Swatcats take all three points with a controversial winner

Match report
Thai League 2|
Sunday 18 February 2024

Chiang Mai FC 1 Nakhon Ratchasima Mazda 2

Im Changkyoon

This was an enthralling contest – marred by questionable officiating and incidents at the end of the game that could result in a fine and suspensions for CMFC.

CMFC head coach Patipat Rorbru ran onto the pitch at the final whistle – heading directly for the linesman from the far side of the pitch, confronting and grabbing at the alarmed looking official.

Alef Santos, who had already been sent off and should have been nowhere near the pitch joined in the harassment of the officials.

The reason for their anger; a 92nd minute winning goal from Deyvison.

The Swatcats had been awarded a freekick just inside the Chiang Mai half. Alef, who had already been booked, was determined to delay the free kick and took it on himself to pick up the ball and run with it towards his goal.

Nattapong, the Swatcats captain, wanted to get on with the free kick and tried to rip the ball away from Alef. Alef reacted to Nattapong and the two players angrily squared off.

The referee allowed time for tempers to cool, gave Alef his second booking, and therefore a sending off, and a yellow card for Nattapong. Sensible refereeing.

But the sending off left CMFC defending without their big Brazilian centre half. Akarawin was left to mark Deyvison. The free kick was chipped into the penalty area; Devyison stole a yard on Akarawin who could not cut out the free kick. Hands were raised for offside. Deyvison steadied himself and volleyed past Fahas.

There was still time for Sarawut to earn a second yellow card for an ugly, angry hack at Phiraphat. That could easily have been a straight red.

At the final whistle the officials were eventually escorted from the pitch by security and police.

The same officials that had in the 55th minute granted a massive reprieve to Fahas, for a fine one handed diving save; fine except that he was outside his penalty area and the CMFC goalkeeper should probably have been shown a straight red card.

CMFC started with the same line-up as last week at Nakhon Si Thammarat.

The best early chances fell to CMFC as the Swatcats struggled to adapt to the hard, bouncy pitch.

Chitchanok’s header from a cross on the far side bounced off Thanachai in the Swatcats goal who had come to collect a cross that he was never going to reach.

A Jakkapan free kick from 25 yards cannoned off the wall; Jakkapan’s shot from the rebound taking a deflection and needing a good sprawling save from Thanachai.

The Swatcats were denied an opening goal in the 21st minute. Houla’s low cross from the right was turned in from close range by Aung Kaung Mann at the far post. He was offside.

The players and the Swatcats bench should be embarrassed by what followed as three players surrounded the linesman, who was shoved by Aung, while the bench harangued the fourth official. Aung received a yellow card.

Five minutes later a 25 yard Deyvison free kick is arced towards the top left corner of Fahas’ goal – the keeper adjusted his feet and launch into a flying dive to claw the ball away.

On the half hour CMFC took the lead. Jakkapan’s free kick from left midfield was hit low and firmly towards the six yard line. It should have been a straightforward low catch for Thanachai; whether he lost sight of the ball or had a bout of massive uncertainty, the keeper tried to clear the ball with his left foot. The ball ran to the edge of the penalty area; Alef got his shot away; mishit it was heading wide of the left upright until Sarawut smartly turned the ball in from a couple of yards.

Sarawut looked offside. The linesman – who was to have a controversial evening – did not raise his flag.

This was a good spell for the home team with chances for Chitchanok, Jakkapan and Suchanon.

The second half started with Chappuis releasing Suchanon inside the Swatcats penalty area; Suchanon’s shot was straight at the keeper; Alef was then booked for holding Deyvison as he turned.

For the Swatcats Nattawut’s free kick from the angle of the penalty area curled narrowly over the far upright.

Ten minutes into the second half Fahas ran beyond his penalty area to try and clear – his kick had no distance and fell for Melvyn to shoot. Fahas was still not back in his penalty area as he dived high and wide to make the save and while his momentum took him back into the area his contact with the ball was almost certainly outside the area. Play on said the officials saving Fahas from a red card dismissal.

The Swatcats equalizer came in the 79th minute; on the edge of the penalty area Somkaet was able to turn between Tawan and Piyachanok. Fahas narrowed the angle and Somkaet pulled his shot off target; it ran instead for Houla to turn in at the far post in a near replica of Chiang Mai’s earlier goal.

With Fahas out of his goal Houla running in behind Sarawut at the back post also looked offside. The same combination of officials allowed the goal to stand.

With three minutes of regulation play remaining Jakkapan’s cross from the right was met by Tawan’s massive leap; heading the ball down but the wrong side of the far post.

Two minutes into the four minutes of injury time the Swatcats are given a free kick just inside the Chiang Mai half in front of the East stand. Alef sees red; Deyvison scores amid more claims of offside. I have not seen a definitive camera angle – but given the other incidents involving the same linesman he must have been scared of making any decision.

The Swatcats celebrations were excessive – a near coach load of players and officials pouring onto the pitch and provoking the home fans in the W2 stand.

Then the depressing scenes at the end.

As I said above – it was an enthralling game full of incident – marred by some incompetent officiating and some dismal behaviour from certain players and club officials – on both sides.

There will be repercussions. But they need to be more than a token fine and slap on the wrist.