Having secured a return to the top flight of Thai professional football with a 1-1 draw at BBCU earlier in the week, Pattaya United players and management were able to celebrate promotion with the club’s supporters during a home game against Sukhothai FC last Saturday, December 12.
An energetic start to the match saw both teams going for the win and both goalkeepers were forced into making clearances in the first 5 minutes from corner kicks. Despite some theatrics by players on either side, the referee mercifully chose to play advantage where possible and let the game flow.
Pattaya United supporters celebrate their team’s return to the Thai Premier League following an absence of 3 years. (Photo courtesy Pattaya United)
A foul on Dolphins’ forward Anuwat in the 29th minute led to a free kick which was headed wide but two minutes later, in a dominating show, Pattaya United’s Peeradon unleashed an unstoppable shot on goal from about 22 yards out for the opener.
The play was end-to-end, left-to-right, on the ground and in the air. Everything one wanted in a football match was on display and energy and enthusiasm abounded. Pattaya United had a chance to add another goal from a 45th-minute corner kick but the ball was headed wide by defender Won-young.
The second half started spritely but soon deteriorated into a succession of petulant fouls and confrontational stances taken by both sides. Match officials did well to control the situation and not, surprisingly, issue a few cards.
With the clock ticking down, Sukhothai conceded a free-kick on the edge of their 18-yard box. The resultant direct, dipping shot by Anuwat proved to be too quick for the Sukhothai keeper and gave Pattaya a comfortable 2-0 lead in the 75th minute.
Both teams kept the tempo high, but Pattaya were firmly in control and kept pressing for more goals. In the 87th minute, substitute Picha went unmarked and unnoticed in the Sukhothai penalty area and notched United’s third goal with a powerful diving header. There was no further scoring in the match despite the home team’s pressure but United’s fans could revel in a comfortable 3-0 victory in their final home game of the season.
Dolphins supporters created an atmosphere worthy of a cup final in this match and they can now wait with anticipation for the drums, banter, chants and fun in the 2016 Thai Premier League.