Though only a friendly match, the Islanders came out gunning. They built up a 3-0 lead before the visitors from Songkhla realized that Phuket was not to be taken lightly, even if a league below.
Phuket’s first goal was a penalty converted by Wacharakorn “Bird” Klaithin in the 6th minute following the take-down by a Wuachon defender of tryout Roland “Pato” Vargas-Aguilera.
Bird doubled the home side’s lead in the 17th minute with a long range strike from 30 yards out.
Phuket got their next and final goal 10 minutes later with a clean drive by Pato, a Bolivian national who has played for several teams in US Major League Soccer (MLS).
Wuachon’s Kirat Keawsombut and Ivorian Kone Seydou answered with goals in the final minutes of the first half.
Possession in the second half was dominated by Songkhla, though several commendable counter-attacks were made by Phuket.
However, it was the visitors who would get the final cheer of the evening, equalizing in the 55th minute with a goal from Brazilian Aron Da Silva, taunting his comrade: Phuket goalkeeper Alonso Carvalho.
Aside from Carvalho, Ivorian defensive back Nenebi Tra Sylvestre and Brazilian midfielder Marcio Santos, the rest of Phuket was a reserve squad, with three new faces also seen on the pitch.
Phuket FC coach Milos Joksic explained to the Gazette after the match that the three players were trying out for the squad, hoping to be added to the payroll in the second half of the season.
“All of our current foreign players are really good, and the rules only allow us to have so many [foreign players on the pitch at a given time]. So we’ll have to see if we sign any of these guys. Actually, what we need are more good Thai players,” he said.
Particularly catching the eye of many fans was goal scorer Pato, a Bolivian national who also shares some Brazilian heritage with his friend and former Chiang Rai United teammate Alonso.
Roland told the Gazette that he had played for several teams in the US, including the New England Revolution and Columbus Crew.
Initially planning to play in the Korean league, Pato said he instead decided to play in Thailand.
After last season with Chiang Rai United, he went on to play for PTT Rayong in the first division. He is currently a free agent.
Phuket will now break for the weekend, returning to action with a highly-anticipated Saturday night showdown against 3rd-place Krabi FC on July 7.
Asked about the match, Alonso told the Gazette that Phuket will need to work on their defensive coordination if they want to stop the high flying Andaman Eagles, currently perched in third place in the 18-team division and holding aspirations of joining Wuachon Utd as the second-ever southern team to work their way up to the TPL.
“Krabi is a good attacking team, and we need to work more on closing spaces to stop their offense. If we do this well, I think we can get them on the counter-attack,” he said.
Coach Milos Joksic was also optimistic.
“Our goal is to win. Our friendly with Wuachon today was good experience for our players. The Thai Premiere League players tend to have better strength and endurance than players in Division One, but not by much.
“We need to be more aggressive in the midfield, challenging more for midfield possession to create more scoring chances,” he concluded.
— Steven Layne
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