16 September 2023
Thai League 2
Chiang Mai FC 3 Pattaya United FC 2
A dynamic performance from club captain Stenio Junior led CMFC to a hard fought win in truly appalling conditions at the Municipal Stadium on Saturday. Like the fictional Roy Kent he was here, he was there, he was every ****ing where.
Stenio’s commitment and fitness set the standard. That is matched throughout the squad.
The first serious downpour of the afternoon ended some forty-five minutes before kick off. The next came at the start of the second half. The pitch had pools of water.
Such conditions are a great leveller; less skill and more chance. It can be hard to watch – if the Keystone Cops had played football it would look something like this. More farce than high-brow drama.
But teams have to adapt. And in the end the crowd saw a competitive and entertaining game that had a bit of just about everything – including, such was everyone’s commitment, a first CMFC yellow card for coach Fukuda.
Chiang Mai made just one change from the last game at Nongbua. Sarawin, replacing Tawan, and coming in as right back in a back four – pushing Chappuis into central midfield alongside Cuerva.
The opening 15 minutes were all Chiang Mai. A short pass from Cuerva set up Im ChangKyoon for a left foot shot from 25 yards that was turned wide by Prasit in the Pattaya goal.
Akarawin’s chip across the penalty area found Yoo Byung Soo but with the ball sticking under his feet his shot was too close to the ‘keeper and blocked.
The opening goal came in the 13th minute. Chiang Mai cleared the second of two successive corners. Cuerva on the left side of his own half hoisted the ball downfield. Yoo gave chase. Prasit came well out of his penalty area; Thanakorn left the clearance to his goalkeeper who promptly slipped and kicked at fresh air allowing Yoo to take a couple of strides forward and to firmly plant the ball into an empty net. A big assist for the conditions.
The next thirty minutes were largely dominated by the visitors. Fahas had to deal with two inswinging corners from Santitorn, pushing one around his near post and another onto the crossbar at the far post.
Fahas then made a good claim of Thanakorn’s long cross before saving from Suphakij, released by Phufah on the right side of the penalty area.
Judivan then made in 1-1. In behind the CMFC defense on the near side of the penalty area he turned inside the slithering Piyachanok; his right foot shot from close range looked like a comfortable save for Fahas until Sarawin tried to make a block and the ball looped off his foot over the stranded goalkeeper.
Minutes later Pattaya should have taken the lead. More high farce. Another long clearance gets stuck outside the CMFC penalty area; Fahas’ uncertain clearance returned the ball to Judivan. The CMFC goalkeeper atoning by standing his ground while Judivan’s shot hit his leg and diverted for a corner.
Piyachanok then headed an Im Chang Kyoon free kick wide from close range before Chiang Mai scored a second in first half injury time.
David Cuerva’s short chip just into the penalty area was aimed at Akarawin who somehow get enough height and loop to his long range header to clear the stranded goalkeeper. It was a goal from nothing. An instinctive piece of smart improvisation.
Chitchanok came out for the second half to replace Akarawin – playing right wing this left Yoo alone up front but made sense – in part as the wings did allow players to run unlike the marshy bog developing in the middle of the pitch.
Chitchanok’s header from a Stenio cross was blocked at the far post. Yoo was first to Im’s corner; a textbook header down and with power; but straight at the goalkeeper’s foot; Phuwadol appeared to hold back Piyachanok from the rebound. The referee was not interested.
Half chances fell to Stenio on the left and to Chitchanok released by a quick throw to the ever alert Chappuis
Wanmai was booked. For pulling back Stenio. Good. The free kick would cost Pattaya dearly as Chappuis curled the ball to the back post where Sarawut with the grace of a Nureyev, adjusted his body shape and hit a sweet left foot volley past Prasit. The celebrations suggested a training ground free kick routine; it cannot have been better executed.
Pattaya were not done. Judivans’s shot from the corner of the penalty area was saved by Fahas and the rebound hacked clear by Nukookit. Then, in the 93rd minute, Suphakij rifled the ball home from 12 yards in a goalmouth scramble. It was too little too late for a Pattaya but they had battled valiantly throughout to keep their heads above water!
In miserable weather the crowd of 2,359 was superb. Singing (and drumming) in the rain.
Meanwhile at the 700th anniversary stadium the other Chiang Mai team lost 1-3 to Nongbua Pitchaya in front of just 412 supporters.
Chiang Mai now travel to Rayong – a 6pm kick off on Sunday 24th. The next home game is against Krabi on Saturday 30 September.