Diary of a Thai football season

2023/24 Samut Prakan v Nakhon Ratchisima

My last Samut Prakan game before I head back to England for a fortnight or so

(Firstly, we wish a speedy recovery to Panudech Maiwong (right of photo) who was stretchered off with a cruciate ligament injury in the last match against Customs and will be out of action for 4-6 months. It's a terrible blow for a player who was having such a fine season. Get well soon young man! Photo credit: Official Samut Prakan Facebook page

Your last game for a while?

Yes, it's that time of year again. Time to go back to good old Blighty and spend some quality time with the family. I will only miss two games though - an away trip to Suphanburi (which I can't say I'm heartbroken about) and a home match v Phrae.

What's our home record like against tonight's opponents Nakhon Ratchisima?

Pretty good. Samut Prakan and Nakhon Ratchisima have met three times in the league at The Samut Prakan Stadium. After a 2-0 home win in Samut Prakan's very first season as a club, the following two meetings have both ended in draws. Nakhon Ratchisima were relegated from the premier league last year so this will be the first time the clubs have locked horns in the second division.

Nakhon Ratchisima are one of the promotion favourites but how have The Swatcats done so far?

They currently lie in second place having won four of their five games, but generally the results have been underwhelming. 

The Swatcats haven't really come up against anyone of note yet, but have made hard work of things. They eventually triumphed over a struggling Chainat Hornbill, scoring the only goal of the game in the 89th minute. It took them even longer to beat struggling Kasetsart FC at home by the same scoreline, thanks to a penalty deep into injury time. There has also been a defeat at bottom-of-the-table Lampang. Get the picture?

In his pre-season preview, Rob Scott tipped Nakhon Ratchisima to be crowned champions and labelled them as 'probably the least expected of the relegation teams and a team that will want to quickly return to the senior league' But Rob has his concerns. "My worry for Nakhon Ratchisima is whether they have enough firepower to assert themselves over T2 opposition but Swatcat supporters, and there are plenty of them, will expect nothing less than an immediate return to T1"

Confident of Samut Prakan getting something from this one?

I genuinely am. I'm tempted to go for a 1-1 draw. Panudech Maiwong will be a huge miss though.

Players to watch?

Melvyn Lorenzen is a London-born Ugandan, who managed a solitary international cap in 2016. Melvyn also holds German citizenship and had a short spell at Sligo Rovers in the Irish League. Interesting fella. 

Other foreigners of note include Greg Houla, a French winger who had a decent(ish) goalscoring record at the half a dozen Thai clubs he's played for, and Abbas Mohammed, who has arrived in Thailand after a number of years in the Swedish leagues.  

Weeraphat Jiraphaksiri is a Thai right back who has banged in a couple of goals this season, but hasn't played all that many games in a six-year Thai career. 

(Everyone who came to tonight's game got free coconut ice cream - including the away fans! It turned out to be one of the highlights of the evening. Photo credit: Official Samut Prakan Facebook page)

To the match itself

It was one of those unbearably humid Samut Prakan evenings with no sign of any breeze, but thankfully the dark clouds that had gathered before kick off never threatened and it remained dry. In 33 years of living here, I can't remember a September with so little rain. The official attendance was reported as 723 but I'm really not sure how those numbers are counted because the crowd felt significantly smaller than that.

(But maybe it was 742 after all. That's a tremendous turnout from the away fans)

Midfielder Jiraaut Wingwon came in for his first start of the season since his move from T3 Songkhla, this now his second spell at the club. The lad ended up playing just under an hour and had a decent game.

In a repeat of Samut Prakan's last home match against Chiang Mai United, the men in blue get off to the perfect start after just three minutes. Sangjin Lee whips in a free kick from the right-hand side and Tirapon, revelling in his role as captain, nips in at the near post to steer the ball home. Supawit, a two-goal hero at Customs last week, almost adds a second goal for Prakan a few minutes later but his shot is straight at the keeper. The home side enjoy a golden first 25 minutes or so but is the failure to score that decisive second going to haunt them? Nakhon Ratchisima, in their familiar orange shirts, settle into the contest with Houla and Lorenzen looking particularly impressive. The away team knock the ball around well in midfield but seem to run out of ideas in the final third. They've not been without chances in this first period though, and you sense there's still a long way to go in this top six clash.

Half time: Samut Prakan 1 Nakhon Ratchisima 0

The second period is completely dominated by The Swatcats, in fact I can't recall Samut Prakan having one decent attempt on goal. It takes just six minutes for Nakhon Ratchisima to get back on level terms and give their impressive away support something to celebrate. From Prakan's viewpoint, it's a poor goal to concede as the ball rolls across the box through players legs, and Greg Houla is Johnny-on-the-spot to equalize with a tap-in.  

The only surprise is that it takes until the 81st minute for Nakhon Ratchisima to get their noses in front. Thanadon Suphapon is introduced as a late subsitute for Samut Prakan and his first job is to track and challenge an in-form Greg Houla as he flies down the right wing, something he fails to accomplish. Houla delivers the cross and there's Deyvison to stab the ball into the roof of the net.

The Brazilian striker, a second half substitute for The Swatcats, scores his second goal in as many minutes as the Samut Prakan defence wait around for an offside flag that isn't coming. It's three points to the away side and for a night at least, they top the second division table.

Full-time: Samut Prakan 1 Nakhon Ratchisima 3

Watch the match highlights

Overall thoughts?

Definitely a game of two halves and perhaps coming up against one of the promotion favourites, we got a glimpse of where we need to be and how fit and competitive we need to be if we're thinking of challenging the top six. A disappointing outcome but not completely unexpected and all we can do is move on. That's three wins and three defeats so far; the start of the season certainly proving to be a mixed bag.         

Who's up next?

We take on Suphanburi at their provincial stadium on Sunday 1st October (kick off 7.00 pm)

Samut Prakan fixtures 2023/2024


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