Phuket beat Phatthalung FC 0-2 on Saturday at the Phatthalung Provincial Stadium with around 30 Phuket fans making the six-hour journey south to get behind the Andaman Dragon.
The win meant Phuket secured 2nd place, but only on goal difference. Pattani FC finished equal on points with the Dragon (48) after beating league champions 2-1 also on Saturday, but Phuket’s goal difference outpaced their southern rivals: Phuket +20, Pattani +13.
It was a goal in each half that secured Phuket their win in Phattalung. The first coming just three minutes into the game, the second with one minute remaining in normal time.
Phuket’s Peerapat Hanee (17) scored the opener. Captain Jhanawat Arewansuk (24) took a free kick from the right just inside Phatthalung’s half. The ball fell to a Phatthalung player whose attempted header to clear the ball away fell straight to the feet of Peerapat who smacked the ball into the bottom right of the goal from just inside Phatthalung’s box.
But it was a wonder strike from Apichat Denman (10) that sealed the win for Phuket.
Apichart picked up the ball just outside of Phatthalung’s penalty area, he twisted and turned to out-do three Phatthalung defenders, then took a shot from just outside the box to curl the ball into the right of the goal.
If that goal wasn’t the league’s goal of the season, it was certainly Phuket’s goal of the season.
So Phuket now have to face Chiang Rai City FC in a final showdown to reach the Champions League stage of the league. This game will be played on neutral ground – at Nonthaburi Province Stadium on the outskirts of Bangkok – at 6pm on Saturday.
The winner of this game will gain a place in the Champions League.
The Champions League will be a two-round affair with 12 teams placed in two groups – upper region and lower region.
In the Champions League first round, each team will be paired against a single opponent in the same group who they will play home and away.
In each pairing, the teams that score the most goals – including the away-goal rule – in their respective home-away matches will then gain a place in the Champions League second round.
The second round again will be broken down to upper and lower regions, with three teams in each region.
The three teams in each region will then play round-robin matches with the winner and runner-up of each region gaining promotion to Thai League 3.