Thai League 2
Saturday 5 November 2022
Chiang Mai United 2 Chiang Mai FC 1
Chiang Mai FC:
When Patrik Gustavsson wakes in the middle of the night in a cold sweat the face that he will see in his nightmare is that of Pirot Eakmak.
The ex-CMFC stopper made a number of fine saves but none better than the two than denied Gustavsson his first league goal of the season. In the 64th minute he arched backwards and to his right to turn Gustavsson’s looping header over the cross bar and then did even better low to his left to turn away a low shot after a top class slalom run.
Just two highlights in a very entertaining and feisty second half.
Chiang Mai FC entered the game looking lightweight up front. Stenio will be out until the new year. Kim BoYong missed the game with an ankle injury. Pongrawit was also out. This left Gustavsson as a sole striker in front of a packed midfield.
Bill was left to warm the Chiang Mai United bench; it appears that he and the club management are not seeing eye-to-eye.
That may be good for Chiang Mai United as they looked a more cohesive outfit without their disruptive Brazilian striker. Nathawut, on loan from Port, had a strong first half alongside the Dutch striker Melvin de Leeuw.
De Leeuw had a difficult first half of last season with Chiang Mai United before moving to Sukhothai and aiding their return to T1. He is the sort of T2 striker that every team should have; strong; makes and scores goals and scraps for everything.
It was Chiang Mai United (CMU) who started brightly; Yuto’s Ono’s shot was narrowly past Fahas’ right upright.
A Stewart giveaway in his own half let Sansern run into the left side of the penalty area; his low shot took a deflection off Filipovic and Fahas in goal did very well to adjust his body; stick out a leg and deflect the ball for a corner.
But who would be a goalkeeper? Outstanding one minute and caught out the next. Surawich took a CMU free kick wide right curling it into the six yard box. It looked like an easy catch for Fahas; but the ball slithered from his hands, dropping behind him for Nanthawut to tap in on the goal line.
I have looked at this again. As Fahas is about to gather the ball Sarawut jumps straight across him and in his eyeline. An unhelpful distraction.
At the other end Pirot struggled to shovel away a Ronnayod free kick that was curled into the penalty area and bounced awkwardly in front of the keeper. He then dived low to his right to gather another effort from Ronnayod.
Half time and CMU led 1-0. They had looked the stronger team. Veljko left the field injured and would not return for the second half. Providing Gustavsson with more support for the second half Im ChangKyooon replaced Suchanon and Tawan replaced Thammayut.
The trouble with half time talks is that they cannot take account of your opponent scoring immediately after the restart.
A CMU free kick wide left was curled into the six yard box; De Leeuw kept the ball alive and Evson was able to hook his trailing leg around the ball and guide it (just) over the line.
That could have been game over. But with CMU sitting deeper this more attacking CMFC line-up started to press. Ronnayod’s long range shot was clawed away by Pirot diving to his left.
CMU sent on Kantapong for Nathawat as they sat back on their lead.
Im ChangKyoon’s shot was deflected for a corner. The corner came to nothing but CMFC recycled possession and the ball was chipped towards the edge of the penalty area where Gustavsson’s smart header was acrobatically turned over for a corner.
But really; who would be a goalkeeper? Pirot tried to right hook the in-swinging corner. He missed; leaving Sawawat at the far post to head home.
Chiang Mai FC fans started to believe. Gustavsson picked up (not literally) the ball 40 yards from goal. His slalom like run left Evson flat on his back before his left foot shot failed to beat Pirot who saved very well low to his left.
It was a corner. The whole stadium knew that. Pirot even celebrated the save.
The referee somehow gave a goal-kick and appeared to book Fukuda-san for his protests. The large number of CMFC fans were unhappy.
Im’s inswinging corner then hit the corner of the goal frame.
While at the other end De Leeuw beat Ronnayod and found himself one on one with Fahas who made a good low save to his right.
CMU held out; with some relief. CMU are now unbeaten in their last six game; CMFC have lost three in a row. The clubs are heading in different directions.
A crowd of 2,916 was at the game; the biggest crowd in T2 this season.