With quick strikers Ludovick and Sukree up front, the team was set to score big on the night. Dudu stepped back to play attacking midfielder, which helped connect the midfield and the forwards.
Air Force Avia FC played all of their three African stars, though their captain, Roongrot Sawangsri, is currently serving a suspension and so was banned from playing.
Phuket attacked from the kick-off, forging down the left with Thongchai and Eak-artit teaming up well to move the ball forward. Only 10 minutes into the game, Eak-artit’s long ball sailed in from the left side towards the Air Force goal.
The ball flew past defenders towards the awaiting Dudu. When the Brazilian rocketed forwarded and headed the ball into the goal, the fans went wild.
From the on the game became increasingly intense, with both teams eager to score – Phuket to secure their lead, and Air Force to get an equaliser.
The game was stopped often due to violent tackles, especially in midfield. Nene Bi was the first to get booked after he brought down a Blue Eagle. Shortly after that, Air Force’s David Bayiha was given a yellow card when he knocked down Eak-artit as he tried to dribble past him.
Eak-artit played very well and almost scored another goal for Phuket with his direct corner kick at the 30-minute mark. However, the Air Force defender cleared it from right under the crossbar.
Phuket then had another chance when Thongchai took a short corner kick to Watchara who then crossed to his awaiting teammates in the goalmouth. But the ball was too close to the Air Force goalie, who managed to bring it under control after an initial punch.
Air Force didn’t have many opportunities in the first half, until in the last five minutes their tall striker Rangsan Roopmoh struck with a shot beyond the reach of Phuket goalie Adisak Doungsri – the Blue Eagles had equalised just before halftime.
Phuket had to replace an injured Sukree E-tae with Chana Sonwiset in the second half, and somehow forgot how to play their first half passing game and instead reverted to firing hopeful long balls forward – a tactic easily negated by the 180cm tall Air Force defender Kobenan.
Cristian Alex was sent on by Teco in the 60th minute in the hope that the tall Brazilian could stand up to Kobenan and help the three Phuket strikers Dudu, Chana and Ludovick to score a winner.
Alex almost did it himself when he tried a shot from a narrow angle, but Air Force goalie Umarin Yaodum was alert to the danger, getting down quickly to smother the ball.
The emotions ran high late in the game when Alef Pochi was clipped down by Air Force’s David Bayiha. The ‘Hardman’ got up and chest-bumped the African man who feigned injury and rolled on the ground clutching his face. The referee Alongkorn Feemuechang gave yellow cards to both men, which results in them both being suspended for their next league games.
The match finally ended after two minutes of additional time, Phuket FC drawing yet again having failed to capatalise on their early goal.
Phuket travel to PAT Stadium to play the third seeded Singh Tharua on Sunday, August 25. Watch the game live on True 116 starting at 5.30pm.