A bridge too far?

Match report
Thai League 2
24 November 2023

DP Kanchanaburi 3 Chiang Mai FC 1

Chiang Mai FC

Im ChangKyoon
Yoo ByungSoo
Stenio Jnr

This was a game that followed the script. Kanchanaburi are unbeaten at home in the League since an opening day loss to Ayutthaya.

Meanwhile CMFC have not won away in the League since the first away game of the season at Samut Prakan City. This has been followed by three draws and two defeats.

The manner of the defeat also felt predictable. Kanchanaburi came out of the starting gates like Viking warriors on a mission. On a hard bumpy pitch the home team’s approach was simple – to get the ball forward quickly and aerially for their two Brazilian strikers.

Meanwhile to counter this threat our hardest and tallest central defender was left on the bench.

And where is Suwannapat who appears very out of favour? His experience may have been a good counter to the rampaging Brazilians.

Thammayut and Nukoolkit looked exposed and it was no surprise when Kanchanburi took a seventh minute lead.

Sarawut fouled Junior Batista near the centre circle. Rather than the aerial route Anawin played a low pass forward to Batista who had found space on the right side of the penalty area. Surrounded by red shirts he shrugged off Thammayut’s challenge and from a narrow angle beat Fahas with a firm right foot shot. It was well struck but Fahas will be disappointed to be beaten at his near post.

Minutes later Batista showed his threat once again taking Jardel’s cross to the far side of the penalty area on his chest and shooting without the power to beat Fahas.

It was a short reprieve.

After eighteen minutes, Anawin’s pass down the touchline on the far side found Batista wide right and in space. His first time cross was hit low towards the far post with Sarawut unable to make a challenge or to cut out the cross.

At the far post Jardel had been left alone inside the penalty area and he was able to side-scuff the ball home from close range.

Having given up a two goal start it was time to make a necessary change with Piyachanok replacing Thammayut. In reality the horse had already bolted.

Looking a little more solid at the back Chiang Mai sought to get back into the game. Amornthep showed his pace down the left side but appeared short of support in advanced positions.

Just after the half hour Stenio pulled one back for the visitors running at pace from his own half onto a ball cleared from defense. Stenio left Jirasak in his wake and picking his spot from eighteen yards he drilled the ball low past Chinnapong and inside the far post. It was a fine finish.

The second half opened with CMFC probing for an equalizer; the game was being played in the Kanchanaburi half and the minutes around the hour would prove decisive.

In the 57th minute CMFC won a penalty after a push and trip on Stenio. This was a bit strange as the referee did not initially appear to signal a penalty. Maybe he was not the only one having trouble seeing the pitch markings.

After the usual penalty gamesmanship Stenio took the kick himself. Chinnapong guessed correctly getting a hand to the shot low to his right and pushing it onto the post. The goalkeeper doing even better to get up and block the follow up from Amornthep running onto the rebound.

The penalty miss proved costly. Five minutes later Kanchanaburi added a third. Sarawut’s giveaway to Batista on the half way line allowed the striker to advance on the penalty area; looking up for support he found Jardel with an immaculately measured chip to the far side beyond Piyachanok; Jardel cushioned the ball off his chest and gleefully thumped it left-footed beyond Fahas.

In his first season in Thai football Batista may well be the find of the season; his close control on a difficult pitch was notable as was his ability to create and move into space. He and Jardel have a good understanding and best of all look to be having fun.

There was still time for Fahas to smartly leave his line to block Pongpat and to save a Jardel header from a free kick.

Perhaps the game was best summed up in the fifth minute of injury time. Despite leading 3-1 Kanchanaburi broke down the left side and Batista covered eighty yards from his penalty area to the CMFC six yard line; his shot cleared the crossbar; but it said so much about his team’s desire and commitment and in this league that can take you a very long way. 

So was this just a bad day at the office for CMFC or are there bigger problems. With just four games to go until the mid-season break it may be that the coach and owner are now lining up their plans for the transfer window.

The fifth playing of the Chiang Mai derby is next Friday and is always an occasion. Perhaps that game was on the mind of the team at Kanchanaburi. But promotion will come from eking out results at places like Kanchanaburi, Ayutthaya and Chainat.