Buriram United returned to the top four with an emphatic 3-0 victory over previous residents Ratchaburi, while Prachuap managed to get the better of Suphanburi in a ‘six-pointer’ which threatens to turn the relegation battle into an even messier affair.
Buoyed by their FA Cup victory in midweek, Buriram United got the better of Ratchaburi upon their return to the Chang Arena in Saturday’s early kickoff. Samuel Rosa opened the scoring with 18 minutes gone, bringing down Piyaphon Phanichakul’s long throw and poking it home after a tussle with Pawee Tanthathemee. The visitors were then reduced to 10 men when goalkeeper Ukrit Wongmeema handled the ball outside the area to prevent a clear goal-scoring opportunity, and Buriram went into the break both a goal and a man up.
The side eventually scored their second when Kevin Ingreso set up Aung Thu for his first goal in Buriram colours, before Rattanakorn Maikami wrapped up the win from a free kick. At the other end, Ratchaburi struck the post twice through Javier Patino and Kiattisuk Jiam-udom when they were just one goal down, and captain Philip Roller also missed a chance to equalise from the penalty spot. The three-goal deficit may flatter the home side, but ultimately it is the three points that will matter post to them.
At the other end of the table, the relegation race has been blown wide open once again and a whole host of teams could now be looking nervously over their shoulder at the drop zone. That message became clear when Nakhon Ratchasima, basement dwellers just a few (game) weeks ago, put together a four-game winning run which has seen them climb to 9th place, leapfrogging Suphanburi, Police Tero, Sukhothai and Chonburi in the process.
Korat faced the Sharks on Saturday, with their attacking quartet of Dennis Murillo, Gidi Kanuk, Amadou Ouattara and Chitchanok helping the hosts create the majority of chances in the first half. Ultimately, however, it was midfielder Naruphol Aromsawa who made the breakthrough, reaching a loose ball from a corner and unleashing a rocket with his left foot which flew into the net, leaving Chonburi dumbfounded. The win was then sealed when Jesse Curran set up Ouattara at the back post for a simple finish.
Prachuap also have hopes of putting together a similar run, and will be given a huge confidence boost due to their 2-1 victory over Suphanburi. The Killer Wasps were finally able to reunite defensive duo Adnan Orahovac and Artyom Filiposyan, who led the side League Cup glory last season, and the pair got straight to work on building a strong foundation for their survival effort. They were slightly fortunate when Herlison Caion spurned some excellent chances for the visitors, and eventually got themselves in front thanks to Iain Ramsay, who was on hand to tap in the rebound from Patrick Deyto’s parry and give Prachuap the advantage.
Suphanburi levelled the score right on the hour mark courtesy of new signing Leandro Assumpcao, before Willen Mota missed a chance to re-establish the hosts’ lead from the penalty spot. However, the striker redeemed himself in the final minutes, setting up substitute Phumin Kaewta with a lobbed pass which the speedy winger was just about able to turn in.
The win saw Prachuap equal their visitors’ points tally of 17, and only their inferior goal difference still keeps them in the relegation zone. The SwatCats’ and Killer Wasps’ recent form, combined with the poor runs of Police Tero and Sukhothai, could set up an enthralling relegation battle for the seasons’ second leg.
However, things do admittedly look bleak for the league’s bottom two sides. Chiangrai United got the better of strugglers Trat FC, as Brinner Henrique opened the scoring after just 3 minutes. An equalizer from Ricardo Santos late in the first half temporarily stemmed the tide, but the Beetles found their rhythm once again to emerge 3-1 winners thanks to a wonder-strike from Chotipat Poomkaew and clinical striker’s finish from Bill Rosimar. Meanwhile, Rayong were dispatched 4-0 by Muangthong United, as goals from Suporn Peenagatapho, Sardor Mirzaev, Wongsakorn Chaikultewin and Poramet Arjvirai rounded off a comfortable win for the Kirin.
The situation for the top two remains unchanged, as the seven-point gap between BG Pathum United and Port FC still stands. The league leaders had no trouble dispatching Police Tero, with Teerasil Dangda scoring just 15 minutes into his first match since joining the Rabbits from J.League side Shimizu S-Pulse. The veteran Thai international was teed up for his strike partner Diogo for the first, before Chatree Chimtalay sealed the win with an excellent strike on the rebound from a corner kick.
Meanwhile, their principal chasers from Klongtoei came dangerously close to dropping points at the weekend, as they faced a stern Sukhothai side, but were ultimately saved thanks to a stoppage-time winner from Yannick Boli.
Lastly, Bangkok United returned to winning ways with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Samut Prakan City. After a tight, tense and tactical first half, Bangkok United scored two on the break courtesy of Vander Luiz and Nattawut Suksum, before Puttinan Wannasri added the third to round out a comfortable win.
To compensate for the time lost during the break, the Thai League returns to action in midweek with another round of enthralling fixtures. The most notable of these sees Port FC host Buriram United for the second time in less than a week, having previously entertained them in the FA cup, while Bangkok United test their newfound form with a trip to the Singha Stadium to face Chiangrai.