2022/23 Samut Prakan v Chiang Mai FC
With just two games to go, Samut Prakan are almost over the line.
(The T2 table after Saturday's games)
Here we go then, the last two games of what's felt like a very long season. Are Samut Prakan safe yet?
Not quite. We are still focused on 16th place Kasetsart FC, who are now six points below us. Kasetsart need to win their last two games of the season - a tough trip to Suphanburi and a home game against Ayutthaya United - and still hope Samut Prakan lose both of their games, in order to survive. I know whose position I would rather be in. I just can't see Kasetsart getting a win at Suphanburi, who are one of five clubs that can still gain automatic promotion.
Technically Rajpracha are not safe yet, but they are also in the same position as Samut Prakan, needing just a point from their remaining two fixtures to guarantee second division football next season.
Are today's opponents Chiang Mai FC in decent form?
After a run of five successive defeats in February and March, in which they managed to score just one goal, they've started to find their shooting boots. In their last two home games, they hammered Rajpracha 4-1 and Udon Thani 6-0. However, this is a team that doesn't travel well and Chiang Mai FC have taken just one point from their last 7 away trips (five of the six defeats have been to a 1-0 scoreline)
(Hello again Rob. This game will be another chance to meet up with my good pal and staunch Chiang Mai FC supporter)
The view from the opposition
This is what Rob had to say in the match preview for his English language Chiang Mai FC fanzine.
"When Samut Prakan came to the 700th Anniversary Stadium in early February 2023 to play the other Chiang Mai team they looked to be in serious trouble. Instead, and to the shock of their small number of traveling supporters, they played their hearts out and beat CMU 2-1. Since that day Samut Prakan have never really looked like a relegation team and Chiang Mai United have never looked like a promotion team.
In their following ten games Samut Prakan have beaten NakhonSi United and Ranong, lost by the odd goal in seven to Trat and somehow lost to Udon Thani. They were well beaten 0-4 at Rayong but have drawn their other five games. Enough to ensure another season of T2 football but hardly enough to justify their ambitious “We will Rise Again” banners. At least they were wise enough not to say when.
The club remains under the management of Chonburi FC who have provided loan players and coaching staff. However, Chonburi have issues of their own, one point from their last eight games in T1, without the need to care for their T2 sibling.
The reverse fixture in Chiang Mai (against Chiang Mai FC) was the final game before Christmas and was a turgid 1-1 draw lacking in either goodwill or festive spirit"
Yes, I remember watching it on TV, Rob. I'm so glad I gave that one a miss; it was a bloody awful match.
(Kong Hua Rai pictured during a training session. Credit: Official Samut Prakan Facebook page)
Samut Prakan team news
There is a strong rumour that Samut Prakan might hand a debut, if only a few substitute minutes, to 'Kong Hua Rai', a very well-known Thai singer, who is actually a squad member and has been training with the team all week. I'm not sure how I feel about this but I'll reserve judgement until after he's played, if indeed he plays.
To the match itself, and an evening that went from bad to worse!
The day before the match, the club put out an official announcement imploring fans to allow extra travel time to the Samut Prakan stadium. This was due to the 'Wan Lai Festival' taking place in the Bang Plee area at the same time as the match. In what has become a sort of 'Songkran extension' the Wan Lai Festival usually includes copious amounts of drinking, partying and water-throwing in the streets around the ground. And that's exactly how it panned out. Despite Tun and I leaving home much earlier than usual, when we got to around five kilometres from the stadium, it became utter chaos.
We spent the best part of an hour in gridlocked traffic, as all around us pick-up trucks loaded with teenagers engaged in water warfare. We took one look at the main intersection where a member of the public was doing his best to direct the non-existent traffic flow (where on earth were the traffic cops?) and we reluctantly decided to abandon our plans and head back for home.
Chiang Mai Rob messaged me to say that he was in the same predicament and had also given up on the match, as did a few other friends and fans.
We arrived home just as the match was kicking off, so I settled in to watch the live stream on my computer. I was feeling tetchy and downcast because very rarely do I miss a home game. And the only problem with watching the game on TV is that you get a much better view of your team playing badly.
A crowd of just under 400 had managed to find their way to the stadium (almost certainly on foot) and the home fans are almost treated to a 10th minute opening goal but Karn Jorates fails to put any power behind his shot. However, in what's become a familiar scenario too often this season, it's the visitors who take the lead as Chiang Mai's Korean playmaker Lim Chang-gyoon brushes aside a couple of challenges and Amornthep is left unmarked to sidefoot the ball home.
Prakan get a route back into the contest on the half hour mark as Kitikai is pushed in the area. It looks an awfully harsh decision and perhaps justice is served when Kitikai himself strikes the post with his spot kick. Chiang Mai's celebrations are shortlived as they make a mess of defending an immediate corner; Tirapon heading in an equaliser, or rather the ball bouncing off his bonce with more than a slice of good fortune. Chiang Mai almost grab the lead just before the interval but the woodwork comes to Prakan's rescue.
Half time: Samut Prakan 1 Chiang Mai FC 1
The second period is unfortunately as poor as I've seen Samut Prakan play this season, but that's not to take anything away from The Lanna Tigers, who had they stepped up a gear could have scored six or seven. Lim Chang-gyoon is the star of the show, putting Chiang Mai back in front with a glorious strike after 53 minutes and jinking his way into the box and beating the keeper with a sublime chip to put the game out of Prakan's reach in the final ten.
Much to the delight of the small crowd, Kong Hua Rai is thrown on as an 88th minute sub, and whilst he chases the ball around, shows willing and certainly looks the part, it's the fat lady that's the one doing all the singing at this stage.
Full-time: Samut Prakan 1 Chiang Mai FC 3
Chiang Mai Rob wrote this rant several hours after the game finished. It was strangely reassuring to know someone else was as angry as I was over missing the night's action.
A thoroughly miserable evening was compounded by the result from Suphanburi, with Kasetsart FC grabbing a late winner to take the relegation conundrum right down to the wire. I'll do a detailed analysis of the situation in the next (and final) blog of the season but the league table below gives you an idea of what an unbelievably tense last match day it's going to be.
Going back to tonight's match against Chiang Mai and that was such a disappointingly poor performance from Samut Prakan. What's most alarming is how heads went down when Chiang Mai scored their second goal, and certainly their third. We look like a team who suddenly lack belief and that's worrying when we'll need players to turn in the performance of their lives next week.
Who's up next?
Away to Nakhon Pathom next Sunday 30th April. With the threat of dropping down to the third tier now a very real one, is this arguably the biggest game in Samut Prakan City's short history?
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CMFC's seven away games in 2023 – played seven, lost six, drawn one, scored one, conceded nine.
The point was earned in a 0-0 draw at Krabi.
The only goal came in the 1-4 drubbing at Rayong.
The other five games have ended in 0-1 defeats.
By Rob - CMFC, CM (19th April 2023)