Sunday, 20 May 2018

Dateline 19th May 2018

 FT NRFC 0 Chonburi Sharks 1

Attendance; 4219

Chonburi Sharks were the visitors in tonights mid table clash at a wet 80th Anniversary Stadium.
After a rather sterile and low key start to the match, the visitors began to dominate possession with some free flowing and effective passing movements. The hosts seemed sluggish and unable to string a series of passes together as they laboured to contain the Sharks who appeared to want the victory more.

 The Sharks continued to pull the home team’s defence apart at will and with good off the ball movement from their players with the hosts struggling to get a foothold in the game.
The Sharks endeavours were rewarded in the 18th minute when a defensive error and poor marking handed Worachit a tap in to put them into the lead. The visitors, with confidence growing, continued to dominate possession as the home team wilted and in a half of few chances and the Sharks went in at half time deservedly in the lead.

The second half commenced with the Swatcats, perhaps after a gentle roasting from coach Joksic, showing a little more fight. They were however, still off the pace and Chonburi had a fine early chance to go two up with a Kroekrit drive going narrowly wide. Kroekrit had another chance in the 77th minute when he broke clear but he punted the ball over the bar.
The Swatcat’s only response was a long range effort from Pina and a scrambled effort following a corner. One of the pitiful lowlights of the second half was Paulo Rangel’s pathetic contribution to the Swatcat’s cause - he really has to go!!

In a late, final flourish Pina drew a fine save from keeper Chanin and Rangel completely miss kicked a golden opportunity to score an unlikely equalizer as the Sharks held on for their three points.

Yet another pretty poor performance from the Swatcats - possibly the worst performance by a Swatcat team in the many years that I have supported them. They lacked their usual vigour and spirit and really were given a footballing lesson by the Sharks tonight. It is hard to see a positive way forward for this team as there are so many problems surfacing with the defence, without Chalermpong tonight, looking disorganized and inept, midfield giving the ball away too freely and our attack now relying on Rangel whose lack of pace and movement is a real worry.
Relegation is now starkly staring the team in the face. It is a battle that can be won but it will take better performances than this to ensure the team’s safety.

Footnote 1: This game saw Dominic Adiyiah’s last match for the Swatcats. He has been a fine servant of the club for three and a half years and he will be missed.

Footnote 2: After tonight’s performance I doubt whether more than half of tonight’s 4219 fans will bother to turn up for the next home match. Here’s looking forward to a sub 2000 crowd for the next home game - fans are simply not going to turn up to watch garbage!!

Match Day 16 Stats

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Dateline 13th May 2018

 FT Prachuap Kiri Khan 2 NRFC 1

Attendance; 4158

The Swatcats face a daunting task as they take on high flying Prachuap this weekend. Still no Adiyiah (and no Pina either) but there was a welcome return for Metee Taweekulkarn (T May T) after a long period out through injury.

The match started in a rather low key fashion but the match burst into life in the 10th minute when Cunningham misjudged a cross and the resulting, lobbed header from Prachuap was hooked off the line by a grateful Decha.

The hosts went close again in the 18th minute when a shot edged wide of the upright but the men from Korat appeared to be holding their own as the half progressed.

The Killer Wasps opened the scoring in the 31st minute with a diving header from Doumbouya that looped over Keeper Cunningham and with the Swatcats offering little up front my thought at this point was “game over”.

The second half commenced with Prachuap pressing but in the 60th minute Rangel’s far post header nearly crept in as the keeper scrambled to keep the ball from crossing the goal line - perhaps the Swatcats first chance of the match!!
The hosts almost went two up in the 64th minute but the Swatcats were first saved by the post and then by a fine save from Cunningham.

With the visitors unable to capitalize on a brief period of second half pressure, Prachuap went two up in the 87th minute when Reis turned in a cross. Korat answered almost immediately when they pulled one back with a looping freekick from Pralong Sawandee. In a final flourish the Swatcats almost salvaged a point when Lee rattled a shot against the upright with literally the last kick of the match.

Well, nothing was expected from this game and nothing is what we got. An OK defensive performance against the in-form Prachuap but I can recall only a couple of significant chances produced by the visitors. Rangel, despite his recent hat trick, is simply not good enough and the continued absence of Adiyiah is adding to our woes up front.
The team now needs to concentrate on gaining points from lesser teams, particularly at home - the relegation battle has belatedly begun – buckle up, gird your loins, it’s gonna get tough!!

Match Day 15 Stats

Friday, 11 May 2018

Relegation Blues ???

This weekend's game against high flying Prachuap is a vital one for the Swatcats. There is still hope for a bounce back victory after last's week's disappointment but with mid table being so tight, a loss could see us drop down the table dramatically.
Our potential and realistic position is around 12th -14th place (with 14th - 18th teams doomed to the drop). Our decent and rather fortunate start has given us a chance of survival and I remain positive in my thoughts that the team will fight 100% to retain premiership survival.

Air Force appear to be doomed and Ubon seem to have given up - they have released 5 of their top players for financial reasons. Navy are having a really bad run and I think they will go down.
The fight for the remaining 2 relegation spots is between Tero, Chainat, Ourselves and maybe Pattaya. I just cannot see Bangkok Glass going down, although they are struggling and stranger things have happened.
Although we are only 3 points above the bottom 5, there is an 8 point gap to 15th place Glass and a massive 11 point gap to 14th place Navy. Things are going to get really tight - we need to concentrate on beating the lower placed teams which I think we can do. If we can just survive this potentially traumatic 5 down season, I think the club can cement its long term Premiership tenure -  hold on to your hats!!

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Dateline 6th May 2018

 FT NRFC 0 Port 4

Attendance; 7574

Port, aspirational chasers of the TPL title, were the guests on this stormy (come on you Daniels) evening at the 80th Anniversary Stadium.

With Adiyiah still missing and Port playing in Fiorentina purple, the visitors opened brightly with early raids and as on several occasions during the match the Swatcat’s defence was unable to cope with Port’s lively breaks forward.
Stuttering Swatcats seemed unable to sustain any meaningful pressure and on 11 minutes a Boscovic shot was parried and Nurul poked home to put Port one up.

Not relevant to this match but…. football fans worst nightmare - an early away goal that leads to fans resorting to  their smart phones to avert the boredom of watching players going down/stretchers on/taking throw ins from the wrong place/goalkeepers taking time taking goal kicks, as the scorers resort to the inevitable time wasting. Is this the most annoying trait in Thai football? To add insult to injury the refs are too scared to add on the real amount of time lost - anyway I digress….

In one of few first half chances for the hosts Pina struck a free kick narrowly over the bar and in the 21st minute Rangel was inches away from finishing a Pina cross. At the other end Port continued to press but were unable to add to their goal tally although Nurul missed a guilt edged chance to put them two up when he shot just wide in the 43rd minute.
Nurul was exceptional tonight and is undoubtedly carrying this rather ordinary Port outfit. A real sign of the weakness of this year’s TPL is that the rather erratic Port outfit sit in fourth place. Nurul was a dynamo in midfield and was responsible for most, if not all of Port’s attacking movement. What a pity he was not picked up by a decent side.

The second half opened with Port bossing possession as the Swatcat defence allowed their front men to waltz around them with impunity and only a tremendous challenge by Lee prevented Port from going two up on 49 minutes. Port went close again in the 61st minute when Cunningham saved low down.
I can only recall two meaningful shots by the hosts during the second half as they continued to splutter ineffectually and an inevitable second was scored by Port when Suarez poked in on 66 minutes.

Seconds later Ekkachai was sent off for a second yellow. The referee used the VAR facility and a confused crowd saw the card confirmed - not really sure why the referee needed to use VAR, it was a clear yellow card offence.
VAR was again used with Port players using the (I thought illegal) imaginary TV arm signals to encourage the ref to consult the system, following an incident inside the Port box. Complete and utter confusion reigned for the second time in the match!! Following the VAR consultation, Rangel was adjudged to have elbowed a defender and was lucky to stay on the pitch.

The ten men then capitulated completely with ugly scenes as Rangel showed his anger at a thigh wound inflicted by a high tackle and a Port player’s completely senseless dive to the turf in order to get an opponent sent off.
Rangel again showed his immaturity and violent streak when he elbowed a defender in the 84th minute - this behaviour has no place in this or indeed any league.

In a late surge, with the Swatcats spent, Boscovic stroked home a third goal in the 86th minute and Port then added a fourth when Akekanat fouled Nurul to give Port a penalty. Boscovic converted to make it four nil.

In a match littered with freekicks and time wasting, this match was not a thing of beauty. This result was undoubtedly a major disappointment for the home fans. This was the worst performance by a Swatcats team I have witnessed in years. Ports were not good but they were presented with 3 points by a lackluster “sleep mode” effort by a Swatcat team whose defence was disorganized and ineffectual. Nurul was exceptional for Port, truly a man amongst boys tonight.
If the Swatcats continue is this vein, they will soon slip into the clutches of bottom five misery - just as expected!! The team gave everything as usual tonight but things did not click for them - keep going boys.

Footnote 1: Boscovic’s ugly push on Rangel in the Port penalty box (why wasn’t he shown a red card), the Port player’s pathetic dive to try to get a red card and the inevitable time wasting showed an ugly side of a Port side whose aspirations and ability do not match but I do wish them well in their push for the championship.

Footnote 2: I have always been a supporter of VAR and tonight was the first time I have been present at a match utilizing it. The crowd was left silent, stunned and confused by its use tonight. In the sending off incident no one, including the ref (are they trained on how to carry out VAR incidents) had the slightest idea what was going on - sorry, but the admixture of Thainess and VAR is never going to work - scrap all plans on its use in Thailand immediately.

Match Day 14 Stats

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Dateline 28th April 2018

 FT Navy FC 1 NRFC 3

Attendance; 2469

The Swatcats visited Sattahip to take on strugglers Navy this weekend.

The match commenced in wet conditions watched by a very sparse crowd but with great support from the visiting Swatcat fans. Chalermpong and Rangel were both back in the opening line up.

Early drama in the 2nd minute when Ekkachai broke clear but the out coming keeper blocked his shot. Rangel, following through poked the ball just wide. On a very heavy pitch the visitors were gaining the majority of possession in an encouraging start for the men from Korat.

Navy countered and Rodrigo’s drive was well saved by keeper Cunningham as the hosts began to gain a toehold in the game. Cunningham was called upon to make further two great saves as Navy began to dominate.

The Swatcat goal was now being peppered with shots, including an Amadu effort that struck the post, as the visitor’s defence sat deep - so disappointing after the Swatcats encouraging start.

In the 26th minute, somewhat against the run of play Paulo Rangel nodded in from 9 yards to open the scoring. Minutes later, Cunningham, rapidly becoming a Swatcat hero, saved well again to keep Rodrigo’s angled drive out.

The Swatcats went two up in the 34th minute, when Rangel turned a Chanatphon cross into the net. Seconds later, Cunningham was again the hero when he leapt high to keep out a vicious drive. I was beginning to think this might be our night!!!

 Unbelievably Rangel completed his hat trick in the 41st minute when he tapped in a Pina cross
 but Rodrigo nodded in during first half stoppage time to give the home team some hope of a comeback.

The first half concluded with the Swatcats 3-1 up, when in reality they should have been 4-3 down!!

In near farcical conditions with further heavy rain, the second half kicked off and within minutes Rangel missed an absolute sitter when he fired wide from 7 yards. The visitors continued to move forward and Sarawut was denied by a smart save from the Navy keeper.

Rodrigo went close with a long range effort in the 69th minute but that apart, the Swatcat defence seemed to be in control. In the 75th minute a superb passing movement was finished by Rangel whose drive was pushed around the post for a corner.
Navy tested Cunningham once more in the 86th minute and Amadu rattled the post but in the heavy conditions they were unable to launch a comeback as the Swatcats defended bravely.

Unbelievable result for the Swatcats. An excellent smash and grab victory with the team being smuggled out of the stadium wearing striped shirts and carrying bags marked swag. Following on from the Buriram game the team played some excellent passing movements - especially when breaking forward - I didn’t know they had it in them, although the addition of Sarawut might have helped. I am beginning to think that this team has the guts and talent to perhaps gain a top ten finish - I really have been impressed with their spirit so far this season. Well done again boys !!

Match Day 13 Stats.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Dateline 25th April 2018

 FT Buriram United 2 NRFC 1

Attendance; 8818

This Isaan derby sees first against seventh as the Swatcats strive to dent Buriram’s title ambitions.

The Swatcats started without Adiyiah, Rangel or Chalermpong. The visitors matched their fellow Isaan outfit in early exchanges and they took an early lead in the 7th minute when an optimistic low shot from Ekkanat deceived the home keeper and crept into the corner of the net. The hosts immediately raced forward and scored an equalizer through Joo Yun Soo when his deflected shot looped over keeper Cunningham.

Buriram took the lead in the 23rd minute when Tunez headed in from close range following a corner. At the other end, Masuk had a long range shot that drifted over the bar as the Swatcats counter attacked but generally the Buriram defence seemed to be in control.

The second half commenced with Buriram pressing but despite this early pressure they were unable to increase their lead. In the 73rd minute Nattapong was offered a guilt edged chance to equalise when he struck the ball over the bar from 2 yards following a corner. Seconds later Masuk went close with a drive and then Ekkachai’s shot was saved following a fine solo run. This flurry of chances seemed to rattle Buriram and they began to defend deeper and following further Swatcat pressure, I felt that Buriram were pleased to leave the pitch with their 3 points intact.

The Swatcats were not overawed by the Buriram side and at times they knocked the ball about effectively but one always thought that Buriram would punish any mistakes and they looked very dangerous at corners and crosses from the flanks.
In the end class prevailed but the Swatcats could leave the Thunder Castle with their heads held high. A high energy performance that was unfortunately not enough to hold the powerful Buriram team. In a strange way, this was one of the Swatcat’s best performances of the season. I would like to see how this line up would fare against lesser opponents than Buriram. Well done lads !!

Match Day 12 Stats

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Dateline 22nd April 2018

 FT NRFC 2 Pattaya United 0

Attendance; 8817.

Following 4 defeats in their last five games and with 2 away games to follow, it was absolutely vital for the Swatcats to gain three points in this match.

 The Swatcats started with Rangel up front, but still no Adiyiah and captain Chalermpong was also missing. Samuel Cunningham, having recovered from injury was thankfully back in goal.

The match commenced with Pattaya looking lively but despite the visitor’s pressure, the hosts created a couple of early chances, with Rangel drawing a fine save from the keeper in the 15th minute as the Swatcats pressed.
The Swatcats opened the scoring in the 20th minute when Ekkachai slotted home following a corner kick and minutes later, in a bizarre moment, Paulo Rangel was booked and asked to leave the field for wearing a necklace, Paulo was rightfully indignant and had to be pulled away from the fourth official as he argued his case.

The second half saw Pattaya looking for an equalizer but the hosts defended effectively and following a break in the 52nd minute, Lee headed just wide following a Chanatphon free kick.
Pattaya went close in the 72nd minute but despite playing some good football in midfield, they created little up front.
The hosts survived a late scare when a goal bound header from Pattaya appeared to be deflected over the bar by a defender’s arm, luckily no penalty was awarded. I suspect that if VAR had been available the decision would have been changed.

In the 86th minute Naruphol was hauled to the ground inside the box. A penalty was awarded but Rangel’s effort was well saved by the keeper.
The Swatcats sealed the victory with a second, deep into injury time, when Ekkachai broke clear and stroked the ball in from 10 yards.

Super victory for the Swatcats - well deserved and an important three points that places them in a very respectable seventh place in the league. A sound performance from the whole team who kept their heads despite periods of pressure from a decent and technically superior Pattaya outfit.
Well done boys, now bring on Buriram !!

Match Day 11 Stats