Diary of a Thai football season

2023/24 Samut Prakan v Chainat Hornbill

The first of three 'home' games in six days!

(Thank you for everything Khun Tana - and good luck with your coaching career. Photo credit: Official Samut Prakan Facebook page)

Let's start with the week's big Samut Prakan news

Yes, it was announced on Monday evening (48 hours after the 5-1 defeat at Nongbua Pichaya) that coach Tana Chanabut had left the club by mutual consent. I'm not saying for a moment that the result at Nongbua was the primary reason because I don't know any details. Khun Tana had recently completed a coaching course in neighboring Laos, so perhaps his ambitions lay elsewhere anyway. The main thing is that Samut Prakan are once again in the position of looking for a new coach, for what will be their sixth appointment in less than five seasons. Khun Big, the club owner, has already said though that the search won't begin until the new year, and in the interim period (at least six matches), two of the assistant coaching staff will take care of things. 

In other news, Kitikai Jantaruksa has also left the club. The tough-tackling midfielder made around 14 appearances for Samut Prakan last season, but a bad injury in a pre-season friendly has limited him to limping around on crutches and posing for photographs with fans for the whole of the current campaign. Nice lad; sad to see him go.  

(We need to bounce back from that 5-1 horror show in the north east. Photo credit: Official Samut Prakan Facebook page)

Let's get back to the football. A busy December on the cards?

Yes indeed. We've got four league games to enjoy (three of those are at home) and two cup matches away at premier league opposition - a league cup tie against Chonburi and an FA Cup tie at Bangkok United.

We welcome the Hornbills to the SAT Stadium. What kind of season are they having?

In his pre-season preview, 'Mr T2' Rob Scott predicted them to finish 13th and said "Chainat will be full of youthful exuberance and well organized but it is hard to see where the goals will come from"

Rob has been pretty much spot on and The Hornbills are currently hovering just above the bottom three on goal difference and might face a difficult fight to stave off relegation. Could their 12-year stay in the top two divisions be coming to an end? However, there was an encouraging 2-0 home win against the in-form Lampang last weekend. 

Away from home, Chainat are yet to register a win, with three draws and three losses, and get this...they haven't scored a single goal on the road yet. Now that's almost unbelievable. I've probably jinxed it of course. 

Any player connections?

Plenty. Defender Apichok Srirawong and forwards Kritsada and Kitsarin, all joined Samut Prakan from Chainat Hornbill at the start of the season. However, the trio have found it difficult to nail down a regular place in the Samut Prakan team and started only half a dozen or so games between them.

Samut Prakan's Japanese midfielder Sho Shimoji spent a successful season up in Chainat back in 2016, banging in 9 goals in 29 appearances. They've still got his photograph on a fading poster at the Chainat Bird Park.

And Chainat have never beaten Samut Prakan?

No. The clubs have met four times - twice in the premier league (in 2019) and twice last season as second division opponents. Last season's fixtures both ended in draws, but in the glory days of Samut Prakan's first premier league season, we did the 'double' over them.   

To the match itself

Heavier-than-usual traffic meant that we got to the ground around 45 minutes before kick off. I couldn't summon up much enthusiasm for tonight's game (I find home matches a bit routine if I'm honest) so we decided to freshen things up by sitting behind the goal at the back of the north stand. We had never sat in this part of the stadium before but it was a cracking view. Unfortunately our new vantage point only lasted 20 minutes before heavy unseasonal rain sent us scurrying for the cover of the popular stand.    

Samut Prakan had gone for a slightly 'weakish' starting eleven. Both of our Brazilian lads were rested, Sho Shimoji and Tirapon were benched, and there was a full debut for Krittin Suwannasri, a midfield signing from third division STK Muangnont.

After an uneventful and chanceless opening quarter of the game and right in the eye of the deluge, Chainat take the lead with their first away goal of the campaign (I told you I would jinx it) Patipanchi sends in a low cross from the left, and overlapping defender Fitaree gets his name on the scoresheet thanks largely to a fumble from Jirunpong in the Samut Prakan goal.

The home side really struggle to get into the contest as passes go astray and the ball is hoofed hopefully upfield. We suddenly look like eleven footballers who have never played with each other. But surprisingly, Prakan claw back an equaliser on the stroke of half-time, an error in the Chainat defence allowing Suphawit to poke home his fifth goal of the season. 

(The view from the north stand)

Half-time: Samut Prakan 1 Chainat Hornbill 1

Samut Prakan bring on Sho Shimoji and start the second period with a bit more intent. There's a point blank header that ends up in the Chainat keeper's midriff and a shot that fizzes just past the left upright. This is better. Chainat aren't content to go home with just a point though and almost regain the lead around the hour mark as a good effort cannons off the crossbar.

Pantipanchi, goal provider in the first half, turns goalscorer in the second with an 81st minute winner for the Hornbills. A long punt out of defence finds the lively Inia on the half-way line, and his mazy run ends with a simple pass to Pantipichai, who scoops the ball over the keeper and into an empty net.

Samut Prakan huff and puff to find a second equaliser but the desire has come far too late. Chainat record their first victory over Samut Prakan in five meetings and it's well-deserved.   

Full-time: Samut Prakan 1 Chainat Hornbill 2

Overall thoughts?

This was a wretched evening and one it's difficult to put a positive spin on. It was a disjointed performance from a team who looked short of self-confidence, and they made it far too easy for bang average opposition. There's no head coach to guide us (I didn't see too much animation on the touchline) and to compound the gloom, it was another sub-300 attendance. It feels once again like we're going backwards but perhaps we need a bit of a reality check here. A top six finish is probably out of our reach; I just don't think we have enough quality to string together a necessary run of wins. Perhaps mid-table is a far more realistic target. Every game is beginning to look tricky - even an away trip to bottom club Krabi, which we undertake in a couple of weeks. 

A glance at the league table tells you we are now six points below the play offs and seven points above the relegation zone. Results in the remaining three league games before the new year break will determine whether we go into the second half of the season focusing on the teams either above or below us.    

Who's up next?

A bit of midweek cup action as we take on our old 'partner club' Chonburi United in the league cup round of 32. Wednesday 6th December at 7pm the date for your diary. 

The match should have been played at Samut Prakan, but due to some school football event taking place on the day of the game and the probability of the pitch not being suitable for purpose, it has been switched to Chonburi. As you can imagine, this has not gone done well with a number of Samut Prakan fans who won't make the game due to work committments. My take on things is rather more direct - who gives up home advantage in a cup competition?  

Samut Prakan fixtures 2023/2024   


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