Saturday, June 30, 2012

Thai Port 2-1 Buriram United

Two early strikes from Thai Port helped ease their relegation worries and consigned Buriram United to a first away TPL defeat of the season.

The Klong Toei side started with a positive line-up and it paid dividends as they were two up after a quarter of an hour.

The first goal was scored when Whoo Hyun slotted home after a free kick from the left wasn't cleared in nine minutes, and Sarawut finished off with his left peg following an intricate pass as the hosts coasted into an unexpected early 2-0 lead.

Buriram seemed a bit lethargic and the closest they came to a goal in the opening period was a Suriya shot which was blocked by Wanlop's leg.

The second half fightback from the Thunder Castle never materialized and Wanlop in the Thai Port goal was never really stretched. Buriram did however grab a consolation deep into injury time when Theerathon smartly netted a penalty kick. It was too little too late as Port held on for a memorable victory.

It was certainly a day of contrasts as I reckon that's the best Thai Port performance that I've seen since the 2010 Toyota League Cup Final which also coincidentally finished with Thai Port beating Buriram PEA 2-1. Today Port just looked that bit sharper as their players continually closed down opponents and defended stoutly against a weary Buriram United. The TPL champions lacked creativity and the amount of misplaced passes must have been alarming for the coaching staff sat on the Buriram bench.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Weekend Preview 30 June - 1 July

Thai Port v Buriram United (Saturday)

Buriram United play their 21st competitive game of the season and they'll be hoping that they can overcome the fatigue which has seen them drop unexpected points in the last few weeks. The Thunder Castle maintain a formidable record away from home and they'll expect to have enough physical strength and character to collect three points in this match.
Meanwhile, Thai Port will be buoyed after winning their last match at BBCU 3-1 and a point from this game would be adequate enough to lift them out of the relegation zone. The Port Lions should have sufficient TPL knowledge to know that it's not all about setting your stall out to defend against the top sides. At some point they'll have to go on the offensive if they want to get something out of this game.

Division 1
JW Rangsit v Suphanburi (Sunday)

Suphanburi will start this game as favorites but they'll aware that JW Rangsit have picked up 10 of their 12 points at their military school base in Nakhon Nayok.  JW surprisingly accounted for PTT Rayong at the school back in April as they beat them 3-1. Suphanburi already have new faces signed for leg 2, including Sutee Suksomkit from Bangkok Glass, and a win in this would close them to within one point of third placed Krabi.

Division 2 Bangkok
Thai Honda v Chamchuri Utd
Luk Esan v Rangsit FC
Krung Thonburi v Rayong Utd
Kasem Bundit v Samut Sakhon
Bangkok Christian v R-BEC
Nonthaburi v Central Lions

Samut Prakarn Utd v Customs Utd
North Bangkok v Globex
Assumption Thonburi v Kasetsart

There are only six points separating the top seven teams as the promotion challengers mount their offensive drives for the second leg of the season. The only clash involving two teams from the leading pack is Thai Honda v Chamchuri Utd. The earlier meeting between the pair went Chamchuri's way 2-1 as the Pinks proclaimed themselves as they early season pace makers.
Rayong United will expect three points at Krung Thonburi while Kasetsart and R-BEC travel to resurgent sides, Assumption Thonburi and Bangkok Christian. Assumption and Christian have started picking up points after atrocious starts to their campaigns. Samut Sakhon need bounce back at Kasem Bundit after their shock defeat to Nonthaburi last time out. The other side in the Top 7 in action is North Bangkok who welcome Globex to their Pathumthani home.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Weekend Review 23-24 June

Buriram Utd 3-4 Chonburi
Army 2-2 TTM

The first ever game refereed by foreign match officials in the TPL ended with Buriram United ultimately losing a TPL game at the I-Mobile for the first time. The Japanese trio must have witnessed one of the greatest games in TPL history as Pipob Onmo was the hero of the day scoring a hat-trick in the thrilling 4-3 contest. The win for Chonburi moved them into second place seven points behind Muangthong with a game in hand, but in all reality the title is now Muangthong's to lose. Buriram are one point behind the Sharks on 26.

The other game saw Army United throw away a 2-0 lead as TTM came back to salvage a late 2-2 draw at the Army Stadium.

Division 1
FC Phuket 8-1 Chantaburi
JW Rangsit 2-1 Saraburi

My Collins Thesaurus has exhausted itself looking for synonyms of "hapless" to describe Chantaburi. The only bright spot for the Hares in Phuket was that they took the lead on two minutes before eventually shipping eight goals in the opposite direction. It's a certainty they are going down, but the biggest concern now is whether or not they'll see out the 2012 season. At this rate, I'd severely doubt it!! For Phuket, their goal barrage moved them out of the relegation zone on goal difference into 12th place one place above Saraburi who lost 2-1 at JW Rangsit.

Division 2
Rangsit FC 0-0 Globex
Bangkok Christian 0-0 Kasem Bundit
Krung Thonburi 1-1 Luk Esan
Rayong Utd 1-1 Thai Honda
Samut Prakan Utd 1-1 Central Lions
Samut Sakhon 0-2 Nonthaburi
Kasetsart 0-1 R-BEC
North Bangkok 3-1 Customs Utd
Chamchuri Utd 1-2 Assumption Thonburi
The coupon buster of the season saw table toppers Samut Sakhon lose 2-0 at home to Nonthaburi. Even the more fervent of Eka fans would never have seen this result coming although from what I heard it was a deserved win for Nonthaburi. The away wins for R-BEC at Kasetsart and Assumption at Chamchuri were also against the Sunday form book although some normality was restored as North Bangkok beat Customs 3-1.
Friday and Saturday however, witnessed five drawn matches. The contest between Rayong United and Thai Honda was a fiery one that finished 1-1. Coulibaly gave the Klaeng side the lead after they were awarded a hotly disputed penalty. Watcharapong levelled on 82 minutes before each side had a player dismissed. Sakarin reacted like a petulant brat when he was given his marching orders while the scary looking Singfa of Thai Honda accepted his second yellow with dignity. I'm sure the big man is used to early showers by now! The draw keeps Thai Honda above Rayong United according to some sources while others have Rayong above Honda in the table. There are currently conflicting league tables on the senior Thai football websites so it's rather confusing.

AFC U-22 Asian Championship Qualifying
Thailand 2-4 DPR Korea 
Thailand v Cambodia (25 June)
Thailand v Laos (28 June)
Thailand v China (30 June)
Thailand v Hong Kong (3 July)

For daily updates on this tournament, you can check Thai League Football and/or listen to Matt Riley's Twenty Four Hours in Thai Football.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Army United 2-2 TTM

Giorgi Tsimakuridze scored a stoppage time equaliser as struggling TTM secured an unexpected point.

Army went ahead on 18 minutes when slack marking allowed Danny Invinsible a headed goal following a cross from the right.

First half pressure from Army
Danny Blanco doubled the lead eight minutes later when he planted a header from a corner into the roof of the net. TTM weren't helped as they were down to 10 men after defender Diomanda Adama decided that he needed unnecessary treatment for an injury. When will these players learn that you don't ask for treatment whilst defending a set piece!!

The away side were gifted a goal shortly after the interval when Army sloppily lost possession in the center of the park, and from the resultant break down the right, the cross into the box cannoned in off Army's Danny Blanco and goalkeeper Kosin to give TTM a lifeline.
Giorgi waiting for treatment

Despite the goal, Army were on course to secure a welcome three points, but in the third minute of added time, Giorgi collected a half cleared corner on the edge of the box and rifled past Kosin to salvage a precious point for TTM.

Army will have been bitterly disappointed to have thrown away a two goal lead and will rue how easily they gifted TTM the first goal. Surely now their priority in the transfer window is to find a Thai striker who can replace the slot disappointinly vacated by Jo 5 Yards. Or as some have hinted, a decent coach!

The Thailand Tobacco Monopoly still remain at the fag end of the league table and on tonight's evidence in the first 45 minutes, that's the position they'll fill at the end of the season. Nevertheless, their fightback should offer them encouragement as they aim to claw back the four point gap between themselves and safety.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Weekend Preview 23-24 June

Buriram Utd v Chonburi
Army v TTM

Last night's 0-0 draw at BEC Tero means that Buriram United can't afford anything other than three points when they host Chonburi on Sunday. Even now if they win their two make up games, the best that they can do is draw to within two points of Muangthong. Last season's two league and cup games between the duo ended with home wins on Buriram soil, although the Chonburi faithful will be quick to point out that the last two meetings at other venues have gone their way. The Sharks are still a good outside bet for the TPL crown and a win on Sunday would hoist them above Buriram into second place. They would still be seven points behind leaders MTU albeit with a game in hand.

The Home of Gentlemen welcomes the Thailand Tobacco Monopoly on Sunday evening as well. It would have made more sense for me to have played this match on Saturday evening so that the Army could attract more local football fans. I'm sure when Sunday comes, many potential spectators will take the easy option of sitting in front of the TV to watch the other match rather than traipsing along to the Army Stadium. Or is it just me that would like to watch both games?

Division 1
FC Phuket v Chantaburi
JW Rangsit v Saraburi

FC Phuket have the chance to move out of the drop zone for the first time since the early weeks of the season. Their home game against Chantaburi should be a formality, providing the Hares turn up!

JW Rangsit have still to reach double figures in points yet they could haul themselves closer to safety if they won their couple of games in hand. This Sunday they take on Saraburi who are perched just outside the relegation placings.

Division 2
Rangsit FC v Globex

Bangkok Christian v Kasem Bundit
Krung Thonburi v Luk Esan
Rayong Utd v Thai Honda
Samut Prakan Utd v Central Lions

Samut Sakhon v Nonthaburi
Kasetsart v R-BEC
North Bangkok v Customs Utd
Chamchuri Utd v Assumption Thonburi

It's top versus bottom as leaders Samut Sakhon welcome Nonthaburi. The Proud Junk Ship have collected 25 out of a possible 27 points at home and have only conceded one goal in the process. The Eka on the other hand have collected a paltry 2 points from 24 on the road.
Form team Kasetsart take on an R-BEC side that hasn't travelled well while the tie of the weekend has to be third placed Rayong United against Thai Honda in fourth. Both sides have topped the table recently but they have both unexpectedly dropped points against lowly opposition too.

AFC U-22 Asian Championship Qualifying
Thailand v DPR Korea (23 June)
Thailand v Cambodia (25 June)
Thailand v Laos (28 June)
Thailand v China (30 June)
Thailand v Hong Kong (3 July)

For daily updates on this tournament, you can check Thai League Football and/or listen to Matt Riley's Twenty Four Hours in Thai Football.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Air Force United 0-2 Krabi

An early and a late goal were enough to give Krabi a 2-0 victory over first division strugglers Air Force at the Thupathemi Stadium.

Thaweephong stroked home from close range for the Energy in ten minutes after Devala Gorrick had twice blocked previous attempts.

With about ten minutes left, a low cross from the right channel was flicked on by Lopes to set up Aran who gleefully netted to end the contest.

In between the goals, Annan's fierce first half shot for Air Force flew inches wide while Krabi almost doubled their lead in the second period with an inswinging free kick that stuck the crossbar.

Air Force's hopes of salvaging an unlikely late point were dashed as Theerawat saved a late penalty from Kouassi Yao Herman to complete a disheartening night for the Airmen.

Both sides' seasons now hinge on how they perform in the transfer window. Air Force to me, look about 50/50 whether or not they'll stay up. The same could be said of Krabi as they bid to enter the TPL. The addition of loan signing John Mary could be the final piece in the jigsaw. Only time will tell!!

Look at the second from right. The mascot is as tall as the Krabi player.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Weekend Review 16-17 June

TTM 0-2 Buriram Utd

First half goals from Achaempong and Ekkachai helped Buriram United ease to a 2-0 victory over TTM. The result preserved Buriram's perfect away record and moved them into second place above BEC Tero. Incidentally the pair will meet at the Thephasadin on Wednesday evening as they both bid to catch up on leaders Muangthong United.
As for TTM, only 2,246 spectators turned up to witness the tobacco monopoly's sixth successive blank at home. At this moment in time, I can only envisage one outcome for them at the end of the season.

Division 1
Bangkok Utd 2-0 Khon Kaen
FC Phuket 2-1 Bangkok FC
Songkla 0-0 Pattalung

Two goals from Romain Gasmi helped Bangkok United beat Khon Kaen 2-0. A torrential downpour at kick off meant the game was delayed for roughly 30 minutes. The first goal was certainly attributed to the weather conditions as Piyawat in the Khon Kaen goal let a cross from Gasmi slip from his grasp into his own net. He wasn't particularly clever for the second either as he clumsily charged into Sompong, allowing Gasmi to convert the resultant spot kick. That win cemented the Angels into second position two points behind Ratchaburi.
FC Phuket won only their second game of the season beating Bangkok FC 2-1. The win didn't lift them out of the relegation zone, but it did bring them to within touching distance of safety. Pattalung's 0-0 draw at Songkla was good enough to move them into the refuge zone although they could fall back into the bottom five on Wednesday evening if Air Force get a point from their match with Krabi.

Div 2 (BKK)
Luk Esan 0-1 Chamchuri Utd
R-BEC 5-0 Central Lions
Assumption Thonburi 1-0 Rayong Utd
Samut Prakarn Utd 0-1 Samut Sakhon
Kasem Bundit 2-1 Customs Utd
Globex 0-2 Bangkok Christian
Thai Honda 2-2 Krung Thonburi
North Bangkok 2-3 Rangsit FC
Nonthaburi 1-4 Kasetsart

The shock of the weekend had to be leaders Rayong United's loss to lowly Assumption Thonburi. That defeat left the league leadership up for grabs and Samut Sakhon duly accepted it as they edged out Samut Prakarn Utd 1-0.
Kasetsart are in the play off places for the first time this season after they won 4-1 at Nonthaburi. Thai Honda dropped to fourth after they were unexpectedly held to a 2-2 draw by Krung Thonburi.
R-BEC finally rediscovered their early season winning ways as they tamed the Central Lions 5-0 and Chamchuri enjoyed an away success at Luk Esan winning 1-0 despite finishing the rain soaked contest with only 9 players.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Weekend Preview 16-17 June

TTM v Buriram Utd (Sunday)

Buriram United have been playing with supreme confidence away from home in the TPL with a 100% winning record from three games. Meanwhile, TTM haven't found the net at home in five attempts and their stale brand of football has yet to arouse the Chiang Mai public. Surely there will be only one winner in this match!!

Division 1
Bangkok Utd v Khon Kaen

FC Phuket v Bangkok FC
Songkla v Pattalung

The Bangkok Angels have the chance to close within two points of leaders Ratchaburi and more importantly, they can open a four point gap on fourth placed Suphanburi if they can defeat the T-Rex on Saturday evening in Din Daeng. 
Songkla should fancy their chances of beating an imploding Pattalung club who have been asset stripping themselves during the last couple of weeks. The Swiftlets currently occupy the fifth relegation spot and flying back into the safety net doesn't seem conceivable at this point. Another team from the south in relegation danger and financial dire straits are FC Phuket. They'll meet a  Bangkok FC team which did the double over them last season scoring 9 goals in the process.

Div 2 (BKK)
Luk Esan v Chamchuri Utd
R-BEC v Central Lions
Assumption Thonburi v Rayong Utd
Samut Prakarn Utd v Samut Sakhon
Kasem Bundit v Customs Utd

Globex v Bangkok Christian
Thai Honda v Krung Thonburi
North Bangkok v Rangsit FC
Nonthaburi v Kasetsart

The Bangkok region of the second division enters its second leg with Toyota League Cup giant killers Kasetsart and Customs Utd back in league action. Kasetsart produced the shock of the league cup when they hammered Esan United 4-0 while Customs knocked out BBCU 3-2. This weekend, Kasetsart have no room for complacency as they visit struggling Nonthaburi. Customs have a more difficult task at mid-table Kasem Bundit.
League toppers, Rayong United, begin the second stage with a winnable game at Assumption Thonburi while the other Thonburi side, Krung Thonburi, travel to third placed Thai Honda who caused the mighty Muangthong a brief scare last weekend when they took the lead against the TPL leaders before eventually being pipped 2-1 in the league cup.
Samut Sakhon in second visit a Samut Prakarn Utd side that had a storming second half last season and just fell short of reaching the play-offs at the final hurdle. For me, the Crab Devils are already too far off the pace to make a similar burst this season.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Toyota League Cup Draw - Round 2

The balls have just been rummaged, and here is the draw for the last 32 of the Toyota League Cup:

Korat v Muangthong
Kasetsart v Wuachon
Samut Prakarn Utd v FC Phuket
Lopburi v TTM
Petchaburi v Chonburi
NSRU v Chiang Rai Utd
Songkla v TOT
Customs v Krabi
Pattalung v Bangkok Glass
Pattani v Osotspa
Suphanburi v Samut Songkhram
Khon Kaen v Thai Port
Lamphun Warriors v BEC Tero
Hat Yai v Buriram Utd
Trat v Ratchaburi
Air Force v Pattaya

The AFC Cup draw was also made today pitting Chonburi with Al Shorta of Syria.
More details of the full draw can be found by clicking here:

Wednesday 13 June - Review

Buriram Utd 1-1 Pattaya Utd
Muangthong 3-1 Police Utd
Army 1-0 Samut Songkhram
Osotspa Saraburi 2-3 BEC Tero
BBCU 1-3 Thai Port
Isan Utd 1-0 Bangkok Glass
TOT 1-1 Chainat
Chonburi 2-1 Chiang Rai Utd
Wuachon Utd 2-0 TTM

Muangthong United moved nine points clear at the top as they came from behind to beat Police United 3-1. Buriram's 1-1 draw at home to Pattaya now means that the Thunder Castle can only draw level on points with Muangthong if they win their four games in hand. The results last night now have the scales tipping slightly in the favor of the Nontaburi side.

Supporters of BEC Tero and Chonburi might beg to differ that it's a two horse title race as they both enjoyed decent wins. Tero won 3-2 at Osotspa while Chonburi won their umpteenth home game of the season beating Chiang Rai United 2-1.

Unfortunately BG"s early season promise has fizzled out as they went down 1-0 to a Tana goal. The win for Esan would have helped to erase some of the pain they felt after their 4-0 thumping at university side Kasetsart last Saturday.

Thai Port were the only side in the bottom 5 to pick up any points as they won 3-1 at BBCU. The result wasn't enough to lift the Port Lions out of the drop zone, but it did move them level on points with the Big Bang and above Samut Songkhram who lost 1-0 at Army. TTM remain cut adrift at the foot of the table as they predictably lost at Wuachon. 

Lee Dong Wong's 86 minute goal looked to have given Chainat a victory at TOT, but his goal was cancelled out two minutes later by Witchan as the points were shared.

The majority of TPL sides now take a break until the 7th of next month although there are a sprinkling of Buriram United make-up games scheduled between now and then. Whether or not they go ahead remains to be seen as Thailand's youngsters are involved in the AFC U-22 qualifiers.

Division 1
Chantaburi 0-7 Bangkok FC
Siam Navy 2-0 FC Phuket
Raj Pracha 3-0 Sriracha
Korat 1-0 Suphanburi
PTT Rayong 0-0 Air Force Utd
Krabi 1-0 Ratchaburi

Ratchaburi finally surrendered their unbeaten run as they lost 1-0 at Krabi with the only goal of the game being scored by Ekkaphan. It wasn't all doom and gloom for the Dragons though as close promotion rivals Suphanburi lost at Korat 1-0, Sriracha were surprisingly humbled 3-0 at Raj Pracha and PTT Rayong were held to a stalemate by Air Force.
At the bottom it appears that Chantaburi have already thrown in the towel as they lost 7-0 at home to Bangkok FC with Samerpak being credited with four of the Bulligan's goals. Siam Navy's 2-0 win over Phuket moved them into the top half of the league.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

BBCU 1-3 Thai Port

Two late goals from Thai Port claimed a vital three points as they defeated BBCU 3-1 at the Rajamangala Stadium.

Jean Marc Beyeme, in the BBCU goal, had to be alert in the first 20 minutes to tip a long swerving shot from Thongchai over the bar, and then a free kick by the newly introduced sub, Alex Ruella, around the post.

It was then Wanlop's turn to be called into action as his foot blocked from Mongkol, and a few minutes afterwards he made an excellent low save after Jacob Aikionbare had neatly set himself up.

Shortly before the break, the goalkeeping baton was passed back to Beyeme as he blocked a Ba-We volley inside the six yard box.

The first goal of the game came on 59 minutes when Thai Port were awarded a penalty after an elaborate flick from Watson sent Sarawut on his way. With the advancing keeper approaching, there was only going to be one outcome as the pair collided at the edge of the box, and the referee duly obliged by pointing to the spot. Watson made no mistakes from the penalty kick to make it 1-0.

Within a couple of minutes the Big Bang levelled as ex Port striker, Jacob Aikionbare, knocked in a parried shot by Wanlop to level matters.

In the 84th minute, Kim Ba-We beat the offside trap to cut back for Ruella to score with a diving header.

The game was wrapped up three minutes later as as free kick from the left was knocked in of the knee off BBCU's Wiratrot to make it 3-1 to the Klong Toei side.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Wednesday 13 June - Preview

Buriram Utd v Pattaya Utd
Muangthong v Police Utd
Army v Samut Songkhram
Osotspa Saraburi v BEC Tero
BBCU v Thai Port
Isan Utd v Bangkok Glass
TOT v Chainat
Chonburi v Chiang Rai Utd
Wuachon Utd v TTM

If the form book is played out according to script, then Police United will find themselves closer to the drop zone after they visit Muangthong United tomorrow evening. With BBCU and Thai Port meeting at the Rajamangala, it means that one or both of them will edge closer to the Crimson Cops if they lose. The currently homeless Pathumthani side haven't won for six games and have only picked up three points during this barren sequence.

Samut Songkhram will be monitoring their fax machine closely before they send off a copy of their team list after last weekend's fiasco. Although if the game at Kalasin is being used as a yardstick, then the Crazy Mackerels might be as well sticking to their 3-3-1 formation for their trip to Army as they produced their best performance of the season with only 8 men. Undoubtedly Army will recall their first team regulars after their fringe players lost to NSRU in the Toyota League Cup last Saturday.

The other side at the bottom, TTM, visit the crazy world of Wuachon who have recently seen fans and players vanish from their matches. The Fighting Bulls will be feeling confident after they made a preferable start to their Toyota Cup campaign last Sunday thumping Surin 5-0. TTM have struggled for goals all season and strengthening their strike force in the upcoming window is a top priority if they wish to remain in the TPL. Although reports in the last couple of days hint that TTM are in financial trouble and their recruiting policy during the next few weeks may be severely hindered.

Buriram United and Chonburi both have home fixtures which they'll be expected to win while it wouldn't surprise me if the stumbling pair of BG and BEC fail to pick up the much needed three points from their away trips.

TOT v Chainat has a content mid-table feel to it with a score draw a highly likely possibility.

Division 1
Chantaburi v Bangkok FC
Siam Navy v FC Phuket
Raj Pracha v Sriracha
Korat v Suphanburi
PTT Rayong v Air Force Utd
Krabi v Ratchaburi

The stand out match is sixth placed Krabi against top dogs Ratchaburi. Krabi have slipped out of the promotion spots after a recent poor run, but last time out they got back to winning ways beating southern rivals Pattalung 4-0. Ratchaburi, on the other hand have been formidable, banging in goals from right, left and centre. Their current run of five wins on the spin has helped open up a healthy five point lead on the chasing pack.
The contest between Korat and Suphanburi doesn't suggest many goals and one goal might be enough to win this one. Suphanburi are unbeaten on the road while the Swatcats have done better on their travels recently. 
PTT Rayong should have too much for Air Force and Sriracha will start as favorites at Raj Pracha as both of the eastern sides try to maintain their promotion push.
The hapless Chantaburi welcome a slightly out of sorts Bangkok FC while Siam Navy v Phuket should go the way of the home team.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Toyota League Cup Round 1 - Review

Kasetsart 4-0 Esan United
Trat FC 2-0 Bangkok FC
Kalasin FC 0-1 Samut Songkhram FC
Prajuap FC 1-2 Pattaya United
Sra Kaew City 0-1 FC Phuket
Customs United 3-2 BBCU
Pichit FC 0-2 Songkla
Rayong FC 2-2 TTM (TTM won 4-5 on pens)
RBEC 3-4 Bangkok Glass
Lopburi FC 0-0 PTT Rayong ( Lopburi won 4-3 on pens)
Thai Honda 1-2 Muang Thong United
Yala FC 0-1 Thai Port
Nakon Sri Tammarat 0-1 Chonburi
Si Saket United 0-2 Osotspa Saraburi
Ratchaburi 4-3 Chainat FC (AET)
Patalung 2-1 Police United
Kamphaeng Phet 0-0 Chiang Rai United (CRU won 4-2 on pens)
Paknampo NSRU FC 3-1 Army United (AET)
Siam Navy 0-1 Khon Kaen
Hat Yai FC 3-0 Rajpracha

I've got to be honest here and admit that in the days leading up to the first round of the Toyota League Cup, I could barely summon any interest in the competition after the long drawn fiasco of last season. Nevertheless, that all changed at Saturday teatime once the results started filtering through.

On Saturday, second division sides Kasetsart, Customs, and Paknampo NSRU all sent TPL sides packing. Kasetsart crushed a full strength Esan Utd 4-0 while Customs raced into an early 3-0 lead before eventually beating BBCU 3-2. Army United lost for the second successive year to a regional league side as they tumbled out at NSRU losing 3-1 after extra time.

Notable mentions must also go to Trat, Ratchaburi, Pattalung and Hat Yai who also defeated higher league opposition. Ratchaburi beat TPL Chainat 4-3 after extra time with Wander Luiz's spectacular chip firing the Dragons into the last 32.

The pre-cup selection of favorites, Muangthong, Chonburi and Bangkok Glass, all came through unscathed with narrow victories over second division opposition.

The "It could only happen in Thailand" accolade of the weekend goes to Samut Songkhram for starting their match at Kalasin with only eight players. Apparently a Samut Songkhram official faxed the wrong starting XI to the FA headquarters which left them with only eight eligible players. Pleads to rectify the situation fell on deaf ears as Kalasin steadfastly refused to show any compassion towards the bungling TPL side. However, karma came back to bite the unsympathetic Kalasin officials on the backside as Samut Songkhram won 1-0 with only eight men.

Samut Prakan United 3-1 JW Rangsit FC
Lampang FC 0-5 BEC Tero Sasana
Sri Racha 0-1 Nakon Rachasima FC
Lampun Warrior 0-0 Bangkok United (Lampun won 4-3 on pens)
Roi Et United 2-3 Buriram United
Chiang Rai FC 2-4 Krabi FC
Surin FC 0-5 Wuachon United
Udon Thani 0-2 Supanburi FC
Petchaburi FC 3-0 Chantaburi FC
Chayapum FC 0-1 TOT
Kasembundit University 1-2 Air Force United

Yesterday, Buriram United played their get out of jail card as they came from 2-0 down to salvage a 3-2 victory at Roi Et. With the game entering injury time, it was 2-1 to the White Squirrels, yet they were denied a historic upset as two last gasp goals kept the cup holders in the tournament.

BEC Tero and Wuachon both hit their second division opponents for five while TOT had it slightly tougher as they edged out Chayapum 1-0.

The only regional winners on day 2 were Samut Prakarn United, Petchaburi and Lampun Warriors. The wins for SPK United and Petchaburi could hardly be described as upsets as the beaten Division 1 teams, JW Rangsit and Chantaburi, both sit in the relegation zone. Lampun Warriors' 4-3 penalty victory over Bangkok United caused a few eye-brows to be raised although I'm sure the Bangkok Angels would gladly trade an early cup exit for promotion to the TPL.

Korat finished their cup tie at Sriracha with 9 men as Nikom and Paramet were dismissed for receiving two yellow cards. The fist half goal through captain, Anon, was the only goal of the match as the Swatcats won their third consecutive away game. Other first division sides, Suphanburi, Krabi, and Air Force also joined Korat in the hat.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Customs United 3-2 BBCU

Second division Customs United dumped TPL's BBCU out of the Toyota League Cup with a 3-2 win at the Forza Stadium.

Last season both sides were playing in Division one and at the end of the campaign they went in polar directions with one advancing to the TPL and the other dropping to the regional league. After 30 minutes of this contest, any spectator newly introduced to watching Thai football would have assumed that Customs United were the TPL side after they raced into a three goal lead against the Big Bang.

The opening goal was scored on 9 minutes when Pantree was alert to knock in a rebound after Pornchai had got down well to tip a low shot onto the post.

Midway through the half, Yoon broke down the left wing, cut inside and drilled a shot into the bottom corner to double the underdogs' advantage.

Minutes later Sutin raced from inside his own half far too easily and despite having options, he went alone to make it 3-0 to Customs.

On the half hour mark, BBCU were given a lifeline when the referee spotted a handball in the box from a Customs defender. The former derided Chonburi defender, Kenneth Akpueze, stepped up to take the kick but his low weak shot to the left was saved by Customs keeper, Nikom.

BBCU had started with a strong side, but they did leave their best player, Moussa Sylla, on the bench. He was introduced on 43 minutes and with his first involvement in the game, he pegged one back for the Pink Panthers with a side footed effort.

I'm sure the Customs coach would have told his troops at half-time to keep it tight at the back. However, within a minute of the restart he must have been tearing his hair out as the big Korean, Jae Sueng, headed a cross into his own net.

At this stage BBCU had the wind at their backs and it looked like they were going to storm back and win this cup tie.

A deep cross from Anurak hit the bar, Sylla should have been awarded a penalty after he was tripped in the box and Chainarong went close on a couple of occasions as BBCU tried to claw back the tie. It wasn't all one way traffic though as Customs still threatened on the counter attack.

At the final whistle there was barely a shrug of the shoulders from the TPL side as it was Bye Bye Chula United.

Customs were good value for their win against a relatively strong BBCU selection. As for the Big Bang, they can be proud of their fans as they chanted in unison throughout the game even when they were 3-0 down. It must have hurt them that they lost to a home support that couldn't muster a drum between them! Nonetheless, when the "Cheer Ball Thai" awards are dished out at the end of the season, I'm sure the Chula faithful will be right up there for an honorary mention. For me though, having grown up in the UK during the terrace culture prior to the invention of football by Sky Sports in 1992, I find their support rather robotic and irksome. That's just my opinion and I'm sure I'm in the minority here.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Toyota League Cup Preview - Round 1

Kasetsart v Esan United
Trat FC v Bangkok FC
Kalasin FC v Samut Songkhram FC
Prajuap FC v Pattaya United
Sra Kaew City v FC Phuket
Customs United v BBCU
Pichit FC v Songkla
Rayong FC v TTM
RBEC v Bangkok Glass
Siam Navy v Khon Kaen
Lopburi FC v PTT Rayong
Thai Honda v Muang Thong United
Yala FC v Thai Port
Nakon Sri Tammarat v Chonburi
Si Saket United v Osotspa Saraburi
Rachaburi v Chainat FC
Patalung v Police United
Kamphaeng Phet v Chiang Rai United
Paknampo NSRU FC v Army United
Siam Navy v Khon Kaen

Samut Prakan United v JW Rangsit FC
Lampang FC v BEC Tero Sasana
Sri Racha v Nakon Rachasima FC
Lampun Warrior v Bangkok United
Roi Et United v Buriram United
Chiang Rai FC v Krabi FC
Surin FC v Wuachon United
Udon Thani v Supanburi FC
Hat Yai FC v Rajpracha
Petchaburi FC v Chantaburi FC
Chayapum FC v TOT
Kasembundit University v Air Force United

The big guns join the Toyota League Cup this weekend in the one leg only ties. It's unclear how the clubs of the TPL and Division 1 will approach the competition at this early stage as some might opt to play their strongest 11 whereas others might try-out fringe and youth players.

The two ties which stir the most interest up for me are Ratchaburi v Chainat on Saturday and Roi Et v Buriram United on Sunday. Current cup holders, Buriram United, travel north to Roi Et knowing that they'll be in for a tough contest against the reigning Division 2 NE champions. In saying that though, Buriram are unbeaten for more than a year now on the domestic front and supporters of the Thunder Castle will expect their side to rise to the challenge of the Toyota League Cup once again. Meanwhile, Division 1's Ratchaburi have been scoring goals for fun lately with 16 scored in their last three league matches. The Dragons can also boast the impressive record of penetrating the opposition's net in every game this season. The visit of TPL Chainat should be a good test of Ratchaburi's TPL credentials.

Other sides with an eye on lifting the trophy, Muangthong and Bangkok Glass, were fortunate to draw local opposition with Muangthong driving across the capital to Thai Honda while BG will compete with the Saturday afternoon shopping traffic as they trek along Kanchanaphisek and Ladprao roads to R-BEC. The draw wasn't so kind to R-BEC's big brother, BEC Tero, as they travel up north to Lampang whereas Chonburi make the journey in the reverse direction to Nakhon si Thammarat.

TPL strugglers TTM and Thai Port won't be overly enthusiastic about making long trips to second division opposition. The 2010 winners, Thai Port, make the journey south to the Malaysian border to meet Yala while TTM will be guaranteed a tough match at Rayong FC. Esan United and Osotspa also face potential banana skins. Last season at this stage, Kasetsart defeated a lackluster Osotspa 2-1. This time Kasetsart welcome Esan United and Osotspa have a tricky one against the recently formed Sisaket United. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Weekend Review 2-3 June

Chainat 0-3 Buriram Utd
Bangkok Glass 0-0 TOT
Thai Port 0-1 Isan Utd
BEC Tero 1-1 BBCU
Samut Songkhram 1-0 Osotspa Saraburi
TTM P-P Army Utd
Chiang Rai Utd 1-1 Wuachon Utd
Police 1-2 Chonburi
Pattaya Utd 0-1 Muangthong Utd

Muangthong negotiated a difficult hurdle with a 1-0 win at Pattaya. Mario Gjurovski's late availability proved pivotal as it was his sweetly struck free kick in the first half that won the game. It's just as well that he scored as we would have had another 'egg on the face' moment for the Thai referees as the initial foul appeared to have been committed inside the box. Anyway who needs a spot kick when Super Mario, as he's predictably been dubbed, can bend it like Beckham.

Buriram United are purring again after they brushed aside Chainat 3-0. Frank Achaempong was yet again the chief tormentor of the opposition as he helped himself to two goals. Suchao's late dismissal took a bit of shine of the win as Buriram continue to reclimb the table.

Any title expectations harbored by BEC Tero and Bangkok Glass appear to be quickly fading as the pair dropped points at home. The inconsistent Glass Rabbits and TOT fought out a drab 0-0 draw while BEC Tero threw away a 1-0 lead with some sloppy late defending to allow an improving BBCU a point. Chonburi took advantage of the slip ups and are now just behind BG and BEC in the table following their 2-1 comeback over Police United.

The Raging Mackerels (from Wikipedia) won their first game since March beating Osotspa 1-0. That win lifted them off the foot of the league above Thai Port and TTM. Thai Port lost 1-0 to Isan while the TTM v Army game in Chiang Mai was rained of. 

The most bizarre club in the league has to be Wuachon United. Last week 25,000 home fans vanished into thin air and this week it was players disappearing as they finished the game with 8 men against Chiang Rai United. Aron Da Silva gave the visitors the lead but that was cancelled out as Chiang Rai levelled after an incredibly soft penalty award. Kone Seydou, Phuritad and Da Silva were then all dismissed for receiving two yellows. Having watched the highlights clip, I've got a degree of sympathy for Wuachon as the referee appeared to go on an unnecessary booking spree.

Division 1

Bangkok FC 2-2 Bangkok Utd
Khon Kaen 0-1 Korat
Suphanburi 1-0 Raj Pracha
Sriracha 3-1 JW Rangsit
Saraburi 3-3 Songkla
Pattalung 1-4 PTT Rayong
Ratchaburi 4-2 Siam Navy

Leaders Ratcahaburi extended their winning sequence to five as they beat Siam Navy 4-2. The Bangkoks shared four second half goals as they drew 2-2 in Bang Mot. The point kept United in second while FC moved into 13th. Lee Tuck's 79th minute goal lifted him back to pole position in the Division 1 goalscoring charts.
Suphanburi moved back into the promotion places after they edged out Raj Pracha 1-0 while Sriracha linger close on their heels as they eased past JW Rangsit 3-1
Reuther Moreira's tenure at Korat got off to a wining start as they beat north-eastern rivals Khon Kaen 1-0. Prompong's goal at the beginning of the second period ensured that the Swatcats moved level on 18 points with Khon Kaen. Another side on 18 points, Songkla, grabbed a late point in Saraburi with Sirot weighing in with a treble for them in the 3-3 draw.
Plummeting Pattalung lost again this time 4-1 at home to PTT Rayong. The Swiftlets were flying high at the beginning of the season but are now only one point off the relegation zone. It looks like they'll be making a swift return to the regional leagues if this poor form continues.

Division 2 Bangkok
Rangsit FC 3-1 Bangkok Christian
Samut Prakarn Utd 1-1 Thai Honda
Kasem Bundit 0-0 Central Lions
Luk Esan 0-3 Kasetsart
R-BEC 1-2 Rayong Utd
Assumption Thonburi 0-0 Krung Thonburi
Globex 1-3 Customs Utd
North Bangkok 2-0 Samut Sakhon
Nonthaburi 1-3 Chamchuri Utd

As we reach the half way stage in Division 2, the teams occupying the playoff spots are Samut Sakhon, Rayong Utd and Thai Honda. After a dawdling start, Kasetsart have hit form lately and picked up their 16th point out of a possible 18 as they beat Luk Esan 3-0. They sit just outside the Top 3 in fourth.
At the bottom end of the table, it's been grim viewing for the fans of Assumption, Bangkok Christian and Nonthaburi. Things can only get better when the second leg commences in a fortnight.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Police United 1-2 Chonburi

Second half goals from Nattapong and Adul helped Chonburi come from behind to secure a 2-1 victory over Police United at the Army Stadium.

Chakrit Buathong was alert early doors to pounce on a defensive mix up between Diakite and Nattapong to give the Crimson Cops the lead on seven minutes.

With Therdsak and Pipob doing time on the bench, Chonburi really struggled to get any flow to their game going as Police comfortably saw out the first half 1-0 in front.

The introduction of the old stagers for the second half certainly livened things up, but the Sharks were grateful to Diakite as he cleared a goal bound shot at the back post on 55 minutes.

On the hour mark, Chonburi levelled when Nattapong neatly controlled a looping cross on his chest before blasting it into the roof of the net.

After the equalizer, Chonburi certainly had a bit more impudence about their play and looked the more likely winners, but they had a couple of scares while the clock was ticking down as a Prakorn free-kick and a Assaming shot flew inches wide of the target for Police.

Pipob's header did hit the top of the bar from a corner on the 87th minute, yet the late drama wasn't finished as the second half sub's short pass cut through the Police back line and Adul netted from an acute angle to win the three points for the Sharks.

At 1-0, Police seemed content to sit on their lead and were happy to call for the stretcher boys to waste time when they should have been trying to double their advantage. For anybody familiar with the TPL, there are no prises for guessing who the prime suspect was. The Insee are dropping close to the relegation zone, but with an abundance of home games to come in the second leg, they should be able to secure their predicted mid-table finish.

For Chonburi, even the most optimistic of the Blue Bloods would sympathize that the TPL is out of their reach this season. However, I'm sure most of them would concur that you always start with your strongest 11 no matter who your opponents are. Chonburi's rotation policy got out of jail tonight, but on other nights they might not be so fortunate.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Thai Port 0-1 Esan United

Thai Port slumped to their seventh defeat of the season as they lost 1-0 at home to Esan United.

The only goal of the game was scored after barely a few minutes when Wuttichai pounced on a Wanlop fumble to nod in on the goal line after the ball returned to him off the crossbar. The goal was greeted with virtual silence as only a handful of Esan wags (presumably) and two guys wearing pink shirts applauded.

Esan's top scorer, Tana, came close to doubling the lead a few minutes later when his shot shaved the top of the bar.

For the second home game in a row, Port's coach, Adul, made a double substitution in the first half as Bawe and Olan were hooked after 37 minutes and replaced with Alex Ruella and Kiatjareon.

The introduction of the pair of subs sparked the hosts into life as Munze got down well to palm Alex Ruella's shot around the post and Steven Robb had a couple of efforts that went marginally wide.

Esan United sat back in the second half and invited the Klong Toei side to attack them. For the most, Thai Port huffed and puffed without ever really threatening to break the Esan rearguard down. The closest they came to a goal was 10 minutes from the end when Kiatjareon fluffed a free header in the box after a cross from the right.

The game finished 1-0 as Ulrich Munze collected the hero to zero award of the day as he dramatically fell to his knees to celebrate Esan's victory. Before the game started, the ex-Thai Port keeper received a warm reception from the home support but his unnecessary keepie-uppies in the first half after a weak Thai Port shot, and a series of feignied injuries irked the Klong Toei Army. As Munze`left the field he gestured towards the fans behind the goal and then security had to get in between himself and Alex Ruella as the pair nearly came to blows.

The win moved Esan temporarily into ninth place and seven points away from the relegation zone. As for Thai Port, there seemed to be an air of resignation at full time as the fans slowly trooped out of the PAT stadium. Unless they make some good acquisitions in the forthcoming transfer window, it will most likely be first division football for Thai Port in 2013.