(Suphanburi's line up for their last match at home to Ayutthaya United includes a familiar face. Credit: Suphanburi FC Facebook page)
We just love playing Suphanburi FC at home.
Oh, don't we just! The two clubs have met three times at the SAT Stadium and Samut Prakan have yet to claim a single point, the War Elephants running out winners in all three games - 2-1, 2-1 and 3-2. Please don't ask me for a score prediction.
How have Suphanburi started the season?
Amazingly not a single team in the second division has claimed all six points from their opening two fixtures. Suphanburi have begun their season with two home matches - an opening day 2-0 victory against Customs United was followed by a disappointing result against Ayutthaya United as they were held to a 1-1 draw.
Suphanburi, who were relegated along with Samut Prakan last season of course, are looking to bounce back at the first attempt and I've seen a number of Thai football bloggers pencil them in as one of the promotion favourites. They splashed the cash and strengthened the squad considerably during pre-season acquiring no fewer than 25 new players.
Who plays for them?
Well, I notice Jetjinn Sriprach is not only getting some game time for them but he's the captain as well! The much-travelled 30-year old defender made a handful of appearances for Samut Prakan in early 2021.
As for foreign players, Brazilian attacker Douglas Tardin is at the club after his move from Saraburi where he scored 9 goals in 15 matches (admittedly a division lower). He joins countryman Matheus Souza to form a potentially lethal Brazilian strike partnership (I'm only saying that so the pair of 'em blank against us)
Seiya Kojima, a Japanese midfielder with great hair, made 13 appearances for BG Pathum in 2019, however the 33-year-old found his niche in Thailand's second tier and joined Suphanburi from Ayutthaya United.
In his excellent pre-season overview of the T2 clubs, blogger Rob Scott predicted Suphanburi to finish second come the end of the season and described their squad as 'unspectacular but resilient'
Where's Sweet Eyes?
(Sarayut Somphim leaves the field with a nasty injury against Buriram last season. Photo: the official Samut Prakan Facebook page)
One player Samut Prakan fans haven't seen in first team action this season is Sarayut 'Sweet Eyes' Somphim. I'm not going to get into club politics here but judging by comments on social media and messages of support from ex-teammates, Sarayut is involved in some sort of contractural dispute with the club. It's an awful shame because the immensely likeable 25-year old, who made 26 starts in defence last season, appears to have been frozen out when he's easily one of the best players in the squad. Let's hope the situation is resolved soon for all parties concerned.
OK, Let's get to the match itself
When we arrived at the ground, our season tickets were ready for collection. I still can't quite believe that just over 1,300 baht (around £32) gets you a seat for 17 league games, plus cup matches, and also includes a team shirt and scarf (when they eventually arrive). Watching football in Thailand's second division is certainly incredible value for money.
Getting our hands on season tickets was a great start to the evening...but it was all downhill from there.
Samut Prakan started the game brightly but it was the visitors who drew first blood on 12 minutes with their first meaningful attack. Samut Prakan's Decha Sa-ardchom gets caught in two minds whether to pass back to the keeper or hoof the ball into the stands and ends up doing neither. Brazilian striker Souza nips in to gain possession, shrugs off the powder puff challenge from Sampan Kesi and chips Thatpicha for a smart finish. Souza then has a glorious opportunity to double the lead but is denied at point blank range by Thatpitcha's outstretched hand. Samut Prakan's only decent effort of a tepid first period is a long range free kick from Petru Lueca that sails well wide of the target.
Half-time: Samut Prakan 0 Suphanburi 1
Into the second period and Samut Prakan give their fans an early lift by twice going close. Pardsakorn, introduced as a half-time sub, clips the post with an angled shot and then combines with Yotsakorn to almost get the home side back on level terms. However, Suphanburi score their killer second goal mid-way through the half, Douglas Tardin getting on the end of a powerful Sitthinan cross as the defence goes missing. Tardin performs the usual choreographed routine in front of a decent Suphanburi away following, who all know they're going home with maximum points.
Heads drop in the Samut Prakan camp. Captain Saksit's body language says it all. We never look like getting back into the game for what time remains. In fact the last twenty minutes is only notable for the introduction of Japanese midfielder Sho Shimoji for his first appearance of the season.
Full-time: Samut Prakan 0 Suphanburi 2
Three things in life are certain - death, taxes and getting beat by Suphanburi at home. But that's not really the story here. Driving back after the game, I don't think I've ever felt so low as a Samut Prakan City supporter. We were desperately poor this evening and beaten by a Suphanburi side who didn't have to be anything above 'bang average' themselves.
We look like a team of players hastily cobbled together and heading in one direction and one direction only - to the third division regional leagues. There simply isn't enough quality in the squad.
At the moment, it feels like a club without a soul, and judging by the sub-500 attendance (boosted by a decent Suphanburi following I might add) many Samut Prakan fans feel the same way. Some of our most loyal hardcore followers from previous seasons are nowhere to be seen anymore. And frankly, I wouldn't blame anyone for finding better things to do on a Sunday evening because they no longer feel a connection to the club.
Perhaps this is a kneejerk reaction and we'll weather the storm. It's amazing what a win can do for a team's morale. But right now, I think I've chosen a good time to take a month's break from Thai football.
Who's up next?
We are away to Krabi on Saturday 3rd September and it's probably the second division trip I was most looking forward to before the season's fixtures came out. Alas, it's not to be because I'll be visiting my family in England for most of September. I haven't seen them for three years due to Covid restrictions and a return 'home' is my number one priority. As well as the Krabi game, I'll also miss the local derby at home to Customs United on the 11th and the away trip to Chiang Mai United on the 18th. So by the time the next blog rolls around in early October, I'll have three matches to update you on.