Diary of a Thai football season

(2021/22) Samut Prakan v Khon Kaen United

Let's face it - this is the biggest, most important match in Samut Prakan City's short history

(Khon Kaen and Samut Prakan have met only once so far in the Premier League)

The odds are still against us but this is how things stood before the game...

-  Samut Prakan have to win both of their remaining two games. Nothing less than two wins will do.

-  Apart from winning our last two matches, we need PT Prachuap to lose their final game - a tough trip to Muangthong United on Wednesday (the last day of the season). 

-  We also need Suphanburi to lose one of their last two remaining games - either the away trip to Bangkok United on Sunday (tough) or the home game against Buriram on Wednesday (very tough).  

Here's how the bottom of the table looked (with both Samut Prakan and Suphanburi still the favourites to go down with Chiang Mai United)

13th - PT Prachuap - 31 points / played 29 

14th - Suphanburi - 27 points / played 28

15th - Samut Prakan - 25 points / played 28 

16th - Chiang Mai United - 16 points / played 28 - RELEGATED

The biggest, most important game in Samut Prakan City's short history?

Oh, without a doubt. But if we win, the final day's match with Chiang Rai on Wednesday becomes even bigger. I'm still scratching my head as to how a game of such magnitude could be played on a Wednesday night at 6.00 pm but that's the Thai FA for you. 

The two clubs have met only once in the TPL?

Yes, because Khon Kaen United were only promoted to the TPL last season. The two clubs locked horns back in November and it was the day Samut Prakan fans learned that their much-loved manager Ishii would be leaving to take over at Buriram. Then we went out and lost the game against Khon Kaen 1-0 with ex-Samut Prakan legend Ibson Melo netting the winner. But it was a decent football weekend and Khon Kaen is well worth a visit.

(A very nice lady sometimes brings us home-made sticky rice and coconut before the game)

How are Khon Kaen United doing in their first season back in the big time?

They currently sit in 8th position and have probably done a lot better than many fans expected. Head coach Carlos Perreira has to take much of the credit; he's done a fine job up there. 

The player to watch is of course the great Ibson Melo, who scores goals wherever he goes. With 16 league goals to his name for The King Cobras, he's already having his most prolific season in Thai football. Wouldn't that be ironic if he was the man to send us down? We can only hope he leaves his shooting boots in the changing room.    

Stadium capacity and all that stuff

Capacity has been increased to 75% (not that we'll see anywhere near that number) and following on from last weekend, I'm guessing fans will be allowed to bring in their drums, flags and megaphones. That will probably mean an obstructed view from what have become our regular seats in N zone so we might have to shift down a few blocks.  

Let's get to the match itself. Team line-up?

Coach Yoshida went for a 4-4-2 formation with probably defender Chaiyawat Buran the only surprise omission. There was no place in the starting eleven for the on-loan Kevin Ingreso either, but great to see Jaroensak and Noppon Phonkam both handed starts in midfield.

(Twenty minutes to kick off. Where is everybody?)

First half?

Nothing settles the nerves quite like an early goal and the Sea Fang get off to the perfect start after just three minutes. Samut Prakan fans are finally getting to see what Samuel Rosa is all about and he provides a sublime assist for the opening goal, latching on to a long ball into the penalty area and playing a cheeky backheel into the path of Captain Chayawat who calmly sidefoots the ball into an open net.

As the half wore on, the home side had several chances to put the game out of sight. Suphanan Bureerat saw his long range effort well saved by Teangdar and Daisuke Sakai should have done better with just the keeper to beat but lacked the composure and strength to shrug off the backtracking Khon Kaen defender and find the target. 

Khon Kaen's peroxide blonde striker Romulo blasts wide on the half hour, a rare goal attempt in what was a tepid first half performance by The King Cobras.  

Half time: Samut Prakan 2 Khon Kaen United 1

Second half?

A deflected shot from Khon Kaen's Thai U-23 international Jakkit Palapon goes spinning just over the crossbar as the visitors look to claw their way back into the contest; however it's Samuel Rosa on 49 minutes who scores Samut Prakan's decisive second. Daisuke Sakai plays a glorious defence-splitting pass and Rosa is there to run on and supply the finish - the finish of a man growing in confidence and discovering his mojo at just the right time. At he other end, his Brazilian counterpart Ibson Melo, who would dearly love to get on the scoresheet against his old club, is thwarted by Pathiwat's outstretched right leg.

Jaroensak takes over from Yuto Ono as Samut Prakan's dead ball specialist and in a spell of attacking pressure midway through the second half, the Samut Prakan number 11 strikes a direct free kick just wide of the upright. Another Jaroensak free kick, this time just floated into the danger zone, is only half cleared by the Khon Kaen defence and Samuel Rosa's overhead kick is tipped onto the post with Aris Jarifovic coming agonizingly close to poking in the rebound.

As we enter injury time, Ibson Melo's consolation goal gives the home fans a few jitters and heart flutters, but there isn't enough time for Khon Kaen to mount another serious attack and put the result in any danger. It's another three points for Samut Prakan! 

Full-time: Samut Prakan 2 Khon Kaen United 1   

Watch the match highlights 

(Tun had a good night with the promotion prizes. I needed some cooking oil as well)

Overall thoughts?

Let's face it, when you are battling for survival and need maximum points, Khon Kaen United are the ideal opponents, a mid-table side with nothing really to play for. There was no way they were going to show the same level of passion and committment as Samut Prakan...and they didn't. It was only our sixth win of a long and arduous season but it was arguably our most straightforward. But that's not taking anything away from the players because Samut Prakan were exceptional to a man this evening. We dominated the game from start to finish and once again we saw how Jaroensak lifts the whole team when he's fit and back in the starting eleven.

I can't believe that we have taken premier league survival down to the final match on the final day...but that's where we're at. It's time to start biting those fingernails. 

A final word on the attendance this evening - just 789. Quite honestly, I expected double that. If you can't get fans through the turnstiles for a match of this importance, what hope have you got? If the owner was looking around at the swaths of empty seats and wondering if he has the heart to continue, I probably wouldn't blame him. In fact, the club have just announced that all seats for the last game of the season will be sold at half price. Now that's a smart move.   

Anyway, here is the updated foot of the table. Suphanburi play away this evening at high-flying Bangkok United. A defeat will see them relegated whilst a draw keeps their hopes alive thanks to a better head-to-head record against PT Prachuap. 

13th - PT Prachuap - 31 points / played 29 

14th - Samut Prakan - 28 points / played 29

15th - Suphanburi - 27 points / played 28 

16th - Chiang Mai United - 19 points / played 29 - RELEGATED

Who's up next?

The last match of the season as we take on Chiang Rai in a must win game at home this Wednesday 4th May.

Samut Prakan City fixtures and results 2021/22


Bit shocked at the attendance.
What are the reasons? Other clubs as poorly supported?
Expensive? Covid? Apathy?
Thais will pay 5000bht to watch a friendly between two foreign teams so it's not like there is a lack of interest in the beautiful game.

By Colin James, Turkey (2nd May 2022)

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