Deserved better

Thai League 2
Sunday 14 August 2022

Grand Andaman Ranong United 1 Chiang Mai FC 1

Chiang Mai FC:

Stenio Jnr

For the first game of a new season a visit to Ranong will always be difficult.

So a come-from-behind draw is far from the worst possible result. Yet the visitors’ second half performance was worthy of all three points and Ranong were saved by a combination of desperate defending, wasteful finishing, the woodwork and a very generous referee.

Coach Fukuda gave debuts to Sarawut Koedsri, Rhyan Stewart, Ronnayod Mingmitwan, Srithai Bookok, and Stenio Jnr as well as welcoming Suwannaphat Kingkaew back to the club.

The surprise was that Patrick Gustavsson did not start in a lineup that felt a little too cautious against one of the weaker sides in this League.

On a difficult pitch of uneven bounce both sides opened carefully. Veljko reached a long, looping free kick beyond the far post and his volleyed cross was cleared for a corner.

Ronnayod’s partially cleared corner was returned to him and his second cross reached Veljko who headed onto the top of the crossbar from ten yards.

Sarawut volleyed another Ronnayod free kick narrowly wide.

Stenio was the subject of less than friendly attention and eventually Nyein Chan was booked for a series of fouls on the Brazilian.

It took 28 minutes for Ranong to threaten with Jennarong shooting wide. Meanwhile the Ranong dark arts had started; the bench gathering on the touchline like an angry tribe to protest imaginary injustice.

All of this brings pressure on the referee. The freekicks started to go the way of Ranong and from one well worked freekick in the 34th minute Ranong scored.

Jennarong held up the free kick by the left side corner flag; his pass found Muhammadburhan. A low left foot cross was cushioned by Ononiwu into the path of Wathit who with great composure from close range pushed the ball wide of Kiadtiphon and inside the far post.

Half time. Ranong led 1-0. There had been little to cheer.

However, Chiang Mai  emerged to dominate the second half.

Immediately Tawan cut inside from the right wing; his left foot shot finishing high and wide.

The referee played advantage after a foul on Stewart and Tawan’s left foot cross beat everyone as it bounced in front of and over Stenio Jnr.

Chiang Mai kept pressing forward. Seven minutes into the second half Ronnayod’s free kick found Sarawut on the left side of the penalty area and he volleyed the ball across goal for Stenio, unmarked, to score from close range.

Patrik Gustavsson replaced Phommin and looked lively alongside Stenio.

Ranong goalkeeper Taro should have made a simple catch of another Ronnayod free kick. Instead he pushed the ball out on front of goal leaving his defenders to make goal saving headers from each of Suwannaphat, Stenio and Ronnayod. It was an almighty scramble and some desperate defending.

A rare Ranong attack saw Jennarong shoot wide form the left side of the penalty area. With ten minutes to go Gustavsson’s cross found Stenio in front of goal. Controlling the ball with his first touch he then tried to flick the ball beyond Taro who atoned for his earlier mishaps by making himself big and extending a huge left hand to make the save.

As the ball ran loose to the edge of the area Gustavsson curled a left-foot shot from twenty yards against the underside of the cross bar and Stewart  could not keep his shot on goal from the rebound.

All this pressure looked to have led to a CMFC winner. Tawan beating the defense to power home a header, from yet another Ronnayod free-kick, past Taro only for the referee to disallow the goal for a foul. Although it was Gustavsson who was on his back looking aggrieved.

There was time for Ranong to threaten a late winner as CMFC struggled to clear a last minute free kick and for Ononiwu’s left foot shot to require a comfortable save at the near post by Kiadtiphon.

Three minutes of injury time were signaled the fourth official who must have had a pressing appointment; with two long injury stoppages requiring stretchers, a series of substitutions and other delays a realistic number would have been at least double that.

A frustrating result. CMFC looked solid in defense; promising in offense; a little short of composure on a tricky pitch in midfield.

Early days. The season is underway and there is plenty more drama to come in the next 33 matches.

Finally, one piece of good news; the annual trip to Ranong is already history.