Diary of a Thai football season

2022/23 Samut Prakan v Ayutthaya United

Our second of three games in a busy week as we welcome Ayutthaya United to Bang Plee


(The eleven players who started the last game at Chainat and grabbed Samut Prakan what could be a priceless point. Photo: Bonus Cam)

Seven games to go. Let's take a look at the division two table before this round of midweek matches.

I always think that when you're in a relegation scrap, it's better to have points on the board than games in hand, and I guess that's the fortunate position Samut Prakan are in at the moment. 

Last weekend, while Samut Prakan came away from Chainat with a draw, Kasetsart FC were beaten 3-1 at home by Uthai Thani, but Krabi grabbed a surprise 1-1 draw at second place Nakhonsi United. 

With Rajpracha scoring a last gasp winner at home to bottom club Udon Thani (and climbing above Samut Prakan in the table), it's now the two clubs directly below us - Krabi and Kasetsart - that we probably need to focus on most of all. Obviously, Kasetsart now look the favourites to fill the third relegation slot but that can all change very quickly.

So apart from Samut Prakan at home to Ayutthaya United, what games are we keeping our eye on tonight?

I'm glad you asked because it had to happen didn't it? - Krabi are at home to Kasetsart. Are we perhaps hoping for a draw and a point apiece - or would a home win be even better?

Elsewhere, Rajpracha face a tough trip to promotion-chasing Uthai Thani, while Chainat Hornbill will really fancy their chances of three points at the virtually doomed Udon Thani. It's getting very tense and exciting this isn't it?

What was the score in the reverse fixture?

Samut Prakan and Ayutthaya United met in early November at Ayutthaya's Provincial Stadium with the home side winning 2-1 in what was a very even contest. I'll always remember it though as the first Thai football match where I've experienced 'trouble' between the two sets of supporters. We welcome the Ayutthaya fans to Bang Plee this evening...but make sure you behave yourselves lads! 

Confident of three points?

With the way our home form has been over the last five games (one draw and four defeats)? Not a chance!

What's Ayutthaya's away record like?

Not bad at all. In their 13 away fixtures this season, they've won six and lost six, with a just the one draw. 

I never find much to fill up home game blogs with so let's take a slight diversion and look at the 12 teams who will be contesting the T3 play offs...and where we could be travelling to next season?

The T3 season reaches its climax this weekend but with the 12 play off contenders pretty much decided already. 

There are six regional leagues with the top two sides qualifying from each.

Bangkok Perimeter - this is the only one of the six leagues that will go right to the wire. North Bangkok University and Bangkok FC are in the box seats with 52 points apiece, while Samut Sakhon are lying in third place on 50 points. Samut Sakhon should beat Thonburi United at home in their final game but need to hope either of the top two slip up in their respective away games. Unfortunately for Samut Sakhon, both of those away games look very winnable so they might just miss out this season. 

East - Pattaya Dolphins and Chantaburi FC have both qualified with room to spare. In terms of play off hopes, Chantaburi will probably just make up the numbers but Pattaya will be hoping to go one step further than they did last season and gain promotion to the second tier. Several Pattaya fans have told me the team isn't good enough but let's wait and see.

North - Phitsanaloke and Uttaradit Saksiam are comfortable qualifiers from the north section. Phitsanaloke were beaten play off semi finalists last season but could they go all the way this time around? Many think they could. 

North East - Mahasarakam Sambaitao have qualified as champions and Sisaket United as runner-up. 

South - Songkhla FC have won their regional league at an absolute canter, losing just one game all season, and they are rightly one of the favourites to get to the second division. Having experienced the set up and home support down at Songkhla myself, they would make a wonderful addition to the second tier. MH Nakhonsi City will qualify as runners up and treat their fans to another five games at least.

West - It's a bit of a mouthful but Dragon Pathumwan Kanchanaburi FC have easily qualified as champions while Samut Songkram FC are the runners-up. 

Remind us how the 12-team play-offs work? 

You'll need to pay attention here.

The 12 teams are divided into two groups of six - roughly northern Thailand and southern Thailand for sake of argument. The teams then play every other club in their respective groups once, so a total of five matches for each club. The winners of 'Thailand South' and 'Thailand North' are automatically promoted to T2. The two teams who finish runners-up play off in a two-legged 'final' to decide who will be the third team to be promoted. It's all wonderfully convoluted and just so Thai.

I am of course assuming all this based on last season's play-off structure, when Uthai Thani and Krabi FC qualified automatically as group winners, and Nakhonsi United beat Phitsanaloke in the third place matches.  

Who would you like to see come up?

Despite the distance, I love a trip to Songkhla (one of my favourite places in Thailand). Samut Prakan v Pattaya Dolphins could be very tasty given the history, and who doesn't love a weekend in Patters? The third team I'll take as it comes but from a travel point of view, Uttaradit, Mahasarakam or Phitsanaloke could be interesting. However, all this is speculation based on Samut Prakan surviving in T2 and we ain't there yet!     

To the match itself

With obviously an eye on the team having to play three times in eight days, the manager rang the changes for this one and recent star performers Shoji, Panudech and Makan Diawara all had to be content with a place on the bench. On a surprisingly cool and breezy evening, the two teams were greeted by yet another pitifully low attendance down at Bang Plee.

Although the first half was a semi-decent watch, the crowd had to wait until the 22nd minute for the first attempt on goal from either side, but Phanthamit's weak shot was never going to trouble the Ayutthaya keeper. Several minutes later, the best chance of the half falls to Prakan utility man Sampan Kesi, who latches instinctively on to a rebound but sees his effort strike the underside of the crossbar. 

A couple of misdirected headers is as close as the visitors come to scoring as Samut Prakan unquestionably exert a tighter grip on the contest; however, we go into the break with the deadlock unbroken

Half-time: Samut Prakan 0 Ayutthaya United 0 

(The Ayutthaya fans turned up with bags of 'roti sai mai' as gifts for the home supporters. What an amazing gesture!)

A number of Samut Prakan players had an excellent game tonight, none more so than Ratchata Moraksa, proudly wearing the captain's armband. It's his sublime cross-field ball to the right wing that allows Karn to feed Sho Shojima with the Japanese midfielder sidefooting home from the edge of the box for a superb 4th league goal of the season. Samut Prakan one-nil up with 25 minutes to play.

Ayutthaya go straight on the offensive and test Thatpicha in the Samut Prakan goal, but he's equal to the task. That is until he allows Simon Dia, a second half substitute and recent arrival from Kasetsart., to outjump him from an inswinging corner, and the French striker nods the visitors level.

In a frenetic final quarter of an hour, Yodsakorn squanders a chance to grab all three points for the home side, Ayutthaya's Danison tries out his boxing skills on an opponent and with the crowd baying for blood, is mighty fortunate to escape with just a yellow card, and Sho Shimoji takes one for the team and is sent off for shirt-pulling and a second booking. But there are no further additions to the scoreline.

Final score: Samut Prakan 1 Ayutthaya United 1

Watch the match highlights

Overall thoughts?

Definitely one of our better home performances in recent months. With results elsewhere generally going in our favour, tonight felt like a point gained rather than two points dropped.We lacked penetration in the final third (what's new?) but truth is, we made a promotion-chasing team look very ordinary. And it wasn't our strongest starting eleven either.  

(Always great to see a new foreign face at the stadium. Peter from Slovakia certainly seemed to enjoy his first experience of T2 football. Here we are celebrating the Samut Prakan goal)

Who's up next?

We're away to Rajpracha this Saturday 18th March. It's another big one!

Going?

Unfortunately not (and you don't hear me say that very often). My brother and his wife are here on holiday and Saturday will be my last chance to spend some time with them before they fly back to England on Monday. But rest assured I'll be checking the score regularly on my phone...probably once every 30 seconds or so.  


Samut Prakan City fixtures and results 2022-23




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