Old rivalries were rekindled once again Muangthong United looked to add on to their exciting opening day victory when they took on Port in the first game the SCG Stadium this season.
The Kirin were without defensive stalwart Celio Santos, who sustained an injury in the Champions League match against Kashiwa Reysol, and Adisak Kraisorn, who ruptured his ACL in a recently friendly match. New signing Jaja Coelho started the game up front, as did Thailand U23 international Chenrop Samphaodi, after an impressive showing in the 3-goal comeback victory against Bangkok United.
However, the hosts’ hopes of replicating their local derby successes of the week prior were given a severe setback when Peerapat Notchaiya inadvertently helped Pakorn Prempak’s free-kick find the back of the net before the 10 minute mark.
The stunning setback only temporarily silenced the home crowd, who returned with a vengeance as they cheered their team on to find an equalizer. Pakorn came close to doubling the visitors’ lead with an ambitious effort that sneaked past Kampon in the 25th minute, before just sliding wide of the post.
Heberty won the Kirin a free-kick in the 16th minute, and opted to take it himself. The Brazilian’s effort, which narrowly missed the far post, was a clear sign that the Kirin were fighting for a route back into the game.
Port posed a constant threat down the right flank, with new signings Kevin Deeromram and Nurul Sriyankem often finding plentiful space to exploit. However, as half time drew closer, the visitors receded into a more defensive posture, with Muangthong struggling to pick the lock and return to parity. Jaja came the closest to leveling the score, with Port’s goalkeeper Worawut Srisupha tipping a well placed effort beyond the post.
The second half started in a frenzy, with a resolute Port defense denying Muangthong’s advances, keeping out a well-taken corner by Sarach Yooyen and confidently mopping up the resulting scramble in the penalty box.
Tensions flared again when Port were given a free kick shortly after Jaja was denied one, setting up an uneasy atmosphere as the hour mark loomed. Despite that, the hosts continued to push, with Port regressing further into their own half. Coach Totchtawan Sripan decided to shuffle the deck for the final 30 minutes, with Siroch Chatthong coming on for Thossawat Limwannasathian in a clearly attack-minded change.
The Kirin continued to find themselves in excellent attacking positions, but often lacked the incisiveness to find a final ball to split open the well-organized Port defense. The Kirins insistence on chasing the equalizer left them defensively exposed, and the visitors were able to double their lead when Sergio Suarez found the net on the end of a low-drilled cross from Nitipong Selanon.
The home supporters thought they finally had something to celebrate when Jaja Coelho seemingly found the net for the first time in Kirin red, before being denied of his debut goal by the linesman. Muangthong continued to fight, with an excellent play by Siroch Chatthong setting up a chance for Heberty, whose shot was defected over bar.
Muangthong’s attempt to keep the pressure on their visitors were severely scuppered when last week’s hat-trick hero Chenrop Samphaodi was withdrawn from the game with injury with Ratchapol Nawanno coming on in his place.
The two-goal deficit would remain until the end of the match, with Port FC gaining a valuable win and furthering their ambition of making a genuine charge at the upper echelons of the Thai League table.
For Muangthong, the game served as a harsh reminder of the issues the side will have to overcome if they hope to challenge at the top once again, showing that the side have plenty of room for improvement. Coach Totchtawan chose to stay away from the topic of absentees in his post match press conference, instead choosing to look ahead to how the team could improve their results with the resources available to him.
Altogether, this match represented a disappointing evening for the Kirin, giving the coaching staff a lot to think about as they plot their next move in what is already turning out to be one of the most enthralling Thai League campaigns.