The teams’ two encounters in 2011 resulted in FC Phuket claiming the upper hand with a 3-1 win at Surakul Stadium and a 1-1 draw in the away game.
But this year, while JW Rangsit has managed to keep their starting 11 intact, after a string of off-season financial dramas which saw the future of the club threatened, FC Phuket were afforded no such luxury.
New head coach Milos Josic sent his lineup of mostly fresh faces onto the field in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with new recruit Ibrahim Kanoute on his own up front.
The trio of Poramut Krongborisut, Kim Won Sup and Niran Panthong lined up in midfield, while at centreback was the dynamic duo from the 2011 season, Suphat Ontthong and Nene Bi, with new Brazilian ’keeper Alonso Cavalho in goal.
The Kirin were without their other new Brazilian recruit, midfielder Marcio Santos, as he is still waiting for his International Transfer Certificate (ITC) document to be cleared.
For the first five minutes, it was all JW Rangsit FC, who almost scored their first goal of the season from a free kick that went high over the bar.
FC Phuket took nearly 10 minutes to find their pace, with the inexperience of the side visibly showing. However, two corner kicks in succession by Niran Panthong almost set them up with the lead, with Poramut Krongborisut setting up Kanuete, but the Ivorian’s header was inches wide of goal.
The home side pressed hard in response, but it was FC Phuket that had the next great opportunity when Kanuete stole the ball from a JW Rangsit defender just a few yards outside JW’s penalty box, only to be denied by the agile goalkeeper Piriya Naiyanet.
Throughout the first period, Kanuete caused havoc among the JW Rangsit defensive line, and was unlucky not to be given a penalty after being brought down inside the box just before the break.
But it wasn’t to be, and the first half ended with the scores locked at 0-0.
After the break, both teams returned to the field determined to take all three points.
The second half was played at a faster pace, and it was JW that had the best chance on goal early on, with a dangerous free kick that was eventually cleared by the Phuket defence.
With the stalemate continuing, FC Phuket shifted up a gear and began to play much more cohesively in the final 20 minutes of the game, creating several goal scoring opportunities.
The closest chance came when Phuket forward Niran Panthong fired in a free kick, which found the head of Suphat and beat the JW keeper, only for a JW Rangsit defender to find himself in the right place at the right time and clear.
It was the last chance for FC Phuket as the game ended in a scoreless draw.
JW Rangsit coach Kawin Kachendecha said after the game: “We had opportunities but we failed to convert them into goals. That was too bad for us. But on the bright side, it’s still our first game.”
FC Phuket coach Josic, meanwhile, said: “I’m a little disappointed because I was hoping we could have had a better passing game as we had trained. But we played a defensive game and took opportunities to hit them on the counter attack quite well.
“Overall I am quite happy we can come home with our first point from game one away.”
Phuket host Raj Pracha this Saturday (March 24) at Surakul Stadium, kickoff 4pm.