Buriram hold off Bangkok United challenge to stay top of T1

Buriram United clung on to the top of the Thai League (T1) table by holding Bangkok United to a hard-fought 1-1 draw on Matchday 19.

The champions’ winless turn stretched to four games but they remain leaders, ahead of Samut Prakan City on goal difference.

Meanwhile, Port FC’s defeat at PTT Rayong spelled the end of head coach Jadet Meelarp’s reign, while Suphanburi remain bottom despite a fourth game unbeaten.

Here are three things we saw on T1 Matchday 19.

  1. Bangkok United fail to take their chance

There may never have been a better chance to beat a vulnerable Buriram on their own patch, with their two new strikers still struggling to find their feet and Bozidar Bandovic’s men failing to hit consistent form.

In 2018, the Thunder Castle dropped just 15 points across a 34-match season. So far in 2019, they have dropped 22 points in just 19 games. However, Bangkok United have chosen this of all years to be equally profligate. They have already let 24 points slip – just seven points fewer than in the 34 matches in 2018.

On Sunday, Bangkok United’s failed attempt to play out from the back put them in trouble and Nacer Barazite opened the scoring for Buriram. Everton Saturnino’s thumping header levelled the score on the stroke of half-time and set up what promised to be a thrilling second half.

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Photo credit: Bangkok United

But the second 45 minutes didn’t match the quality of the first half and moves broke down with misplaced passes and poor decisions, or when there was a whistle from an increasingly erratic referee.

As frustration spilled over after yet another dubious call in added time, Pokklaw Anan was sent off for his second yellow card in the space of a minute, apparently both for dissent. Given the amount of dissent that referees routinely tolerate, it seemed a strange decision, especially given the absence of aggression from Pokklaw.

The outcome leaves the title face wide open, with a two-point gap between Buriram and Bangkok United remaining, while even crisis-club Port FC remain firmly in contention despite their wretched form.

Buriram travel to face surprise joint leaders Samut Prakan City next weekend in a clash that will surely have a significant impact on the outcome of the season.

  1. Murillo magic sinks slumping Port

On May 29th, PTT Rayong beat Chonburi to take a much-needed three points, and earn just the third win in their first 12 T1 games of the season. On the same day, top-of-the-table Port FC defeated Chiang Mai 3-1 for their eighth victory.

On Saturday, a wonder strike from Dennis Murillo was enough for PTT to seal a 1-0 win in a tight game. It was the home side’s sixth victory in the last eight games, pushing them just two points behind their opponents. Port, meanwhile, have failed to win a single T1 match in the six fixtures since that win over Chiang Mai.

It could be argued that the rot had set in before the club started making some interesting recruitment decisions, but surely no one can seriously consider Tanaboon Kesarat as a better option at centre-back than David Rochela.

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Photo credit: Port FC

And would it not have been better to keep Dragan Boskovic and play him alongside an out-and-out striker rather than putting all the pressure on the veteran to rediscover the scoring form of 2017 before dropping him from the squad?

This latest defeat was the final nail in head coach Jadet’s coffin and he makes way for Choketawee Promrut. It is not exactly an inspiring choice given Choketawee’s very modest CV but things clearly weren’t working under Jadet, who is known more for his affable nature than his coaching ability.

Time will tell if Port can recover from this mid-season slump and at least match last year’s third-place finish, while perhaps winning the FA Cup. The contrasting fortunes of these two sides demonstrate the crazy unpredictability of this season so far and anything seems possible.

  1. Suphanburi extend unbeaten run but stay bottom

If you are unbeaten in four games and have conceded just one goal in that streak, you might expect to be doing better than joint bottom of the table. Suphanburi seem to have rediscovered their early season form in defence but their continued failure to score goals may yet see them relegated.

The War Elephant conceded just once in their first four games this year, but proceeded to ship 10 in the following three matches. The haul of six points in the last four matches equals that earned in the first four games but taking just five from the 11 in between has left them in a precarious position.

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Photo credit: Suphanburi FC

Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Chonburi was their sixth goalless draw of the season. They were kept out by Sintaweechai Hathairattanakool after the goalkeeper made the switch to the Sharks last week. While picking up points at places like Buriram and Chonburi are decent results, they desperately need wins to move them up the table. Dragan Boskovic seems to have turned down a move to Suphanburi and they have turned to another former player – Guilherme Dellatorre – to provide the goals in their battle for survival.

Chonburi, meanwhile, remain just three points above the relegation zone after just one win in five. The mid-season scattergun recruitment drive has yet to pay dividends.

 

 

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