PHUKET: FC Phuket were unlucky to be beaten 2-1 at home by Thai Premier League side Osotspa Saraburi in the opening round of the Toyota League Cup.
The first leg of the pairing, which took place at Surakul Stadium yesterday, was a big step up in opposition for FC Phuket, currently two divisions below their opponents.
It was Osotspa Saraburi who got the better of the opening exchanges, but with Diarra Ali an increasingly influential presence in midfield FC Phuket improved as the half wore on.
FC Phuket were growing in confidence and Nene Bi almost gave his side the lead on the stroke of half time when he got his head on the end of a long range free kick from Diarra Ali. The Ivory Coast defender was desperately unfortunate to see his header across goal fly wide of the post.
Disaster struck two minutes into the second half for the home side when Phaitoon Tiepma was given time and space in the FC Phuket penalty area and, despite getting two hands on the ball, FC keeper Thamassaen was unable to keep his shot out.
Phuket FC’s Poramat Krongburisut had a good chance for an equalizer after 57 minutes, but sliced his shot wide. It would prove to be a costly miss, as Osotspa Saraburi grabbed a second goal almost immediately after when Thai under-23 international Apipoo Suntornpanavej whipped in a free kick from the right that landed in the bottom right hand corner of the net.
It was harsh on FC Phuket, who had played on par with their high-ranking opponents. To the team’s credit they picked up the pace and were unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty after 66 minutes. Kraisorn brilliantly weaved his way through the Osotspa Saraburi defense and was just about to pull the trigger when a defender slid straight through him.
The crowd rose as one in anticipation of a penalty, but the referee chose to waive away the furious FC Phuket protests and allow the game to continue.
A goal for FC Phuket finally arrived when Diarra Ali curled a brilliant free kick into the top right hand corner from 25 yards. It was a fine strike and no more than FC Phuket deserved for a battling performance.
Striker Chakrit Rawanprakon was thrown on as FC Phuket looked to grab an equalizer in injury time. The Osotspa Saraburi defense stood firm in the face of intense FC Phuket pressure and will take a commanding lead into the second leg.
The away goals rule means that FC Phuket are faced with the daunting task of scoring at least twice at the M-150 Stadium in Saraburi.
For a complete match review and analysis, pick up a copy of the next Phuket Gazette at a newsstand near you.
— James Goyder