(2021/22) Samut Prakan v Nakhon Ratchisima
Can Samut Prakan build up some momentum following last Sunday's amazing result?
(Last season's home match against Nakhon Ratchisima was memorable for one of our resident pooches deciding to take a stroll across the pitch in the second half)
Let's begin with a look at the bottom of the table and who plays who this weekend
All teams have played 23 games (7 games remaining)
12th - Nakhon Ratchisima - 27 points
13th - Suphanburi - 25 points
14th - PT Prachuap - 24 points
15th - Samut Prakan - 21 points
16th - Chiang Mai United - 13 points
Obviously Samut Prakan at home to Nakhon Ratchisima is huge. Elsewhere, PT Prachuap host the woefully out-of-form Port FC and with home advantage, will fancy their chances of picking up at least a point. Suphanburi are at home to the very much in-form Nongbua Pichaya, who have lost just one of their last eight games and have climbed up to 7th in the table. And for what it's worth, Chiang Mai United play Chonburi.
How are Nakhon Ratchisima doing this season?
If you had offered The Swatcats a top half finish at the start of the campaign, they'd have surely taken it. Alas, things haven't gone quite that well and they currently lie in 12th place and a fair way from being 'absolutely safe'. As far as current form goes, they have taken just one point from their last five games and that poor run of results has also included defeats to fellow strugglers PT Prachuap and Suphanburi. In all honesty, there couldn't be a better time to play them.
(Fans are rocking those second and third strips)
You're confident of a home win then?
We have to be. But the fans are going to need to get behind the team like they did at Port FC last Sunday.
What's Samut Prakan's home record like against The Swatcats?
The two clubs have met twice in the league at the SAT Stadium. In October 2020, Barros Tardelli scored his first goal for the club in a 2-2 draw (despite Samut Prakan being two-nil up within half an hour) and in Samut Prakan's first season in 2019, the two clubs locked horns on a balmy May evening and it ended in a 2-0 home win.
(There's every chance our star man could be back before the end of the season. What a boost that would be!)
What's the current mood like on the Samut Prakan fan sites?
It's amazing what a win and three points can do for morale. The mood has swung from one of quietly accepting our relegation fate to one of genuine optimism. Predictably, the most common question has been 'how many points do we realistically need from our remaining seven matches?' Some of the more optimistic fans reckon that ten points will be enough. I would say we need 12 as an absolute minimum.
Let's get to the match itself
Walking to the stadium, I was struck by how visiting Nakhon Ratchisima fans in their bright orange shirts seemed to outnumber the home supporters, and indeed it turned out to be a disappointing attendance of less than 700. OK, I wasn't expecting Samut Prakan fans to turn up in droves just because we had won a game at Port FC the previous week, but nevertheless, 673 was a poor turn out.
Manager Yoshida once again left Japanese midfielder Daisuke Sakai on the bench but it was good to see Noppon Phonkham in the starting eleven after his MOM performance at Port. He's looking like a man reborn and was certainly one of Samut Prakan's shining lights this evening.
A dull first half only came to life in the dying seconds when Samut Prakan left back Kittipong Sansanit wrestles Amadou to the floor and the referee has no hesitation pointing to the spot. After the obligatory VAR check, Karikari is left with the job of giving The Swatcats a priceless interval lead and the Ghanaian forward makes no mistake.
Up to that point the best opportunity for an opening goal came courtesy of a rare and bizarre fumble by Samut Prakan's Pathiwat as the normally reliable keeper let a tame Amadou strike bounce off his chest on to the crossbar.
For the home side it was an all too familiar story of running out of ideas in the final third, not being able to get Samuel Rosa into the game enough, and home fans left wondering where on earth a goal was coming from. Unfortunately we now needed at least two of them!
Half-time: Samut Prakan 0 Nakhon Ratchisima 1
Samut Prakan's second half showing was better - but only marginally. Desperate to get back into the contest, Captain Chayawat swivels on the edge of the box and blasts a half chance over the bar while Suphanan Bureerat joins the attack and sends a long range shot fizzing past the post.
With 20 minutes remaining, Setthawut comes on in a straight midfield swap for Yuto Ono and the Chonburi loan man doesn't take long to make his mark, holding the ball up in the Nakhon Ratchisima penalty area and leaving Captain Chayawat to provide a cool finish and the Samut Prakan equaliser. Thirteen minutes remaining and we've got a game on!
Samut Prakan sense all three points are there for the taking and when the referee awards a penalty after Suphanan appears to be chopped down in full flight, his team-mates go into what proves to be premature celebration mode. After a lengthy consultation with VAR, Samut Prakan's number four is deemed to have gone down too easily from minimal contact and the spot kick is chalked off.
Full time: Samut Prakan 1 Nakhon Ratchisima 1
Although we battled back well tonight, a point just wasn't enough: we needed all three. The way the Samut Prakan players slumped to the ground upon the final whistle told its own story.
The gap between relegation and safety has increased to five points and the remaining games are running out. This Wednesday in a rearranged fixture, we take on one of the premier league's top sides at home while none of our relegation rivals are in action. They can just sit things out and watch any drama unfold on TV.
Wednesday's match was never a remaining game that I was targeting for three points - but now we desperately need them. All we can do is live in hope.
(Jon, how the bloody hell would I know where the Uthai Thani and Phrae stadiums are? Photo: Go2 Photo Stock)
Other weekend results and updated table
Bottom club Chiang Mai started things off on Friday night with a 1-1 home draw against Chonburi.
On Saturday, PT Prachuap did their survival hopes the power of good with a 1-0 win at home to an extremely mediocre Port FC and in a match that kicked off at the same time as Samut Prakan's, the impressive Nongbua Pichaya stormed to a 3-1 win at Suphanburi.
All teams have now played 24 games (six games remaining)
12th - Nakhon Ratchisima - 28 points
13th - PT Prachuap - 27 points
14th - Suphanburi - 25 points
15th - Samut Prakan - 22 points
16th - Chiang Mai United - 14 points
Who's up next?
A mid-week home fixture against high-flying BG Pathum on Wednesday 9th March.
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