TTM FC have dropped “Lopburi” from their team name over a dispute over the conditions at their home stadium in that province, which was ruled unfit to host TPL games after an inspection.
Now without a home stadium since the fallout with Lopburi, TTM FC rented the Thephassadin stadium in Bangkok for the game and the unforgiving heat of the capital took its toll on both teams.
Phuket FC started the game in the top five of Yamaha League 1, while TTM FC was among the bottom two.
Many thought this game would be an easy win for the Islanders, but it didn’t turn out that way: both teams sent on their best 11, Phuket hoping for a win to take them near the top of the league, and TTM hoping to push away from the relegation zone.
The game started off slow in the mid-afternoon heat, and stayed the same for the first 15 minutes.
The Islanders were the first to pick up the pace, with a shot at goal from a free kick from Kritsada Sakaew that was saved by TTM’s goalkeeper.
A minute later Phuket had another opportunity from a pass by Ake-artit Somjit to Dudu, but TTM’s defence cleared the danger just before the Brazilian striker could take aim.
The game was nearly a one-sided attack by Phuket FC for most of the first half, and the referee frequently stopped play after strong tackles.
The home-side had their closest opportunity at nearly the end of the first half from a five-yard header, but their striker flicked the ball too wide and the half ended with no score.
The second half proceeded in the same manner, with more aggressive tackles: Phuket’s Nene Bi was pushing it when he charged TTM’s player in the penalty area, but the referee let that slip.
Just a minute later, Phuket almost took a lead when Kritsada clipped a ball towards Geoffrey Doumeng, but the Frenchman flicked his header over the crossbar.
Dudu was then given a yellow card for a high boot which he angrily contested.
Two minutes later he was replaced, and the visitors effectively removed their most likely scorer.
At the same time, TTM replaced their hard-working but isolated towering centre-forward, Vigan Qehaja, and their attacks instantly became more mobile.
The game became more aggressive as stoppage time drew closer.
The referee seemed to oblivious to both coaches’ frustrations, which included an incident when Chana Sonwiset was charged from behind and Ake-artit was tackled down inside TTM’s penalty area.
But instead of awarding Phuket FC a penalty, the referee ruled it a corner kick and that had Phuket’s sideline staff jumping out of their seats.
As game entered its last 10 minutes it looked likely that the result would be a no score draw.
But Phuket’s Kritsada won a disputed free kick from right sideline and tried his luck, curling the shot in front of the goal.
TTM’s goalkeeper came out for a save, but missed and slapped the ball into his own net – sending the 400-or-so visiting Phuket fans roaring with delight, as TTM’s chances of victory went up in smoke.
TTM spent their last 10 minutes of the game pressuring Phuket for an equaliser, but couldn’t convert their attempts.
The game ended with a Phuket’s victory and sent the Islanders to second on the league table, with eight points from four games played.
Phuket FC next play at home at Surakul Stadium on Sunday April 7, against “The Navy” Rajnavi FC. Kick-off is at 6.30pm and tickets are B100.
You can see the latest Yamaha League 1/Thai Division 1 league table here.
The Phuket News is Phuket FC’s official English-language media sponsor.
Additional reporting by Andy Wray, thaileaguefoot ball.com