PHUKET: FC Phuket’s hopes of advancing to the final four of the 2011 Toyota League Cup were squashed Wednesday night by Division 2 upstarts Phattalung FC, who played to a wild 3-3 extra time draw to win on aggregate 4-3.
The pressure was on for the Southern Sea Kirin in their first home match in seven weeks, fueled by a crowd of about 8,000 anxious fans welcoming Phuket back in a high-stakes homecoming.
Pattalung had their own cheering section, about an eighth of the size of the home team’s, not accounting for the undercover Phattalung fans and residents mixed in the Phuket stands.
After taking their home leg 1-0 a week ago, it was clear that the second division “Swiftlets” were not going to cede the advantage easily.
It was Phuket’s Watcharapong Jun-ngam who opened the score in the 43rd minute with a drive to the goalkeeper’s left to take his side up 1-0 just before the half-time whistle.
Coming into the second half, Phuket needed just one deal-sealing goal, but a hungrier Phattalung side knew that a single goal would instantly turn the odds in their favor.
They picked up the pace in attempt to break down Phuket’s defense and composure.
Phuket goalkeeper Jonathan Matijas made several brilliant saves to the enthusiastic hoorah of the home crowd, keeping the score 1 – 0 to the end of the normal time.
According to tournament rules, the winner would be decided in 30 minutes of nail biting extra time, with Phattalung having a slight advantage should they score, under the away goal rule.
In the first minute of extra time, a deadly free kick by Phattalung’s Sivapong Charoensin’s leveled the score and took an aggregate lead over the two legs, sparking the visiting team’s reserve bench to jolt out to the field in an early-celebration.
Moments later, Phuket’s Tameezee Hayeyusoh answered with a goal, bringing the score to 2 – 1 on the night and hushing the Phattalung fans – if only for a short while.
Knowing the score as it stood would be enough, Phattalung kept up their pressure which paid off in the 100th minute with a goal by Wichakul Thumjarn bringing the score 2 – 2 right at the end of the first half of extra time.
The second half of extra time was equally wild, with goals scored by Phattalung’s Somboon Saengsawat and Phuket’s Arwut Nuchet, ending the match with a final 3 – 3 score. This result saw Phattalung through to the semifinals 4 – 3 on aggregate overall.
Despite still being in the lower division two regional league, Pattalung has shown it is a serious force to be reckoned with. They defeated division one teams Songkhla and now Phuket, in addition to fellow division two southern squad, Trang, in their 2011 Toyota League Cup campaign.
Pattalung’s next big test will come when they face premier league side and reigning Toyota League Cup champions Thai Port FC. The fixture date has yet to be announced.
Despite the heartbreaking loss, FC Phuket and their supporters showed their respect for the feisty Swiftlets and wished them well in the next round of their Cinderella run.
— Steven Layne
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