Going through the motions

Match report
Thai League 2
Saturday 27 April 2024

Kasetsart FC 1 Chiang Mai FC 1


Im ChangKyoon
Yoo ByungSoo

Chiang Mai FC will play NakhonSi United in the first round of the T2 playoffs; fourth against fifth; equal on total points; equal on head to head points and separated on head to head goal difference by a single goal.

Rayong finished third thanks to a 90th minute equalizer at Lampang from Thiago Chulapa and they will play Ayutthaya in the other semifinal.

At the time of writing the match dates and kick off times have still to be announced; the first games will be played over the weekend of May 4/5.

Yoo ByungSoo was given his first start since 17 December; and made an early impact opening the scoring in the 24th minute; a long overdue, and very welcome, tenth goal of the season.

It was another broiling night for football. A 6pm start made little sense with the sun still beating down on players and supporters.

Kasetsart may already have been relegated but they played the game with pride and plenty of effort.

The first chance fell to the visitors as Chitchanok beat two defenders on the right side before belting the ball from the narrowest of angles into the side netting with Yoo in space at the far post.

Kasetart responded in the 5th minute when Sarayut dispossessed Nukoolkit and ran at the penalty area. A little indecisive, a touch to many, and Nattayot was across to cover.

Tishan Hanley has the distinction of being Thailand’s only player from the idyllic islands of St Kitts and Nevis in the West Indies.

He picked up an 18th minute booking for a challenge on Itthipon; the ball had run loose in the Chiang Mai penalty area after a series of deflections and finally a block by Alef. There was nothing malicious in the challenge but Itthipon was both brave and hurt.

24 minutes gone. Yoo spreads the ball wide right for Suchanon. On a fast pitch Suchanon does well to keep the ball in play; he turns and looks up before measuring his cross with enough loft to clear Anon; Yoo Byung Soo has made his run into the penalty area and leaps salmon-like to guide his header past Thirawooth.

Kasetsart’s equalizer came with the last kick of the first half as Hanley beat Alef to a ball chipped over the defensive line; the defender collapsing and optimistically claiming a foul. Hanley took the ball into the penalty area and from twelve yards shot with power past Itthipon and inside the far post.

The second half opened with Thirawooth making a comfortable save from Suchanon’s header.

Itthipon made the save of the match high to his left from Sarayut’s well struck shot as Kasetart broke forward with pace down the right side.

Chiang Mai’s response saw Im ChangKyoon lift a ball into the penalty area anticipating the run of Yoo Byung Soo. Yoo was first to the ball in front of Park HyunWoo and the onrushing goalkeeper; the ball going narrowly wide.

Aee Soe, on as substitute, shot wide of Itthipon’s left post. In injury time Hanley chased down a long ball forward and dragged his pass back from the goalline for Sittirak whose close range shot was saved by Itthipon’s smart left foot save.

The final whistle blew – Kasetsart’s players collapsed exhausted to the ground, their long season over.

Unexpectedly, after many games absence, Chiang Mai’s owner attended the final game. Have  players and staff been paid? More promises made?

Sources suggest that CMFC has indeed applied for a license to play in T1 (or T2) next season. Financial statements have been submitted; they must make interesting reading. If in T1 then the club would play at the 700th anniversary stadium.

For now the focus is on the playoffs and another long, long trip  to Nakhon Si Thammarat.