Toyota League Cup. Thai Port 0 Muang Thong 2
The home side set up with a 4-4-2 formation spearheaded by Sarawut and DaCosta whilst the away team went for a more conservative 4-5-1 plan with the beefy Paulo as target man in a much changed starting eleven from Sunday’s tussle with Buriram. Port welcomed the ever popular Steve Robb back into the team after recovering from a niggling knee injury.
The strict and unequivocal instruction by the FAT that the floodlights must be fixed by last month on peril of dire penalties meant that the square root of nothing was done about it and the game kicked off at 5 PM. Expect further non sanctions in the very near future.
The first ten minutes were cagey. Paulo tested the limits of the PAT Stadium netting with his shot after three minutes and Steve Robb’s overhead hamstring stretching over the shoulder control on six minutes set up a half chance for the home side, but both sides struggled to gain momentum.
A very unpleasant foul by Port’s Siwakorn on Edivaldo brought the game’s first yellow and, immediately after, Paulo dragged a shot just wide to increase the game’s tempo before he had a golden chance to score from an unchallenged header, but his effort went straight to Port’s keeper Wanlop. Port’s second yellow was dished out to Termchai for a clumsy challenge on 26 minutes as the first half hour passed without much pattern or fluidity: both teams having clocked up 8 fouls.
Jakkapan, the Muang Thong captain for the day, was carded for reasons best known to the referee who presented the yellow with the smile of someone offering a birthday card on 31 minutes before Paulo made another attempt to place the first football on Mars soon after. He was then carded on 37 minutes for a meaty , frustrated challenge and the temperature was beginning to rise as handbags were brandished briefly and a fractious, insipid half drew to a close, although Olan got Port hearts racing when his shot flashed over in injury time.
The second half started with more urgency as the away team started to string together more possession, but moves continued to break down in the final third through poor passing, with former Thai Port man Ekkapoom’s inability to provide accurate crosses becoming increasingly glaring. Port should have taken the lead on 53 minutes, but an unmarked Robb was left stranded by a poor cross from the right .
A fantastic piece of cheating by Wanlop on 56 minutes included everything apart from physical contact to complete his fall to the floor in agonized unconsciousness. The physio seemed mystified about where to apply the sponge when there was nothing that would have floored a man with such force.
Both sides were getting narked and narky with MT’s Sarach floored by a stroke to the hairline illustrating how the game was beginning to unravel. Edivaldo had a gift wrapped chance to score with a header after 64 minutes but he expertly found the keeper when scoring would have been much less problematic. Also , on 67 minutes, a straightforward penalty was missed when Port’s Narat clearly handled in the area. Astonishingly it went unpunished despite the linesman having a clear view. All three officials need to take the blame for the fast deteriorating game. They appear not to even have a basic understanding of what they are doing.
At least the game was opening up after 70 minutes and became a great advert for the Premier League: unfortunately not the one in Thailand. On 77 minutes Adnan came on for Ekkapoom for the visitors but straight after that Port had a good chance to put us out of our misery when da Costa had a good scoring chance on the six yard box but was blocked by last ditch defending.
The first piece of quality came on 82 minutes when Paulo used his upper body strength to make space before clinically scoring from the edge of the area with Wanlop stranded. Port’s Teerawut had a perfect chance to score after shocking defence by MT, but he finished like a Sunday League player after a rough night and Paulo was to punish him for it with the second goal deep into injury time after an excellent run and cross by Adnan. On balance, Muang Thong just about deserved their win with more of the possession and clear chances, but this won’t be a match to live long in the memory.