The miserable weather didn’t deter nearly 3,000 people showing up for the local derby. But with the playing surface resembling a marsh more than a football field, the spectators who braved the rain were treated to a slow and scrappy game of football as both sides struggled for control of the ball.
With local pride on the line as well as valuable Division 1 points, the physicality of the match was on display early as a procession of fouls helped slow the game further.
It was Krabi – third place on the Division 1 ladder compared with Phuket’s 14th – with the early chances though, and after sending several free kicks over the bar, Ekaphan Nuikhao nearly created the opening goal. Phuket FC goalkeeper Alonso da Silva fumbled the slippery ball, but managed to regather just in time.
With genuine attacking chances few and far between for both sides, the first half became a true test of ball control, and the Islanders’ natural style of ground play and short passing was forced to adapt to the tough conditions.
Krabi meanwhile looked more comfortable, if only slightly, and were creating far more chances in front of goal.
But despite the Eagles of Krabi having the more favourable shots column, it was a game bogged down – quite literally – in the midfield for the vast majority.
Still, after a goalless first half, it looked to be Phuket with all the work to do – they looked the more vulnerable of the two sides, and desperately needed to find their attacking flair that saw them claimed their record 8-1 victory against Chantaburi just two weeks ago.
But the second half was more of the same, with The Islanders struggling to get the ball beyond halfway, and with several diving saves from Alonso the only thing keeping Phuket in the match.
Phuket FC coach Milos Joksic attempted to inject some more attacking flair into the game, bringing on Ibrahim Kanoute to replace Nenebi midway through the half.
After an uncharacteristically quiet game from Nenebi, it looked like the substitution might reap immediate dividends – Kanoute came closest to scoring for the Islanders on his first touch of the ball, though pushed his header about a foot to the left.
Then, on 65 minutes, the seemingly inevitable happened. Thaweephong Ja-reanroob squeezed his shot into the bottom left corner, sending Krabi up 1-0 and Surakul Stadium into pandemonium as the visiting crowd made their strong presence felt.
But just 10 minutes later, completely against the run of play, Phuket were offered a way back in. After a strong attacking run was brought down inside the box, The Islanders earned a penalty and seemingly a gift equaliser.
Watcharakorn Klaitin stepped up to the spot, driving his shot low and left – and straight into the glove of Krabi keeper Theerawat Pinpradub.
It was the second missed penalty in as many games for The Islanders, and it proved their final chance as the full time whistle blew with the score 1-0.
Speaking to The Phuket News after the game, Phuket goalkeeper Alonso da Silva said he was disappointed not to walk away with at least a point.
“It was very difficult to play football in this weather,” he said. “The field was no good.
“We missed maybe three or four shots. One-nil I think was not good. We deserved to be one-one or zero-zero.
He said the team wouldn’t be looking too much into the missed penalty, saying the poor playing surface may have contributed to the missed shot.
“He’s a very good player. He usually finishes very well, so it’s hard for me to say too much about that.”
But despite the loss, Alonso said the mood in the dressing room has improved markedly in the last few weeks, particularly since their 8-1 win against Chataburi a fortnight ago.
“That result changed everything. And after Kata Group came [on as major sponsors], everything changed. The attitude now in the club is much better.”
Phuket play an away fixture in the Toyota League Cup this Wednesday (July 11) night against Division 2 side Samut Prakan. They then travel north up the Andaman coast to take on PTT Rayong the following Wednesday (July 18) as the Thai Division 1 resumes.
DIVISION 1 TABLE
MP W D L F A D P
Ratchaburi 15 10 4 1 39 15 +24 34
Krabi 15 10 2 3 23 10 +13 32
Suphanburi 15 9 4 2 24 8 +16 31
Bangkok Utd 15 9 2 4 28 18 +10 29
Sriracha 15 8 3 4 31 22 +9 27
PTT Rayong 15 7 4 4 27 18 +9 25
Siam Navy 15 5 6 4 27 21 +6 21
Nakhon Rat. 15 6 3 6 14 19 -5 21
Bangkok 15 5 4 6 34 23 +11 19
Songkhla 14 5 4 5 21 20 +1 19
Khonkaen 15 5 3 7 16 22 -6 18
Saraburi 15 4 4 7 21 24 -3 16
Phattalung 15 3 7 5 17 23 -6 16
Phuket 15 3 6 6 19 22 -3 15
Air Force 14 3 5 6 14 18 -4 14
Raj Pracha 15 3 5 7 14 21 -7 14
Rangsit JW 15 3 4 8 14 29 -15 13
Chanthaburi 15 0 2 13 11 61 -50 2