Fine margins

Match report : 8 October 2023
Thai League 2
Crowd: 2,286

Chiang Mai FC 2 Nakhon Si United 3

Starting XI

Lim ChangKyoon
Stenio Jnr
Yoo ByungSoo

Nakhon SI inflicted a first defeat of the season on CMFC in a feisty, hard-fought affair on Sunday night. In case anyone previously had any doubt this league is tough and will continue to be tough; the margins between a win and a loss can be very fine and a little good fortune helps as well.

One quarter of the way through the season and there are three points separating the top seven teams in the League.

It is also worth remembering that in the event that teams are tied on points goal difference is irrelevant – the standings are based on head-to-head results.

The ground staff had done well to ensure that after heavy afternoon rain the pitch was in far better condition than the flooded roads and car parks around the stadium.

Chiang Mai made two changes to the side that demolished Krabi last weekend. Thammayut starting for Sawawut at left back and Suchanon starting in place of Akarawin.

Midway through the first half David Cuerva was caught by a clash of heads with Adisak; he tried to carry on but soon after fell groggily onto the pitch and was taken to hospital for stitches in a head wound. It may not be a coincidence that all there NakhonSi goals came after Cuerva’s initial injury.

The substitution was bold as it was Akarawin who replaced Cuerva; another forward for a holding midfielder. This would leave gaps for NakhonSi to exploit.

It could have all been different. In the second minute Stenio’s low pass across goal from the right found Suchanon at the far post; under pressure from Ratthakorn the Chiang Mai forward the ball over the crossbar from four yards. It was the best chance of the first half hour.

In the 29th minute Soukaphone’s pass inside from the left wing reached Valdo inside the penalty area; he squeezed between Piyachanok and Sarawin before his pass to the far post found Nanthawat with the time and space to lift the ball beyond Fahas.

No one had picked up Nanthawat and all three Nakhon Si goals would come from CMFC failing to track back and leaving too much space in front on the defensive back line.

The Nakhon Si lead lasted just four minutes. Suchanon was clumsily brought down by Noppol inside the penalty area; there were no protests. Stenio stepped up and emphatically put the ball into Naiyana’s bottom left corner.

Chiang Mai took the lead in the 38th minute. Yoo Byung Soo providing the assist with a smart turn and pass into the penalty area for Suchanon to dart between Adisak and Ratthakorn for a low, left-footed finish.

Again the lead did not last long; into first half injury time and NakhonSi had a free kick centre of the Chiang Mai half. The ball was looped forward towards the right goal line. Chiang Mai froze thinking the ball was out of play; instead it was headed back into the six yard box where Wanchalerm drove the ball passed Fahas.

Fahas led the CMFC protests claiming that the ball was out of play; but to no avail.

2-2 at half time and a reasonable reflection of an energetically fought first half.

On the restart Yoo Byung Soo and Suchanon combined to draw a save from Naiyana at his near post. The Nakhon Si goalkeeper then did well to parry Suchanon’s shot as he ran onto a long ball forward into the penalty area from Im ChangKyoon.

The visitors were rattled and under pressure; four of Nakhon Si’s yellow cards were given between the 60th and 70th minutes.

Naiyana produced his best save low to his left to push away Akarawin’s 18 yard shot

At the other end Maranhao cut in from the right side; his pass into the penalty area deflected off Im ChangKyoon and reached Valdo who, with Fahas rushing out of his goal, could only clip the ball over the keeper and the cross bar.

The reprieve was temporary; Valdo on the left wing rounded Sarawin; and fired the ball low into the penalty area; Siwarut let the ball run past him and Maranhao teed the ball up for Nanthawat, on the edge of the penalty area, to drive it low past Fahas’ left hand. Fahas would have had a limited view of the shot with Nukoolkit planted directly in front of him.

For the last 15 minutes (ten plus injury time) Chiang Mai laid siege to the NakhonSi goal. A series of balls into the penalty area were scrambled clear. Three 90th minute substitutions were made – though that seemed too late in the game to have any impact.

In reality CMFC failed to create one more clear opportunity. A Chappuis shot was blocked. Tawan, on as a late substitute, headed over. The visitor’s goalkeeper spent a lot of time lying down as Nakhon Si tried to run down the clock.

There really was little to choose between the teams; NakhonSi took their chances mainly due to a fine performance from Nanthawat at centre forward.

In a repeat from late February CMFC had again sent out a weakened cup tie team in midweek to protect the squad for the next league game and once again we had lost both games. As a strategy it does not appear to be working!

There are no T2 games next weekend and Chiang Mai will travel to NakhonRatchasimaMazda, who drew 1-1 at Pattaya United last night, on 22nd October for a top of the table clash with the Swatcats in front of what should be a large crowd at the 80th birthday stadium.