Rodrigo hits winner as Sharks beat Dolphins

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Chonburi ‘Sharks’ stole local bragging rights in a fiercely contested derby against Pattaya United in their opening 2016 Premier League football fixture at the municipal stadium in Chonburi on Sunday, March 6.

United were playing their first game in the top flight of Thai football for 3 years and started the brighter of the 2 teams.  Lebanese striker Soony Saad, currently on loan from BEC Tero Sasana, put the visitors ahead in the 14th minute as he beat the Sharks’ offside trap to collect a through ball and calmly steer his shot past Chanin Sae-ear in the Chonburi goal.

On loan striker Soony Saad (2nd left) puts Pattaya United 1-0 ahead in their Thai Premier League fixture against Chonburi FC at the Chonburi Stadium, Sunday, March 6. (Photo/Pattaya United FC)

The hosts drew level soon after however as United goalkeeper Khammai left too much space on his near post and could only divert a tame cross from Sriyankem into his own goal to make the score 1-1.

Buoyed by this stroke of good fortune, Chonburi pressed forward but their impetus was halted when defender Suttinun Phuk-hom was red carded before half time for a second bookable offence.  The game remained tied at one all going into the break.

Despite being a man down for the entire second half, it was the hosts who came out with more attacking intent.  Chonburi’s Brazilian striker Rodrigo brought out a fine diving save from Khammai in the early minutes of the second period and the same player put the Sharks ahead in the 64th minute as he latched onto a defensive mistake to fire the ball into the Pattaya goal from close range.

United pressed forward in the closing stages, hoping to make the numerical superiority count, but they left spaces in their rear for Chonburi to exploit and Thaweekarn had a golden chance to tie the game up for the Sharks but he somehow put the ball wide with the United goal at his mercy.

Pattaya’s chances appeared to all but evaporate when their defender Pharanyu Uppala was harshly booked for a second time by the referee and dismissed from the field of play with just minutes remaining.

It was a tough first game back at the top level for United but and they would have been hoping for better fortune in their follow up match against Bangkok United, which at press time was scheduled to take place at the Dolphins Stadium on Wednesday, March 9.

This coming weekend, United are away at Suphanburi FC on Saturday while Chonburi face a home tie against Sukhothai on Sunday. Both games are scheduled to kick off at 6pm.