Muang Thong United will be desperate to move off the bottom of the Thai League (T1) with victory over in-form Trat FC on Matchday 15.
As the season reaches its halfway point, it is time for the Kirins to show signs of life or risk a fraught end to the season and a struggle to beat the drop.
Port FC travel to Samut Prakan City as they attempt to bounce back from last week’s defeat to Buriram United, while Bangkok United will hope to keep their winning run going at PTT Rayong.
Here are three things to look out for on T1 Matchday 15.
- Muang Thong hope to avoid Trat fall
Coming into Saturday’s clash at the SCG Stadium, one side has won four in a row, is on an eight-match unbeaten run and sits fifth in the T1 table. The other has won just one of the last 10 T1 matches and is dead last.
You would have got extremely long odds on Trat sitting 11 places above Muang Thong at this stage of the season but the promoted side – freshly cobbled together with many new signings, veterans and loan deals – have surprised everyone. The four-time champions, meanwhile, have endured a shocking first half of the campaign.
Photo credit: Muang Thong United
The arrival of Alexandre Gama as Muang Thong head coach inspired much optimism but it was punctured by defeat at Chonburi last weekend. Still, it is early days for the serial trophy winner and Saturday’s home match may be the perfect opportunity for him to make his mark.
The hosts should be helped by the fact that Trat will likely be without their three Muang Thong loanees – Nukoolkit Krutyai, Wongsakorn Chaikultewin and Chenrop Samphaodi. All three have been regular starters and their absence will weaken the visitors.
Having had more time to work with his new squad and having overseen a morale-boosting 4-1 FA Cup win at Singburi in midweek, Gama will hope the recovery starts now.
- Port need to bounce back
Port FC remain just one point off the top of T1 but last weekend’s deflating defeat at home to Buriram felt like the end of the title challenge to some, such was Buriram’s superiority.
To ensure that the title bid goes on, the players will need to quickly rally in a difficult match at Samut Prakan City. The club formerly known as Pattaya United sit just three points behind Port and have lost just one of their last nine matches. Last weekend’s loss means that Port have won just one of the last four as they begin to stutter.
Photo credit: Port FC
Both sides have suspensions at the back, with Elias Dolah missing for Port and Aris Zarifovic sitting it out for Samut Prakan. Rumours abound that this could be the final match for one of the finest T1 defenders in recent seasons, as David Rochela may be on his way out to make room for the return of striker Josimar Rodrigues.
It has the feel of a pivotal match for both sides, with Port needing to win to ensure they don’t run out of momentum, while a win for Samut Prakan would suggest they can battle for a top-3 finish.
Few would be surprised if the match ended in a share of the points.
- Ratchaburi test for struggling Prachuap
It has taken a while but second-season syndrome is starting to kick in for Prachuap FC. The surprise package of 2018 won four of their first six games this year to suggest that may not suffer the significant drop in performance that can strike many promoted clubs in their second season.
However, the Killer Wasps have won just one of the last eight as they slip down the table and towards potential danger. The visit to Ratchaburi on Sunday looks tricky as Marco Simone’s side look a match for most sides, with the electrifying talent of Steeven Langil a threat to any defence.
Photo credit: Ratchaburi FC
Ratchaburi’s poor start to the year saw them change their head coach after just four games, but the Dragons can move above Prachuap with victory in this one. Simone has defied some expectations by holding onto his job until now and if he can make the team more consistent, they could finish in the top half of the table.