Wherever you are in the world the start of a new football season gives that unique combination of excitement and expectation. This was the same last Saturday, Feb. 11, as Pattaya United kicked off the new 2017 Thai Premier League season with a visit to Police Tero FC (formerly BEC Tero) in Bangkok.
A large enthusiastic crowd set the tone as the game started at a frenetic pace. In the first 20 minutes Pattaya had the best of the opening skirmishes with captain Lee Won Young skillfully organizing the side with a commanding presence. The pace of Picha U-Tra down the right flank kept the Tero defense busy and Pattaya could easily have opened their account with the chances they created.
However, as the game wore on Tero grew into the match and cracks started to appear in the Pattaya game plan. The half time score of 0-0 was a fair reflection of the action that had been enjoyed by the noisy crowd.
The start of the 2nd half once again saw a finely balanced contest between the two sides but Pattaya were becoming increasingly careless in possession. In the 60th minute Tero took advantage of this to hit Pattaya on the break and a fine finish from South Korean Kim Dong-Chan saw the hosts take a 1-0 lead.
A major problem for Pattaya was that they had started Wellington Priori on the left hand side of midfield with him switching him to the right hand side for the 2nd half. This was leaving the side unbalanced as Wellington is a natural centre midfield player, and he was certainly missed there as Pattaya’s three central midfield players were largely ineffective.
As the game progressed Pattaya searched desperately for an equalizer and they were unlucky in the 76th minute when Peeradon Chamratsamee had his best moment of the game when his fine volley was well saved by the home keeper.
The game was put out of reach In the 77th minute as Tero once again caught Pattaya on the break and Michael N’diri was brought down in the box by Supahanan Bureerat. N’diri picked himself up to convert the penalty, giving the home side a rather flattering 2-0 advantage.
The game ended in rather farcical circumstances as a melee on the touch line ended up in Pattaya’s Miprathang Supravee and Tero’s Kalifa Cisse being set off. Despite a long consultation between referee and linesman they got the wrong Frenchman as N’diri should have been dismissed and not the unlucky Cisse.
Despite this opening day defeat for Pattaya there were many positives that could have taken from the performance. The introduction in the second half of Chaiyawat Buran gave the side greater balance down the left side and Milos Stajanovic worked tirelessly throughout the 90 minutes as the lone striker. It was also good to see new keeper Somporn Yos constantly dominating his 18 yard area.
This coming Sunday things do not get any easier for Pattaya United as they welcome local rivals Chonburi FC ‘Sharks’ to the Nongprue stadium. However, if lessons can be learnt from this opening day result, Pattaya United can look forward to a successful 2017 campaign with great optimism.
Other results from the weekend saw Sattahip based Siam Navy FC lose 1-0 at Bangkok United and Chonburi FC gain a creditable 2-2 draw away at Buriram United.