Another battle with Buriram looms as Port try to stay in touch at the top

Port FC face another huge test of their title credentials when they host in-form Buriram United on Thai League (T1) Matchday 18 on Tuesday evening.

Yannick Boli’s added time goal against Sukhothai on Saturday ensured Port remain seven points behind league leaders BG Pathum United.

However, Sarawut Treepan’s side will face a tougher challenge at home to a Buriram side that put them out of the FA Cup just last week. BG, meanwhile, will be expected to at least maintain their seven-point advantage when they host struggling Trat.

Here are three things to look out for in Tuesday’s big match.

  1. Port need to rediscover cutting edge

It was strange to watch T1’s top scoring side draw a blank for over 200 minutes. The Port Lions played 120 goalless minutes against Buriram in last week’s cup tie before losing the penalty shootout.

On Saturday, it took them until the 94th minute to break the deadlock against struggling Sukhothai. Yannick Boli’s last-gasp strike was his first for the club and kept BG in striking distance.

But Port’s talented attacking players will have it all to again when they face a Buriram side that has kept four clean sheets in a row.

  1. Buriram’s new boys making an immediate impact

It’s early days, but Buriram will be cautiously optimistic that their latest round of recruitment will be more successful than the previous two. Twice this season, Buriram have ripped things up and started again with their foreign quota.

But Samuel Rosa has hit the ground running with two goals in his first two T1 matches, while Brandon O’Neill had a solid debut in midfield in Saturday’s 3-0 win over Ratchaburi.

Aung Thu’s first goal for the club was another positive sign and the Myanmar international striker will be hoping to establish himself after a frustrating couple of years.

Buriram also had the luxury of leaving Supachok Sarachat and Narubadin Weerawatnodom on the bench at the weekend, so they should arrive in Bangkok full of confidence.

  1. Perfect time for Port to end seven years of hurt

It’s not just Port that have struggled with the psychological barrier of beating Buriram United. It took Muangthong United more than 20 games before they finally won against their great rivals in 2016.

Bangkok United suffered a similar mental block in their years as title challengers and the Bangkok Angels still haven’t beaten Buriram since 2014.

Port also have to go back seven years for their last triumph over the side that dominated Thai football for a decade. With BG seven points ahead and hosting lowly Trat, there is no margin for error for Port. There would be no better time to end this winless run.

Paul Murphy

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