Monday, 9 April 2012

Muangthong United 2 TOT FC 1 - report


See? It's a car show
Despite its nation-wide prestige the whole Impact Centre is usually overshadowed when MTU play at home. Red shirts fill the food courts and surrounding areas and nobody has any doubt what’s going on. The Motor Show is the one exception to that rule though as the many thousands of men who tell their wives “I’m just looking at the cars, dear” outnumber the fans and create truly awful traffic jams that add a minimum of one hour to any journey by car or one month’s life assurance premium to any journey by motorbike.

To the build up and TOT must be congratulated on a huge impoverishment of away support, going up from twenty or so last season to about one hundred this season. OK that’s still pathetic for a local derby but their club strip looks very smart at least.

Our line up for this one was Kawin (GK), Piyachart (LB), Ri (CB), Panupong (CB), Thitipan (RB), Pitchipong (MD), Mario (MD), (Ekapoom (MD), Siaka (DM/AM), Teerasil (ST), Christian (RW)
Notice the return to our old formation and the absence of both Datsakorn (sub) and Barakat (injured). I didn’t notice who was captain without Nattporn or Datsakorn so if somebody could let me know I’d be grateful. In the TOT goal stood our reserve keeper Weera. I was surprised we didn’t block him from playing in this match.

The first fifteen minutes started superbly. Both Chris and Ekapoom stayed glued to the sidelines, creating massive gaps in a TOT defense that stayed so deep, our entire midfield pushed forward at times. Teerasil’s headed goal after a smart free kick from the super one had already seemed inevitable. The game plan from then on was surely the usual one: force them to push forward, keep exploiting the space on the wings along with the 'one-two' and triangle passes in the middle and let Dagno move from deep to forward to pull them out of position. It felt like it could be five or six to nil by full time.

Sadly, TOT hadn’t read the script but after realising they couldn’t match us on the ground, they resorted to a lot of high-ball attacks that put pressure on our centre backs and giving the underdogs a higher proportion of interceptions from clearances. The attacking flow of the home side fizzled out despite some excellent play by Christian including a superb turn and chest-pass to Teerasil before moving on for the return-pass. The guy really has so much talent when he’s focused.

Before we knew it TOT had equalised at the other end of the stadium following some delayed-reaction defending by our back line. At half time it was 1-1.

In the second half the dirty tricks from TOT began. These included fake injuries, niggles and holding on to the ball when the official had awarded a set piece to the home side. The most frustrating event was a substitution by TOT whereby the outgoing player walked the entire way from the penalty area to the bench at a real snail’s pace while every single official stood, watched and did nothing. They tried this trick a second time shortly after and the outgoing player got a helpful shove from Panupong on his way out.

The chances became rarer for both sides barring a couple of good saves from Weera, a miss by Teerasil and an amazing chip over Kawin that was deflected off the crossbar and head-tapped by Ekapoom out of harm’s way.

The crowning moment came from a great run and finish by Teerasil who saved the day yet again. All that remained after that was a disgusting kung-fu challenge from a TOT player that ignited a usually sanguine Panupong and earned the TOT offender a red card.

The brilliant run and strike from Teerasil felt so good that it has papered over a few cracks in today's fixture. The game started the right way but the midfield somehow lost its way after our first goal. Perhaps it was the absence of Datsakorn (who appeared in the second half), perhaps we needed the park of Barkat. Whatever the reason, I hope Slavisa works on it during the week as we know we were a little fortunate today and with Buriram showing no signs of a let-up, we can’t afford to ride our luck too often this season.

Man of the Match:
An easy shortlist: Kawin pulled off a few fine saves to keep us in the fight but when you have a brace from Teerasil Dangda, including one gem out of the blue, how can you doing anything but sing his praises from the rooftops?

The winning goal:

The entire game:

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