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SWATCATS in the Thai Premier

Started by Roger, December 14, 2014, 06:54:45 PM

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Dateline 7th August 2016

NRFC 2 Navy FC 1

Navy provided the opposition at the 80th Anniversary Stadium in this “6 pointer” relegation battle. The future of either team in the TPL could be decided by this vital fixture.

In early exchanges Navy looked bright on the break but with Lindemann probing, the home team had more of the play.
In the 7th minute Tagbajumi struck the upright with a swiveling 15 yard shot as the home team pressed and minutes later after a superb run and cross from Lindeman, Adiyiah forced a fine save from the visitor’s keeper.
As the first half drew to a close Chanatphol went close with a curling shot from outside the box then seconds later the home team went close twice with the Navy defence in tatters with the keeper again doing well to keep out Lindemann’s drive.
In a final first half flurry Sawandee Pralong attempted a long range drive which went narrowly wide. At the other end Adiyiah was lucky to stay on the pitch after TV replays showed him striking a Navy player in the face. This incident could have been disastrous because had the official seen the offence, he would have been forced to award a penalty.

The Swatcats produced many chances in the first half with the midfield buzzing and producing some smooth and effective moves but the defence looked loose at times with Nagano missing, presumed injured. The home team’s approach play continued to impress but that final ball into the danger areas was proving hard to find as Navy packed their defence.

The second half began with the Swatcats again on the front foot with continuous pressure and in the 63rd minute a superb Chanatphol free kick was well saved by the keeper.

In the 59th minute a Navy defender wrestled Chanatphol to the ground and a penalty was awarded. Lindemann converted to give the Swatcats a deserved lead.
The Swatcat defence was coping well with occasional Navy breaks but in the 64th minute a snap shot from the visitors rattled the bar â€" a real wake up call for the home side. Navy now sniffing an unlikely point and now having to attack went close again in the 65th minute.

The men in orange regained their composure and Adiyiah went close, then in the 80th minute a sweet move involving Adiyiah and Tagbajumi ended with a goal from Chakrit, driven high into the net from 10 yards.
Navy ensured a tense last few minutes when they scored in the 82nd minute with a diving header but the Swatcats survived to earn themselves the three points despite losing Chalermpong after a red card for a hefty challenge on a breaking attacker.

Another very encouraging performance and a vital 3 points for the Swatcats â€" a special mention at this point for Pralong and Lindemann both of whose recent form has been outstanding.
With this victory they have leapfrogged Army and Navy and now have Pattaya and Si Saket firmly in their sights. There is NO WAY that this team will be relegated given recent performances. Another encouraging sign is that the fans are drifting back â€" the attendance tonight looked to be around 8-9 thousand.

With some tough fixtures ahead but with confidence high the next month is going to be interesting. Chang Rai, Bangkok United, Suphanburi and Buriram fixtures loom. I can see no 3 pointers there but if the team can grab a couple of points, we should stay clear of the bottom 5.


This may be contentious I know but I would venture to say that the current performances are BETTER than in most of the games played last season. Our shape is generally better and we have made fuller use of players in the squad. Milos Joksic has got the players on his side and team spirit and confidence seem high. If (when) we survive this season, I think that we can be pretty optimistic about our chances next year â€" and maybe 20 000 plus attendances!!


8 games to go â€" my predictions. How important are those last 4 games?

Chang Rai (a) ------------------0 points
Bangkok United (h)-----------0 points
Suphanburi (a)-----------------1 point
Buriram (h)---------------------0 points
Pattaya (a)----------------------1 point
Osotspa (h)---------------------3 points
Army (a)  -----------------------3 points
BBCU (h)------------------------3 points         


The Swatcats journey north to take on Chang Rai United this weekend (KO 6.00 pm Sunday 14th August). To achieve anything from this tough encounter would be a bonus.


Dateline 14th August 2016

Chang Rai United 1 NRFC 2

An in form NRFC took on the fancied Chang Rai tonight hoping to haul themselves further clear of the bottom three.

On a damp evening the visitors opened brightly with Tagbajumi, then Lindemann going close in the opening minutes. Chang Rai countered with a shot narrowly wide. The Swatcats were more than holding their own in the first 20 minutes, counter attacking effectively and keeping the home defence on its toes.

In the 21st minute, Tagbajumi was incorrectly adjudged to be offside as he chipped the ball into the net. Literally seconds later, he was again on the wrong end of an incorrect offside decision as his drive was saved by the keeper.

At this point, 25 minutes into the match, Chang Rai’s attacks were looking ponderous and on balance, the visitors were on top with Lindemann and Tagbajumi looking dangerous. The Swatcat’s attacks were getting more frequent with a Lindemann drive being deflected wide and an Adiyiah flick going close.
Chang Rai went close in the 37th minute with a 12 yard drive but this was an isolated real chance for the men in orange and black.

A very encouraging first half performance with the Swatcats producing most of the chances and dominating for long periods of play.

The second half kicked off with my thought that we have been in this situation a few times this season and have conceded second half goals â€" can we hold out?

Lindemann had a great chance to break the deadlock in the 50th minute as he broke through the defence but he stumbled and was unable to get his shot in. Chang Rai were then unlucky in the 56th minute when they had a flurry of shots with the final effort flying over the bar.
The home team was beginning to get a foothold in the game and they were now exerting a certain amount of pressure on the Swatcat’s defence.

In the 62nd minute Tagbajumi was released superbly by a through ball and he stroked the ball neatly into the net to give the visitors a deserved lead.
The home team equalized with a scrappy goal following a free kick in the 70th minute but seconds later, following the restart a long clearance found Tagbajumi who blasted the ball into the net to restore the lead.
In a period of frenetic action Lindemann went close as the visitors pressed, Chang Rai then struck the foot of the post as both teams battled for supremacy.
Tagbajumi was dismissed for a second yellow in the 75th minute as the action became more intense.

With both sides tiring in the heavy conditions the game became a slugging match with neither side willing to concede â€" becoming a real test of character for both sides.

A Chang Rai header from a corner went just over, then a looping shot went wide as the home team searched for an equalizer in the closing minutes. The Swatcats were now playing deep and inviting the Chang Rai attack to press forward â€" a mistake in my opinion â€" one that I hope is not punished!!

The Swatcats held on for a vital and famous victory to hoist themselves well clear of the relegation zone.

The team is playing well and producing some good football. Tonight was a real test of character and a tremendous 3 points. With Chainat, Army and Navy all losing this weekend and our last 4 games all winnable against fellow strugglers I now feel confident that relegation will be averted.
Well done to the team and in particular coach Joksic!!!


NRFC welcome second in the table Bangkok United to the 80th Anniversary Stadium this weekend (KO 7.00 pm, Saturday 20th August â€" note change of date from Sunday 21st in order to give the Thai national team an extra day for preparation).
A tough test for the in form Swatcat squad.
I think goals may be hard to come by against a well coached Angels defence and this coupled with a formidable attacking force from the visitors leads me to believe that a home defeat is on the cards.

Mind you, given my past record on predictions……….Home win!!!!!


Dateline 20th August 2016

NRFC 1 Bangkok United 1

NRFC faced a stern test of their credentials as they took on the high flying Bangkok United at the 80th Anniversary Stadium.

The home side started brightly with Tagbajumi shooting over in the 2nd minute then Adiyiah was on target after a fine run. Adiyiah then fired inches wide after a fine passing move.
Bangkok United attacked sporadically but their moves were looking somewhat sterile early on but the signs of class were becoming increasingly apparent as the match progressed â€" they have a talented squad.

In the 13th minute a fine break, with astute use of the long ball, Tagbajumi made the opposition keeper work with a low drive. The Angel’s goal now seemed under constant danger as Adiyiah again made the opposing keeper work to keep out a drive.

In a goalless first half, the Swatcats demonstrated that they can compete with the best that the TPL has to offer, in some ways they were unlucky not to be ahead.

The second half commenced with Bangkok on the attack but then a dangerous counter attack ended with Lindemann shooting over. With the home team exerting some fine pressure, Bangkok countered with Mario and Jaycee both going close.

In the 56th minute the deadlock was broken when Chakrit drove home from 10 yards, then in the 61st minute on the break, with 3 attackers faced by one defender, the Swatcats spurned a great chance to put the game to bed with a poor cross ending the move. Chakrit then went close with a fine low drive.
On 65 minutes Mario hit a far post shot that was smothered by the home keeper, Korat then defended as series of crosses with Bangkok looking increasingly dangerous.

The Swatcats then began to sit back - too deep in my opinion and allowed intense pressure from the title contenders. This was going to be a testing 20 plus minutes as the visitors swarmed forward hoping to keep their title hopes alive.
In the 76th minute Lindemann conceded a foul just outside the box and from the resulting free kick, Boscovic struck the bar with an excellent dipping drive - game on!! Minutes later a Jaycee header was cleared off the line with the Swatcat’s defence looking slightly panicky.

Prompong, on as a substitute, had a great chance to put the Swatcats two up in the 84th minute following a superb through ball from Chivuta, but Bangkok broke immediately and the inevitable happened as Jaycee cleverly back flicked the ball into the net to draw the Angels level.

A fantastic performance in which they matched the skill and endeavour of arguably the best team in the TPL. Great atmosphere at the 80th Anniversary stadium with a decent crowd (14-15 thousand would be my guess) and I feel renewed hope and enthusiasm for the team.
One only wonders what the result would have been had the home team not decided to play so deep in the last 20 minutes â€" inviting as they did, the visitors to exert massive pressure. No team can hope to hold out a team containing danger men Jaycee, Boscovic and Mario Gjurovski for that amount of time. One only hopes that lessons have been learnt. There is no doubt in my mind that 3 points were thrown away by this tactical error. “Game management” should be on the agenda at the next team meeting!!!

Were it not for the team’s appalling start they would be fighting for 5th or 6th place given their recent form under Joksic. The form table based on the last 6 results puts us fifth â€" what a remarkable turnaround.


The TPL now takes a couple of weeks break to accommodate the Thai National Team’s fixtures. Action starts again on the weekend of 10-11th September when the Swatcats have the opportunity to leap frog Suphanburi into the Holy Grail that is 10th place.


Oh heck!! Bjorn Lindemann announces that the squad has only been paid half salary this month. Could be that the Swatcats are in financial trouble!!!


The climax to the 2016 TPL season is upon us and a time to look forward â€" and back to the journey of the team during the year.

With 6 games to go, my feeling is that the team is 100% safe from relegation â€" relegation that until 2 months ago looked a distinct possibility. The season started badly, with unexpected home defeats, poor performances and dwindling attendances. The team was in crisis â€" the team lacked spirit and pundits in the know were suggesting that Sugao Kambe’s coaching methods were lacking. As a mere on looking fan, I sensed that the players were lacking motivation and had lost respect for the coach.

The matches and performances lacked any kind of entertainment merit and I was not surprised that the fans voted with their feet â€" a nearly empty stadium at some of those early home marches was most disconcerting â€" but at least it was easy to get out of the carpark after the matches!!

The inevitable happened and Kambe was replaced. Milos Joksic, who had brought Pattaya United up into the Premier League, was appointed. He set a target of “top 10” and we all (well I did) cried “No chance!!!”.

What a revelation. An immediate change and some encouraging but not spectacular results. I am no tactician and upon asking some expert friends they could not detect an appreciable change in tactics but there was nonetheless a change. Joksic dropped local hero Noah Chivuta from the starting lineup and Bjorn Lindemann seemed “bjorn again” playing out of his skin match after match. He also made changes at the back and started playing Tagbajumi and Adiyiah together up front.

The squad seemed rejuvenated and a real spirit emerged on the pitch. Results continued to yield points as the team eased away from the bottom three. As I write the team sits in 11th place on the same number of points as 10th place Suphanburi.

So with games against Suphanburi and Buriram United next to test the team’s mettle and then 4 comparatively easy games against teams in the bottom five to conclude the season, a top ten finish does seem, after all a possibility.

So what of the season - well considerable relief if we avoid the drop, pleasure at seeing the improvement in the latter half of the season and optimism for next season â€" I really do think that the team are playing better now than they did last season.

A topsi-turvy season for sure keeping us all on tenterhooks for large parts…but hopefully with a happy ending.


Just a reminder that the TPL recommences this weekend. The Swatcats travel to Suphanburi (KO 6.00pm Saturday 10th Sept) hoping to gain a victory that would elevate them to a comfortable 10th place in the league.
Suphanburi have been struggling this season and thus I feel that there is a real chance of a point or even a victory for the visitors.


Dateline 10th September 2016

Suphanburi 3 NRFC 1

10th plays 11th as in form NRFC take on the underachieving War Elephants in this weekend’s fixture. Suphan finished an excellent 3rd in the TPL last year but this season they have struggled to string together a decent run of results.

The visitors opened confidently, dominating possession but the home team manufactured 2 decent chances on the break in the 15th and 16th minutes. In the 22nd minute Lindemann, on his old stamping ground, broke thought the Suphan defence and his low drive was well saved by the keeper.

In the 32nd minute after a fine break down the right flank Tagbajumi headed just wide and in a half of few real chances, a real opportunity to break the deadlock. Suphan then rallied and Chappuis went close from 10 yards on the cusp of half time.

A competent and well controlled first half performance with some decent build up play in midfield.

The second half began with a bang with a Darko Tasevski shot that thundered off the angle of the upright and the crossbar â€" the goal frame may still be shuddering!!!

In the 54th minute Suphanburi went ahead with a well worked glancing header. The Swatcats then pressed forward searching for the elusive equalizer but with little effect - in fact Suphanburi looked the more dangerous of the two sides and in the 67th minute the home side went two up with an unchallenged tap in from a corner. Lindemann immediately countered with a fine drive but it now looked all over for the visitors.

In the 82nd minute after the ball was needlessly given away just outside the box the ball was slotted home to put the home side three up. Minutes later the Swatcats had a chance cleared off the line and from the resulting clearance, Pralong Sawandee clouted the ball into the net from 25 yards to give the score a more reasonable appearance.
In the 92nd minute the Swatcats were awarded a very dubious penalty decision. Lindemann drove the penalty way over the bar â€" perhaps justice was done!!!

The team looked and performed like a decent team tonight and the spirit seemed good despite recent rumours of player’s salaries not being paid. Chances however were as usual at a premium despite decent build up at times â€" we are by no means a free scoring side!!
Defensive lapses in the second half cost us the points but full marks to Suphanburi for a deserved home win.


It’s the BIG one this weekend as the Swatcats welcome a stuttering Buriram side to the 80th Anniversary Stadium (KO Saturday,17th September 7.00 pm). After the debacle of last year’s overselling of tickets (which resulted in an all time record TPL attendance figure) one wonders what the attendance will be this time round.
I expect a tough match and would be more than happy with a point. With the Swatcats in 11th place but only 4 points above the relegation spots, a point would be most welcome.


Dateline 17th September 2016

NRFC 2 Buriram United 0

The “Big Dawgs” of Isaan clashed tonight seeking the temporary bragging rights of the region.

In front of a feisty crowd of 22 000 fans (nice to see the stadium almost full to capacity), the Swatcats went immediately on the attack with Bjorn Lindemann hitting the woodwork with a thumping header from a well flighted corner in the first minute. Tunez then went close with a close range flick as the match immediately burst into life.

In the 6th minute a quick counter attack ended when Lindemann drew a fine save from the visitor’s keeper â€" can this tempo last for the remaining 84 minutes!!

The game settled into a midfield battle with both sides jostling for dominance with Buriram looking more polished but being more than matched for endeavour by the home team. Diogo in particular looked real class.

On 21 minutes a free kick on the flank from Lindemann again brought the opposition keeper into action â€" Bjorn really is on fire at the moment!!! Minutes later Chanatphon went close with a 20 yard free kick.
After a quickly taken free kick, a cross was launched into the box and found Tagbajumi who bravely headed into the net to give the Swatcats a 30th minute lead.
Buriram then began to exert pressure with a couple of half chances created and in the 44th minute, in a somewhat harsh decision, a penalty was awarded for a challenge inside the box. The penalty taker spurned the chance to level the game, sending the kick narrowly wide.

As the half drew to a close, on chances alone, the home team was in charge but with Buriram’s pedigree and experience, they were still in the game.

The second half began with the home team probing and Buriram looking largely flat going forward. In the 59th minute the visitors went close with a close range shot going wide. They continued to press and Diogo was unlucky when his shot was deflected wide in the 66th minute. The home team countered and a Lindemann break led to a dangerous cross which was almost converted into a second goal as Chakrit flicked it over the bar.
In a further break by Tagbajumi in the 78th minute, continued with a superb ball into the box from Lindemann, May T failed to convert what would have been a killer goal. The home team continued to flow forward confidently putting the Buriram rearguard under pressure but Buriram broke and hit the right upright with a diving header in the 82nd minute â€" a close shave for the men in orange!

In a frenetic and emotional finale to the match, Buriram again hit the post but the home team immediately countered and Lindemann provided the “icing on the cake” with a superb solo effort to put the Swatcats two up.

A great contest and a most satisfying result for the men from Korat. The team is continuing to put in decent performances. I have said it before but it bears repeating, the team is playing better under Joksic than they were at any point last season â€" and we finished 8th.
In terms of TPL dynamics, Buriram are certainly not the force they were and NRFC seem to be in the ascendancy. Tonight the Swatcats proved again that they can compete at the highest level… I think next season they may raise a few people’s eyebrows!!


The Swatcats embark on their final push for a top ten finish when they take on Pattaya United this weekend (KO  6.00 pm, Sunday 25th September).  They should be looking to increase their points total in this fixture.
Their last 4 games are all against relegation threatened teams so a decent haul of points is a distinct possibility.


Dateline 25th September 2016

Pattaya United 4 NRFC 1

The Swatcats rolled into “sin city” searching for points to help achieve a top ten finish and possibly place one of the final nails in the coffin in the Blue Dolphins’ fight for premier league survival.

The visitors began with a bang with a goal from Pratan in the 3rd minute â€" a fine, powerful header from a well flighted corner.
The blue dolphins fought back with a series of raids forward, looking effective and particularly dangerous. With the Swatcat defence conceding a series of free kicks, one sensed that this could still be a long night for the men from Korat.

In the 10th minute an angled shot from Pattaya struck the post and minutes later a lob went inches over the visitor’s crossbar.
In the 16th minute a free kick was awarded just outside the box and the kick was expertly converted to equalize the score. The home team continued to probe and looked a decent team going forward. The Swatcats looked jaded and seemed to have no answers as Pattaya pressed.

Pattaya went ahead when a disputed penalty was awarded and converted in the 31st minute - a lead they probably deserved. In the aftermath Lindemann was lucky to stay on the pitch following a head butt on an opponent. Minutes later a rare chance for the Swatcats as a half volley was well saved and from the resulting corner Tagbajumi headed wide.

After conceding yet another free kick, a whipped in cross was headed into the net to give the Blue Dolphins a 3-1 lead as the first half came to a close. In added time Chanatphol was dismissed for a dangerous tackle. All in all a bit of a horror show from the visitors so far.

With the match all but a dead rubber, the Swatcats failed to make the home team feel under any real pressure as the home team searched for a fourth goal and in the 60th minute Pinto, completely unmarked inside the 6 yard box, headed in to complete his hat-trick.

A now demoralized Swatcat team played out the final 30 minutes hoping not to concede again and presumably left to wonder “what went wrong tonight?”

Not too many positives to be taken from this encounter. A stuttering performance with no real cohesion between defence, midfield and attack.  Few real chances were made and the defence looked very shaky throughout. The team was well beaten by a side tipped for relegation by many and the result was a bit of a shock to the many fans that made the long journey to watch the match â€" in short a reality check for the Swatcat team.


Apparently, the Swatcats have adopted a new shirt crest for next season. Do you like it?


Following the King’s death, the rest of the TPL season will not take place and the two cup competitions will be decided by lottery. This means that Muang thong United will be declared champions and BBCU, Chainat and Army will be relegated. They will be replaced by UMT Ubon United, Thai Honda and Port.

The final standings are therefore:


Nakhon Ratchasima FC have signed Kritsada Hemwipat from Sukhothai FC and Eakkanut Kongket from Khon Kaen United.


The 2017 season kicks of on 11-12th Feb (TBC), so I thought a season's preview would be in order.

I am really looking forward to the 2017 season. I am expecting a bit of a bounce after the national team’s splendid performances in the Suzuki Cup, perhaps with attendances up and expectations high.

As usual at the start of any TPL season there are still unknowns, but here’s hoping for a successful campaign. Top of the pile I expect the usual suspects. My team of the year last season was Bangkok United â€" I expect them to be fighting for the title this year. Muangthong United, AKA the Thai National team, will be there with them and don’t write off Buriram United â€" they impressed me in the recent friendly at Korat.

With many teams seemingly cutting back on “expensive players”, Chang Rai and to a lesser extent Sukhothai have been splashing the cash â€" I admire their ambition but can you simply buy success? Sukhothai had an excellent first season in the top flight, but as my team Nakhon Ratchasima has found, that second season can be a real challenge â€" especially if the team overachieved in their first season.
I expect Bangkok Glass, Sukhothai and Chang Rai to complete the top six.

I know this is contentious but I firmly believe that the Tero/Udon situation is a great move for the long term sake of the Premier League. Football purists I know will disagree but geographically and demographically the league needs teams that cover the whole of Thailand â€" come on in Chang Mai and Songkhla and make it quick!!

At the wrong end of the table the three incoming teams will find the going tough together with Super Power, Pattaya and Navy who will all be battling for survival. In the lower echelons Si Saket will be safe.
Disappointment of the 2016 season were Suphanburi and I cannot really see why the coming season will be any different. Ratchaburi will continue to be a solid top eight side and one hopes that Chonburi can get their act together to join them in the top eight. The latter seem to have a crisis of confidence and lack of direction at the present time but I still see a decent finish for the team.

Finally the Swatcats, a strong finish in the last campaign under the stewardship of Milos Joksic leads me to believe that, despite the seeming loss of Tagbajumi, Lindemann and Chivuta, a top ten finish is on the cards. I for one would again just be happy with survival (the league needs a sustainable team from Korat) but I personally am disappointed with the team’s lack of ambition â€" they need to “kick on” now and fully establish their position at the top table.

I hope that we all enjoy a competitive well fought season, with no dramas or crises. We have all has enough of the shenanigans â€" let the battles commence!!


Isaan Derby Tournament Update â€" First day fixtures.

FT Si Saket 1 Nong Bua Pitchaya FC 2

Premier League Si Saket took on the plucky Nong Bua Gamecocks in the opening game of the tournament. An impressive Nong Bua overcame the Premier League outfit with an aggressive display of attacking football, spurning a couple of guilt edged chances on the way to a well deserved victory.

Nong Bua will take on Nakhon Ratchasima in Sunday’s final. I anticipate a strong challenge from the second tier side that played impressively this afternoon.

Attendance; me, a stray dog and 31 others.

FT Nakhon Ratchasima 4 Roi Et United 0

Before a crowd swelling to around 1-2000, the hosts took on the White Squirrels from Roi Et.

The hosts opened the scoring in the 5th minute with Dominic Adiyiah dragging a shot wide of the keeper from 12 yards. Velkoski had a great  chance to put the Swatcats 2 up in the 16th minute when he sent a header wide after a fine cross from Adiyiah.
Chanatphon put the hosts 2 up with a well taken free kick in the 41st minute.

In the 61st minute Chakrit scored the third after a fine flowing break â€" at this point the difference in class between the two sides was becoming increasingly apparent.

A controversially awarded penalty in the70th minute gave Adiyiah the chance to put the Korat side 4 up but the Roi Et keeper saved the shot. The Swatcats put the icing on the cake with a late 4th goal. A tap in by Sarawut after good work from Adiyiah.

The team looked lively up front with Pina Velkoski and Adiyiah combining well to create many chances. The defence looked sound, although truth be told it was not severely tested tonight.

Nong Bua will provide a greater challenge in the final on sunday.

Attendance 1-2000


Isaan Derby Tournament Update â€" Second day fixtures.

FT 3rd place play off - Si Saket 5 @ Roi Et FC 2

Roi Et played some pretty passing football in midfield at times but they were overpowered comfortably by Premier League outfit Si Saket. Si Saket looked stronger as the game progressed with Roi Et unable to produce much of a threat up front.

Attendance : 500

FT Final â€" Nakhon Ratchasima FC 5 Nong Bua Pitchaya FC 1

A first half blitz during which Nahkon Ratchasima raced into a 3 nil lead within the first 16 minutes effectively extinguished Nong Bua’s hopes of winning the Isaan Derby trophy.

Make no mistake, Nong Bua are a decent side as shown by their defeat of premier League side  Si Saket in the first round of matches, but they found it difficult to cope with the skill and pace of Dominic Adiyiah who was ably supported by Pina and Velkoski.

Nong Bua opened brightly but were soon swamped by the attacking force of the hosts. Using long and rangy balls down the flanks, the home team opened the scoring in the 6th minute when Nattapong headed in after fine work from Adiyiah. Two minutes later Adiyiah broke though the middle of the park and finished a fine solo effort to make it two nil.
The game was effectively sealed when the Swatcats scored a third in the 16th minute when Eakkanut Kongket lashed home from 8 yards. The Swatcats remained in complete control for the rest of the first half with the Gamecocks unable to mount any real challenge.

The second half began with the home side pressing and in the 49th minute a long ball over the top caught the Nong Bua defence napping and Chakrit slotted home the fourth.

Nong Bua went close with a long range shot in the 55th minute and again in the 58th minute with a header cleverly tipped over the bar by the home keeper but Korat countered with an Adiyiah drive drifting narrowly wide.
Roi Et scored a consolation goal with a penalty kick in the 83rd minute but the hosts countered with a late tap in from Sarawut to seal a well earned victory and lift the inaugural Isaan Derby Cup.

Trying not to be too optimistic and this weekend’s opposition has not been the greatest, but the team looks very fluid and pacy going forward. Adiyiah seems on fire and Pina and Velkoski look very competent.
Although the defence has not experienced much direct pressure, Igbonefo looked rock solid at the back â€" some good signs for the coming season.

Attendance : 3200

Footnote ;  A most enjoyable festival of football with plenty of goals. How good would this entity be, if next year Buriram and Ubon UMT joined the fun? I hope that this does become an annual event â€" well done to the club’s administrators


************************************** WELCOME TO THE TPL 2017 SEASON************************************************


Dateline 12th Feb 2017

FT Sukhothai 0 NRFC 1

The Swatcats began their 2017 campaign at the home of the Firebats hoping to get their season off to a flying start.

Playing in a fetching sky blue and white kit the visitors opened brightly with Adiyiah testing the home keeper in the 2nd minute with an angled drive. A minute later Adiyiah again drew a fine save from the keeper but was ruled offside.
Midway through the first half, and the Swatcats continued to “rule the roost” with Sukhothai seemingly unable to string passes together - early days but the visitors seemed in charge.

The men from Korat opened the scoring in the 27th minute when Chakrit rifled in an angled drive from 14 metres - Sukhothai look tired - maybe their Chinese exploits in the ACL are catching up with them.

As the first half drew to a close, it was becoming a “one man show” as Adiyiah again went close in the 40th minute - Sukhothai were yet to register a shot on goal.

The second half commenced and I just do not think that Sukhothai could play as badly as they did in the first half. I think this one may be down to how well the Swatcats can keep their concentration.

Bireme went close for the hosts in the 51st minute - their first real chance. They looked a little livelier after half time but the Swatcat players seemed quicker to the ball and more dangerous going forward.
With 20 minutes to go, the hosts were growing in confidence and were getting more of the ball. Although creating no clear chances, they fought themselves back into the game and were putting pressure on the visitor’s goal.

In a rare second half foray, Adiyiah shot wide as the Firebats continued to press. Although under considerable second half pressure the Swatcat defence looked solid with Igbonefo particularly impressive

A bright attacking performance in the first half followed by a strong rearguard action in the second half.  An encouraging start to the season by the Swatcats. The team line up looks balanced and they look impressive going forward. Our new acquisitions look to have settled in effectively and this performance leaves me fairly optimistic for the season ahead.


Dateline 19th Feb 2017 â€" Match day 2.

FT NRFC 1 Police Tero 1

The Swatcats welcomed newly formed Police Tero FC in the inaugural home match of the 2017 TPL season. The Fire Dragons started with ex-Swatcat keeper Kampon in goal.

In front of a healthy crowd of 12 250 fans, the home side had the better of the first 30 minutes although Tero played some neat passing football at times. With Adiyiah a constant thorn in their side, Tero withstood early pressure and in what was otherwise an uneventful opening. Only a long range Adiyiah shot in the 15th minute and a fine free kick from Chanatphon set the pulse racing.

Tero did not put a single shot of any substance on target in the first half.

Tero went ahead in the 53rd minute after a needless and clumsy challenge by Igbonefo gave Tero a penalty. After going one down the hosts panicked and resorted to the long ball with little effect. They rarely looked dangerous and indeed Tero went close in the 63rd minute and again in the 79th minute with a shot hitting the bar.

In the 85th minute a bullet header from Adiyiah was saved by the keeper and Igbonefo tapped in the deflection. The goal was disallowed as Adiyiah was correctly adjudged to have been offside.

Well into injury time, the hosts leveled when a Chakrit shot was deflected into the goal. Ironic but pleasing that the  5 minutes added on time led to the goal after Tero’s infuriating time wasting tactics earlier in the game.
With literally seconds to go a quick break by Tero saw a shot slide wide in what would have been an undeserved winner.

A disappointing and frustrating night for the Swatcats although salvaging a point was an obvious bonus. The lack of penetration against Tero’s well organized defence is something to work on. In truth, penalty apart, Tero had few chances but I guess they deserved their point.

Still unbeaten but we must win these home games. 4 points against two decent sides is a fine start to the new campaign and I foresee a fairly successful season ahead.


Match day 2 results and table


The Swatcats go east this weekend to take on the Sharks of Chonburi (KO 1900 hours Sunday 26th Feb â€" TV coverage Truesports HD2). The Sharks have been experiencing traumatic changes within the club and are certainly not the force they once were. The thus far unbeaten Swatcats will expect to remain unbeaten after this encounter.

Thaiwolf prediction â€" score draw


Dateline 26th Feb 2017 â€" Match day 3.

FT Chonburi Sharks 0 NRFC 0

The Swatcats travelled east to take on the Chonburi Sharks in this weekend’s fixture. The match began with both sides sparring but with little end effect and both defences able to cope with what few half chances were created.
In the 7th minute a flailing Victor Igbonefo was lucky not to concede a penalty with a clumsy challenge just outside the 18 yard box. The resulting free kick struck the bar with the visiting keeper well beaten.

Poor balls in the final third prevented either side from creating real chances and at times the fans were subjected to periods of ping pong soccer with both sides alternately belting it long rather than playing it through midfield.
In the 16th minute Andre Luis tested the keeper with a snap shot and in the 47th minute, a well crafted move resulted in a Dominic Adiyiah drive that was well saved by the home team’s keeper, were rare moments of class in an otherwise dull first half.
A couple of half chances from the Sharks as the half progressed gave them the edge as the first half concluded.

The second half began with attacking moves from both sides again breaking down with poor final balls, but in the 52nd minute Chonburi went close with a looping header after a fine cross. The home team began to exert increasing pressure with the men in orange confined to rare breaks forward.
Despite this pressure, clear cut chances were at a premium as the Swatcats defended doggedly, snuffing out any potential threats. The match petered out in a rather uninspiring way with the match ending in a dull stalemate - a useful point for the visitors but with home advantage, Chonburi will be disappointed with their lack of firepower up front.

A poor spectacle tonight with two teams destined, on their performances tonight, for mid table mediocrity. Neither side provided any real and consistent class up front with both keepers experiencing a relatively quiet night.
A dour and determined performance from the Swatcats, which keeps them unbeaten. Still only two goals from three matches which is a worry but 4 points from our opening two away games is encouraging and if we can maintain a decent home record we should be heading for a mid table finish.
Defensively (only one goal conceded so far and that was a penalty) we look sound, but Victor Igbonefo looked sluggish at times tonight and I think stronger teams will expose his lack of pace.

A mention has to be made about the Swatcat’s support tonight. The away section was sold out and the fans were noisy and relentless in their support of the team - well done to the fans. I feel sure that the players appreciate their support.


Swatcat fans at Chonburi


Match day 3 stats

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