Depleted Dolphins bounce back to win derby thriller

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Last Sunday Pattaya United welcomed local rivals Chonburi FC to the newly refurbished Dolphins Stadium.  There is always a high level of excitement for the first home game of the season but if you put into the mix a local derby, then there was no way that this game was going to be a quiet affair.

The sides had experienced mixed fortunes on the opening day of the season, with Pattaya being unfortunate to lose 2-0 at BEC Terro while Chonburi would have been pleased with the point taken at Buriram United despite letting slip a two goal advantage.

Pattaya United players line up prior to their Thai Premier League game against Chonburi FC at the Nongprue Stadium in Pattaya, Sunday, Feb. 19. (Photo courtesy Pattaya United FC)
Pattaya United players line up prior to their Thai Premier League game against Chonburi FC at the Nongprue Stadium in Pattaya, Sunday, Feb. 19. (Photo courtesy Pattaya United FC)

With a newly refurbished stadium and pitch, the scene was set for an epic encounter.  From the start Pattaya began dominating the match and possession.  Lessons had been learnt from the previous week and the coaching staff had picked an evenly balanced side, with Wellington Priori starting in central midfield just behind loan striker Milos Stojanovic.

Despite Chonburi’s best efforts they never really got into the game in the first half as the home side played with great intensity.  The best chance came at the end of the end of the half with Priori blazing over the bar when he really should have hit the target.  Chonburi must have been delighted to end the half on level terms as they had spent the majority of the opening 45 minutes playing second fiddle to the excellent Pattaya side.

The course of the game was turned on its head in the 51st minute as a strong challenge from Pattaya substitute Picha Autra resulted in a red card.  There was nothing cynical about the foul but it was rash and could be put down to the “impetuosity of youth”.

Despite being down to ten men Pattaya continued to press and harry their supposed more illustrious opponents.  One could never tell that the hosts were down to ten men and great credit must go to the midfield who for the whole of the match dominated this area of the field with their energy and touch.

In the 69th minute Chonburi took the lead as Diakte headed home a superbly delivered free kick from midfielder Kroerkrit and Pattaya were now given an uphill task to try and save the game.

In all credit to the home side, Pattaya never wavered from their philosophy of playing the ball to feet and in the 81st minute a patiently created attack resulted in a superb cross reaching Milos Stojanovic who headed the ball into the net.  This was nothing more than Stojanovic deserved as he had worked tirelessly as the home side’s loan striker.

Pattaya United’s captain Lee Won-young (3) challenges for the ball with Chonburi FC defender Fodé Diakité (18) during their Thai Premier League game at the Nongprue Stadium in Pattaya, Sunday, Feb. 19. (Photo courtesy Pattaya United FC)
Pattaya United’s captain Lee Won-young (3) challenges for the ball with Chonburi FC defender Fodé Diakité (18) during their Thai Premier League game at the Nongprue Stadium in Pattaya, Sunday, Feb. 19. (Photo courtesy Pattaya United FC)

As the final whistle approached the pace of the game became frenetic and the atmosphere within the ground reached fever pitch.  The home side were indebted to goalkeeper Jos for a couple of fine saves as both sides went in search of the winning goal.

With the Pattaya fans seemingly happy with a well earned point, one last break out of defence in the 94th minute saw the ball reach Wellington Priori on the half way line.  The young Brazilian set off into the opponent’s half in his own unique, languid style.  Breaking through several challenges his magnificent run was only ended when he squared the ball to substitute Chainarong Tathong to smash the ball into the empty net.

There was barely time to re start the game before the referee brought a close to the proceedings to give Pattaya United a fully deserved 2-1 victory and send the crowd into wild celebrations.  This really was “Roy of the Rovers” stuff and for the Dolphins to win in such circumstances ended a memorable evening in Nongprue.

The players and coaching staff cannot be praised enough for this victory.  The players ran their blood to water and played Chonburi off the pitch.  The visiting ‘Sharks’ also played their part in this wonderful encounter but the victory will go down to one simple fact.  Pattaya United wanted it more.

United’s next Premier League game is on Saturday, Feb. 25 away at Buriram while Chonburi have a home fixture against Korat on Sunday.

In other local results from last weekend, Thai Navy fell to a 2-1 home defeat against Buriram to leave the Sattahip based team with no points from their opening 2 games.