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Stingless Wasps Eventually Swatted: Port 2-0 Prachuap Toby’s Take

 

Standard team line up pic and that sky

 

It was a game of two halves at PAT Stadium this weekend for the visit of PT Prachuap. Port claimed the victory but it wasn’t pretty at times and needed an inspired substitution to spark the revival in form.

 

Firstly I must applaud the club for being much better organisation this matchday. Granted, the crowd was much smaller than the match against Buriram but they handled the entry, document checks and general accessibility very well this time around. There was even a free gift of hand gel, with the quote “honesty is the best policy” on it which you know is a little weird. Keeping with the weird theme, coach Dusit reached for the lottery ball machine for his line up, selecting Worawut “Baresi” Namvech at left back and leaving 2 specialist full backs on the bench, and sticking with Charyl Chappuis in place of the suspended Suarez.

 

The less said about the first half the better. It was a terrible watch. I brought my other half along and almost felt like apologizing to her. She described it as “watching boys” which I’m not sure if that’s a scathing Chinese put down or just an honest assessment of what we witnessed. The formation, passing and movement in both offensive and defensive phases was woeful. The 3 centre backs played a very stretched defensive line with Dolah crowding out Roller and Pakorn, and on the other side Baresi couldn’t offer any penetration because that’s not his usual position. Chappuis was again ineffective, his best moment was dropping deep to play a lovely 25 yards pass to Bordin but he couldn’t affect anything in the second striker role. Prachuap had the best 2 chances early in the half with 2 fizzing crosses from the right and Bonilla had Port’s best chance but just lobbed over the crossbar.

 

A first half to leave you needng a nap

 

The second half thankfully brought some initiative and energy from Port and they dominated the next 45 minutes. Dusit thankfully recognised the deficiencies from the first half and threw on Patino in place of Chappuis, and clearly instructed Bordin to play more centrally in order to create more chances. I was very critical of Patino playing as a striker against Samut Prakan last week but it’s clear he’s an attacking midfielder and was the catalyst for the victory.

 

Several chances were squandered until the breakthrough in the final 15 minutes. First Roller seized on a loose ball then touched it to Bonilla. He then drove into the box and squared the ball for Bordin to head into an empty net. The Prachuap back line appealed for offside but VAR confirmed the Port winger had managed to just stay onside. A few moments later a Pakorn corner was headed/shouldered into the net by Patino for his first goal for the club and that settled matters. You’ll have noticed I haven’t mentioned anything else about the opposition and that’s on purpose; they didn’t offer much in the second half apart from some shithouse antics from their keeper.

 

One nil Port, lets celebrate (after a lengthy delay).

 

On reflection it’s fair to say Dusit recognised the problem and found the perfect solution for the second half but the initial team selection and the tactics were once again poor. The players selected are unable to do their jobs for a variety of reasons so maybe the task isn’t to try to hammer home a strategy that the players are not comfortable in executing but tinker and find the formation and starting line up that can create a formidable team. Know Port and Thai football in general. I’m not holding my breath but let’s see which team turns up for the visit of Chonburi next weekend.

 

MOTM: Javier Patino

 

Both goalscorers could have won the award but Bordin was part of the first half clusterfuck and Patino was the catalyst which started the revival. Clearly he should be Suarez’s replacement in the event of an injury and childishly earned suspension.

Stingless Wasps Eventually Swatted: Port 2-0 Prachuap Jim’s Take

 

 

Arriving at the game yesterday I was met by the sight of a large pile of tickets on offer at a desk just inside the club shop. Having offered my season ticket, I was informed that these were for sale and season tickets were collected elsewhere. Not a good sign for the possibility of a sell out. So, it proved as just 936 people made it to the PAT yesterday. The club hadn’t helped itself by hardly pushing the availability of tickets to walk ups. However, this is a deeper problem that currently affects all of Thai football and is going to take a lot of effort to turn round. These are difficult times for Thai football.

 

No problems getting in even with a 25% limit.

 

When the team was announced there ensued some head scratching. At the back Worawut  Baresi (24) came in for Jaturapat (15) (who is away playing for the u23 national side).  While Bonilla (9) had recovered enough to take over up front from Patino (30). With three centre backs, three central midfielders, various possible formations were put forward but nobody expected to see a straight replacement at left back, as the team to lined up with a back four.  Sadly it was an experiment into the funky that didn’t work. There are strengths and weaknesses to Baresi’s game that make him prime for cult hero status (at centre back), sadly they don’t make him an effective fullback and most of Prachuap’s success, especially early on, came due to attacking him and exploiting the space on the left they found. That their succession of unmet crosses count as highlights of the first half, says a lot about a non event served up before the break.

 

Me…..a left back?!?!

 

Port were as wasteful and disjointed going forward, as last week at Samut Prakan Dons before halftime. Without Suarez (5) available to pull the strings we looked devoid of a spark. Chappius (6) asked to play in a more advanced role huffed and puffed but created little. In fact those in attendance who enjoy knocking him were the only people to take anything from the first half. Not that they can be called boo boys, as the atmosphere in the ground was again close to non existent and a few boos would have at least stood a chance of kicking starting the occasion in the stands.  It took till just before half time for Port to create a moment of note, as Go (8)’s long ball found Bonilla on the edge of the box. He did well having brought the ball down to create the opportunity to send a chip goalward over keeper Khanchai, who had advanced and having failed to get near Nelson, succeeded in leaving his goal unprotected, sadly the shot was just a little to powerfully struck and sailed just over the cross bar clipping the netting, tricking a few in Zone B into thinking it had gone in. A couple of minutes late Baresi, showing he’d clearly done some research on this leftback job he’d been given, decided to try something you only see in Roberto Carlos youtube clips. Taking a shot from all of 35 yards, sadly it was more of a risk to the travelling Prachuap fans than the goal.  Things were really getting going on the field now (in that something to mention was occurring, not that it had become a good game), as there was still time for Melo to send a tame shot on target into the arms of Worawut (36).

 

The rather pleasant sky was about the biggest highlight of an uneventful first half

 

Not that many of Sandpit regulars saw. Having absconded the stands, minutes before to precure refreshments though the fencing around the training pitch, as once again there was nothing on offer within the ground complex and seemingly no means of passing out. However, Port fans and sellers are nothing if not resourceful and there was a good selection on offer and despite the barrier between customers and sellers, it seemed demand was met quickly. After a dog of a first half, a second helping of one of Thailands soda water producers alternative products certainly appealed but l headed back in. Having missed a couple of mins, the crowd had already been stirred into greater life than at any point in the first half as a Bordin (10) dribble from inside his own half resulted in a shot from the edge of the area, that Khanchai could only parry, luckily for him it was just out of reach of the on rushing Patino and Prachuap escaped. Patino who had come on for Chappius was to play an influential role, as once again Port arrived for the second half of a game playing at a far higher level than before the break. Moments later a Pakorn (7) cross was nodded back across goal by Bonilla and just out of reach of Patino and Siwakorn (16). Shortly after than Bonilla was picked out by a quick free kick by Bordin and found the side netting. Port were well and truly on top.

 

Then in the 78th minute we had our Thai league required VAR moment. As a Bonilla chipped cross was sent over a diving defender and keeper into the middle of the six yard box for Bordin to head into the unguarded net.  Somehow the linesman raises his flag, the only conceivable reason is that Patino, not interfering with play, had strayed momentarily into an offside position during the build up. Still VAR will surely clear this up instantly. The only problem being the officials seemed to have no interest in using the technology available to them. How in a league that seems to have decided to strike out on its own and have VAR cancel yellow cards for elbows, are they not checking moments like this by default and quickly? It all took too long but eventually the check was made and the goal given.

 

One nil Port, lets celebrate (after a lengthy delay).

 

There after Port were able to coast home. There was time for a Pakorn corner to be headed home by Patino. A well deserved reward for the substitute, who had linked well with those behind him and Bonilla in the second half and played a massive part in the game swinging Port’s way.  In the last few minutes chances were wasted at both ends. However 2-0 felt like a fair reflection of the match. Prachuap never really got going. On the field there’s very little that looks hugely wrong with them but equally there’s very little that doesn’t leave you thinking they’ll be down in the relegation battle come the end of the season. A battle they hopefully win, so we can enjoy more of their likeable fans and  trips to one of the leagues better awaydays. For Port again it was a case of play like the second half for 90mins and we’ll be ok, play like the first half more and we’re more likely to be joining them in the basement than win anything.

 

2-0; Patino and Rochela

 

Coming up are an FA Cup tie on Wednesday v MBF Amphawa. A chance to give a few of the squad players a run out before next weekends home game against Chonburi.

 

Man of the Match – Phillip Roler (33)

When Port were shakey in the first half, he dug us out of trouble a few times and was barking his dissatisfaction at those responsible. Whilst he was again marauded up and down the right side for the entire match. There can’t be a right back that comes close to him in the league currently.

Special mention to Patino for his goal and massive influence in the second half and Dusit for making the change but nobody was getting close to Roller.

 

Roller: We knew he was good but not this good.

We’re Money and its Time to Show it. Big Scary Bear (Port) V Sea Fang (SPD): A Preview

 

“You know what? You’re like a big bear with claws, with fangs”

 

 

You could be despondent about last weekend’s defeat to Buriram and it was certainly a bit of a low. Having got ourselves excited about getting back into a 25% filled PAT stadium and a good run giving hope we could finally beat Buriram. Come the final whistle we were reminded that shorn of drums and ultras the atmosphere in the stadium, just as it was last time at 25%, isn’t much of anything. While good run or no good run, Buriram always seem to find a way to win against Port.  However, I hope Dusit has taken an unusual route this week to give the team their mojo back. As I’d just stick seminal 90s movie “Swingers” on at a team meeting.  Because the main thing the team needs is the pep talk given to John Favreau’s Mike, who has just failed to get the number of a woman in a bar, by his friend Trent (Vince Vaughn) from which the above quote is taken(watch it here). Quite simply Port need to realise that they are capable of mixing with anyone in the league. As Trent would put it….. Port “I’m tellin’ ya, you’re money”. There’s nothing to be scared of on the evidence of the league so far this season and Port have all the tools to beat anyone, it’s just a matter of learning to use them and the “rules” to the maximum.

 

“You got these f***ing claws and these fangs, man. And you’re looking at your claws and you’re lookin’ at your fangs and you’re thinkin’ to yourself, ‘I don’t know what to do’, man”

 

We weren’t any worse than Buriram last weekend as a footballing side, but we were a million miles behind them in the dark arts. Although even here there were signs of improvement. At the outset virtually every time a challenge resulted in physical contact and a Port player emerging with the ball, the opposing Buriram player would crumple to the ground. In expectation of Port putting the ball out of play or the referee stopping the game. Neither showed any willingness to do so and remarkable the propensity for Buriram players to need treatment for having been tackled soon became non existent. Good. More of this.

 

Buriram have travelled south to face two of the five teams that were widely tipped to be clear at the top of the league. Twice they’ve strangled the game, making it a tight ugly affair devoid of flair. Each game could have gone either way until it was decided by defensive errors. In Bangkok United, they found the only team that can out filth them and lost, in Port, they found a team that hasn’t quite mastered the parts of the game that exist between the rules as written and what you can get away with once the game starts and emerged victorious. After last weeks game and due to the events at some others (including Bangkok United’s you’ll be shocked to learn), there was a bit of a Twitter discussion re the time wasting and gamesmanship, with the majority across the league feeling the onus is on the clubs, coaches and players to take the lead in cleaning up the game in Thailand. Personally, I don’t think that can ever be the case. As professionals, the staff and players are paid to win games and as such pushing the rules to the limit will always be part of that. For example, there’s nothing really gained by having the ball a couple of mm’s over the line when taking a corner, yet while they’re allowed to get away with it, you’ll seldom see a ball that isn’t placed trying to gain the tiniest of margins. However, if self-policing is the way it’s going to be fixed, so be it, I can get behind it. Just rather than leading the way as one of the nice guy clubs it’s time for Port to be at the back, one step behind Buriram and Bangkok United (ok, maybe no need to ever be quite that bad). To quote Vaughn again, Port “I don’t want you to be the guy in the PG-13 movie everyone’s really hopin’ makes it happen. I want you to be like the guy in the rated R movie, you know, the guy you’re not sure whether or not you like yet. You’re not sure where he’s coming from. Okay? You’re a bad man. You’re a bad man. You’re a bad man.”

 

So tomorrow at Samut Prakan Dons if we find ourselves a goal up with 10 mins to go, I hope we barely see the ball in play before the final whistle is blown. Obviously, l’d rather we were blasting them halfway back to Pattaya as the goals fly in but if it’s necessary it’s time to get dirty. There’s a chance the worst bloke in the league is on the field, if ex Chiangrai man Chaiyawat lines up for them tomorrow, if he does, let’s use the nasty toerag as a benchmark, rather than make him the villain, as we take the moral high ground. For more about Chaiyawat and the rest of the Samut Prakan Dons (for some reason he prefers City) team and their season so far, the Sandpit got in touch with one of the best know faces in the world of Bangkok twitter and the foreign teaching scene in Thailand as we got the rundown from Ajarn.com owner and Sea Fang season ticket holder Phil Williams (read his preview of the match here).

 

“After taking just one point from their last three games, Samut Prakan have slid down the table to 8th position. Defeat against Port on Saturday could see them hovering just above the relegation zone if other results go against them as well. Although various Thai football pundits were getting excited about Samut Prakan being top of the league after a handful of games, I was under no illusions. Our squad is looking a little lightweight at the moment. You can’t let four of your best performing players leave (Peeradol, Ernesto, Teerapol and Tardelli) and there not be consequences. Those players were always going to be difficult to replace like for like. The reality is that we are probably a mid-table side at best and a mid-table finish would probably represent a decent season. Coach Ishii is doing a great job with limited resources but incoming signings have really just papered over the cracks. Eliandro has shown flashes of what he can do up front but relies on good service. Chaiyawat Buran from Chiang Rai has looked terrific but seems injury prone. I said at the start of the season (when all our big name players went off to pastures new) as long as there are three teams worse than us, we won’t go down. And my opinion hasn’t changed. I’m just happy to see us continue to play top-flight football. But at the moment, it feels like we are some way off emulating the top six finishes that we enjoyed in our first couple of seasons.”

 

Cheers Phil.

 

Port head out to Samut Prakan with some serious issues in attack. While the defence spent the early part of the season seeming to rotate itself via injury and suspension just as the back four looks settled. Our attacking options have taken a serious battering last weekend. The rejuvenated Nelson Bonilla (9) only made it to half time before succumbing to what appeared to be a groin issue, so is unlikely to feature.  While definitely out is Sergio Suarez (5) who was red carded for slapping the very slappable face of Chitipat. As a result he misses this match and next weeks home fixture against Prachuap. I’d expect them to be replaced by Patino (30) who came on at half time for Bonilla and was limited in opportunities to get into the game as Buriram killed it as an event. While the battle to take Saurez’s role is probably between Nattawut (45) and Sarsern (69), personally I’d go for Nattawut but given that Sarsern was the one of the two to get on last weekend, he might have edged ahead in the pecking order. Equally a rather disappointing showing in that substitute appearance could have handed it back.

 

Prediction.

Having been given his pep talk Mike goes back to the bar and this time succeeds in getting a number. And so it should be with Port. 2-0 to Big scary bear from Klong Toei.

 

  Fans can attend the game, with capacity limited to 25%. Tickets for the away section are currently still available from ticket melon (link). The match will be shown live on AISPLAY (possibly limited to AIS network users) at 1730 on Saturday 15th October 2021. If you don’t have a ticket or don’t fancy the trip out of Bangkok, 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.

 

 

A Change Is Gonna Come: Port FC V Buriram United Preview

 

 

First the big news. We’re going back in. Late on Friday it was announced that The PAT would be open to fans, with the capacity limited to 25%. From the pictures and reports of those who headed down to the ground on Saturday morning, it appears we could be heading for a sold out (quarter filled) stadium. And rightly so, when the fixtures for the season were announced back to back home games against that mob from Nonthaburi, that like to pretend they matter as a footballing and Bangkok entity and Buriram jumped out as the standout early season dates.  That Sunday’s second instalment of those, is also the league’s biggest game of the season so far, as the top two in the table meet, only adds to it. Come the conclusion of the game we’ll be just shy of a quarter of the way though the season and a win will put Port top*.

Even with a defeat, we’ll be where we realistically expected to be for the season. It’s just with the quality of football we’re producing going forward and the evolution of the defence into a Dusity unit, you can really believe for the first time in years that we can beat Buriram.  The quick to judge were very eager to talk down a Port defence that conceded 4 in its first 2 games, but they haven’t conceded with 11 men on the field since. Things are still not perfect and really, we were lucky to leave Chiangmai without conceding (they hit the woodwork twice in a scrabble from a corner) but things are progressing week on week.

We might as well get it out the way early, there can be few better examples of a team having the hex over another than Buriram over Port. We haven’t beaten them since April 2014 – (On that day the Buriram matchday squad featured the dashingly handsome young trio of Charyl Chappuis (6), David Rochela (22) and Javier Patino (30), all of whom would move on to bigger and better things from the little Isan club next to a go kart track).  Since then, it’s been pretty grim for Port, 11 league meetings, zero wins, 3 draws and an aggregate score of 24 to 8 in favour of the awfully nicked named Thundercastle. You can throw in a couple of FA cup meetings, a 3-1 loss at the quarter final stage in 2018 along with being dumped out on penalties last year and make it look even worse.  Not great but year on year we’ve got closer, the inferiority complex has gone, no longer would we celebrate a 0-0 draw like it was a famous victory. The Pang era has seen us rise up to an equal footing.

More of this again soon. Pic Humans of Thai Port

 

Where once Buriram looked at a trip to Klong Toei as a chance to pad their goal difference, don’t be shocked to see them arrive looking to first and foremost avoid defeat. This is a Gama team. We know Gama’s a planner, when required a stifler of teams and with Port’s line up overloaded with attackers, you feel the wiley Brazilian tactician will have something up his sleeve. Would he take a draw right now, probably, will he be planning to suffocate Port’s flair players and nick the game on the break, almost certainly.

I could go on with the nicely nicely approach of telling you how good Buriram are and that they were rightly almost universally favourites to win the league preseason. However, we’re getting back in, the products of mineral water advertising companies will be flowing and frankly right now going forward Port can take anyone. So let’s take them apart bit by bit and explain why Port can beat them.

Getting a read on where Buriram are this season isn’t easy, four of their opening six fixtures have been against teams expected to be towards the bottom of the table, in Suphanburi, Police Tero, Chiangmai and Prachuap. With only the Prachuap match being played away from their upcountry stronghold. They’ve beaten all of them bar an opening day draw with Suphanburi (and if you’ve seen the handball by Digão (26) VAR decided wasn’t a penalty, you’ll know why Suphanburi were disappointed with a point).

 

Still a penalty.

They’ve faced Bangkok United and Samut Prakan Dons in their other games and these give a far more realistic line of form (and mean l can ignore games l didn’t see). The fixture in Rangsit was a tough watch. Perhaps indicative of Gama’s plans when travelling to the divisions better teams to strangle games. Ultimately it was decided by two defensive blunders that swung the game in the favour of Bangkok United. For the first, it’s hard to know who’s more to blame. However, l’ll award the lions share to Pansa (3) who stands ball watching rather than picking up the run of Pokklaw, giving him free rein to bare down on goal and score. Some of the blame also must lay with Robin Sulaka (22) who is stood on the far side of the pitch a couple of yards behind the rest of his defensive line, if he’d held the line then the goal would have been disallowed for offside. Hardly the well drilled Gama defensive unit on that one lads. Not to be outdone Digão, will no doubt have been on the receiving of a few choice words in Portuguese from his manager for the second goal. He has the chance to deal with the ball but is outmuscled by his little surly compatriot Heberty and then doesn’t really put in much effort to stop him from getting a shot off. Keeper Siwark (1) gets the supporting role of blame this time, getting beaten at his near post. Never a good look for a keeper.

While they took all three points from a midweek encounter with Sumat Prakan Dons. Running out 2-1 winners at the smaller city stadium in Buriram. Taking the lead when Peeradon’s (5) free kick struck Chayawat on the arm, with a little over half an hour gone. Samual Rosa (91) stepped up to fire the resulting spot kick home. SPD were giving a good account of themselves and pulled level just before halftime as Eliandro muscled past Piyaphon (4) and blasted home. However, it was sub Suphanet (54) who would have the final say, getting on to a loose ball on the edge of the 6 yard box in the 79th minute and firing home. It was a harsh result on SPD on a night where they had the greater share of possession and made more passes than their hosts but equally probably one they deserved from some frankly offensive dayglo green away shirts.

Defensively Buriram appears to have been very solid so far this season allowing just 4 goals in their 6 games. However, 3 from the two games mentioned above.  Combined with the nature of the Bangkok United goals and the way that SPD were repeatedly cutting through them in midweek, is more than enough to counter the first impression. Added to that they are without Digão and Sulaka out injured, while Sasalak is on loan in Korea, what will line up on Sunday will be the weakest Buriram back line seen in years.

Then we have probably the most divisive player amongst sandpit writers in Peeradon, (for me) at his best and given space to exploit, he can use it wonderfully, as we saw in the hammering Port took at SPD last season, equally get on top of him early and he’ll often disappear, as we saw when Port hammered SPD at the start of last season. And it was very much the latter type of performance in midweek, as observed by SPD blogger (and major Peeradon fan) Phil who noted “Dropping deeper and deeper as the game wore on…. [he] had a bit of a shocker tonight and was unsurprisingly hauled off late in the game.” The plan must be for Go (8) and Siwakorn (16) to shut him down early and watch him fade from the game.

The main attacking duties are taken by Samula Rosa, who looks like a decent striker for Thailand, the problem with that is, this is Buriram and he isn’t Diogo, a major step down in class. He’s far better than some that have come and gone since Diogo and will be a major threat on Sunday, it’s just not quite what you expect from Buriram. He’ll likely be supported Supachai (9) and Supachok (19), with youngest brother and midweek score Suphanat on the bench. Along with their third foreigner Maicón (7), if Rosa isn’t quite top draw, this guy is rather mediocre on the evidence I’ve seen, very run of the mill Thai league Brazilian import.

While for Port all is looking rather rosy. With plenty of positives from recent performances. If I’m underwhelmed by Buriram’s attacking options, l couldn’t be happier with ours. Currently, there isn’t a striker in this division you’d swap for Nelson Bonilla (9). The fox in the fox is back on fire, with 5 goals in 6 games. Combined with the wide play of Pakorn (7) and Bordin (10) this is a front 3 that works and should keep those second string Buriram defenders up tonight worrying.

Nelson Bonilla, he scores goals…lots of goals.

While Go seems to love playing against Buriram, l have no idea what happened up there in the time the Korean was a Burriam player but there’s clearly something that inspires him to be at his best whenever the clubs meet and you love to see him up for it, going at 110% and bringing out all the dark arts.  At the back, Rochela has silenced all the knockers with some commanding performances this season and Pang’s decision to overstock centrebacks has looked wise as the fate of Tanaboon (17), who was subbed off in the derby injured, befell replacement Worawut  Baresi (24) up in Chiangmai, that we had a replacement of the quality of Dolah (4) to bring on, with Adisorn (20) still yet to be seen this season, speaks volumes. Compare it to the opposition on Sunday and BG Pathum’s current struggles and it’s clear who has the advantage on squad depth. Whoever lines up alongside El capitán is more than capable.

 

Prediction.

Whatever happens, it’s going to be great to get the matchday experience back. Football without the process of going and social side just hasn’t been the same and I’m looking forward to it. While for the first time we go into a match with Buriram feeling that we might not just be in it but possible should be favourite to get the result. Dusit got the better of Burriam 1-0 last season in both games with BG, so lets go one better. 2-0 Port.

 

Fans can attend the game, with capacity limited to 25%. Season ticket holders can collect their tickets from 1300 -1815 on matchday. The match will be shown live on AISPLAY (possibly limited to AIS network users) at 1830 on Sunday 9th October 2021. If you don’t have a ticket, 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.

 

*Chinagrai United can usurp us by winning at Nongbua by a bigger margin but nobody wants to see that happen.

ooooh you wonderful things.

Hard-Working Khlong Toey Side Exiles Scum Back To Nonthaburi. Port FC 1-0 Muangthong United

 

In what is typically Bangkok’s most anticipated game of the season, matchday 5 would bring us the “Slum vs Scum” derby at PAT Stadium. In a week that saw restrictions eased, the lack of transparency meant that fans had absolutely no idea as to whether or not they’d be able to go through the turnstiles and take their rightful place back on the terraces. It was only a day before the game when fans were informed that the game would be played behind closed doors, and we were dealt the additional sucker punch of being told we could collect our season tickets at the club shop. Not the smartest strategy in my opinion, but customer service hasn’t exactly been Port’s forte in recent seasons. It meant that we had the choice of heading to a bar that would be showing the game, or yet another night in front of the telly watching: a bit anti-climactic for a derby if you ask me.

A few days before the game, when a Muangthong fan site Thai League Central were doing their previews for the league, the following was said:

“Port are yet to find their feet under head coach Dusit Chalermsan, conceding an average of 1.5 goals per game, compared to his 0.43 tally with BG Pathum United last season. Their 2-1 defeat last week against Suphanburi showed that the side still struggle with game management and holding on to leads, something which the coach was explicitly brought in to help with.”

Now I’m not entirely sure how he came to thinking the boldened part, considering that we played over 75-minutes of that game with 10-men, but it was certainly one of the dumbest most interesting “takeaways” of that game. For a site that pretends they’re here to cover the entire league, they sure can’t get past their biases.

Meanwhile, as a fan site: we don’t have to pretend. We just don’t like Muangthong: simple as that.

 

FIRST-HALF ENTERTAINMENT

We were forced to make a change for the game due to Jaturapat’s suspension, with Nitipong [#34] replacing him. It meant that Roller [#33] moved over to the left, so that Nitipong could take up his familiar spot on the right. I’ll admit that I’ve been extremely disappointed in Nitipong in the last 12 or so months, but I was hoping to see him play well and show that the “old Niti” might still be there. Dolah [#4] hadn’t managed to force his way back into the matchday squad either, which either suggests that he’s injured or out of favour. There’s been nothing released regarding an injury, so my guess is that he needs to knuckle down and show that he deserves to play for the club again. The level of performance from him in recent months hasn’t quite been at the standard that he initially showed for us, but there’s no doubting he’s a quality defender when he’s on form.

It was our visitors that would get the first chance of the game, with just 2:52 on the clock, with Picha [#37] having an effort blocked, with the ball eventually making its way to Popp [#19], who was in the 18-yard box, but out-wide. His ball across the face wasn’t a bad idea, and if they had a legitimate striker on their books [hmmm, Derley?], it might’ve been the Scummers who took an early lead. Worawut [#36], fresh off of getting married, got down quickly to get the ball, and the chance fizzled out.

5-minutes later, we carved out an opportunity of our own, with Bonilla [#9] playing a good ball to his left to Bordin [#10]. With him being marked by the captain of the Scum, and a second defender quickly joining him, it must’ve been infuriating for Scum fans to see Bordin get in enough space to play a delightful ball across the face of the goal. In my opinion: this should’ve been 1-nil! Bonilla was a split second too late to poke it home, whilst Pakorn [#7] made a back-post run. Boontawee [#39] had a chance to clear the danger, and he made no mistake with that. A missed opportunity, but considering the ease at which we’d carved it out: it wouldn’t be our last.

 

 

From the resulting corner, Rochela [#22] had a good chance, which he headed [narrowly] over the bar. It was a few good moments from us, and if fans had been allowed in the stadium: the noise would’ve gone up a few decibels. Our opposition just didn’t appear to be very good defensively, and at full-time, I was once again left wondering as to how their fans can rate Lucas Rocha [#3] so highly.

Our next opportunity came close to the 17-minute mark, with Suarez [#5] playing a ball to Go [#8] on the right, with the Korean midfielder playing a perfectly weighted first-time ball for Bordin to run onto. Considering the condition of the pitch, all of the players did quite well with their weighting of passes, or maybe the groundsman and his staff had done a great job of clearing off all the puddles. Regardless: Bordin was through! I thought his first touch let him down a bit, which isn’t something you can typically accuse him of, and it meant that the defenders had more of a chance to put him off. The ball was now stuck in his feet, and his effort on goal was a bit tame in all honesty. It just wasn’t a great piece of play from the tricky winger, and Somporn [#1] stayed big: blocking his shot, and it was cleared soon after.

We’d now given Muangthong the Scum two massive warnings: there was a strong chance that the next time we attacked, they wouldn’t be so lucky.

 

 

It’s exactly what happened, and boy oh boy, what a turn of events. It’s not a well-kept secret that I don’t rate Đặng Văn Lâm in the slightest, but the mistake that led to our opening goal in the derby made the Vietnamese shot-stopper look like prime Lev Yashin. It was absolutely horrendous from Somporn, and despite the efforts of Boontawee: there was NO CHANCE that Bonilla wasn’t smashing the ball into the back of the net. I’ve skipped ahead a bit, so let’s go through the play by play, because honestly: there’s nothing better than taking the lead against the Scum.

It all began on the left-side of the pitch, with Suarez absolutely rinsing Lucas Rocha [imagine my shock], before playing what [initially] seemed like an aimless ball across the face of the goal. What I hadn’t seen was that the ball had taken a massive deflection off the Brazilian defender, so my apologies to Suarez! So the ball has been deflected, but there’s no pressure on you whatsoever, what do you do? You fumble the ball of course! Despite his best efforts to try to regather control of the ball, Somporn wasn’t able to, and Bonilla wriggled the ball free and fired home. Cue protests from the Scum players, who seemed certain that a VAR check would chalk the goal off. In a time when goalkeepers are so ‘overprotected’, it was nice to see one held to account for his mistake, with the goal standing. Somporn will learn from this, but it’s a harsh lesson to learn in a derby of this much importance. Good thing there were no fans in the stadium eh!?

 

 

There were a few tit-for-tat chances for both sides in the final few minutes of the first half, with Pakorn blazing a left-footed shot high and wide of the goal from distance. Considering his performances for us this season, I’ll cut him some slack for it, but it wasn’t the best effort from the midfield monk. Minutes later, Adisak [#11] fired an effort straight at Worawut, with us then going up the other end and having a shot of our own.

For me: it was [another] bad pit of play from Bordin. There’s no doubting that he had the better of Suporn [#5], who seems to have followed the Muangthing tradition of “let’s name our worst player captain”, with his predecessor [Wattana] now playing in Thai League 3 for Uthai Thani. That’s probably the level that Suporn should be at, based on his performance last night. He was horrendous, and we attacked him at every opportunity, so to me, that says that Dusit thought he was their ‘weak link’ too.

In my opinion, there were better options for Bordin to take, with Bonilla standing on the edge of the box unmarked, and Go making a run to the back-post: unmarked. Whilst I’m pleased that he had the confidence to take the shot, it wasn’t a convincing effort, and this was probably our best chance of doubling our lead. Hindsight is always 20:20 though, and I’m sure that it’s something that’ll be discussed in the review that they do of the game.

It was the final act of what had been an action packed first-half and it was the home team that had looked good value for the 3-points. It was now up to Dusit to show his “game management” skills, and prove that he could get the lads to hold onto the lead: something he was “explicitly brought in to help with.”

 

 

SECOND-HALF BATTLE

The thing that I seem to have noticed [so far] this season has been that we always seem to start games strongly, and then in the second half: we play a bit more defensively. I’m not sure whether it’s due to us not having the energy levels to maintain our first-half performance, or if that’s something that Dusit changes during the break, but it’s something that happened again last night. The lads were still getting through a mountain of work, but it just felt like there was less impetus put on attacking.

What we saw in the second half was our opponents enjoying a majority of the possession, and to their credit: they carved out a fair few chances for themselves. With that being said, there was a noticeable lack of quality in their efforts, and the effort from Mirzaev [#10] just before the 46-minute mark didn’t test Worawut in the slightest. I really rate the Uzbek midfielder, and I still think he’s the best foreign player on the books of the Nonthaburi-based club, but last night probably wasn’t his best performance for them. Not that I’m complaining!

There was a serious warning for us in the 53RD minute, with Picha finding himself in acres of space on the right-side, and firing in a low cross that Tanaboon [#17] would cut out for a corner. Job done in that regard, but considering the time and space that Picha had found himself in: he really should’ve done better. It’s no surprise that Samut Prakan City were more than happy to sell him to Muangthong, rather than [the much more talented] Jaroensak, and whatever the fee was: Muangthong paid far too much. 4 goal contributions in 31 games [1 every 7.75 games] certainly suggests that, with the player having managed 30 goal contributions for Pattaya United Samut Prakan City in 104 games [1 every 3.46 games]. (Those stats are according to Transfermarkt).

From the resulting corner, Adisak leapt like a salmon to head the ball at goal, and thankfully: it rattled the woodwork. It wasn’t the greatest defending from us in all honesty, and Worawut’s decision to charge off his goal line wasn’t the wisest one either. There’s no need for him to do it every time: only leave your line if you’re 110% confident that you’re going to be able to get to the ball! It was a big bullet dodged for us, and the saying of “if you play with fire, sometimes you’re going to get burned” quickly came to mind as I watched it all play out.

 

 

It was our visitors that made the first substitution of the match, with Jesse Curran [#17] entering the field for Teeraphol [#6]. When you consider that we’d been heavily linked with Teeraphol after missing out on Thitiphan, I’m quite relieved that we hadn’t upped our offer for him, based on his performance last night. With that being said, I don’t think that his role for the Scum suits him: you need his energy in the attacking third of the pitch.

The substitution saw Picha tuck into a more central position, with Jesse bombing up and down the right-hand side, and it was his cutback that Picha butchered with 63:53 on the clock. It was a [somewhat] straightforward opportunity on goal, and the fact that he couldn’t even hit the target must’ve had his coach ready to smash a few water bottles or [in Thiago Cunha style] slam a door off its hinges.

We were pushing our luck, no question about that, and a few minutes later: we made our first changes. Nurul [#13] came on for Bordin, whilst Worawut “Baresi” [#24] came on for Tanaboon. For some reason, I think Tanaboon might’ve gone off injured, but considering his last few performances: I hope not. I’m not sure whether I would’ve brought on Nurul personally, but at the same time… he’d brought a lot of energy when he’d come on against Suphanburi, so he did deserve another opportunity. For me, I thought we were giving up a bit too much of the possession, so I would’ve considered making the changes to try and rectify that.

Picha seemed to be the player that was getting into all of the dangerous positions, and it was a mishit cross from him that Worawut was forced to tip over for a corner with 69:52 on the clock. When you consider how many times in this game that Picha was able to find time and space in dangerous parts of the pitch: his lack of goal contributions in his time at Legoland becomes even more bewildering.

 

 

It took us until [just before] the 72ND minute to carve out our first proper attack of the second half, which again… sums up how we’d adjusted our focus to a bit more of a defensive approach. When you consider that we’d shredded the Scummers quite a bit in the first half, I really believe that we should’ve kept doing just that, but as we constantly hear these days: trust the process. A cross from Pakorn was heading towards goal by Suarez, but rather than nestling in the back of the net, it hit the side-netting and got the hopes of a lot of the fans sky high.

A second goal would’ve killed the game because there’s no doubt in my mind: our opponents weren’t scoring 2. Hell, I didn’t even think that they’d be able to score 1!

The next effort that we saw on goal came from the incredibly overrated Weerathep [18], with his effort not convincing in the slightest, and it became a lot clearer as to why he’s been selected to be the ‘base’ of the midfield. When you factor in that he’s not much of a ‘screener’, it’s of little surprise that the Scummers midfield offers next-to-no protection for their defensive unit.

Both sides had made more changes by this stage, with Kannarin [#31] replacing Siwakorn [#16], whilst Korawich [#8] replaced Adisak. Siwakorn had put in a massive shift for us, so it made sense to bring on Kannarin, and I had faith that he’d come on and continue what Siv had started.

As we edged towards full-time, it seemed like the left-side of the Scum had tired, because there were multiple times where Pakorn embarrassed the fullback, and whipped in a dangerous cross. With the clock at 83:55, he put in a cross that Nurul would head over the bar. Anyone else: it hits the back of the net! There’s no doubting that Nurul is able to find some incredibly dangerous positions, but his lack of ‘killer instinct’ means that there’s a lot of frustration towards him at times. I honestly just can’t see him becoming a more prolific attacker, and it’s now 2 games in a row where you feel he should’ve found the back of the net.

 

 

As we edged closer to the end of the game, we saw both teams send out their final changes, with Poramet [#20] and former golden boy Wattanakorn [#33] replacing the wasteful Picha, and tired Boontawee. Dusit on the other hand, brought on Nattawut [#45] for Pakorn, whilst Thitathorn [#3] replaced Nitipong. I don’t think I would’ve subbed Niti, as I thought he’d done well, and I would’ve instead sent Thitathorn on for Pakorn, and added an additional defender to kill off the game.

Thitathorn’s impact was almost immediate, with him mugging off Jesse Curran, with the Australian-Filipino winger voicing his frustration towards the referee, who paid no attention to it.

The game took a turn for the worse during the added on 5-minutes, with a sickening head clash between Kannarin and Chatchai [#4] seeing the game immediately halted and medical professionals enter the field of play. Watching the match highlights, you can hear the “crunch” of the impact, and it was quite sickening in a way. Just to be clear, there was no controversy whatsoever in the collision: it was two players committed to winning the ball. The fact that Kannarin had come out of it with a pretty serious injury is a shame, but it happens in football sometimes.

I have to give credit to the referee for acting as quickly as he did, and I hope that both lads recover quickly from their injuries. Chatchai needed some pretty serious bandaging, whilst Kannarin was taken straight to hospital. The injury update from Port’s social media sites suggest that there’s some fractures for him, so I wish him the best of luck in his recovery.

Once everyone affected was safely off the pitch, the game resumed, with our visitors having the final shot of the game with 101:03 on the clock. With the effort going out for a goal kick, the referee blew for full-time, and the 3-points were officially ours! Normally this is the part where I say “good luck next week” to our opponents, but that won’t be the case this time around. We’ve just shown that we can win a derby in a game with no atmosphere whatsoever, so travelling to Legoland for the second leg shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

 

 

THE LACK OF VAR!

It was amazing to go through almost an ENTIRE game without a single VAR check, which is made even more amazing when you considering the VARcical decisions that the Scum have benefited from this season. The only VAR check that occurred was for Nelson’s goal, and I’ve no doubt there were probably a few fans on the edge of their seats when they saw that there was a VAR check going on. It was nice to see that the process went through in a timely fashion, rather than taking what seems to be the standard 4-5 minutes, and the game continued soon after.

The annoying thing [for me] was that as soon as the ball was in the back of the net, some of the Muangthong players ran straight to the referee, and started demanding a VAR check. I’m not trying to single Muangthong out, because it happens all across the league, but I’d like to start seeing bookings for this type of behaviour. Simply put: it needs to stop. It’s a black eye for the league, and maybe if we start showing the match officials a bit more respect… they might start showing a bit more competence. Leave it to the fans to voice their disagreements with the decisions!

Players play football, the match officials officiate: everyone just needs to do worry about doing their own job.

 

 

MY THOUGHTS – PORT FC

Our first-half performance was magnificent, and the way that we controlled the game was quite pleasing to watch. I thought Nitipong did quite well, so it’ll be interesting to see whether or not Jaturapat comes straight back into the side. Whilst I don’t think we’re playing to our full potential at the moment, we’re seeing regular glimpses of it, and if we can get to the stage where do almost all of the time: I think we’re a scary proposition.

With the fans scheduled to [slowly, but surely] return to the terraces, it appears that the season is truly about to take off, and for any clubs that are headed to PAT Stadium: watch out. For me, fans returning is the shot in the arm that the league has needed, because it’s no secret that a lot of interest  has somewhat faded with only being able to watch games on television. 9 times out of 10, it’s the day out, meeting up with fellow fans, that I look forward to during the week: not what I see on the pitch! The football is just the added bonus, though it doesn’t feel that way at times!

I’m quite content with what I saw last night, though there’s definitely a part of me that wishes that we’d continued to attack in the second-half. With that being said, we’ve kept our second cleansheet of the season, and although the Scummers had a fair few efforts on goal, and the majority of the second-half possession: we came away unscathed. That has to be a good confidence boost for everyone, and it’s almost like Dusit knows what he’s doing… who’d have thought that!?

We’ll travel to Chiangmai United next week, who [you’d imagine] should be without Boli due to him being on-loan from us, and hopefully we can get a good run of form going with another strong performance. Chiangmai United will be feeling very confident after such a strong win this week, but I’ve no doubt that if we play to our true potential… we’ll bring them crashing back down to Earth.

 

MY THOUGHTS – MUANGTHONG UNITED

It must be so demoralizing for Mario and his assistant [Dagno] to watch their side play at times, due to the overall lack of quality available to them. There’s no denying that Mario is one of the greatest attacking players to ever grace the ‘Land of Smiles’, yet he currently has a team that has little to no quality in the front-third. Willian Popp is doing a great job so far, yes, but can he be relied on to do it for the whole season? I’m not so sure. Then you have Dagno, who [to me] is one of the best midfielders to ever play for Muangthong, and he has to watch a midfield that is so disorganized, offers little to no protection to the defensive unit: it’s just a giant cluster-youknowwhat. The lack of signings made by the club during the off-season suggests that the coffers are almost threadbare, though they did manage to splash out and spend a few quid to bring in Teeraphol from Samut Prakan.

This is a Muangthong United side that truly lacks any real quality, and honestly: Mario is doing a brilliant job by being able to keep them competitive. At the rate that he’s going, you have to wonder: if he had the same resources as Gama enjoyed during his time at Legoland, would he bring them silverware? Possibly, but it appears that we’ll never know.

A quick trip to wiki showed me the following stats:

 

 

If those statistics are 100% accurate, Mario deserves a lot of credit, whilst it also suggests that Gama’s time at Legoland might not have been as brilliant as some would make it out.

 

MAN OF THE MATCH – PORT FC

It was impossible to single out an individual for the award, and considering that multiple players had their best game of the season: it just made sense to go with the entire team. Derby games are completely different to your “normal” fixtures, and you could see early on that the lads were up for it. Did we push our luck at times? Certainly. But there was enough about us to get in the way of the Scummers attacks most of the time, and we didn’t make it easy for them at all. Players were consistently putting their body on the line over the course of the 90-minutes, which is a nice change from the “I’ll dangle a foot, so it will look like I tried” that we’ve had to [begrudgingly] become accustomed to over the course of the past few seasons.

For me, there’s certainly been a change in our mentality since Dusit has arrived, and what we’re regularly seeing now is a team that will put in a shift for the 90-minutes: rain, hail, or shine. So far this season, there’s not been a game where you can say “have we even shown up?” because we’ve seen a side willing to graft every time out. It’s a first for me, since I started following the club in 2016, and honestly: a welcomed change. You can certainly say that some of our performances haven’t been too “polished” if you like, but I’m certain that that’ll come in time. The biggest issues that we’ve had over the years [in my opinion] has been a mentality issue, and credit to Dusit: he seems to have gotten it sorted early on.

The level of performances that we’re getting from some of the lads this season has been magnificent, and I’m eager to see if they can maintain it for the entirety of the season. If we’re going to make a proper push for 2ND or 3RD: we’re going to need them to.

 

 

Bangkok Set For It’s Var-y Big Derby. Port FC v MuangThong United Preview.

 

“We don’t play football anymore….everything is about VAR VAR” – Mario Gjurovski

 

If l made whatever the football blogging equivalent of new year’s resolutions are, then this season’s would have been to try and avoid talking about VAR as much. Last Saturday as l sat down to watch Port’s trip to Suphanburi and thought about what was going in this preview l reluctantly concluded that a fair bit of it, was going to be taken up talking about the way VAR calls had impacted the opening three games of MuangThong’s season. Come the final whistle of a 2-1 defeat that was flipped on its head by VAR it felt completely unavoidable. So, strap in (again) as we run through the (occasionally) good, bad and utterly bizarre of VAR in Thailand.

We might as well start with the good.

If VAR exists to show us what we miss from the first viewing, then it was absolutely on the money giving a penalty to Muangthong v Ratchaburi in the Friday night game last round (clip here). Viewed in real time everyone, including the referee, seems to miss what happened. There’s a tangle between Chatchai (4) and Pawee from a Muanthong free kick that leaves the Ratchaburi man on the ground in the box. What only becomes clear with a replay is that the Ratchaburi skipper has lashed out whilst on the ground, kicking the Muangthong man. It’s an incredibly stupid and vindictive thing to do and was rightly punished with the penalty that allowed Muangthong to take the lead.

Equally the MTU to make it 1-1 (clip here) v Prachuap in round one is good VAR, Popp (19)’s onside when the initial cross is played but he is offside if there is contact from Mirzaev (10), there isn’t and the goal rightly stands.

I’d add the penalty awarded to Supanburi to the list to correct calls (clip here). Jaturapat (15) is the last man, on the line and the ball ends up striking his arm as he jumps to his left and the ball arrives where he was initially standing. The result is to deny Suphanburi a goal and a penalty is a fair punishment. Where we get into the complexity of VAR is with the red card. Some have pointed out the similarity to Reece James’ penalty and red card at Liverpool, the big difference is the Chelsea man’s arm is moved with intent to stop the ball crossing the line, Jaturapat appears to be unaware. Of course, it’s opening up a minefield of interpretation regarding when there is intent and l’d really rather not have to watch officials attempt to solve them. I’m also not sure the double punishment, in this case, was merited.

In a similar vein, the late penalty Prachuap equalize with v Muangthong came about after a Chatchai handball in the box (clip here). It’s one of those where some people will tend to argue for or against it. In the main depending on if the penalty has gone for them or against them. It’s much the same as the one Bangkok United earnt and missed against us. The problem with these calls is what constitutes a natural position for the defender’s arm, is always going to be subjective. The rule makers tried making the situation an absolute with any contact between ball and arm being a pen and it was a disaster. I think both were penalties. However, the current set of rules are always going to cause debate and provide examples, once we get into the marginal, where ball strikes a very similar positioned arm and on some occasions results in a penalty and on others doesn’t. We can’t have absolutes on subjective calls and are we really any better off when things still come down to an officials decision but with a 5 min delay added to the game, rather than just going with the on field call?

The penalty not given in first half injury time at Supanburi for a shirt pull on Bonilla (9) is an equally divisive one (clip here). For me, it’s a clear pen. The defender pulls Nelson’s shirt denying him the movement to strike the ball. Do that anywhere else on the pitch and get seen, it’s a freekick and so  do it in the penalty area, get seen and it should be a penalty. Others disagree and again we see that ultimately VAR is trying to be the absolute authority on matters that will always be subjective.

If you’re going to have an omnipresent all seeing eye then its probably a good idea that its….. you know…….omnipresent and all seeing. Rather than what we have now where which seems to be at times neither.

Firstly it doesn’t seem to be omnipresent as shown by the first Chonburi goal in the el classico of the fallen, the league’s youtube highlights and much of the initial complaints focus on a possible offside that even if not clear with the naked eye in real time, VAR gets it right as the video replay and addition of lines, showing the attacker to be onside. However, the real issue occurs just before the goal highlights cut in on the youtube coverage. As there’s a blatant handball by a Chonburi player. Not only is the system blind but those covering the league seem to want to hide the shortcomings of their system.

The one they didn’t see. Chonburi handball in the build up to the first goal.

 

While the lack of ability to see everything is shown by Ports 58th penalty shout at Suphanburi (clip here), the system is ultimately deeply flawed if, as here, a player stood in the line of sight of a camera and their limited number mean there are no alternates that can provide conclusive proof. Given the league needed a bailout to get the system to where it is, there’s very little likelihood of additional cameras any time soon. And given how long reviews take already do we really want the extra time more angles would add. I suspect it hasn’t hit the Supanburi players arm but the system isn’t working if it only operates fully on some parts of the field or dependant on where players are stood.

And now for the really bad (clip here) Where do you even start with the total joke that ended up with Muangthing getting the penalty from which they equalized v Chonburi. It was the perfect chance for VAR to show its usefulness, as the ref makes an onfield call of penalty. Anyone with experience of the game beyond playing under 7s needs one replay to see he’s made a mistake and Junior Eldstål gets the ball. It’s the clear and obvious error that VAR exists to correct. Instead, what occurs is unfathomable and would have caused outrage in any major league around the world. It’s simply not occurring in a major European league. All those claims that Thailand can get its football to the level seen in Korea and Japan, forget about it whilst this is the norm. The absolute best case scenario is that an entire officiating team is incompetent, not one of those looking at replays, saw what happened and could say “hold on, l think the defenders got the ball there”. That it’s been followed by nothing, no come back, no demotions or suspensions or attempts to get the officials trained to be of a better standard and a deafening silence from the media is a major factor in why so many that give Thai football a try, quickly decide they’d rather get their football fix of a weekend, sat on the couch watching the Premier League.

I don’t have an answer that can simply rectify the situation. Way back when the concept of VAR was first becoming a reality l was all for it, on the condition that it didn’t change how the game flowed. I still think it’s a good idea, in theory, it can even work in practice, as we saw at the Euros in the summer passed. Hardly surprising when you have Europes best referees supplemented by a couple of world allstars (If such a thing exists in officiating). However, what we have here in Thailand is a long way from that. Rather what we have is a total mess, inconsistent, at times fussy, at others myopic and all too often long winded, the game is regularly stopped for 4 or 5 minutes, even in one case l saw 8 minutes, to conclude the review while back at the Euros “Uefa [kept] a chart of the average time taken when VAR intervenes. After 36 matches it was at the lowest [experienced] …..at about 100 seconds per intervention.” The main thing that needs to change is getting the thing done quicker. It was brought in to stop clear and obvious mistakes. If you can’t make your mind up one way or the other in say 2 or 3 mins, then it’s not clear and obvious, the on field call should stand and get on with the game.

Gjurovski points to the lack of information given to clubs on how rules will be applied, you’d hope the officials have a better idea but fear they don’t.  To admit that the officials in the league aren’t up to operating the system, or that there are few in number who are, just doesn’t seem to be an option with the resultant loss of, that oh so important, “face” to a Thai organisation. Besides to turn it off might gain the league some attention (some of which will be positive from those against VAR) but will also only serve to make Thai football look even more tinpot than normal. Then once it’s gone how do you decide that you’ve reached the point to turn it back on? Whilst officials can’t improve at something they don’t do. And lack of experience playing under VAR conditions will only see the officials and league fall further behind local rivals. Sadly, l feel we’re best served to stick with it (as poor as it is) and pushing for improvements in the implementation and standard of those who use it or to put it another way, blindly hoping it all magically gets better.

 

Muangthong United 

Mario Gjurovski, impressive management style. Terrible sock game.

 

If l alienated half the readership before l really got going, using a Mario quote and some more of you with another lengthy VAR rant, l might as well keep going. Right now the greatest asset Muangthing posess is Mario Gjurovski, who looks like he could become a top coach, destined for far greater things than this league, if he wants it.  While the Samut Prakan Don’s Masatada Ishii has (rightly) had heaps of praise this season for his achievements with a limited squad, stripped of key players due to budget limitations, Mario has done much the same, in his first appointment, without over 150 games of J league experience to call upon, with a more limited squad and seen two key players leave with limited attempts to replace them. Former loanee (from Port) Chatmongkol moved on to BG Pathum United and when Derley’s wage demands couldn’t be met he headed to Ratchaburi. Derley has been replaced by Adisak (11) who returned to his parent club having spent last season on loan with us. As good as he is, it’s telling that he’ll probably be the only Thai striker to play as the figurehead of a club that finishes in the top half.  While circumstances mean that there was simple nobody signed to replace Chatmongkol and the squad so far has looked bereft of anyone to undertake the defensive midfield role. Rather what we have is a well drilled unit, programmed to play some pretty football and attack. Its main strengths are three attacking midfielders in Sardor Mirzaev, Teeraphol Yoryoei (6) and their standout player so far this season Willian Popp, who has four goals. For its merits going forward this is not a team that enjoys or has the personnel to spend long spells on the back foot. They’ll offer up chances and we should look to control the ball as much as possible. At Prachuap they conceded their first goal as Dos Santos is picked out with a nice flicked through ball from Mota but Rocha (3), Chatchai and Suporn (5) are all near by and combine to do nothing ( we can go for the full set and say Somporn (1) in goal really should be doing better if he’s the national team keeper some have hyped him up to be). Its these moments at the back and they’ve occurred consistently for Muangthing, that Port will need to take advantage of.

 

Willian Popp, MTU star man this season

Port

 

The game v Suphanburi really became a bit of a non event with regards to figuring out where Dusit is going with the side after the sending off. What was pleasing to see was that from that point on everyone on the field dug in and put a shift in trying to get something from the game.  Where once the collection of individuals rather than a team label, would have been true of Port.  Here no heads went down and everyone fought till the final whistle. A few stood out to be worthy of mentioning. Tanaboon (17) had what was possibly his best performance in a Port shirt, it was a throwback to the levels that earned him the reputation he has and hopefully we see more of it. Nelson Bonilla put in an absolutely huge performance, got a goal (yet again), was robbed of a penalty and was at his spikey, combative best. Just an absolute pain in the arse for the Suphanburi defence all night as he ran himself into the ground, having seemingly taken the red card as a personal affront. If there were flashes of him back to his best last season, its looking almost the norm currently. While Phillip Roller (33) seems to be flying a little under the radar so far, there hasn’t been the big stand out performances of last season at Ratchaburi but he’s been absolutely superb, playing at points everywhere on the right flank. And finally Nurul (13), after a couple of seasons where he seemed to lose his way, the little fella was everything you’d want from an impact sub on the night and long may it continue.

Phillip Roller, quietly impressive so far.

 

Prediction

 

Right now, I suppose what the league needs is one of these big games to pass without VAR being the main talking point postmatch. And I hope that’s the case win, draw or……..who am l kidding? Lets destroy the soulless McClub vermin…. 3-1 to the hero’s of Klong Toei.

 

Today its been annoched that this game will be played without fans. The match will be shown live on AISPLAY (possibly limited to AIS network users) at 1700 on Saturday 2nd October, 2021. 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.

 

Club statement re-attendance.

Time for Port to “Cast your doubts aside and fly.” Suphanburi v Port; A Preview

 

Port make the short trip to Suphanburi for the fourth round of the Revo Thai League, on Sunday evening and as is the new normal, unless there has been some change since last weekend (and there’s no reason to believe there has been), the match will be a behind closed doors affair.

 

 

Suphanburi

The War Elephants have opened their campaign with three draws. Starting with an unexpected 0-0 away to Buriram. That whilst very much a backs to the walls performance, they would have come away from disappointed to not gain three points, as they were denied a late penalty by the second worst VAR call of the season so far.  That was followed by successive 2-2 draws first with ChiangMai United, which was very much a case of shooting themselves in the foot as they surrendered the lead twice. Firstly giving away a silly handball penalty. Then having gone back in front, scorer Sihanart (9), received a second yellow for taking his shirt of celebrating and putting pressure on his team to hold out. Which they looked to have done until, former Port man Tossapol levelled things up which pretty much the last kick of the game. If that was disappointing, the point gained last time out against Prachuap will have lifted spirits, as they came back from 2-0 down and looked the more likely to take all 3 points late on.

Not a penalty apprently. Thai VAR at its finest.

 

Their team thus far has been settled playing 3-4-3 in each game. In the latter two games the defence has given up, numerous silly mistakes and had a few moments of switching off that Port will look to exploit.  The big question ahead of game regarding Suphanburi selection is the available of star midfield man Lossémy Karaboué (7), who having completed the full 90minutes at Buriram hasn’t featured in the two subsequent home game. If he’s able to return it will be a big boost to their chances. Upfront the wide roles have been taken by Danilo (99) and Reichelt (11) in the last two games while a different central striker has started each game (Danilo was used here v Buriram). The widemen have looked lively, Danilo has scored in each of the last two and each has supplied a cross for the other to score. In my preview of Suphan l questioned if Danilo would hit the ground running and score regularly and so far, he’s made a fool out of me, looking very decent.

 

 

The somewhat better than l predicted Danilo Alves in action against Prachuap

 

Port

Last weekend saw Port get their first win and clean sheet of the season at home to Khon Kaen United and the expectation will be for a repeat on both fronts on Sunday evening. I can see Dusit sticking with the starting line up that he’s used in the last two games. Jaturapat(15) brings more defensive stability on the left, which will help to deal with Danilo. The performance against Khon Kaen United started in a very lively manner as Port raced to a 2-0 lead and there after was a much more even contest, hopefully it was just a case of the team easing off and coasting home with the points assured. I can see something similar playing out here and a repeat of the scoreline.  We also have form for scoring spectacular over head kicks in this fixture with Rolando “Tony” Blackburn scoring one in 2019 and Yanick Boli repeating the trick last season. Lets hope there’s a third on Sunday.

The match will be shown live on AISPLAY (possibly limited to AIS network users) and PPTV36 at 1800 on Sunday 26th 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.

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).

 

Podcast

The Portcast #23: The State of Things

 

Tom, Jim and James run through how the 2021-22 season has gone so far, touching on all of the big hitters but focusing on Port.

 

 

Our next podcast is already recorded, and will be edited and posted within the next few days, so please follow us on Google Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts so you know when the next episode is live.