The struggling duo were given a boost yesterday when the TPL announced that they will expand the top league to 20 teams for 2014. The knock-on effect for Division 1 clubs mean that there will only be two relegation slots as apposed to four. That meant TTM came into this contest ten points clear of danger while Rayong United's target to safety has been cut from twelve to eight points.
The new tenants of the Ramkhamhaeng University Stadium kicked the match off in front of a paltry crowd of 233 and they were behind in an instant of the starting whistle. A long ball over the TTM rearguard sailed over Nguemaleu's head kindly into the path of Ladule who beat Pirot to open the scoring.
Poramat could have increased the lead in the 12th minute but his low shot from the edge of the box trickled wide of the post.
TTM gradually edged their way into the game with Jin Han Joo pulling the strings in midfield while the striking duo of Sohna and Sidibe began to threaten. Sidibe should have levelled in the 35th minute when he weakly headed straight at the keeper following a cross from Rattakit.
Nevertheless, the Tobacco Monopoly levelled three minutes later when Sohna glanced his header home from Jirawat's cross.
The Elephant Warriors responded positively but Wuttipan was rather wasteful with a couple of chances as it ended 1-1 at the break.
The winning goal arrived ten minutes from time courtesy of Ladule. Saknarin played in the Californian who beat the offside trap before he easily rounded Pirot to score. The TTM cheer squad weren't impressed with the lack of offside call and spent the next five minutes squawking into their megaphone to express their disapproval.
However, the referee wasn't such a bad egg after all when he awarded TTM a penalty on the stroke of full time. Saranyu carelessly tripped Rattakit on the edge of the box and the referee correctly pointed to the penalty spot. Sidibe's stuttered run for the penalty ended with him blazing the ball miles over the bar.
The win for Rayong United would have been slightly tarnished after Rayong FC won and Ayutthaya picked up a point in Phuket. The Elephant Warriors are six points from safety with eight games left. It's most likely too big a gap to retrieve and if they are relegated, you just wonder where they'll end up next season after stints in Kleang and Prachinburi.
TTM are the ultimate Travelling Wilburys yet it seems Lopburi is their desired destination. The fans and club seem insistent to call themselves TTM Lopburi and barring a catastrophe, they should pick up enough points to start 2014 as a first division side. Whatever happens, I can't see them starting next season in Ramkhamhaeng.
|Ladule - Man of the Match|
Man of the Match: Ladule - His brace could prove vital to Rayong United's destination