It’s top four United after victory over Muangthong

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Thai Football Premier League 2011/12

Pattaya United secured fourth place in the 2011/12 Thai Premier League standings and the players received a welcome 5 million baht bonus after securing a hard fought 1-0 victory over Muangthong United at the Nongprue Stadium last Saturday.

With the win, Pattaya have completed the regular season with 53 points to finish level on the same total as Bangkok Glass, but with the latter having a worse head to head record during the just finished campaign.

Pattaya United Chairman, Sonthaya Khunplume, (4th left front) presents a cheque for 5 million baht to the United playing squad after they achieved a top four league finish. Pattaya United Chairman, Sonthaya Khunplume, (4th left front) presents a cheque for 5 million baht to the United playing squad after they achieved a top four league finish.

United began the match against Muangthong in bright fashion and had the first opportunity of the game when Niwate Siriwong’s long-range free kick went just the wrong side of the Muangthong goal.

The visitors came back strongly at the other end of the field however and Pichitphong Chaechiw looked destined to score in the 22nd minute until Pattaya’s Somphomp Nilawong somehow got in a last ditch tackle to deflect the ball behind.

After Ludovic and Paul Ekollo had seen half chances to put the home side one up go begging, Muangthong piled on the pressure on the Dolphin defence, who had goalkeeper Narit to thank for keeping the game goalless at half time.

Itthipol Poolsap (7) wheels away in delight after putting United ahead from the penalty spot.

Itthipol Poolsap (7) wheels away in delight after putting United ahead from the penalty spot.

The match turned within 5 minutes of the restart when Pattaya were awarded a penalty kick after Jeasthawong was adjudged to have deliberately handled the ball from an attempted cross by Itthiphol.  It was Itthiphol himself who stepped up to take the kick and he coolly slotted it into the left hand corner of the goal past the despairing dive of Thammasajja.

After falling behind Muangthong made two substitutions, bringing on Jackraphan Pholsai to replace Adisak Klinsukom, and Christian Cuacu for Woranat Thongcare.  The Bangkok outfit then proceeded to lay siege to the Pattaya goal as they went in search of an equalizer.

Pattaya were finding it hard to maintain any quality possession as they repelled the Muangthing attacks and they were lucky not to concede in the 81st minute when only an incredible one-handed save by Narit prevented Sangsanoi from leveling the scores.

Muangthong would go even closer in the final minutes of the match and when Ali Diarra saw his flick-on from a free kick finally beat Narit but rebound back off the woodwork to safety, the visitors must have known it was not to be their day.

Pattaya United players celebrate with the fans after the 1-0 win over Muangthong United at the Nongprue Stadium in Pattaya, Saturday, Jan. 28. Pattaya United players celebrate with the fans after the 1-0 win over Muangthong United at the Nongprue Stadium in Pattaya, Saturday, Jan. 28.

When the final whistle sounded soon after, it sparked scenes of jubilation among both the throngs of Dolphin fans and the Pattaya players on the pitch as they recognized their achievement of posting their highest league finish since the team was formed three seasons ago.

After some disappointing results and performances at the start of the season, Pattaya United really turned things around in the second half of the campaign; a stretch which saw them lose only two out of seventeen matches (unbeaten in their final 10 games) and gain 35 points out of a possible 51, almost double the amount of points they achieved in the opening half of the season.

Much credit must go to first team coach Chalermwoot Sa-Ngapol who took over in July last year and has been a big factor in United’s transformation and turning them into a hard team to beat.

There was double cause for celebration among the players and coaching staff last weekend as club Chairman Sonthaya Khunplume came good with his promise of donating a 5 million baht bonus if the team could achieve a top four finish.

Things are certainly looking much brighter now for the Dolphins with a return to their home stadium, and with a settled squad and coaching staff, the fans will be eyeing a possible top three finish next season.

At the other end of the table, Siam Navy were sent crashing out of the Thai Premier League on the final day after they lost 2-0 to already relegated Sriracha FC, and this result, combined with Samut Songkhram winning 3-1 away at Army FC, meant that the Eastern Seaboard will be represented by just two teams, Pattaya United and Chonburi FC, in the 2012 Thai Premier League season.

Thai Premier League Final Standings Jan. 28

Team P W D L +/- Pts
Buriram PEA 34 26 7 1 49 85
Chonburi 34 20 9 5 30 69
Muangthong United 34 17 9 8 22 60
Pattaya United 34 14 11 9 11 53
Bangkok Glass 34 15 8 11 14 53
Osotspa 34 12 15 7 15 51
Thai Port 34 12 9 13 -4 45
BEC Tero Sasana 34 13 6 15 4 45
Police United 34 11 11 12 -4 44
Chiangrai United 34 11 11 12 -5 44
TTM Phichit 34 12 7 15 -16 43
Sisaket 34 9 12 13 -6 39
Army United 34 10 9 15 -1 39
TOT 34 11 4 19 -26 37
Samut Songkhram 34 8 12 14 -14 36
Siam Navy 34 9 6 19 -24 33
Sriracha 34 7 11 16 -10 32
Khonkaen 34 6 9 19 -35 27
Results:  Army United 1 v 3 Samut Songkhram, Sriracha 2 v 0 Siam Navy, Chiangrai United 2 v 2 Buriram PEA, BEC Tero Sasana 2 v 3 TOT, Pattaya United 1 v 0 Muangthong United