. The afternoons tour and cultural debate had moved on to when a chain of events is just a series of random events involving a pleasant end and when those events are “serendipitous”. (I think we may have imbibed a little too much holy water whilst on the pre match tour of temples in Bang Chang). Before this debate could be concluded however Ming’s party buses arrived, blasting their theme tune and those who piled off showed us what arriving at the game after one too many really looks like. The majority of those on board had attended the futsal earlier in the day and seemingly drank at a pace more suited to only seeing Port play once in the day.

The Navy stadium is a classic Thai affair with a running track leaving the away fans positioned in a corner about as far from the pitch as possible. Thankfully it does have a roof so had the thunderstorm that put on a more than impressive show of lighting passed over. Jadet made two changes to the starting line up with Dolah (4) replacing Todsapol (6) and Pakorn (7) in for the suspended Bodin (10). Meaning what is generally considered Jadet’s default outfield selections started. What followed was brutal, had It been a sea battle (come on they’re called Navy) the capitulation of the home forces would have taken much less than the 90 mins this one sided affair was drawn out for. You knew something was afoot when within a minute Pakorn had made a run, attempted to beat someone and reacted to being tackled by not sulking for a few minutes but rather making himself available to receive a pass from Boskovic (23), who the ball had broken too, who himself having made the pass darted into the box looking for a return ball. However the midfield monk decided to play the ball to Siwakorn (16) who had taken up a position on the edge of the box and unleashed a shot that was neither high or wide nor was it handsome but at least he had a go, inside 3 minutes Pakorn had rattled the cross bar from a fair distance with a free kick, Suarez (5) was also looking somewhat back to the level we saw a few months ago. Port were buzzing and it was the players who have been most blamed for the dip in form who seemed to have upped their game. Pakorn would show his ability to strike a ball like few in this league in the 13th minute, playing a ball from just inside our half perfectly for Suarez to run onto in the opposition box, the Spaniard played a first time ball across goal to the on coming Boskovic who finished from 3 yards. 1-0 Port and realistically game over. Pakorn would strike the post with a further free kick (which looked more likely to have been diverted by the keeper than the wood work) before the second duly arrived via Siwakorn who beat a man before firing from the edge of the box into the corner of the goal and beyond the hapless Navy keeper. Five minutes later a third was added as Siwakorn, who again looked great against the fodder at the bottom of the table, played a neat though ball for Nural (31) that dissected the heart of the Navy defence and the little man dinked the ball past the on coming keeper from near the penalty spot. There was still time for a fourth before half time as Boskovic found an unmarked Pakorn in an ocean of space who made his way into box and cutback for Kevin (97) to finish from a similar spot to Nural just moments before.

The second half was played out with a sense of merely going though the motions, the little dots at the far end had chances here and there but with the result assured the intensity of the game faded. Suarez was denied the goal his efforts deserved as a small dot in white a few kilometres from the away end cleared off the line. By this stage it was more entertaining to watch trainer Rod warm up Adisorn (13), Terens (28) and “Digger” Arthit (29), who in that order, were one by one recalled to the bench and sent on. It was particularly pleasing to see Terens “running around like a Labrador getting a first taste of the beach after a two hundred mile car journey, turning somersaults, biting his own tail, chasing squirrels up trees”, as Barney Ronay of The Guardian once wrote of David Luiz. With a little more than 10 minutes to go the biggest dot in orange and blue (Dolah (4)) met a near post corner and flicked the ball inside the far post for a fifth. There was time for Vitor Junior (10) to clip the Port cross bar before the end. However even with Port well clear it would have been more than this poor Navy team deserved. As they were seen off across the season 12-1 on aggregate. It’s hard to place the value of playing that well against a team as weak as Navy. However, it was considerably better than the recent showings and with both Chonburi and Pattaya more than safe, hopefully if we can find the same level twice more we’ll have done all we can to take third spot.

The Sandpit Man of the Match: Sergio Suarez

A tough one. Most of the team played well but Suarez gets the nod for a welcome return to form.