Saturday, 21 July 2018

Dateline 21st July 2018

 FT NRFC 1 Chainat Hornbills 0

Attendance; 3270

The Swatcats welcomed the Hornbills in this mid table clash. They started with Assumpcao and Malaysian Shahrel up front - still no Yayah Kunath!!

The home team started brightly and Shahrel shot just wide in the third minute. They then began to dominate and with Chainat throwing 3 or 4 men forward in rather a reckless fashion surely openings would be left at the back.

In the 15th minute, a Chakrit cross was deflected goal ward by a defender but an alert keeper managed to palm the ball just wide of the post - a lucky let off for the visitors. From the resulting Pina corner, Jakkit headed in to give the Swatcats a deserved lead.

The home team continued to create half chances and with any luck could have been 2 or 3 as the half came to an end.

As the second half progressed, the home defence was put to a real test as the Hornbills strived for an equalizer. Sterling work from Lee and Chalermpong aided by T May T, managed to keep the marauding Hornbills at bay. Despite the Hornbill pressure, they did not create real chances and indeed Jakkit almost put the Swatcats two up with a fine drive in the 53rd minute.

The home team were denied a stonewall penalty in the 64th minute when Assumpcao was body checked in the box but play was waved on - one of many dubious decisions that tonight’s referee made. Assumpcao then had a clear chance to make it two in the 71st minute but his low drive was weak. Minutes later he raced through on goal only to be again body checked off the ball just outside the box - again his claim for a foul was turned down!!

Definitely a proverbial “game of two halves - first half, the Swatcats dominated but second half they defended too deep and allowed a spirited and attack minded Hornbill side to put the defence under massive pressure.

A competent performance from the home side and a massive 3 points. I now feel that the team is safe from the drop and indeed should be looking to cement a seventh place finish. Full marks to the club for adding to the squad at a critical time and despite my early season pessimism, the club appears to have rescued its season.

I consider that the club has massively exceeded expectations - well done to everyone at the club. 8 games unbeaten, bottom placed Air Force next weekend and a winnable FA Cup quarter final to come - things are looking up!!

Match Day 24 Stats

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Dateline 15th July 2018

 FT Muang Thong United 0 NRFC 0

Attendance; 6881

The Swatcats visited the home of fallen heroes Muang Thong United this weekend.

The match commenced with the home side pressing. The Swatcats, without the injured Assumpcao, were offering little up front and they were subject to almost constant Muang Thong pressure.

Coelho had a couple of headers just off target as the pressure built and the home side had a bullet of a shot hammer the post as the visitors continued to live dangerously.

Completely against the run of play, Yaya Kunath went close on the break then seconds later T Mat T struck a fine shot that the keeper tipped just over.
In the 36th minute Ekkachai was shown a red card for barging into the referee after a series of decisions had gone against his teammates. A silly reaction by Ekkachai and the referee had no option than to order the player off.

As the first half drew to a close, firm defending and a large dollop of luck prevented the home team from breaking the deadlock but perversely, the Swatcats could be one or two up!!

As the second half commenced, one had to wonder could the Swatcats possibly hold out for another 45 minutes!! The expected onslaught continued but Pralong Sawandee hit a free kick that rattled the crossbar in a rare Swatcat foray forward.
Coelho went close in the 62nd minute and Heberty drew a fine save from keeper Cunningham in the 65th minute but Muang Thong seemed to be slowly running out of ideas as the visitors defended resolutely.

Pralong Sawandee had a speculative shot in the 83rd minute but the hosts continued to probe, searching for that elusive winner. Sawandee had a late chance to win the game with a 22 yard free kick but he fired over and the game concluded goalless. 

A brave Swatcat performance tonight as they challenged a much superior Muang Thong outfit. A well earned and valuable point that extends the Swatcat’s unbeaten run. Pralong Sawandee was exceptional and Yaya Kunath looked lively throughout and did enough to earn himself a regular berth in the side.

Match Day 23 Stats

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Dateline 7th July 2018

 FT NRFC 2 Ratchaburi 1

Attendance; 2559

The Swatcats welcomed the Ratchaburi Dragons this weekend with skipper Chalermpong making his 100th appearance for the club.

The match kicked off in a near empty stadium - I have never seen it so bereft of fans.

Ratchaburi looked quite lively in early exchanges and with the home team unable to maintain possession, an early Dragon goal seemed likely. The Swatcats fought back however and a series of corners eased the pressure. They then created a couple of half chances as they grew into the game and Marinkovic went close with a long range shot.

In the 43rd minute, a clever lob from Pralong Sawandee bounced tantalizingly off the crossbar with all defenders looking on in amazement. This was the only real chance in an otherwise uneventful 45 minutes of football.

With the second half  only minutes old, one of the most bizarre own goals I have ever seen was scored by Philip Roller as he sliced the ball in from 16 yards to give the men in orange the lead. Ratchaburi produced a couple of half hearted shots on goal but the Swatcats seemed a little more composed in the second half and began to look dangerous on the break.

The home team now began to dominate proceedings as the Dragons faded and a couple of guilt edged chances were wasted by Assumpcao and Shahrel Fikri. The visitors countered and pushed forward looking for an equalizer, aided, it has to be said, by constant losses of possession in midfield by the home team.

The Dragons deservedly equalized in the 78th minute when Nerijus Valskis nodded in from a corner. A minute later the Swatcats regained the lead with a superb, diving header from Assumpcao.
In a late surge, Ekkachai went close on two occasions in a turbocharged finish for the home team as they swept forward looking to seal the three points but they were unable to add to their tally.

Fleetingly up to 7th place and a vital and well deserved 3 points but there is no doubt that the team is struggling. The inability to maintain possession is putting massive pressure on the defensive unit and the midfield is failing miserably in its task of providing service for the front men. These are the same problems repeated week after week and one wonders if proficient coaching is taking place.

Match Day 22 Stats

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Dateline 30th June 2018

 FT Sukhothai 1 NRFC 1

Attendance; 2423

The Swatcats took on the Firebats of Sukhothai in another crucial 6 pointer relegation battle.

 The visitors started with new Malaysian signing Shahrel Fikri up front.

Sukhohai opened brightly with Bonilla going close twice in the first 5 minutes but the visitors countered with Shahrel being just wide with a snap header.

With Baggio a constant threat down the right flank, the Firebats looked dangerous and after constant pressure, Bonilla was inches wide with an angled drive in the 19th minute - the Swatcats goal line was leading a charmed life !!

The home team was awarded a penalty for a clumsy challenge in the 28th minute and Bonilla converted the spot kick to give Sukhothai the lead. They were unlucky not to go two up when Baggio broke clear but his shot was spectacularly scooped off the goal line by a retreating defender.

Somewhat against the run of play Lee converted a Pina free kick with a far post header to put the Swatcats level in the 42nd minute.

 The first half drew to a close with Sukhothai looking a far superior side with the Swatcats struggling to make much impact up front and lucky to be on level terms.

In what I anticipate is going to be a tough 45 minutes for the Swatcats, the half opened with Pina missing an absolute sitter on 48 minutes when he shot wide from 10 yards with an open goal beckoning.
The Swatcats were gaining more possession in the second half with Sukhothai tiring but in late drama Sukhothai had a shot controversially blocked on the line with their players claiming that it had crossed the line. With both sides struggling to create clear chances the match drew to a conclusion with both teams happy with a point.

Outplayed in the first half by a team in poor form is not a good omen for the rest of the season but the team fought well and their second half performance was much improved.
Newcomer Shahrel, despite being quite anonymous tonight will, I feel, be a success in the future and should be a perfect foil for Assumpcao.
This is the 4th draw in a row and 5 matches unbeaten for the Swatcats, the team is ticking over and picking up points which is encouraging - our recent acquisitions should see us just safe come the end of the season.

Match Day 21 Stats.

Friday, 22 June 2018

Dateline 22nd June 2018

 FT NRFC 0 Police Tero 0

Attendance; 2630

Police Tero were the guests this weekend with both sides struggling just outside the relegation zone.

Tero looked the tidier and more accomplished side as the game progressed with the hosts prone to losing possession in midfield and guilty of the usual chaotic defensive lapses.
Jakkit went close with a clever flick in the 11th minute and Marinkovic shot over from long range, but generally Tero were passing the ball more successfully and looked more likely to score.

In late first half drama Assumpcao ran onto a through ball and thumped a pile driver against the post - in truth however, this was the Swatcats only cast iron chance of the half.
Despite “bossing” the game, Tero were unable to capitalize as the sides went off at half time with the scores level.

The second half saw Tero go “off the boil” and the hosts exploited this with a series of accomplished attacking raids. Assumpcao was inches wide with a diving header in the 47th minute and minutes later Jakkit fluffed a fine chance when he mishit a close range shot.

The men from Korat continued to press and Ekkachai drew a fine save from the visitor’s keeper from a close range drive and with Tero beginning to crumble, it became a bit of a turkey shoot as the Swatcats surged forward. Marinkovic spurned a great chance in the 66th minute when his close range shot was smothered and Assumpcao headed just over as the hosts strived for an elusive winner.

The home team’s surge inevitably left gaps at the back and Tero themselves accomplished some decent breaks forward with N’Drie looking dangerous, indeed he drew a fine save from Cunningham in the 85th minute.

A pretty ordinary but typical first half performance where the Swatcats were outplayed by a mediocre Tero side followed by a more than encouraging second half during which the team created 5 or 6 clear chances.
Game on, a point gained, unbeaten in 5 games (including League Cup win) and now the fight to stay out of the bottom five is hotting up. Survival is possible but not a certainty. My gut feeling is that we may just survive - points like the one gained tonight are going to prove vital.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Dateline 17th June 2018

 FT Ubon UMT United 2 NRFC 2

Attendance; 2170

A crucial Isaan Derby as the Swatcats took on strugglers Ubon this weekend. The visitors started with Jakkrit and Assumpcao up front and debut boy Marinkovic in midfield.

In front of a paltry number of fans, Ubon started brightly and they were unlucky when their header struck the post in the third minute. They then went ahead in the 23rd minute after yet another blunder by keeper Cunningham - he really has to go!!

With Ubon beginning to dominate, the Swatcat team seemed to fall to pieces with constant surrender of possession in midfield resulting in almost continuous pressure on their defence.

Ubon went two up in the 40th minute when they carved through the Swatcat excuse for a defence and Cunningham let a fairly tame angled shot go under his body on the near post.

An inept first half showing from the Swatcats and lucky to be only two down - they are making a second rate Ubon side look like Champions!!

Ubon continued to torment the men from Korat as the second half progressed with the defence in complete disarray and with the visitors unable to string passes together further Ubon goals looked likely.
A glancing Akekanat header in the 57th minute that bounced just over the bar was the first real chance that was produced by the visitors as they continued to labour.

In the 69th minute, after smart work from Marinkovic, he was fouled inside the box and a penalty was awarded. Assumpcao converted the spot kick to reduce the deficit. The Swatcats then began to dominate as Ubon sat deep and an equalizer looked likely. Paitoon Nontadee was inches wide with an angled shot, then Assumpcao stroked in the equalizer in the 86th minute.

An unlikely point after an extremely poor first half performance.  The second half performance was better as Ubon faded but really this was a mediocre overall performance and one that does not give me much hope for survival.

Match Day 19 Stats

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Dateline 9th June 2018

 FT NRFC 2 Suphanburi 2

Attendance; 4652

A mid table battle this weekend as the Swatcats welcomed Suphanburi. 

The Swatcats started with debutees Assumpcao and Jakkit up front.

In a largely uninspiring first half, neither side produced many clear cut chances although Assumpcao had a 25 yard screamer tipped over by the Suphan keeper in the 17th minute and later in the 27th minute, he produced a brilliant half volley on the turn that was similarly tipped over the bar.
A decent but not inspiring first half performance from the hosts but with the visitors offering minimal threat, things were looking quite promising with the Swatcats having slightly the better of the play.

In the second half Suphan began to exert a degree of dominance as the Swatcats faltered and as the game became more open, a goal from either side looked likely. The Dragons went close with an angled shot in the 64th minute and Cunningham brought off a spectacular save minutes later to keep the scores level but from the resulting corner Dos Santos headed in to give the visitors the lead.
In response, the Swatcats had a close range header scrambled clear in the 82nd minute and minutes later, a shot on target was blocked on the line and the resulting loose ball was unbelievably knocked over the bar from 1 yard out by substitute Phaitoon.

In a frenetic last few minutes, the home team equalized in the 92nd minute when Kittipat Wongsombat scrambled the ball over the line. Then, before the home supporters could catch their breath, Suphan broke forward and thanks to some school boy defensive work from Cunningham, they regained the lead when Romulo pounced.

With home fans streaming out, the Swatcats equalized again with literally the last kick of the match when a May T shot was deflected past the keeper.

Another disappointing response from the Swatcats but a useful point gained. The additions to the squad, (although it is harsh to judge the changes after one game), do not seem to have changed the way we play - although Jakkit and Assumpcao did look lively.
If I was asked to sum up the current Swatcat side, I would have to comment that they are a very ordinary side who are poorly coached. The defence was a complete shambles at times last night - whose fault is it? - we have a Thai National team player in Chalermpong and a useful Japanese import in Lee in the centre of the defence but they don’t seem to know what they are doing - time to show MIlos Joksic the door I’m afraid - and quickly too before Tier 2 becomes a reality.

Match Day 18 Stats