Northern Sides Gear up for Promotion Pushes – Thai League 2 Review

This October commentary was initially written before Matchday 12 over the weekend of 6th and 7th November. However, there were fireworks behind the scenes at two clubs over the weekend, and rather more attractive fireworks on the pitch at Lamphun Warriors.

The final paragraphs will now cover these events.

So what happened in October? Trat had an outstanding run, winning all six of their League games, and finished the month nine points clear at the top of the table. Sukhothai were also unbeaten in October with three wins and three draws. Their 91st minute equalizer at Lampang was a fitting end to one of the best, all-action, games of the season. Phrae were also going well until a surprise home defeat by a Ranong side that must, by now, have webbed feet.

Phrae have added a resilience to their game this season; which contributed to the punch-up of the season (so far) after a 91st minute free-kick winner at home to Customs. The Phrae goalkeeper, Pathomtat, sprinted 40 yards to get involved, and Sakeereen looked ludicrously aggrieved to be sent off after an attempted assault on the not-so-innocent Customs defender Watsapon. The Horsemen also struck late at Lamphun, scoring a 95th minute equalizer. 

Rayong FC moved to a new home; the PTT stadium once occupied by PTT Rayong. It is one of the better football stadiums in Thailand, and the Dragon Horses have benefitted from having a “home” stadium now. Thirteen points from their six October matches was a good return with their only defeat against all-conquering Trat. 

Navy, Muangkan, Rajpracha and Udon Thani all fired or replaced their head coach without any noticeable change in their team’s performance. Although Navy, after failing to score in their previous five games, went on to bewitch Customs on Halloween night with the season’s most unlikely win.

On 7 November, after I had written this, Lampang hosted Lamphun. Fifth against sixth. Two lovely towns joined by the Highway 11 racetrack through the mountains. Lampang whose future has been in doubt for the past few seasons versus Lamphun, the small community club that, with a new owner, has bought in some big name players.

(Just a quick hint here – do not click on the Wikipedia link for the official Lampang FC website. Definitely NSFW. Clubs really do need to watch over their public image!)

Lampang are now under the branding and management of Pitchaya; most of this season’s squad have been acquired from Nongbua Pitchaya (T1) or Udon United (T3), also under the same management. Deyvison and Weerayut both have six goals this season and make a powerful attacking combination. Head coach Sukrit Yothee also came from Nongbua, via Udon United. Despite being a feeder club, Pitchaya’s management does seem to have generated new life into Lampang football – for now.

Lamphun, on the other hand, are not beholden to any other club. Which makes them, like Phrae, one of the more appealing Northern sides. In Anuntachok Yodsangwal they appear to have found a gem of a player; he has started their last five matches and is already the club’s leading scorer ahead of the glamour names of Sales and Jeffren. Kwon Dae Hee, the Korean defender who joined from Police Tero has been impressive alongside Aly Cissokho who simply has more class than most of this League. 

The rather sleepy, old-world, market town of Lamphun is becoming the most unlikely United Nations of football talent. It goes to show that fans want an ambitious club that has control of its own destiny.

Lamphun versus Lampang – the most unlikely of big matches; and it was very good. Lampang were two ahead within six minutes, but the previously mentioned Anuntachok scored twice and made the third for Sales to give Lamphun the lead until Deyvison’s 88th minute equalizer, ending the match at three a piece. Adul Lahsoh’s pass for Anuntachok’s second was a needle-threading work of genius.

Lamphun’s head coach, Jongsarit Wutchuay, was removed from his position after the game. Jongsarit had been with the club since August 2019 and took Lamphun to the second tier as last season’s T3 champions. The new squad looks good, at least for a play-off place. His dismissal is seen in Lamphun as re-enforcing the club’s T1 ambitions – to outsiders it looks like a poor reward. The “White Cattle” have appointed Wanderley Machado da Silva Junior as interim head coach for the five games up to the mid season break. Wanderley was previously coaching in Indonesia.

One long-term candidate for the Lamphun head coach role could be Arnon Bandasak, also removed as head coach over the weekend by Phrae United. He had been in charge of the club since the beginning of 2018, bringing them up from T3 and taking them to the playoffs last season. It may be a case of unrealistic expectations, and their squad remains largely unchanged. For now, veteran Pichitphong Choeichiu has been appointed as Phrae’s acting player-coach.

Finally for this month a word on Udon Thani. Head Coach Daniel Blanco has left the club; no, he is not joining SPECTRE. Words were exchanged and the real story is probably only known by a few who were directly involved in his departure. The home defeat to Rayong likely reflected the uncertainty around the club. UDFC has always had big club potential, and the squad looks settled enough to survive the backroom disruptions. Currently in third place, their big test comes on 13th November with a home game against Sukhothai.

Our mid-season review will follow in early December as the League takes a six week’s holiday during the best footballing weather of the year!

rascott

UK. Canada. Hong Kong. Singapore. Bangkok. Dubai. Chiang Mai. Instagram: rs.cnx Twitter: rscnx

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