2022/23 Samut Prakan v Nakhonsi United
Can we make it four league wins on the spin?
(After needing to play several home matches in Chonburi, we are back at the Samut Prakan Stadium for hopefully the rest of the season)
Good to be back on home turf?
I suppose it is, but in a strange way I'll miss the trips down to Chonburi. OK, the extra drive time was a pain in the butt but as I've said in previous blogs, it's a decent stadium with a good view of the pitch if you're watching from the main stand, plus it's an area teeming with decent restaurants and coffee shops. Killing time before a match is always difficult at the Samut Prakan Stadium but not so in Chonburi.
That said, it will be nice for all those season ticket holders who couldn't afford to take the time off to finally get to cheer the team in their own backyard again.
So we start with a tough test against Nakhonsi United?
This is a chance to see just how good we are as we come up against the team currently second in the table. Nakhonsi United have lost just one of their eight league games - a 3-2 defeat at Chiang Mai United on the opening day of the season. In other words, they're seven games unbeaten. They've only won one game on the road though.
(Could this be the week that fans finally get their hands on the new home shirt?)
A bit of club background?
The Southern Dragons have only been in existence for eight years but what a turbulent eight years it's been. The club started life as Ratchaphruek Muangnont United Football Club (catchy eh?) and played their home matches in Nonthaburi, a short distance from Bangkok. For the next few years, they led a nomadic existence, changing home stadiums several times. It wasn't until 2018, when the club merged with Muangkhon United, a club from south Thailand, that they changed names to WU Nakhonsi United (the WU was dropped at a later date)
I've summarized a complex history in a few lines there but trust me I would need far more space to go into detail and do things justice.
After eight years in the third tier of Thai football, they finished runners-up in the T3 South and won promotion to the second division last season. It would be one hell of a meteoric rise if they were to make it all the way to the premier. And you wouldn't bet against them as things stand!
Any players to look out for?
I watched Nakhon Si United's last game on TV - a routine 3-0 home win against bottom of the league Udon Thani - and was impressed by Phillerson and Evandro, a speedy Brazilian pairing they have up front. Evandro is a useful striker but doesn't seem to stay anywhere very long. Nakhon Si United is his fourth Thai club in just two seasons, arriving via Sukhothai, Chiang Mai United and Police Tero. He also has what must be the blackest beard in world football.
(Phillerson and Evandro were both on target in Nakhon Si United's last game. Credit: official Nakhon Si United Facebook Page)
Another foreigner at the club is defensive hard man Aleksandar Kapisoda. The 33-year-old Croatian was a karate champion in his younger days and has been playing in the Thai second division for about 7 years. Also now at his fourth Thai club, he made 85 appearances for the now defunct Air Force Central FC and became both a fan favourite and their first ever foreign captain.
To the match itself
The cool season had arrived in Samut Prakan! As we walked from the car park to the stadium, I've rarely been more grateful for a football scarf on such a chilly evening. Many fans had arrived early to grab a new home shirt and even a couple of hours before kick off, business was brisk at the merchandise stall. A commendable number of away supporters were also snapping them up as souvenirs of their long trip north.
Samut Prakan once again went into the match with no foreigners in their line-up, although Brazilian centre half Renan Costa told me after the game that he had almost made a full recovery and was hopeful of starting next Wednesday.
On to the match action and the visitors almost struck after six minutes but were denied by a smart double save from Thatpicha, who is growing in confidence with every game.
A crunching tackle from Aleksander upset a number of Samut Prakan players but despite the ensuing aftermath with much pushing and shoving, the ref managed to keep the cards in his pocket. This was a tough contest to referee, turning bad-tempered with increasing frequency. Aleksander then put a header wide of the post and Chitpanya's shot sailed well over the crossbar as Nakhon Si enjoyed the best of the scoring chances.
As good as Samut Prakan's midfield play was, they really struggled to create opportunities up front in the first period.
Half-time: Samut Prakan 0 Nakhon Si United 0
(I wish we could have shirt launches at every home match)
The home side went into the second period with far more purpose. The lively Yotsakorn finally found some space in the penalty area but the 17-year-old striker poked his shot wide from a narrow angle.
You felt both sides were settling for a point apiece but our Moldovan striker Petru Lueca, introduced as a 79th minute substitute, had other ideas. With ten minutes left on the clock, Christmas comes early! Nakhon goalkeeper Chakhon makes a dreadful hash of a simple clearance and Petru, literally with his first touch of the game, swivels and smashes the ball home to give Samut Prakan the lead.
In the closing stages, Nattapoom twice heads wide as the men from the south try to restore parity and Evandro caps a frustrating evening by blasting a shot into N stand behind the goal. It's just not going to be his or Nakhon Si United's night.
Thatpicha is booked for timewasting in stoppage time, one of six second half yellow cards.
Full-time: Samut Prakan 1 Nakhon Si United 0
(Petru Lueca - our match-winning hero)
With fans sporting their brand new blue and yellow home shirts and celebrating a fifth successive win, it really seemed like the feel-good factor was returning to the club. OK, it might not be as intense as past seasons but we're slowly getting there. Another victory takes us up to 6th place in the table overnight and suddenly fans are starting to use the P word. And why not? We've just beaten second in the league. It wasn't pretty but we got the job done again.
My one criticism would be that we need to create more in attack. I still think we need a 15-20 goals a season target man (doesn't every club?). Whether Petru Lueca can stay fit and become that guy remains to be seen. He certainly deserves the chance.
Who's up next?
Another pleasant diversion as we go on a short mid-week trip to third division Bangkok FC in the League Cup.
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Hi Julian. The club don't do metal badges I'm afraid. Only shirts and scarves.
By Phil, Samut Prakan (17th October 2022)
liked your blog. I saw the game too. I am travellling through Thailand Cambodia and Vietnam- hoping to get to see Ho Chi Minh City on Sunday.
Is it possible to get Metal lapel badge from samprat prakan FC.
Happy to pay
By Julian Boodell, Bangkok (17th October 2022)