Heberty Fernandes struck at the death to give resurgent Muang Thong United a 3-2 victory over Bangkok United on a weekend that again saw four of the Thai League’s (T1) Top Five sides drop points.
It is starting to look like the T1 title that no one wants to win as Samut Prakan City were the only Top Five club to earn three points and it took them until the 93rd minute to grab a winner at home to Chonburi.
Buriram United were held 0-0 at home to Suphanburi, while Chiang Rai United could only manage a 1-1 draw with Nakhon Ratchasima.
Here are four things we saw on T1 Matchday 17.
- Heberty keeps Muang Thong recovery on track
Muang Thong United are clearly a different proposition from the despondent side that Alexandre Gama took over last month. They twice went behind to Bangkok United and twice hit back to level the score before a dramatic final 20 minutes in which both sides hit the woodwork and had chances to win.
As the game approached added time, Vander Luis looked set to hit the winner but aimed his shot straight at Dang Van Lam in the Muang Thong goal. The Kirins went up the park and Heberty struck the winner from 25 yards out. It could turn out to be a crucial moment but the damage for Bangkok United was limited by the failures of their immediate rivals to take three points.
Photo credit: Muang Thong United
However, Bangkok United’s failure to take the opportunities given when their rivals drop points seems ominous. They twice led and were twice pegged back by an opponent that just wouldn’t give up.
Despite a wretched start to the season, Muang Thong are now a mere nine points behind Bangkok United after four wins in five games. It would be outlandish to suggest that they could still win the title but top five certainly isn’t beyond them on current form.
- Port’s struggles continue
Port FC’s mid-season slump continued with a lacklustre 1-1 draw at Ratchaburi. Despite being brought back to the club to provide goals, Josimar Rodrigues was left on the bench as the Port Lions opted to start without a striker as Sergio Suarez was apparently given the role of False 9.
The visitors took the lead against the run of play when David Rochela scored from a penalty won by Suarez. But instead of using the goal as a platform to recover the swagger of earlier this year, Port continued to play a cautious game and were blunt in front of goal.
Photo credit: Ratchaburi FC
Fortunately for them, Ratchaburi failed to do much with their possession. The referee tried to even things up by awarding the Dragons a penalty for a non-existent foul but Yannick Boli saw his spot-kick saved before he atoned for the miss with a close-range finish to equalise.
Port still have the quality to finish the season strongly but head coach Jadet Meelarp’s lack of tactical flexibility has been repeatedly exposed in the last month, leading to his side falling from first to fifth in the table.
Chonburi visit the PAT Stadium next Saturday in what promises to be another stiff test for the side from Klong Toey.
- Chainat survive despite Teerath’s moment of madness
Relegation-threatened Chainat need every available point as they battle to earn another season in T1 with one of the smallest budgets. When you are 3-0 up with just under 30 minutes to play, it helps to have all of your team keep their discipline.
Goalkeeper Teerath Nakchamnarn inexplicably decided that this was the time to elbow Trat’s Adefolarin Durosinmi in the face, apparently unprovoked, and earn himself a red card. It was an extremely rash and selfish attack and it could have proven very costly.
Photo credit: Chainat FC
Teerath’s replacement Kritsana Kongkot managed to save Durosinmi’s resultant penalty but was then at fault for failing to stop the same player’s low, long-range effort before Lonsana Doumbouya’s last-minute strike.
Chainat held on to inflict a third straight loss on Trat but they will have learned that they have a goalkeeper they can’t really count on in the battle to beat the drop.
- Pairot denies former club to give Chiang Mai hope
Pairot Eiam-mak’s move from Sukhothai to Ratchaburi soon turned sour at the beginning of the season when he had an error-strewn start to his time at the Dragons. He lost his place in the starting lineup to Ukrit Wongmeema and was allowed to join Chiang Mai at the start of the transfer window.
Pairot seemed to be inspired on his return to Sukhothai – the club where he spent four years. After Chiang Mai had taken a shock 2-0 half-time lead with fine goals from Ekanit Panya and Wanmai Setthanan, it was down to Pairot to keep his new team in front.
Photo credit: Sukhothai FC
As Sukhothai attacked in waves, Pairot denied them time and again, including a spectacular save from John Baggio’s volley. It would have left a sour taste had the Malagasy star been able to influence the result at a time when he should have been off the pitch for kicking Evson off the ball.
The Fire Bats finally scored through Kittikai Juntaraksa but thanks to Pairot, the visitors held on for a 2-1 victory.
There is still a long way for Chiang Mai to go, but they became just the second team to win at Sukhothai this year, the likes of Bangkok United, Buriram United, and Port FC having failed. If Pairot can perform like this week-in, week-out, they will have a fighting chance.