Khon Kaen United Big Winners as Thai League Returns

Only ten of the sixteen Thai League 1 sides were present for the start of the season’s second leg last weekend. However, that didn’t stop the games which did occur from having major consequences at both ends of the table.

The pick of the weekend’s games were the relegation six-pointer between Prachuap and Khon Kaen United, as well as Bangkok United’s visit to Port FC, both on Sunday evening.

Prachuap ended the first half of the campaign second from bottom, and three points behind Samut Prakan City in the last safe spot. With the other two relegation zone residents not playing this weekend, the match represented a golden opportunity for Issara Sritaro’s men to get the second leg off to a good start.

The Killer Wasps dominated in terms of both possession and chances, but weren’t able to break through thanks to solid defensive performances from the likes of Alef, Joshua Grommen and goalkeeper Yotsapon Teangdar. Former Suphanburi and BG Pathum striker Romulo Cabral marked his arrival in Khon Kaen by scoring the only goal of the game from the penalty spot, after fellow debutant Woranat Thongkruea was brought down in the penalty area.

Prachuap were denied a goal of their own later on, as a VAR check found that the ball didn’t cross the line thanks to an intervention from Alef, who the hosts allege may have handled the ball in the process. However, neither decision went Prachuap’s way, and The King Cobras held on to register their third away win of the season and climb seven points clear of the relegation zone.

Meanwhile, Port FC played out a 1-1 draw with Bangkok United at the PAT Stadium. The hosts took the lead in the first half courtesy of a strike from Adisak Kraisorn, but it was cancelled out in the dying minutes with a controversial goal from Thitipan Puangchan. The linesman flagged assist-maker Pokklaw Anan offside in the buildup to the goal, leading the Port defence to stop playing, allowing the ball to run to an unmarked Thitipan for an easy finish.

However, a VAR check overturned the assistant’s decision and awarded the goal, much to the anger of the home side. The final minutes were played out after lengthy arguments on both the pitch and touchline, and a brawl broke out after the final whistle.

The result means that Port have failed to beat Bangkok United on their own patch since 2013, and saw the visitors return to the top of the league unchallenged due to Buriram’s game being postponed.

Elsewhere on Sunday, Muangthong United played out a 1-1 draw at the Chonburi Stadium, with Sardor Mirzaev’s first-half free kick cancelled out by a goal from Renato Kelic.

The previous day saw defending champions BG Pathum United return to action with a 1-1 draw against Ratchaburi at the Mitr Phol Stadium. Brazilian striker Diogo Luis Santo marked his return to the team with a headed goal in the first half, but Sittichok Kannoo levelled the score with a left-footed volley in the 74th minute.

Lastly, Samut Prakan City’s first game under new head coach Yasushi Yoshida ended in a frustrating draw, as the Sea Fang let a two-goal lead against Nongbua Pitchaya FC slip in the second half. Yuto Ono put the hosts in front after just seven minutes with an excellent free-kick, before Chatri Rattanawong marked his debut for the club since joining from Sukhothai with a back post header. However, goals from league top scorer Hamilton Soares and former SPC star striker Barros Tardeli saw Nongbua fight back for a point.

Only five games were played this weekend, as Chiangrai’s trip to Nakhon Ratchasima and Chiangmai United’s game against Suphanburi were postponed due to COVID-19 outbreaks. This followed the earlier announcement that Buriram were unable to play their game against Police Tero due to quarantine restrictions.

The unaffected T1 clubs will be back in action in midweek in the League Cup, which sees all of the top division sides travel to face lower league opposition in the Round of 32.

gianchansrichawla

Thai League fan and writer. Editor at Football Tribe Asia. University student.

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