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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.

 

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”.

Port 1-0 Sukhothai “It’s Never Too Late”

After being dumped out of the FA Cup in midweek Port returned to the business of trying to keep the title race alive against Sukhothai, at a once again empty PAT stadium. Serving up the kind of match that would have seen the stadium rocking under normal circumstances, as Port snatched all three points with an injury time winner.

Coach Oud rang the changes making 7 alternations to the starting 11. The most striking of which saw Suarez (5) omitted from the matchday squad having completed the full 120 minutes against Buriram. Pakorn (7) having gone off injured was a less surprising absentee, while Nurul (13) who left the field on a stretcher was amougst the substitutes.

 

Worawut returned to the starting line up

 

Sukhothai arrived with just one win in over 100 days or 8 games to be slightly less dramatic. However, no matter how bad your form is when you have John Baggio and Ibson Melo amongst your number you always have a chance. Which pretty much summed up the attacking plan for Sukhothai, park the bus, keep men behind the ball and try and get the ball to your two attacking stars and see what they can do.

That though would be enough to earn them a surprisingly even split of possession though out the game. While chances were heavily in Ports favour, early on Boli (94) and Chappuis (17) passed up opportunities to give the home side the lead. Before Baggio sent a free-kick from the edge of the box over the crossbar and into zone D. As Sukhothai in an empty stadium, had seen fit to make Port attack their less preferred end in the second half and give their keeper the slightly easier time offered by the empty seats in zone D.

 

Adisak with an attempt on goal

 

On a number of occasions Port had good chances to take the lead before half time. Chappius had the ball in the net, collecting the ball in an offside position after it had come off a defender. VAR had a look and decided the defender hadn’t done enough of whatever the current reading of the rule is, to consitiute the defender having played the ball. While both Boli and Adisorn (20) would find themselves unable to get anything on to crosses unmarked at the back post, with the goal unguarded.

So it would continue into the second half as chances were passed up or well saved. From a corner, Tanaboon (71) on for the Adisorn, who suffered an injury its reported will end his season,  skyed a shot at the back post, when with the keeper stranded. You hoped that Port would find a way through but without the cauldron that the PAT becomes on such nights or the spark of creativity so often provided by Saurez, it seemed increasingly likely that Sukhothai would hold out for a point.

 

Not that they were without chances themselves. Later on, Worawut/Baresi in a moment very similar to that which saw him give away a penalty in Ports previous home game against Ratchaburi, stretched to divert a cross, resulting in the ball bouncing off his leg on to arm. A VAR review followed but despite the near identical events, different results were reached. So the inconsistent application of a bad rule is that we conceded a penalty when 2-0 up that doesn’t change the result and avoid conceding one that would have almost certainly seen Sukhothai collect all 3 here. They’d have every right to feel aggrieved. Not that they were finished, as in injury time as Baggio collected a balled chipped into the box and unmarked with only Worawut/Keeper to beat but fired into the keepers foot trying to cruel the ball into the far corner. The flag was raised but if the ball had found the net, the VAR review would have seen the Madagascan had in fact been onside.

Nothing to see here.

Then in the last minute of injury time, Nattawut (45) from the wide left cruelled the ball near perfectly into the box, where Boli collected and fired home the winner.  At which point the stadium should have erupted and much drinking and flare burning followed outside. Though a beery fuzz Boli’s effort would have drawn comparisons to Bergkamp’s 1998 effort against Argentina.  Sadly those just aren’t options right now. Another late three points. Which makes it 10 goals out of 41 after the 85th minute, 4 of which have won matches*. Up next Buriram in the league.

 

That winning feeling

 

 

 

Man of the Match

Yannick Boli. Score a last minute winner on your home debut and your pretty much assured the award. However the award was his anyway, as over 90 minutes he worked ceaselessly, leading to a number chances and also created a number for others with his selfless play.

 

Match winner and MOTM Yannick Boli

 

*stats from Marco (@mar1878 on twitter).

 

Mind the Gap: Thai Port FC v Sukhothai FC Preview

With three League games to squeeze in before yet another season defining fixture, this time to BG Pathum, Port need to build on the success of their last league outing, one that seemed unlikely after an almost calamitous first half at Chiang Rai. However, with some telling substitutions, a renewed determination and a welcome-back goal for the little marmoset, the gap is now ‘only’ seven points – we can do it, can’t we?

However, the ‘rampant’ Lions were de-clawed on Wednesday, a generally lackluster performance seeing their defence of the FA Cup fizzling out in a sudden-death penalty shoot-out; Buriram just that little more precise. Port had a great chance to win it at 4-4, and maybe, in hindsight, Thanasith was not the best choice to deliver the killer blow, a cooler, more experienced head might have been better, as Nitipong later demonstrated.

On recent form, Sukothai should not present a major challenge, having lost their last five games, including to cellar dwellers Rayong FC. They have supposedly strengthened since the break with, labeled by Transfermarket, some, ‘Winter Arrivals’, including Joshua Grommen (4), a Dutch-Filipino centre-back from Brisbane City, who may partner Myanmar international, Seo Min Tun, unless he’s under house arrest. At the other end of the pitch they have been very much reliant for goals from captain and mascot, Madagascar’s John Baggio (10) and Brazilian, Ibsen Melo (71), who have contributed 18 of the Fire Bat’s 26 goals so far.

 

 

 

However, the player I am going to highlight is one who won’t be playing. Sadly, we will not be treated to the delights of a ‘Winter Departure’; 19 year old, Anglo-Thai, Leon James, who has moved to Barcelona, the first Thai player ever to do so. Yes, that Barcelona. James joined Leicester City as a 6 year old and, having watched a highlights clip of his performances with Leicester Under 18’s, the boy is clearly a ‘bit special’, as they say. He should be, if you believe Wikipedia, who have him down as making one appearance for Sukothai and scoring 15 goals!

 

 

Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman, it is ‘reported’, has compared him to a young Lionel Messi. Eat your heart out, Chanatip. If only he had stayed a week longer; on second thoughts, James, a central midfielder, would have been facing Sivakorn. Ouch! Sorry Ronald.

 

 

Assuming all players will be available, and, with now, seemingly nothing to lose, why not throw caution to the wind and go for a bold, madcap, attacking 3-5-2 formation – we’re not really going to catch BG Pathum Utd are we?

 

 

The match kicks off at 1800 Thai time at The PAT Stadium but games will continue to be behind closed doors. Channel 5 are broadcasting it.  Or why not join some of the Sandpit regulars at The Sportsman on Sukhumvit Soi 13 to watch the game.

I Think We’re Alone Now: Samut Prakan City vs. Port FC Preview

 

In the hunt to keep within screaming distance of the relentless “nearly Bangkok” rabbits of BG Pathum United, the Lions of Klongtoey, nearly as relentless of late, make the trip to another “nearly Bangkok” side, the club formerly known as Pattaya United, now Samut Prakan City, or with a wink to the most beloved organisation in the English game, the SP Dons. It will be a short trip into the epicentre of one recent outbreak of COVID-19 that has put the entire league in empty stadium-mode and ruined what was possibly a great away day for many of our readers. Mask up lads!

 

Not sure that counts as a mask, boss.

 

Samut Prakan Dons

 

The new boys did well in their first ever season of football. Especially in the first half of the season, during which we found ourselves with the corresponding fixture right on a great run and lost 2-1. Going 2 down within 10 minutes and only able to pull one back right at the end. They have since seen star striker Ibson Melo move to Sukhothai and aptly replaced him with fellow Brazilian Tardeli, who’s already netted 8 goals thus far in his loan spell from BG and will be joined by another BG loanee in midfielder Toti for the second half of the season. As the league leaders brought in Diogo there was no room for the Spaniard. He’s not the greatest foreign player in the league, but he will definitely strengthen his new team.

 

Toti looking to help his former club on debut for his new one?

 

The Dons are currently sitting pretty in 6th place in T1, the very same spot as they finished in 2019. I must admit I have not seen enough of SP to make any in-depth analysis of their strengths and weaknesses, but looking at last season and what I have managed to catch this year, consistency is key to a side that can put up a fight to any team in the country. The only full game I remember getting into since the league started back up was the 4-1 thrashing of Chonburi two weeks ago. Although the score doesn’t really tell the story of the fairly tight margins I saw on the pitch that night, it is still an impressive win and it came right after travelling to Buriram and winning 3-1, and just before travelling to Trat and winning 4-0, so it’s safe to say we’ll be facing a side that’s in form and full of confidence.

 

Tardeli tries out for the next Zoolander film

 

Port

 

Since BG visited the PAT and Chenrop produced his only decent performance, ever, at his former home to hand us our second defeat of the season, we’ve been unstoppable and the random throwing of money at the most expensive players in the league is bearing fruit with an impressive 8 consecutive wins so SP will not be the only ones in form and full of confidence. The big thing will be to see how our latest big name signing, Ratchaburi top scorer Yannick Boli (94) , fits into the team. As Toby pointed out in his requiem to Heberty’s short time at the club, he may have only been playing for himself but he did back it up with some nice numbers and we all hope Boli will contribute goals without being completely useless otherwise.

 

Boli scores goals and runs about.

 

We’re free of suspension and only Bordin (10) seems ruled out with injury so Oud will have a nearly full squad to, theoretically, pick from. That means Pakorn (7) is likely to be the domestic addition to our otherwise foreign front line and the only question mark left to straighten out being whether Dolah (4) or Tanaboon (71) joins Worawut (24) at CB. I’ll go for Dolah as I not only hold him in higher regard myself, but also want to see the Swedish contingency remain regular starters. Writing this while looking out the window at a winter wonderland covered in the only two days of snow it seems my part of Sweden will see this month, I’m filled with an extra dose of Christmas cheer that leaves me convinced that the last present of the season, will be the one we get from Port tomorrow. 3-1, a brace for Boli and another goal from substitute Adisak (9) wrap up both the match and 2020, means we bring home 3 points to stay in the race when the much awaited 2021 finally rolls around.

 

Predicted lineup:

 

Too much striking talent?

 

As no fans are allowed to attend the game, we’re all watching on TV, the game is on NBT2 in Thailand and 1play around the world, kicking off at 1830 local time.

 

 

Finally The End In Sight – Final Fixtures 2020/21 Season

The best and brightest over at League HQ finally got round to publishing the remaining fixtures, for this seemingly endless season. Highlights include, back to back home games against Buriram in mid-January, with a Wednesday last 16 FA Cup game followed by a league fixture on Saturday. A potential “title decider” when the current top two meet on Wednesday 27th January as Port travel to occasional home, The Leo Stadium. The second derby of the season, along with the fun of big screens comes around again on Saturday 6th February as a (fanless) Port travel to Nonthaburi. Sadly lovers of beachside fixtures and nice stadiums will be disappointed to see that the trips to Prachuap and Ratchaburi have both been scheduled for midweek. The season ends with a trip to Korat on Saturday 20th March, with the possibility of both clubs having some to play for at different ends of the table, it could be quite the finale.

 

Current Known Fixtures

 

Chiangrai United Away Tue. 22rd Dec.

Samut Prakan City Away Sun. 27th Dec.

Sukhothai Home Sun. 10th Jan.

FA Cup Buriram United Home Wed. 13th Jan.

Buriram United Home Sat. 16th Jan.

Police Tero Away Sat. 23rd Jan.

BG Pathum United Away Wed. 27th Jan.

Trat Home Sun. 31st Jan.

Muangthong United Away Sat. 6th Feb.

Rayong Home Sat. 13th Feb.

Prachuap away Thu. 18th Feb.

Bangkok United Home Sun. 21st Feb.

Suphanburi Away Sat. 27th Feb.

Chonburi Home Sun. 7th March.

Ratchaburi away Wed. 10th March.

Chiangrai Home Sat. 13th March.

Korat Away Sat. 20th March.

 

With those 6(SIX) Champions League fixtures to be added and potentially another 3 FA Cup matches (the final is slated for 3rd April), it looks like a busy few months for everyone at Port.

 

Busy times for Port means busy times for The Sandpit, so if there are any games you’d like to write a preview or match report for get in touch. It’s also nice to hear new voices and opinions and it stops us from repeating ourselves quite as often.

Odd Odds as Bookies Make Chiang Rai Favourites for 2017 Thai League

 

Siamsport this week published the latest betting odds on the 2017 Thai League, with one big surprise in store – big-spending Chiang Rai Utd are favourites to take the title, closely followed by the usual suspects Buriram, Muangthong and Bangkok Utd. Port are unfancied, coming in 15th at 450/1. Worth a cheeky 1000BHT in my opinion.

 

Here is the full list, with thanks to Facebook page Thai League Football for the translation:

 

1. Chiangrai Utd 5/2
2. Buriram Utd 3/1
3. Muangthong Utd 7/2
4. Bangkok Utd 6/1
5. Bangkok Glass 7/1
6. Chonburi 20/1
7. Ratchaburi 30/1
8. Suphanburi 40/1
9. Sukhothai 70/1
10. BEC Tero 150/1
11. Nakhon Ratchasima 300/1
12. Pattaya Utd 300/1
13. Sisaket 350/1
14. Thai Honda 400/1
15. Thai Port 450/1
16. Siam Navy 500/1
17. Ubon UMT 700/1
18. Osotspa Superpower 1000/1

 

Dodgy betting patterns, or a fair reflection of Chiang Rai’s close season transfer activity?