Phuket FC’s management originally sought to cancel the game following Friday’s incidents, however, officials from their opponents, Ranong United, were adamant the game went ahead.
Officials from both clubs also considered playing the game behind closed doors, but after Phuket FC managed to draft in extra police and security the game kicked-off as scheduled at 7pm with around just over 700 fans in attendance.
Going into Saturday’s game, the 18th of the 2016 season, the Andaman Dragon sat at 6th in the 12-side AIS Southern Region Division 2 table on 23 points, while the visiting Andaman Sharks sat at 3rd on 30 points.
Following Phuket’s win against Trang FC the previous week, which saw the team come back twice from being a goal down, fans were hoping for a repeat performance. However, many must have been disappointed that the game remained goalless after the full 90 minutes.
Much of the reason for the goalless draw was down to a waterlogged pitch which clearly took its toll on the players of both team’s legs even after the first 45 minutes.
Neither team really had a clear scoring opportunity during the 90 minutes, and Phuket were clearly missing key play-maker Sukree Etae who was unable to play due to personal reasons. Sukree was key to Phuket’s victory against Trang FC on Aug 14.
Another thing lacking from the game, and has been missing from Surakul Stadium all this season is Phuket’s vocal support which has always been a highlight of many games in past seasons.
Support this season mainly only comes when the team are winning, and not when they need they need it the most, when they’re drawing or have fallen behind.
Other games played at the weekend certainly didn’t go Phuket’s way, as despite coming out with one point the team actually dropped two places to 8th in the table on 24 points, while Ranong dropped one place to 4th on 29 points.
However, there is one thing the fans and club management should take a positive from this season.
Though it is now clear that Andaman Dragon will not likely not be able to reach a position to qualify for the final Division 2 Champions League promotion play-off round at the end of the year, and thus vie for promotion to the second-tier League 1 division next season, the club still have a lot to play for in the final leg of the season thanks to the planned implementation of a new league system next year – one that ensures that even draws hold more weight on a club’s promotion prospects.
In some games, for example, Phuket should have actually taken three points, such was the case against top of the table Suratthani FC, but poor refereeing decisions meant that the results didn’t go their way.
As it stands, Phuket still also have a chance to make the top five of D2 South, and with the new Thai League Championship league to be added next year, the 3rd and 4th placed teams from the eight regional divisions will automatically get promoted to it.
This league will effectively be the new third tier of the Thailand professional football leagues for the 2017 season and will be divided into two zones with 16 teams in each zone. These teams will join the 13 teams who fail to gain promotion to Division 1 from the Championship knock out round at the end of the year.
Meanwhile, teams placed at 5th in the eight regional divisions will also have a chance to move up from division 2 by competing in a play-off in which the top three teams will gain a place in the new Thai League Championship.
Whatever the outcome in Phuket's four remaining matches, hopefully the club won’t repeat mistakes of past seasons in which vast changes are made to coaches and players and the team is not given the chance to build on what they have already in place.
Most professional football clubs are not successful in their fist year in competition, however, they build on the teams they already have in place to make them stronger and better and they are then able to fight for promotion in the second season.
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