Thai League 2
Saturday 7 January 2023
Nakhon Pathom United FC 1 Chiang Mai FC 0
Chiang Mai FC:
Away at third placed Nakhon Pathom was always going to a difficult start to the second half of the season; and so it proved in dismal gloom from the appalling lights against a well-organized team that makes an art form out of taking time out of the game.
Nakhon Pathom appear to understand the lighting problem. All of their first half attacks came down the left side in front on the better lit main stand. Their long throw ins were all propelled from the same side. And it was no surprise after the half time break that their best attacks came down the right flank, including the cross for the only goal of the match.
I have rarely seen a side take so long over free kicks and throw ins. It is as though they know that a single goal will be enough. They are not an easy team to watch. But they are effective.
Chiang Mai’s starting XI included none of the three new hires; Filipovic (suspended) and Stewart (rested after his international duties with Singapore) were also missing.
The visitors looked lively from the start and really needed to make their first half dominance count; they did not.
As early as the first minute Kim BoYong ran onto a long ball down the left side from Sarawut and his shot required a save from Wattanachai.
The Nakhon Pathom goalkeeper is a key part of the league’s best defense. His handling throughout was assured and a late save from a long-range Phommin shot made sure of the three points.
At the other end long range efforts from Ekkalarp and Krissana passed wide and high respectively.
Chiang Mai’s first corner was worked short for Ronnayod whose inswinging cross had to be punched clear by Wattanachai from under his crossbar.
The subsequent corner was poor and let the home side break quickly forward with Supatep on the right side. The ball was worked inside for Arthit Berg but the lack of power in his shot allowed Fahas to save comfortably.
Pongrawit was booked for a trip in midfield that stopped a Nakhon Pathom breakaway. Nothing wrong with the decision as long as the referee is consistent. Admirali’s late first half foul was perhaps the most blatant for no more than a free kick.
Kim BoYong headed a Ronnayod corner over the crossbar.
The came the highlight of the first half as Anukorn and Chanatat failed to clear a Sarawut cross. Sarawin was sharp to see the loose ball and his 25 yard shot was hit with awesome power but bounced back off the crossbar.
A Tawan breakaway and a Pongrawit free kick were missed opportunities before half time.
The only goal of the game came in the 51st minute. Nergaard’s pass found Berg wide right. He had time to measure his cross and lob the ball towards the back post. Piyachanok appeared to slip and behind him the diminutive Kongnateechai rose to head the ball back across Fahas and inside the far post. It was quite simply the sort of cross that the defense should have dealt with comfortably.
Immediately Chiang Mai replaced Pongrawit with a debut for Yuta Hirayama.
Jhonathon Bernardo, to an excellent reception from the home crowd, replaced Kongnateechai with half an hour remaining. Ekkalarp kept a free kick alive when his header found Admirali in the penalty area; his shot was unconvincing but from close enough distance that it required Fahas to save with his feet.
At the other end Kim BoYong was booked for a dive in the penalty area as he tried to convert Hirayama’s right wing cross.
Ronnayod’s free kick was then guided wide of the far post by Sarawut who had time to pick his target.
Kim BoYong’s low cross from the left side was ably cut out by Wattanachai with Hirayama colliding with a defender; an injury that restricted his debut to just 18 minutes.
To add to the CMFC gloom Sawawut was given a straight red for a clumsy high challenge on Nergaard.
Then as the game went into its final minutes Chiang Mai found a late flourish; Phommin ‘s left foot shot from thirty yards needing a fine diving save and Suwannapat heading a free kick into the goalkeepers’ arms.
This was Nakhon Pathom’s third 1-0 win in a row and their sixth of the season. Chiang Mai will be frustrated that they were unable to convert chances into goals; but that in reality has been a problem since Stenio’s injury back on 1 October.
Chiang Mai return home for three successive home games starting with a league game at home to Uthai Thani on Sunday 15 January at 7pm.