Port FC and Bangkok United battled to a 1-1 draw in Thai League’s (T1) biggest game of Matchday 11 but it was the bungling referee who made most headlines with a baffling performance.
The man in the middle – Arkhom Charoensuk- sent several players into meltdown and Sergio Suarez and Sanrawat Dechmitr were red-carded for their reactions to two preposterous decisions.
If the refereeing incompetence beggared belief, player behaviour was downright obnoxious as boorish intimidation culminated in physical aggression for Sanrawat’s red card.
There is no doubt that this season has seen refereeing standards strike a new low and player behaviour has followed that downward trend. Saturday’s referee at the PAT stadium has been indefinitely suspended – a bold statement – but it is going to be impossible to apply that standard consistently.
Here are three things we saw on T1 Matchday 11.
Honours even as ref steals the show
The evening started with sombre tributes to five Port FC fans who tragically lost their lives in a road accident. The home side then started the match against the Bangkok Angels with furious intent, forcing Michael Falkesgaard into three saves in the first 10 minutes.
Elias Dolah’s opening goal seemed inevitable, but Nelson Bonilla hit back immediately to completely alter the momentum.
Lost in the feverish pace of the game were the persistent refereeing errors, with Tristan Do lucky to escape a booking when he pulled back Adisorn Daeng-Ruang early on and Bordin Phala also fortunate not to be booked for a similarly cynical challenge. These are the kinds of decisions that seem straightforward according to the rule book.
Suarez then did his best to get Pokklaw Anan sent off with a series of rolls and the referee really started to make a name for himself at the end of the half when Nelson Bonilla was cleaned out on the left wing and nothing was given. The Honduran reacted furiously and in any normal world should have been booked for dissent but there was no penalty.
A minute later, Dragan Boskovic nudged Peerapat Notchaiya over in a similar position and again the referee allowed play to continue.
A week after being on the wrong end of another horrendous refereeing display in Chiang Mai, Bangkok United players really started to let their frustrations get the better of them.
Photo credit: Bangkok United
The tempo dropped in the second half after an action-packed first 45 minutes but the referee then outdid himself with just over 10 minutes remaining. Suarez tumbled in the box and a penalty seemed to be the result but a free-kick was awarded instead. Suarez lost the plot and threw the ball at Peerapat’s head. The wing-back’s dramatic drop to the floor was an embarrassment and the Spaniard received his marching orders.
The final act in a sorry tale came in added time when Bonilla rampaged forward with intent but was caught by Dolah. Bonilla stayed on his feet but the chance was gone. Instead of calling play back, awarding a free kick and booking Dolah, Port were allowed to break forward.
Manuel Bihr and Peerapat completely lost it and moved menacingly towards the referee who had to physically push back against the advancing Bihr. Sanrawat then jabbed the referee in the stomach to earn his red card.
The match ended, the referee received his punishment, while Sanrawat shamelessly larked around taking selfies with the Port fans instead of taking his rightful place on the naughty step.
This was an entertaining clash between two committed sides for 75 minutes but it degenerated into farce at the end.
Muang Thong stop the rot
Muang Thong United remain winless in seven T1 games but they at least earned their second clean sheet of the year as they held Suphanburi to a 0-0 draw.
Just as he had been in Bangkok 24 hours earlier, the referee managed to earn himself a dose of infamy when he decided that Tinnakorn Asurin had not blatantly taken Adisorn Promrak out of the game in the penalty box.
Photo credit: Suphanburi FC
Tinnakorn had the audacity to accuse Adisorn of diving and the Thai international defender was yellow-carded for his angry reaction to another preposterous decision. Referees have a tough job but that was an easy spot for everyone in the stadium and watching on TV. If none of the officials can see a foul as obvious, they are in the wrong job.
Cleiton Silva was none too happy when he received his second yellow card for a clumsy challenge in the second half, having been booked for an innocuous offence in the first. To add to the farce, the referee appeared to have forgotten about the first yellow and it took him a while to produce the red.
With both sides struggling, a point apiece was probably a relief for the head coaches, who at least avoided another potentially damaging defeat.
Chiang Rai close in on top spot
Chiang Rai United did not have the best start to the year as they dismissed their new head coach and failed to make any significant moves in the transfer market.
But the Beetles’ brand of ruthlessly efficient football continues to earn them results and Sunday’s ugly 1-0 win at home to Chonburi was another example. Somkid Chamnanslip clubbed home from distance on the hour mark to move Chiang Rai into second spot, just two points behind Port FC.
Photo credit: Chiang Rai United
Chiang Rai have now won five of their last six matches – three times by a 1-0 scoreline. They have also held Port FC and Buriram United to 0-0 draws to prove their title credentials.
Chiang Rai’s football may not match the beauty of the mountainous province that surrounds them, but they are beginning to look like dark horses for the T1 title in a year in which a clear favourite has yet to emerge.