Taming the wild rabbits

Match report
Thai League 2
Sunday 7 April 2024

Chanthaburi FC 1 Chiang Mai FC 1


Saharat Posri

The Wild Rabbits of Chanthaburi will be disappointed not to have taken all three points from Chiang Mai on Sunday night.

Chiang Mai made eight changes to the starting eleven from the home game against Ayutthaya the previous weekend – replacing players who were rested or who presumably chose not to travel given continuing payment issues.

Notable in the absentee list were Chitchanok (still suspended), Chappuis, Alef, Stenio, Fahas, Jakkapan, Sarawin and Nukoolkit.

We did welcome back Yoo ByungSoo and Im ChangKyoon who were named among the substitutes – it was Yoo’s first appearance in the matchday squad since 28 January and he would get an encouraging second half workout of about thirty minutes.

For the players that did make the long overnight coach rides to this remote and rather enjoyable corner of Thailand it was an opportunity to show their worth and to stake claims for play-off appearances next month.

The problem for the wild rabbits is how tame they appeared in front of goal. Their two foreign forwards were creative and always threatening but do not score enough goals. Maranon, at centre forward, has four in thirty appearances this season and Patrick Mota, on the left wing, just one goal in twenty-nine appearances.

With more clinical finishing Chanthaburi would have won this game with ease. Instead they were thwarted by the presence of Piyachanok, the tenacity of Posri and the bravery of Itthipon.

In the first minute Maranon’s inviting cross from the left was headed over by Charin,

A minute later Maranon, with lovely close control, slalomed through the Chiang Mai defense. Itthipon stood firm and saved a tame shot with his left foot before his head collided with Piyachanok’s not insubstantial leg.

Itthipon needed lengthy treatment before he could continue; he was soon back in action to push away Mota’s low cross.

Maranon shot straight at Itthipon from twenty yards. Then Mota’s cross was only headed out as far as Nattawut in space at the corner of the penalty area; his shot had power but was directly and painfully into the head of Thammayut.

In the last minute of the first half and with their only attack of the half, Chiang Mai took the lead.

Samroeng robbed Mota on the right touchline; the ball broke for Suchanon to turn his defender, look up and cross to the far post where Amornthep had run into space to head past Prasit in goal. It was Amornthep’s first league goal of the season and his third goal for CMFC.

The second half started much like the first. Another mazy run from Maranon beat (maybe) eight defenders before he rolled the ball to Itthipon from eight yards.

Five minutes into the half,  Tewa’s powerful thirty yard shot cannoned off the cross bar bouncing in front of goal where Maranon was able to chest the ball across the line. Offside flagged the linesman. Maranon was clearly played onside by Piyachanok but that is when you know that your luck is out.

Itthipon then took off to his left to save Maranon’s curling free kick and did even better to turn the same player’s low twenty-five drive around his right post.

But the pressure had to tell at some point. Nattachai Srisuwan (ex CMFC) rising in a crowded six yard box to head home an inswinging corner for an 80th minute equalizer.

Ten minutes of injury time did not provide a winner for either side as players started to wilt in the heat and humidity.

With just two games to go the playoff places are still unconfirmed with Rayong, Nakhon Si United and Chiang Mai still firm favourites for three of the four places. A picture that will become much clearer after the fixtures on 20/21 April.

CMFC are at home to Chainat Hornbill at 5.30pm on Sunday 21 April. The last home game of the regular league season.