Unfulfilled potential

Too quiet – much too quiet

Chiang Mai FC 1 Udon Thani FC 1
Thai M150 Championship
Saturday 23 April 2022
700th Anniversary Stadium

Starting XI

Udon Thani came to Chiang Mai a changed team from the side that won convincingly at home in early December.

Half way through the season the Orange Giants had 34 points from their first round of 17 games and were in a strong third place. In the second half of the season their depleted squad has just 13 points from 16 games. Yet a playoff spot was still a remote possibility if other results were in their favour.

With T2 safety assured for Chiang Mai, after wins at home to Navy and away at Nakhorn Pathom, the 716 fans that attended this last home game of the season might have hoped for a little more entertainment.

But Chiang Mai for only the second time this season were without any of their main strikers; Danilo, Kabaev and Gustavsson, all presumed injured. This left, literally, a lightweight front two of Seiya and Tawan.

Chiang Mai made two changes to the side that won last week at Nakhon Pathom. Somyot replaced Phosri and Supasak came in for Danilo. It was a team strong on defense but light on offense.

Udon started slowly; like a team that had spend far too long on a bus. Chiang Mai attacked down the right side. Udon played give-away in their own half. Tawan looked lively; Seiya had a shot blocked and did put the ball in the net; but it was disallowed for offside.

Yet by the half way point of the first half Udon were settling into the game and pushing forward.

With 23 minutes gone Jongrak aimed a long ball forward for Skraparas; his one significant contribution to the game was to flick the ball into the penalty area behind Veljko; the defender tried to shield the ball for Kiadtiphon to collect. Suew was more alert than both Chiang Mai players and ran between them to volley home from 12 yards.

There were half chances on the break for Chiang Mai. Suchanon shot wide. Pongrawit shot high. Somyot did both at the same time.

Aleks Kapisoda had to leave the game with an injury while stretching to deflect a Tawan cross away from Seiya lurking at the far post. A big loss for the Udon Thani defense.

Udon started the second half as poorly as the first. Supasak deep on the left side in his own half whipped a crossfield ball into a big empty space on the right for Tawan to run onto and into the penalty area; where with great composure he slid the ball inside Sornnarai’s near post for Chiang Mai’s equalizer.

Udon might have restored their lead when Lim received Kittiphong’s pass in the Chiang Mai area; turned, too easily, away from Veljko and from twelve yards his shot was well struck but straight at the legs of Kiadtiphon.

Another Tawan cross from the right was met by a combination of Seiya and a defender; enough to send the ball wide.

Phommin made his Chiang Mai debut replacing Somyot. Phommin had moved from Khon Kaen at the start of the season and has not been seen since.

Tawan remained the main threat for Chiang Mai; last week he was a stand-in right back. Tonight he had the freedom to move around the front line; creating chances for himself and team-mates. He would likely be the first to admit that he needs greater consistency; too many opportunities are wasted from good positions and too often the goalkeeper is not tested.

The final minutes would produce the better chances of the half.

Veljko galloped down the right and hit a firm low cross into the path of Nattawut at the far post; the striker could not convert.

For Udon Thani Lim shot powerfully over the crossbar from 20 yards.

Tawan then set up Sarawin to cross from the right side and Seiya’s powerful low header flashed past the near post. Once again Sornnarai did not have to make a save.

Tawan’s season was also Chiang Mai’s season; plenty of potential but, in the end, not good enough. If he remains another season it would be good to see how he develops.

So a basically a meaningless game between two mid-table teams ended 1-1 and no one was unhappy. Both teams will now be hoping for much greater success next season.

I wonder how many of that squad the Chiang Mai fans were saying goodbye to this evening. We will know in the next few months.

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