Eka crashed at Samut Prakan United in a game that was memorable for all the wrong reasons.
Nonthaburi started well with Ryan Reece finding space on the left wing, but it became clear that the referee was not going to allow any tackles or challenges that were not standing or that involved any form of shoulder contact whatsoever. This pushed the game into a scrappy, stop-start affair and exacerbated our season-long problem of having lots of the ball but very little punch in front of goal.
The game was effectively decided in a short, second half spell. After blowing his whistle three times in about fifteen seconds of open play, the ref awarded a free kick to SPU that they scored from. Eka staff protested strongly that it was offside but I don't think it was.
Shortly after, our number 25 (Surachat) performed a very badly-timed but totally innocent sliding challenge on a SPU winger. The contact looked very light but of course the winger threw himself down like he'd been shot and the referee appallingly gave a straight red card to Surachat. The home side scored their second goal later. I thought the final pass was a forward pass, which would render it offside. I guess the linesman disagreed.
This contest was effectively decided by a referee who looked to be incompetent and insecure in equal measure. It's a frequent problem that the Thai FA needs to solve. Too many officials compensate for their nerves by blowing their whistle every five seconds. This produces a scrappy, dull game of football and defeats the whole point of anyone being there.
But still, questions need to be asked at the club if we are to rescue our rapidly-fading play off hopes. Why did we sign no strikers when the problem has been screamingly obvious for ages? Why do so many of our players look capable but get tired earlier than the opposition? Why play the same formation that fails to produce many goals at the best of times when we are two goals and a man down? Why not just throw an extra man (Sathit or Prasop) forward and take a chance? Why be so inflexible?
On a positive note though, big credit to all the players who refused to give up even when two goals, one man and one rubbish referee were the odds against them. Both sets of fans enjoyed the day and thanks to the home fans who made us feel welcome.
We won't give up.