|Robbie's new signings were designed to boost support|
I'll come clean, even with our recent poor form I thought we'd win this one in the 90 minutes. But it must be said that Songkhla played an impressive game, packing the back line when they needed to but never being afraid to mix it up with a few rough (by Thai standards) challenges or attacking through route 1.
As the team lined up - Kawin (GK), Kayem (LB), Nattaporn (CB, capt), Panupong (CB), Arthit (RB), Pornsai (wing) Datsakorn (MD), Pitchipong (MD), Siaka (AM), Fowler (CF), Teerasil (ST) .... one player reached down to check his laces, a few fans opened snacks or drinks and some were still queueing up to get in. They all missed the opening goal. Songkhla took possession, ran down the left, crossed and caught the centre-backs napping to make it one-nil. Any quicker and it would have been Thursday evening.
The rest of the first half was more MTU but in reality was scrappy. Fowler looked better, laying a few nice flick-ons that opened up attacks through the middle, but the wide play was almost non-existent despite a strong effort by Pornsai. The goal from Fowler was at the opposite end and corner from most MTU fans, creating a bizarre situation where fans had to wait a good 5-10 seconds before celebrating a goal because it was hard to see if it had gone in.
|Belter by Dagno hits the bar (photo by Matt)|
The spark started to fade out from the game once again and even the first period of extra time was dull. The second period, ironically, saw our liveliest play of the whole encounter with the addition of Christian and Ahnon opening up attacking options. We smacked the bar and saw other chances come painfully close but it wasn't to be. The English fans' worst nightmare of penalties was to pay another visit to my realm.
As any fan that goes to live games will tell you, things often happen differently to how you remember them, especially in moments of drama or tension, but with my scarf half-covering my face ready to shield me from too much agony, this is how I recall it going down...
Songkhla player 1 - Shoots low, strong and right, Kawin goes left. GOAL. Git. 0-1
Datsakorn - Goes right and medium height, goalie goes left. GOAL! You beauty Datsakorn! 1-1
Songkhla player 2 - Looks confident but is walking very carefully....is he secretly scared? ....GOAL! Swine. 2-1
Pornsai - Either someone's cut his legs in half or he's wearing really long shorts.......Shoots low and right.......GOAL! 2-2
Songkhla player 3 - Looks really cocky.........Set for a short, angled run up .....shoots left.......Kawin goes left...SAVED! WE LOVE YOU KAWIN! 2-2
Nattaporn - Are we sure we're letting a defender take a penalty?......Just put your head down and wack it, Oat!...He places it though....GOAL! Sorry I ever doubted you, fella. 3-2
Songkhla player 4 -.....Miss damn you!........ Hits it hard.......GOAL! Damn. 3-3
Dagno - This is someone you always want on your side.......Looks cool as ice.....GOAL! 4-3
Songkhla player 5 - ........Crowd are on his back.......Set for a short run up, I guess he's going to blast it........Runs up......BLAZES IT OVER! MTU IN THE FINAL!
And so the celebrations began. Man of the Match was democratically voted by my students as Datsakorn Thonglao who made some good runs, got stuck in and scored a penalty.
If we can take the form of the last 15 minutes and start with our strongest line up (Christian and Teerasil up front, not Robbie) then anything can happen next Wednesday.