|Marching to the tile|
There's never any shortage of intensity when these two play each other and this game was no different. Buriram took the lead through the nippy Frank Achempong early on but the Quilins raised their game and in the second half Buriram's goalie - no stranger to controversy - decided that nobody would notice if he attempted a WWE-style suplex on Pitchipong in the area. The (imported) referee did notice, but decided pro-wrestling suplexes necessitated only a yellow card. Up stepped the super one to take the spot kick. Mario is more of a 'Matt Le Tiss' penalty taker than a 'Julian Dicks' style, so he placed the shot in the corner, sending the home crowd into rapture.
The game really picked up from there. Mario took a diving head that agonisingly came off the woodwork and out, before Piyapol - some reports have mixed his name up with Panupong - took a second yellow and conceded what I felt was a soft penalty decision by the ref.
Now let me rave for a second here: Kawin produced an awesome "pistols at dawn" stare in Suchao's direction before the kick and lived up to it with a superb save. Our keeper is awesome. Thank you.
Down to ten men, we rode out the final moments of the game under pressure, including a superb goal-stopping deflection by Ri who - according to a certain person - was suspended. Buriram's late goal was disallowed, apparently as a player was offside but not interfering, and moved back onside before the goal was scored. It was harsh on the visitors but as I've said before, the "not interfering with play" clause doesn't seem to exist to Thai or Asian officials.
The final score was one all, which suits us far more than our rivals. The foreign ref was inconsistent and made some poor decisions, but Buriram's late non-goal may well never have happened if they had been reduced to ten men and a reserve goalie as they clearly should have, so we could argue that the poor decisions balanced out. At least it was refreshing to see little toleration of play-acting and petulance.
Matt Riley has reported of some bizarre and most unsporting behaviour from people who should know better, but that aside, we can at least reflect on a good game of football.
Man of the Match:
Every time I think he's peaked, Pitchipong Chochieu comes back better than ever. He's not a "star name" but he's been integral to our squad for more than 3 years. May he stay another 3+. Also well worth a mention is Ri Kwan, who is really adapting to the Thai game and looking as solid as Zesh was in the same shirt number.