Diary of a Thai football season

2023/24 Samut Prakan v Nongbua Pichaya

Not the best time to be playing the team who look like being promoted as champions.


(Despite the result, we had a very enjoyable trip to Nongbua back in November. Nice stadium, great fans and a good team)

Nongbua will surely do the double over us this season?

Without a doubt. This is a team riding high at the top of the table and full of confidence, versus a team who have won just one of their last 13. When the two clubs met in November, it was a thumping 5-1 victory for the likely T2 champions. I wouldn't be surprised if we got a similar scoreline in the second meeting.  

We know Nongbua are top of the league but how is their away record?

They've played 13, won 7 drawn 3 and lost 3. Working backwards, there was a 1-0 defeat at Chiang Mai FC (a game I was lucky enough to catch in late January) and they've gone down 2-0 at both Phrae and Auytthaya United, but both of those games were at the start of the season. They're an even stronger team now. 

Who's been banging in their goals?

Top scorer with 16 league goals to his name is Jardel Capistrano, however over half of that tally were scored while at his previous club DP Kanchanaburi before Nongbua poached the 34-year-old Brazilian during the mid-season break. The Thai forwards have chipped in as well though. Striker Chawin Srichan has scored 11 goals and winger Weerayut Sriwichai has scored 8. This could be a busy evening for Jirunpong in the Samut Prakan goal.

Also worth mentioning is Nongbua's Japanese midfielder Kento Nagasaki, not to be confused with masked 1970s wrestler Kendo Nagasaki. That's a different bloke altogether!

To the match itself

Samut Prakan give fans a much needed boost by welcoming back midfielders Sho Shimoji and Supaphon Suttisak - both absent for several months with long-term injuries. Ronnachai Rangsiyo is demoted to the bench with the ever reliable Tirapon donning the captain's armband. Defender Apisit Butsri makes only his second start of the season.

(Great to see Suphanon back. Photo credit: Official Samut Prakan Facebook page)

With over 600 fans in attendance - the best we've seen at the Samut Prakan Stadium for quite some time - and decent away support for Nongbua, there's a much better atmosphere around the place. 

The home side start brightly. Fernando, now into double figures for the season, almost adds to his goal tally as early as the third minute, getting his head on to a left wing cross from Sho Shimoji but Kitikoon in the Nongbua goal saves at point blank range. The visitors have to wait until 18 minutes in for their first clear cut chance as post and goalkeeper's fingertips combine to keep danger man Chawin at bay. His Nongbua strike partner Jardel will be disappointed not to have got his header on target midway through the half. Fernando looks lively as the match turns into a battle between the Brazilian target men. He has a brace of chances to open the scoring but shoots straight at the keeper and then sees Kittikoon tip his looping header over the crossbar. 

Samut Prakan's attacking endeavours are finally rewarded five minutes before the break as a pinpoint Sho Shimoji corner is headed powerfully into the back of the net by Bianor Neto for his third of the season. A superb and entertaining first half comes to an end, and as they exit the stands for perhaps a crafty cigarette or to refill their pint pots, there are broad smiles on the faces of Samut Prakan fans. It's been far too long since their team put in the kind of display they've just witnessed.

Half-time: Samut Prakan 1 Nongbua Pichaya 0

(Great support for Nongbua this evening. Photo credit: Official Samut Prakan Facebook page

With Nakhon Ratchisima breathing down their necks at the top of the T2 table, Nongbua aren't settling for a defeat or even a draw from this encounter. Jirunpong in the Samut Prakan goal earns his keep as he first scrambles a free kick away to safety and then is grateful to see a Chawin header soar over the bar when it would''ve been easier to score. He's finally beaten by a Jardel header on 70 minutes and we're all square in Bang Plee. Nongbua probably just shade the second period and in the dying seconds the chance to take all three points back to north-east Thailand goes begging as several Samut Prakan defenders join forces in what ends up a chaotic goal-line clearance. The referee brings what's been a fine football match to an end and judging by the expressions on the 22 players' faces, it's Nongbua who are feeling the greater weight of disappointment.   

Full-time: Samut Prakan 1 Nongbua Pichaya 1   

Watch the match highlights

Overall thoughts?

I enjoyed that and so did most of the other Samut Prakan fans. What a difference having Sho Shimoji and Suphanon back in the midfield engine room made. It was like suddenly getting the heart and the brains of the team back. We actually played some bloody good football out there tonight! We went toe to toe with the league leaders and matched them all the way. I don't think anyone would have begrudged us the win, but one point will do at this stage. It's still a sign of hopefully better things to come in our final five games. 

(Sho Shimoji. Back in the groove and my man of the match tonight by a mile. Photo credit: Official Samut Prakan Facebook page

Who's up next?

The first of two away games and a rare Friday night fixture as we take on Chainat Hornbill on Friday 22nd March .

Going?

We are. I know we've lost our enthusiasm somewhat but it's the chance to get away for a couple of days. I quite like the sleepy town of Chainat and it's only a two and a half hour drive. Plus, last season the stadium had the best selection of food in T2. 


Samut Prakan fixtures 2023/2024




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