Thai League 2
2 February 2024
Chiang Mai FC 3 Rayong United 2
Chiang Mai FC
This always had the potential to be a good contest and so it proved especially in the second half.
The different defensive approaches were notable. Chiang Mai employing four centre halfs across the back line with Nukoolkit at right back and Sarawut in a more familiar role at left back
Rayong kept to a back three of Naphat, Suwat and Katano. The catch with a back three against the pace of Stenio and Chitchanok is that there is little, if any, cover when a defender is beaten.
And so it proved in the fifth minute. Naphat, dithering on the right touchline was dispossessed by Stenio who had a clear diagonal run into the penalty area. Moving at pace he simply shrugged off Suwat’s tame challenge and eased the ball passed the advancing Noppakun. Another top goal for the Stenio highlights reel.
Ryoma Ito’s sixty yard run down the left side into the CMFC penalty area ended under the combined challenge of Piyachanok and Chappuis. Rayong’s appeals were muted.
Minutes later Jakkapan’s deep corner was headed down by Sarawut for Akarawin, close to the penalty spot. One touch set up a left foot shot that was inches wide.
Yodrak’s strong tackle on Chitchanok released Ito for another run down the left wing – holding off Chappuis’ challenge his right foot shot from the edge of the area was awkward for Fahas diving low to his right; the goalkeeper recovering well to pounce on the ball in front of Galhardo.
CMFC had the last chance of the first half when Rayong were again caught short at the back. A slip by Suwat allowed Akarawin to run onto Alef’s long clearance. Stenio accelerated into the penalty area but Akarawin could not move the ball beyond Katano, the last defender.
The second half opened with Ito and Yodrak combining on the left; Yodrak’s shot hit Nukoolkit and deflected for a corner with Ito, Yodrak and Galhardo all claiming handball. The old cliché applies – I have seen those given. And some of that frustration likely went into the pointed fingers and shoving before Galhardo could take the corner.
Rayong were having a good spell and their opening goal on the hour was a pleasure to watch unless you are Fahas in goal. A Katano pass for Ito, two touches to pass the ball to Yodrak on the left; his cross to the edge of the penalty area was helped on by Chulapa for Galhardo to volley (not entirely cleanly) underneath Fahas. Fahas will know that he could have done better.
Galhardo, when he was not trying to referee the game, was a pleasure to watch.
Another claim for handball this time by Sarawut was again waived away by the referee with Galhardo again unimpressed. He was lucky to escape without a booking for a poor trip on Im ChangKyoon.
A flat Galhardo free kick to the near post was met by Ito heading narrowly wide.
Ito and the substitute Lwin Moe Aung combined down the right side and Lwin’s cross to the edge of the penalty area found Chulapa in too much space with time to set up the shot; which, rather mishit, went between the hands and legs of Fahas.
Fahas has done so much that is good this season that he is allowed an error – and given how Rayong were playing at this stage a second goal did seem likely.
Suchanon immediately replaced Chitchanok. An inspired substitution.
Though before the Suchanon show Galhardo still had time to drive a 25 yard free kick inches wide.
Chiang Mai’s second goal came from a catalogue of defensive errors. Pressure down the left from Stenio and Sarawut; Wasusiwakit with time to clear the ball lobbed it up in the air; from eighteen yards Im ChangKyoon’s volley was well hit but was still catching practice for Noppakun who contrived to spill the ball; Suwat should still have cleared the ball but his clearance was straight at Akarawin’s back and fell for Suchanon twelve yards from goal to fire home.
Five minutes later, Jakkapan’s chipped cross from the right side found Stenio at the back post; his header was blocked at close range by Noppakun but Suchanon, with a predator’s instincts, was in the six yard area to belt home the rebound.
Suchanon and CMFC had turned the game around. Sarawut, Chappuis and Im all picked up late bookings as CMFC played out time.
A very entertaining game played in good spirits with Suchanon making all the difference in the final twenty minutes.
Chiang Mai now travel to the south of Thailand for back to back away games at Krabi and Nakhon Si United.