Diary of a Thai football season

2023/24 Samut Prakan v Customs United

Simply a must-win local derby match

(Photo credit: Official Samut Prakan Facebook page)

Firstly, a couple of players through the exit door?

Yes, it's always sad to see players and friends go, but goalkeeper Ittiphon Kamsuprom and defender Apichok Srirawong have both moved on. Ittiphon's departure has come as a real surprise (to me anyway) because he was beginning to show some good form. The shot-stopper made 10 appearances for Prakan this season but has decided to join T2 rivals Chiang Mai FC. As for Apichok, his first team opportunities were becoming more limited but he still made 7 starts and 3 appearances from the sub's bench. Apichok has joined premier league club Uthai Thani. 

OK, let's get to tonight's game - at home to Customs United. They're having a poor season to put it mildly?

With just over half the season gone, Customs United are already staring relegation in the face. The men from nearby Lat Krabang are bottom but one in the league and eight points adrift of safety. And eight points is a lot of ground to make up when you have only won two games all season. One of those victories did come away from home though, a 2-1 win at fellow strugglers Kasertsart FC. 

(Will we be doing the Latkrabang 54 Stadium next season? It doesn't look like it at the moment)

What are recent results like between the two clubs?

The two teams met at the Latkrabang 54 Stadium in mid-September and the sizeable travelling support were rewarded with a comfortable 3-0 victory. It hasn't all been peaches and cream though. Customs did the double over us in the 2022/23 season, beating us 1-0 at their place and handing us a 3-0 walloping at Samut Prakan. 

Any player connections?

Yes, attacking midfielder Warakorn Thongbai made five starts for Samut Prakan last season while on loan from Chonburi, as well as a number of substitute appearances. He has now gone on loan to Customs United where he's become a regular starter. 

Secondly, Prakan defender and U-23 international Kittichai Yaidee will be meeting up with a few old friends possibly. He made almost 30 league appearances for Customs last season. 

Three point banker?

It has to be. A defeat could see us eight points below the play offs come the end of the weekend. 

(Photo credit: Official Samut Prakan Facebook page)

To the match itself

Jirunpong reclaimed the goalkeeping gloves following Ittiphon's departure to Chiang Mai FC and there was a return from injury for Brazilian striker Fernando. Kitsarin Chinasri made only his second start of the season in midfield as the ex-Chainat Hornbill man took advantage of team mates on a one-match ban for accumulated yellow cards.  

With just 304 souls in attendance including a poor and subdued away following from Customs United, it was always going to be difficult for the home team to ramp up what little atmosphere there was, but a long range shot from captain Ronnachai after just 30 seconds at least signalled the intent. 

Having missed a sitter at Chiang Mai United last weekend, Arnont Phumsiri adds another exhibit to his glaring miss collection as with the goal gaping, he blasts over the bar and into the N stand. Fernando, looking a little short of match sharpness, will have to wait a bit longer to hit his double figure goal tally as his glancing header goes wide. 

As the first half draws to a close, I'm left wondering if one of the referee's Christmas presents had been a brand new whistle, because he seems to be getting maximum pleasure out of blowing it. There's been no flow to the game at all.

Half-time: Samut Prakan 0 Customs United 0 

Five minutes into the second period and Samut Prakan are handed a priceless numerical advantage as the visitors go down to ten men. For Warakorn Thongbai, it's a return to his old club that he'll want to forget as he lunges recklessly at Arnont Phumsiri and is shown a straight red card, the result of an on-field spat that had possibly been bubbling under for some time.  

If the home side are going to find a route to goal then Fernando still looks the best option but the Brazilian puts another header wide and a direct free kick sails over the bar and into the night sky. 

A group of about a dozen or so local Burmese arrive just after half time to swell the home support on the popular side and obviously to cheer on their countryman Si Thu Aung. One of them is wearing a replica blue shirt from Samut Prakan's first season back in 2019 and bearing the name 'Kyaw Ko Ko' (our very first Burmese player) That seems like a very long time ago but how we'd love to have that guy out there tonight.

Jansada Khanha comes on as a late sub for Samut Prakan but his contribution lasts barely ten minutes as he too is shown a straight red for a ridiculous challenge that looks more like a kung fu kick halfway up an opponents back. I've never seen anything quite like that before. The more you replay it, the worse it gets.

The referee is booed from all corners of the ground come the final whistle. He's had an absolute stinker.

Watch the match highlights

(Captain Ronnachai took to the megaphone at the end of the game to apologise to fans for not winning the game. Not something I like to see and thankfully doesn't happen very often. Photo credit: Official Samut Prakan Facebook page)

Overall thoughts?

This was an interesting one. Trawling social media after the game, whereas you would normally see fan comments such as 'never mind, keep fighting', there was a palpable angry reaction to the result and performance. Perhaps 'disappointed' would be a better word. And the fan reaction is totally understandable when you fail to beat a team who are 17th in the table and are down to ten men for most of the second half. It's a game we need to put quickly behind us. The performance in my view wasn't actually that bad. I thought we played some OK stuff in defence and midfield but scoring goals has become an issue. We can't rely on a Fernando who perhaps isn't entirely match fit.  A football season is always made up of highs and lows... and as that precious play off spot continues to slip away, this is certainly a low point.

(Khun Pathomchai, the fan club leader, addressed the team at the end of the match as he always does, but whereas the speech is usually motivational and encouraging, this one contained a few more home truths. At least that was the gist of it from what I could catch. I guess sometimes players need to hear the brickbats as well as the bouquets. Photo credit: Official Samut Prakan Facebook page)

Who's up next? 

It's a tough one! We are away to one of the automatic promotion favourites Nakhon Ratchisima on Saturday 3rd February, kick off 5.30 pm. 

Samut Prakan fixtures 2023/2024


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