The Islanders were missing Geoffrey Doumeng, who was away on personal business. Kritsada Sakaew, Phuket’s “Free-kick King” was also out of the game with a knee injury.
Coach Paniphil Kerdyaem also dropped Nene Bi Tra Sylvestre and put Piyawat Piamcharoen in at center-back alongside Yusuke Sato. Nirun Panthong wore the captain’s armband in this game, and Giorgi Tsimakuridze was brought in on the left wing.
Ayutthaya FC, coached by former Thailand goalkeeper Thongchai Sukkoki, had their best possible team on the pitch.
The home side launched a series of attacks on the visitors in the initial 12 minutes, but Phuket’s goalkeeper was not seriously troubled.
Butthe Islander’s midfielders failed to gain possession of the ball, and the first part of the game was played mostly inside Phuket’s half.
Phuket had their first opportunity when Giorgi headed in a dangerous ball from the left wing to Dudu waiting in the penalty box, but Ayutthaya keeper was quick off his line to snaffle the threat.
A minute later, his Brazilian compatriot Junior Guimaro stole the ball outside the goalmouth and tried a shot, but it was an easy save for the goalie.
Apart from these couple of chances, the home side were relentless in their attacks, forcing Phuket to try to take control of the game in the midfield.
Phuket should have been awarded a penalty when Eak-artit Somjit was sent flying by a violent tackle from behind. But the referee failed to spot the incident and play continued.
The home side then scored their opener at the 35 minute mark – in part due to a Phuket mistake, when left wing-back Thongchai Kuenkhunthod strayed too far out of position.
The ball was passed from midfield to Ayutthaya’s Watcharapong Kongchuay, waiting near Phuket’s left wing, and Thongchai tried to speed over to block him.
But Watcharapong, with a small sight of goal, tried his his luck, and his shot curved away from keeper Adisak Doungsri’s reach and into the top left corner of the net, giving Ayutthaya’s Ancient Warriors a 1-0 lead.
Phuket struggled to equalise but couldn’t take possession from Ayutthaya, who played a better game the entire first half and took more opportunities than the visitors.
Phuket had their last opportunity of the half as the referee called two minutes of extra time, when Dudu struck a 20-yard free-kick straight at the Ayutthya goalkeeper.
The keeper tried to punch the ball away, but missed it as it went into the back of the net and Phuket had scored their equaliser only seconds before the half-time whistle.
In the second half, Ayutthaya’s players continued to pressure Phuket, and the Warriors almost took the lead again just 10 minutes in. A free kick bounced off Phuket’s defensive wall and fell directly in front of an Ayutthaya player, who mistimed his shot and hit it over the crossbar.
Phuket then had their own golden opportunity a few minutes later, when Dudu looped a high ball towards the far post and Yusuke Sato jumped forward for a header, but he flicked the ball past the post.
Sensing victory, the home side didn’t let up, and the last 10 minutes was tough for Phuket’s keeper Adisak, as Ayutthaya rained shot after shot at him.
Adisak almost made a serious mistake when he came out to chase the ball into the right corner, with an Ayutthaya striker rushing beside him.
Adisak attempted to clear the ball but missed, and the Ayutthaya player stole the ball to curl in a long distance shot. But Phuket defenders piled in front the goal and blocked it until Adisak returned to his post and caught the ball.
Adisak was injured during the persistent Ayutthaya attacks, and the referee called a short break which gave Phuket time to catch their breath.
But a short time later Phuket’s captain Nirun Panthong was tackled hard and stretchered off, leaving Phuket with just 10 men, having already used up all of their substitutes.
The home side took advantage of the one-man advantage to attack with everything they had, and they almost scored when their Chilean star Jose Antinio Vega shot past the outstretched glove of Adisak, but saw his shot go wide of the far post.
After 90 minutes and 6 minutes of extra time, the battle ended in a 1-1 draw.
The Phuket News is the official media partner for Phuket FC.