Port fans lose patience while Bonilla rescues Bangkok United

Another weekend, another disappointing result for Port FC as Chonburi held them to a 2-2 draw at the PAT Stadium on Thai League (T1) Matchday 18.

There was even a rare show of dissent from the Port fans, especially when winger Pakorn Prempak showed his displeasure with them.

Muang Thong United had their growing momentum punctured by Chiang Mai, while Samut Prakan City suffered a shock 3-0 defeat at home to PTT Rayong. And Bangkok United managed to overcome Trat to move two points off leaders Buriram United, who drew 0-0 for the second week in a row.

Here are five things we saw on T1 Matchday 18.

  1. Worachit shines as Port struggle again

Port’s latest bout of transfer activity was presumably designed to prevent their fading title hopes from being completely extinguished. The arrivals of strikers Rolando Blackburn and Chenrop Samphaodi were a sign that the club was not satisfied with the depth of the squad, despite having also brought Tanaboon Kesarat, Martin Steuble and Josimar Rodrigues on board.

Of this quintet, only Josimar and Steuble started Saturday’s match against Chonburi, and it was the visitors’ attacking midfielder Worachit Kanitsribampen who stole the show as the Sharks, coming off six away games without scoring, took the lead twice in the opening 45 minutes.

Worachit’s opener was a wonderful effort, his first touch on the turn putting Elias Dolah off balance, before skipping past Tossapol Lates and firing into the corner. Chonburi could have been 2-0 up after just 11 minutes as Worachit’s perfectly-timed through ball put Panupong Phonsa through on goal, but the midfield man’s effort struck the post.

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Photo credit: Chonburi FC

After Siwakorn Jakkuprasat had levelled the score, Worachit laid the ball into the path of Caion to put the Sharks back in front with an excellent strike before Sergio Suarez equalised just two minutes later.

There was no further scoring in the second half but it was notable for the discontent that echoed around the stadium when Bordin Phala was replaced by Nurul Sriyankem. The unrest grew when Josimar was withdrawn and Port reverted to the 4-6-0 formation that had failed in last week’s draw at Ratchaburi. There was then incredulity when, with Chenrop and Blackburn on the bench, defensive midfielder Tanaboon was brought on as the final substitute with Port needing a goal.

Finally, Pakorn’s gesturing further enraged an already frustrated home support. They may remain just four points off top spot, but one win in eight games is relegation rather than title winning form and Port’s next T1 clash is a trip to in-form PTT Rayong.

  1. Bonilla brace helps Bangkok United close in on Buriram

As has been the case in many games this year, Bangkok United did not have an easy time in a fixture that looked a safe bet for three points.

At home to Trat FC, they fell behind early in the second half and had to rely on a Nelson Bonilla double strike to earn a much-needed win. Without regular wing-backs Tristan Do and Peerapat Notchaiya, the hosts lacked the width that often forms part of their attacking arsenal.

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Photo credit: Bangkok United

The winning goal came from a straightforward ball over the top that was brilliantly taken down and finished by Bonilla.

With Buriram United dropping more points in a 0-0 draw at Prachuap, Bangkok United can now leapfrog the current league leaders with victory at the Chang Arena next weekend.

Incredibly, just four points separate the top five teams in T1, so the title really could be won by any team in that group.

  1. Chiang Mai bring Muang Thong back to earth

Muang Thong United’s three-game winning streak ended on an emotional occasion as Chiang Mai played at their home stadium for the final time this year.

The Lanna Tigers were looking doomed a matter of weeks ago but a three-match unbeaten run has given them hope that they can still survive. On Friday evening, Chotipat Poomkaew put them in front with a beautiful shot on the turn and when Adisorn Promrak was red-carded before half-time, it looked like a huge upset was on the cards.

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Photo credit: Chiang Mai FC

But this is not the Muang Thong of earlier in the season and they got to grips with the game in the second half, finally equalising through substitute Sanukran Thinjom in the 86th minute. Such was the pressure on the home side towards the end, the team with 11 men were the more relieved to hear the final whistle as they claimed what could be another precious point.

However, Chiang Mai make the move to Chiang Rai for the rest of the season as their stadium is upgraded. While it may be almost 200km away, the surroundings will at least be familiar to the many players on loan from Chiang Rai United.

Next week, they travel to Ratchaburi for a huge match against a side that is also in the thick of the battle against relegation.

  1. Aris in blunderland as Samut Prakan exposed 

Given the nature of the club’s establishment, Samut Prakan City’s unlikely title challenge can hardly be considered a potential fairytale but their consistent form marked them as dark horses in a season in which the usual challengers have been unusually vulnerable.

But when PTT Rayong visited on Saturday, Samut Prakan’s pretensions were ruthlessly exposed as centre-back Aris Zarifovic had a night to forget. With goalkeeper Patiwat Khammai and skipper Peeradol Chamratsamee injured, Saharat Kanyaroj gave early indications of the visitors’ burgeoning confidence as his effort from his own half had Anurak Chompoopruk scrambling to push the ball wide before the same player smashed a shot off the bar from the edge of the box.

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Photo credit: Samut Prakan City

When Zarifovic headed into his own net, it was down to a misunderstanding with Anurak, though the defender was clearly the one to blame. Zarifovic then fluffed a clearance to allow Saharat to prod home the second minutes later.

The Slovenian’s nightmare continued when his headed backpass fell for PTT’s Apiwat Pengprakone and the in-form striker’s lob made it 3-0.

Samut Prakan remain very much in contention, but any more performances like that will see them lose more often than they win between now and the end of the season.

  1. Leandro joins the century club

In his ninth year in Thailand, Leandro Assumpcao netted his 100thThai League goal as Nakhon Ratchasima fought back to claim a crucial point in a 3-3 draw at home to Ratchaburi.

It looked as if his strike would be in vain as, after having levelled the score following Lossemy Karaboue’s sensational strike for the visitors, Steeven Langil’s double put the Dragons 3-1 ahead.

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Photo credit: Nakhon Ratchasima FC

But Henri Doumbia’s 90th-minute strike unsettled Ratchaburi and Amadou Ouatarra took advantage of some tired defending to smash home an equaliser in added time.

Leandro became the fourth Brazilian to make it to 100 T1 goals, following in the footsteps of Cleiton Silva, Diogo Luis Santo and Heberty Fernandes. The Swatcats are the 33-year-old’s sixth Thai club and, in a country where clubs are wary of recruiting foreign players edging towards their mid-thirties, he still has plenty to offer.

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