What might have been

Picture: @cmfcofficial

Thai League 2 2022-2023 – Sunday 5 March 2023

Chiang Mai FC 0 Ayutthaya United 1

Chiang Mai FC:

Im ChangKyoon
Kim BoYong

This hurt. A lot.

Playing their best football of the season Chiang Mai FC battered our visitors from Ayutthaya United. Yet for the fourth time in the last five League games CMFC failed to score.

And it only takes a minute to lose a game. Jakkapan curled a 51st minute free kick towards the penalty spot. Thiago Moreira timed his run and jump perfectly, in behind Filipovic and ahead of Sarawut, and headed the ball low into the near corner. Fahas, who for the previous 51 minutes has been a spectator, had no chance.

As with Customs last week it was the only goal of the game.

For Chiang Mai Suchanon returned after his short illness and replaced Pongrawit.

Our new Director and owner-designate was at the match together with a number of his staff and security.

The early momentum was all with Chiang Mai. The home club’s  first corner came in the opening minute. Tossapol tried to clear Kim BoYong’s header; thumping his clearance into Tawan’s family jewels with the rebound passing narrowly wide of the upright.

Tawan’s recovery was rapid as ten minutes later his curling shot from the left corner of the penalty area was turned over by the very pink Prin in the Ayutthaya goal.

It was high intensity football from the home side, played in over 30C temperatures and with an Air Quality Index of 165. Credit to the players for their intensity in really quite unpleasant conditions. But that high tempo football was never likely to be sustainable and the pace would slow later in the game.

Filipovic was first to an Im ChangKyoon free kick but flicked the ball over the cross bar.

After a sustained period of pinball in the Ayutthaya penalty area the ball was cleared to Sarawin who set himself for a twenty yard drive that Prin did well to save diving low to his left. The ball fell to Im Chang Kyoon and his chip to the six yard box was headed home by Tawan. The referee had already blown for offside against the Korean midfielder.

Kim BoYong breaking forward was hauled down by Thiago Moreira. The referee saw no offense despite howls of protest on and off the pitch. I am all for allowing the game to flow but that had to be a yellow card.

Chiang Mai were relentless. Ronnayod’s corner after 23 minutes was partially cleared by Ayutthaya – but the ball fell for Im ChangKyoon – 22 yards from goal and his rifled right foot shot nearly broke the crossbar; from the rebound Filipovic’s bouncing header was turned over the crossbar by Prin.

Next Im ChangKyoon’s fine run at the penalty area needed a better finish than the shot that skied over the crossbar.

A lovely flowing move down the left side saw Tawan pass infield to Ronnayod who set up Suchanon for a shot that was dragged wide. Seksit was then booked for bringing down Suchanon as he broke forward.

Kim BoYong’s direct running at defenders was a constant threat and accelerating forward he feigned left and right and then drove his shot over the crossbar.

One last effort before half time; a lovely floated cross from Im on the left side towards the six yard box that Kim BoYong headed over from close range with Tawan, who was maybe better placed to score, behind him.   

0-0 at half time; Chiang Mai had been outstanding but without any reward. Time for Ayutthaya to regroup; they were still, somehow, in this match.

And those fears became reality six minutes into the second half when Thiago Moreira heading home Jakkapan’s free kick.

Chiang Mai responded with purpose. Prin was in no man’s land for Ronnayod’s corner; Sarawut at the back post headed against the underside of the cross bar; the ball rebounding for Sarawin whose shot was off target but was instinctively deflected inches wide by Tawan.

Im then turned into space in midfield; he spread the ball wide for Sarawut who found Tawan inside the penalty area but his shot was dragged wide from a difficult angle.

Ronnayod’s clever inside pass set up Kim BoYong who again shot wide from twenty yards.

Prin meanwhile, after an uncertain first half, was suddenly catching every cross.

Thammayut replaced Sarawut and his low cross from the goal line was cut out by Thossapol ahead of Hirayama who had replaced Suchanon with 25 minutes to play. Thossapol reminding the home crowd of what a good defender he had been when at CMFC. It was good to see the old warhorse back and his appreciation of the home fans and officials was very genuine.

Into five minutes of injury time and as CMFC pushed for an equalizer Fahas actually did make a save from Thanadol’s shot from a narrow angle on the right side.

And that was game over. Chiang Mai had played attacking, enterprising, football all game. Solid at the back; creative in midfield and full of running and effort in attack.

But at some stage that dynamic football, which apparently created 24 chances in the game, has to be turned into goals.

With that win Ayutthaya moved into fourth on 42 points. CMFC remain 11th seven points behind the play off places.

Ayutthaya’s new manager has seen his side win their last two games. Bruno Pereira is the Mikel Arteta of Thai League 2; kicking every ball and protesting every challenge while looking alarmingly like a Portugese Gareth Southgate.

Chiang Mai now travel to Suphanburi for the Friday evening game before returning to Chiang Mai for the local derby at the Municipal Stadium on Wednesday 15th March.