Port come up short again as Vander inspires Bangkok United

Port FC blew a chance to close the gap on Buriram United at the top of the Thai League (T1) as Bangkok United once again beat them on Matchday 25.

Mano Polking’s side edged to a 2-0 victory that moved them just two points behind Port, while Buriram United stayed at the top of the league despite drawing at home to Sukhothai.

At the other end of the table, Chainat sank into deeper trouble with what could be a costly defeat at Ratchaburi.

Here are three things we saw on T1 Matchday 25.

  1. Port meet familiar fate

The form book suggested that Port FC were favourites going into Saturday’s match at Bangkok United but history suggested otherwise. Nine years had passed since their last league win over the Bangkok Angels and that will become 10 after the hosts raised their game following a run of just one T1 win in six.

Bangkok United were boosted by the presence of Nelson Bonilla and Tristan Do on the bench, while Peerapat Notchaiya made his first start in several weeks following his own injury absence.

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Photo credit: Bangkok United

It was Bonilla’s deputy Chananan Pombuppha who opened the scoring early in the second half while Everton’s late header sealed the victory. But the star man was Vander Luis, who set up both goals and tormented the Port defence in the second 45 minutes in particular.

With Bonilla and Do both making appearances from the bench, Bangkok United can look ahead to their FA Cup semifinal against Port with increased optimism. Meanwhile, Choketawee Promrut’s side will have to consider what might have been after falling five points off top spot.

  1. Late penalty saves Buriram

Last week’s 6-0 victory over Ratchaburi suggested that Buriram United may be ready to romp to the title. Saturday’s stuttering performance at home to struggling Sukhothai suggested it might be more of a crawl.

Buriram remain top of T1 despite a win percentage of just 52 per cent as all of their challengers have stumbled and fallen in their pursuit. The Thunder Castle are on course to retain their title in spite of themselves and because the teams around them have apparently failed to seize the day. However, Chiang Rai United’s victory at Chonburi moved them just a point off the top again to keep Buriram looking over their shoulder.

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Photo credit: Buriram United

The Firebats almost took a much-needed three points at the Chang Arena, having held on to the lead given to them by Iain Ramsay until added time. When Jung Myoung-oh blocked a shot from close range, a penalty was awarded and the spot-kick was predictably tucked away by Andres Tunez.

Television replays failed to confirm whether the ball struck Jung on the arm or side, but Buriram were grateful for the reprieve, as they were to Bangkok United for keeping Port FC at a distance.

  1. Boli brace lifts Dragons

A defeat would have sucked Ratchaburi back into the relegation scrap but a 2-1 over Chainat put eight points between them and their opponents. It has been another tough season for the Dragons, who have swapped stability for chaos off the pitch, resulting in erratic form on it.

The attacking talents at the club look to have done enough to secure another season in T1 and it was Yannick Boli’s second-half double that sealed the three points here. Chainat had opened the scoring through Ricardo Santos’ penalty but, like last week at home to Samut Prakan City, they failed to hold onto a lead.

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Photo credit: Ratchaburi FC

The Hornbills have now lost four of the last five and face a monumental clash at home to Sukhothai on Matchday 26 after the international break. The Firebats now sit three points above Chainat with a much superior goal difference, so anything but a win would see Dennis Amato’s side staring relegation in the face.

Ratchaburi, on the other hand, can probably start planning for another year in the top flight and they would do well to consider the formula that saw them finish between fourth and seventh from 2014 to 2017. The chopping and changing of head coaches in the last two years has undermined their credibility and they need to have the conditions in place to match their ambitions.

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