With their 4-1-4-1 formation with starting lineup like Sakareya(26), Sato(36), Samsem (3) and Dusit (33) to form defense lines, Watchara (21) as defensive midfielder, the Brazilian Duo Alex(10)-Eber(23) in midfield, leaving Ney Fabiano at the front as a sole striker. Vice Captain Eakartit Somjit(22) led the team as Phuket FC missed Wasan Natasan (9) due to his injury.
Pattaya United still played their usual 4-3-3 and hoped to hold off for one point, “Coach Daeng” set his lineup with experienced Brazilian player Cristiano Lopes(9) with Thailand’s U19 players like Narakorn Kana(29) and Patipat Amatantree(19) at the front, while trusted Brazilian defender Diego Robert(3) at central defense.
The home side took possession of the ball for the first 15 minutes. Sakareya drove the play up along the right sideline where he connected with Rattapol (#8) at midfield and Alex who’s waiting to move forward. But Samba Boy couldn’t get past his markers, Tanapol and Taned, who sandwiched him at every chance as he tapped the ball down. But the game was stuck at midfield for the first quarter without being able to move closer to the goal area as Phuket couldn’t get through Pattaya’s defense zone.
The first real action came from Alex who cut inside past his marker and passed the ball to Ney Fabiano who skillfully pumped it back to Alex through three Pattaya defenders between them and set him up for a 20-yard shot but the ball just went wide off the far post by inches, left fans groaning with frustration.
Pattaya got their opportunity to return the attack but Watchara Kriarum stopped them dead in their track with his first yellow-card worthy strike that sent Cristiano Lopes flying off the ground and had his name booked on a first yellow card of the season.
A few minutes later, Eber who’s been chasing the ball at midfield had his first opportunity when Pattaya defenders loosened up his marking, he set himself to try his luck with a straight shot from 25 yards but he whipped it clear over the crossbar.
Phuket FC missed their first lead at 23rd minute. Eakartit swept in from the left wing with the ball and nearly made it past Taned but the defender wouldn’t let Phuket FC captain make way through. He tackled Eakartit down before letting him made it to a 1-on-1 duel with his goalie and was booked and penalized for his brutal tackle which could have easily been a red card.
Big Brother Ney Fabiano took a stand for penalty kick. He charged in but then tried to throw off Pattaya goalie with a pause, sending Hassachai diving to the left while he superbly flicked the ball to the other direction but with a tid bit too much force that had the ball hit the wrong side of the post and bounced clear off the end line in front of Phuket fans’ disbelief.
Eber’s Bulldog style appeared to shut down Pattaya’s midfield game. The stocky Brazilian capitalized on his strength and speed, bursting through defense, clipped the ball to set up for Ney Fabiano who attempted to hook a shot towards goal while facing the wrong way only to have it go straight at the keeper Hassachai who didn’t have much trouble collecting the ball.
Still confident with their possession, Eber’s and Watchara’s combined forces dominated midfield game nearly the whole first half and provided Phuket FC with more scoring opportunities. Alex called fouls and free kick from his double markers from almost every move and nearly earned himself a goal assist from lobbing his free kick into the striking zone for Sato to take a dive for it at few yards in front of Pattaya’s GK but the keeper didn’t let it past him.
Last 5 minutes before half time, Alex played it crossfield to the left, twisted and turned his marker to take a pass from Ney and curled a low shot from the corner of penalty box, Pattaya GK leaped for a punch, sending the ball out on a silver platter to Eber who was miraculously unmarked. The Bulldog cracked a volley that went straight up ridiculously high over the crossbar.
The first half ended after 2 minutes additional time with 0-0 that could have been 2 or 3 to nothing.
No changes in 2nd half lineup on both sides.
The home side played in up the left wing by Eakartit picked it up and passed a through ball to Alex who smacked it in past everyone to the far post, Ney Fabiano charged in but missed.
Pattaya couldn’t connect their game but depended on set-plays but their 28-yard free kick bounced off the wall back into Phuket’s possession that ended up with Pattaya forced to commit a foul to stop the game.
Teco had to replace Alex with “Sak 2nd Sword” Anusak Laosangthai(29) when Samba Boy strained his muscles from an attempt for a shot. Pyne Soe (16) also went in on the left wingback for Dusit(33) who limped around on his left knee.
Anusak was just the connector that Phuket FC needed. He shook his marker, picked up the ball from Sakareya in the back and headed straight along the right wing and long-crossed it in front of Pattaya goal. Ney Fabiano appeared out from behind Diego Robert and headed the ball down on the goal line with Diego who fell on this butt trying to clear it away. With incredible instinct on him, Big Brother Ney sprang to action, he flicked his right foot to send the ball into the empty net before Diego could move. Phuket fans bursted into a frenzy at the lead.
Pattaya pulled out 2 strikers, Cristiano Lopes and Patipat, and replaced them with Sarawut and Andre Aruajo.
The Dolphins seemed to have crucial moment late in the game when each of Phuket FC’s 4 defenders found themselves with a yellow card on their backs, and it led to Pattaya’s easier maneuvers in front of Phuket goal. Narakorn sent a through pass to Rapeepat who escaped Sato-Pyne Soe awkward offside trap and sidefooted the ball goalwards but Adisak stretched his left foot to block it off the end line before he got up and yelled at his clumsy defense line.
Pattaya played more incisive attacking the last 10 minutes of the game, with Sarawut passing clean ball through Phuket FC’s offside trap once again, this time it was Narakorn who rushed forward to lift the ball over Adisak who swept in for a save, but the ball dragged wide off the far post.
Last minute of the game, 4th Referee earned himself a round of laughters when he raised his substitute sign showing Alef Pochi(15) to go in for goalkeeper Adisak Duangsri. The Ref didn’t have a clue what brought such laughters until stadium MC called over to him that 18 was a Phuket’s goalie, only then that he turned to Phuket bench to clarify, all the while with Alef Pochi waving and beckoning for Adisak to come over for a replacement. It took nearly half a minute to complete the substitution of #8 Ratapol and Alef.
After 3 minutes additional time, the Referee finally blew his whistle that awarded Phuket their first win of the new season and important 3 points to stay at the top of the table.
At the end of Week 1, Phuket FC has 3 points and currently 5th on the table behind Gulf Saraburi Fc, Nakhonpathom United, TTM Customs and Chiang Mai FC.
Next home game will be on March 1 and is a knock-out round of Toyota League Cup game Round of 64, hosting Sisaket FC under Former Head Coach Panipol Kerdyam who will return to Surakul stadium for the first time after he was ousted from Phuket FC last year.