Diary of a Thai football season

2022/23 Samut Prakan v Trat FC

A tough home match against a team in absolutely red hot form

(African striker Toure made a return to the Samut Prakan starting line up last Saturday against his old club Rajpracha but couldn't get his name on the scoresheet. photo: official Samut Prakan Facebook page)

So what's happened since the last blog?

Samut Prakan travelled to nearby Rajpracha FC for what was a crucial relegation battle. I was unable to get to this one as family were visiting from the UK so obviously I chose to spend the day with them. Yes, that was me walking around Chinatown frantically checking my phone for score flashes. Thanks a lot Bjorn for the live updates and even a video of our goal!  

Going by the TV highlights, we certainly didn't miss much. In a game of few chances, Captain Kittikai, playing against his old club, headed Samut Prakan into the lead after six minutes. Judging by his wild celebration, I don't think there's much love lost between ex-Rajpracha players and their former club either. The hosts then grabbed a flukey equaliser early in the second half thanks to a big deflection and some poor Samut Prakan defending. 1-1 is how it finished and that was Prakan's fourth successive draw. It was another valuable point closer to safety but by jove we're making hard work of it.

Let's take a look at the T2 table ahead of this midweek round of games (gameweek 30)

With Kasetsart and Udon Thani finally playing their 'game in hand' last Friday (it ended up 3-0 to Kasetsart) every team has now played 29 games. With five matches remaining, the only certainty is that Udon Thani are already down.

Samut Prakan are now five points ahead of 16th place Kasetsart and they're still the team we need to focus on. I've worked it out on a scrap of paper that just one win from our remaining matches should be enough to see us safe, mainly because Kasetsart have the tougher run-in. However, I'm not dismissing 17th place Ranong either, who have won three of their last four games and still have Samut Prakan to play. 

Don't get me started on the top half of the T2 table. Just four points separate the top eight teams. It's going to be an incredible finish to the season!

Who's playing who in gameweek 30?

Focusing on the teams around Samut Prakan in the table, Rajpracha might fancy their chances of getting something at the woefully out of form Chiang Mai FC, who have lost five games on the spin. Likewise Chainat Hornbill, who travel north to meet Udon Thani, a side now preparing for life in T3 and just going through the motions. Kasetsart travel to 10th place Phrae, with the home side desperately needing a win if they are going to maintain any sort of play off hopes. Finally, Ranong have a tough trip to Nakhon Pathom, who are emerging as one of the serious automatic promotion contenders. 

And so to this evening's game with Trat FC?

Well firstly it's a chance to say hi to my favourite Thai player Pornpreecha Jarunai, Trat FC's captain and midfield dynamo. I treasure the shirt that Khun Pornpreecha gifted to me at the end of the match in Trat, and I'll take it along with me this evening to hold aloft at the end of the game and show my appreciation once more. That's actually the shirt he gave me in the photo below.  

Trat are in red hot form?

They are on an unbelievable run at the moment. A couple of months ago, they were nothing more than play off possibilities, now they sit at the top of the league after six succesive wins, including a 6-0 thrashing of Ranong FC at home, and doing even better the following week with an 8-0 win away at Udon Thani. Confidence within the team must be sky high. We couldn't be playing them at a worse time could we?

Who's banging in the goals?

The foreign trio of Dos Santos, Essam and Valdo have scored 35 goals between them. Essam is an Egyptian striker who started his career in 2013 at Legia Warsaw in Poland but never made the first team. Brazilian Valdo has been around the Thai league for five years and after netting 20 goals for the now defunct Thai Honda, found his way to Trat via Nongbua Pichaya. 

Soukaphone, a winger from Laos, is also worth a mention if only because he picks up yellow cards like they're going out of fashion. Eight this season already 

What's the record like between the two clubs?

Samut Prakan and Trat FC have met five times before with two victories apiece and a solitary draw.

In 2019 (Samut Prakan's first season) the clubs shared the points in a 1-1 draw down in Trat, but in the return match at the Samut Prakan Stadium, The White Elephants scored a last-minute winner and grabbed a surprise 3-2 victory.

The following season, Trat were relegated and frankly, a rather disjointed team were viewed as easy pickings. The away fixture I still look back on as one my all-time favourite solo trips with Samut Prakan turning in a champagne first half performance and running out 4-0 winners. Trat were already planning for life in T2 by the time the return match came around, in fact it was Prakan's last home match of the season and emerged victorious by three goals to one. It all seems a lifetime ago now. 

This season, the two clubs met in mid-November and it was a narrow victory for Trat as a 16th minute goal from Valdo was enough to separate the sides.   

To the match itself

Another pitifully low crowd of under 300 turned out for this one. With ten minutes to kick off, you could actually count the number of bodies in the stadium (Tun said 87). 6.00pm kick offs on a work day evening plus unbearably hot and humid temperatures are a horrible combination.

That attendance was swelled by a couple of dozen Trat supporters who had made the 5-hour journey by road and they had something to celebrate with barely 60 seconds on the clock as Makan Diawara chops down Dos Santos in full flight, and you can glean from Makan's expression it's a penalty all day long! Dos Santos picks himself up to smash home the spot kick. The opening 15 minutes become a hard watch for the Samut Prakan faithful as Trat's trio of attacking foreigners look like they could almost score at will.  Valdo is particularly impressive while Essam almost puts the visitors 2-0 up with a bullet header. Thankfully, Thatpicha pulls off a glorious save at close range. 

Somehow Samut Prakan weather the storm. Trat can't add to their early opener and Prakan play themselves back into the contest. Yodsakorn continues to reap the benefits of his shooting practice sessions and stings the Trat keeper's hands from distance, but we go one better just past the quarter hour mark as a delicious corner from Ratchata is met by Kitikai, whose precise downward header finds the net. We're all square again! Sakunchai then has the chance to give Samut Prakan the lead but the man on loan from Muang Thong shoots straight at the keeper. 

The last ten minutes of an end-to-end first period belong totally to the visitors, well certainly their foreign stars. Essam sends over a pinpoint cross for Valdo to head home after 35 minutes and in first half injury time, it's Valdo again, as he latches on to a Dos Santos chip to extend Trat's lead. Surely that's game over for a Samut Prakan side who haven't score three goals in a league match all season. It's been a great watch for the neutral though. 

Half-time: Samut Prakan 1 Trat FC 3

(What a joy to meet up with these three lads at half-time and to say hello to the three of the most popular writers / reporters in Thai football)

The second half begins just as the first half did with Trat scoring within the opening 60 seconds. This time Essam gets his name on the scoresheet with an easy header and Trat are 4-1 up. Several home fans look as if they are heading for the exit doors and that's a pity because they're about to miss arguably Samut Prakan's best half of the season in terms of all-round team performance. 

Sho Shomija gives Prakan a glimmer of hope as the Japanese midfielder gets on the end of another Ratchata assist, and goes in where it hurts to toe-poke the ball home. Wonder boy Yotsakorn scores Prakan's third with ten minutes remaining, swivelling on the edge of the penalty area, beating his man and shooting into the corner. 

The saddest thing is that when there are only 300 fans scattered all around a stadium, they can't create that 12th man atmosphere that might just have lifted the home side sufficiently and seen them grab an unlikely equaliser.  

Full-time: Samut Prakan 3 Trat FC 4   

Watch the match highlights

Overall thoughts?

Listen, one might be disappointed to see their team score three goals for the first team this season and still lose the game, but truthfully, I have no issues with the final result. Trat fully deserved the win on the balance of things and you can see why they're top of the pile and now favourites for automatic promotion. Their three foreign players were frickin' awesome tonight. For lengthy periods of the game, we just couldn't cope with them.

I viewed this fixture as a free hit. I expected to lose and that was the outcome. However, if we play like we did in the second half against the likes of Udon Thani and Ranong in our remaining four games, then we'll have no worries. And those are the games we have to target.

So how did other games go tonight?

Of the teams directly around Samut Prakan, Kasetsart picked up a point, getting a surprise 0-0 draw at Phrae. This narrows the gap between Samut Prakan and the relegation zone from five points to four points but that's no big deal. Chainat Hornbill and Ranong both lost while victories for Chiang Mai and Krabi ensures they both look relatively safe for another season.   

Who's up next?

We make the long journey north to take on already relegated bottom club Udon Thani on Sunday 2nd April.


Yes, we're going to fly up on Saturday and spend a few days there. Apart from being an interesting province to look around, this might be a rare chance, perhaps even a last chance, to experience a game at Udon Thani's Sports University Stadium.

Samut Prakan City fixtures and results 2022-23


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