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Website last updated: 10 Mar, 2014 @ 18:30
Sat 01 Oct 2011
Two changes were made to the side which beat Amnat Charoen. Jiranawut (tactical) and Prompong (suspended) were replaced by Kongnatee Boonma and Philemon Abel. It was Philemon's first start since 4th June. Prompong's absence was compounded by the unavailability of Phossawee, Pakpoom and David Le Bras. So Korat's best defender and two best midfielders (arguably) and their best striker (indisputably) were all missing from this most important of games. It was certainly the weakest starting XI that coach Thewet has had to send out in the second half of the season.
Mahasarakham had the best of the early exchanges and seemed to cope with another poor pitch better than Korat did. Their best first-half chance came on 25 minutes when a cross from the right was headed just wide. Korat responded a few minutes later when Marcel headed over from a Jagkree Burapha corner. Mahasarakham had the next chance when a long-range free kick went just wide. The last chance of a fairly dull opening 45 minutes came when Marcel shook off a defender and put in a low cross; Philemon's diving header was misjudged but the ball fell to Jagkree who blasted over from just outside the area.
Pratheep was brought on for Philemon at the start of the second half. Korat showed more attacking intent in the second period and Watcharapong had a glorious chance ten minutes in as a Mahasarakham defender headed the ball into the path of Watcharapong, but the Sisaket loanee shot straight at the keeper from six yards out.
Then came the news that everyone was dreading: Samut Sahkon had taken the lead at Ratchaburi and if the scores stayed the same Korat were out of the play-offs. Just a few minutes after that though, a cheer spread throughout the travelling support as news came through that Ratchaburi had equalized. And that cheer became a roar on 75 minutes as Korat took the lead. A hopeful long-range shot was completely misjudged by the Mahasarakham keeper. To use cricketing terminology, he 'yorked' himself as, instead of diving forward to catch the ball, he tried to catch the dipping ball as it came down on his feet. The ball duly bounced back off the keeper to the onrushing substitute Weerawat. He should have tapped in with ease from a couple of yards out, but he scuffed the ball inadvertantly squaring it to Pratheep who made no mistake. 'Tee' made a beeline for the 250-plus away support as Korat became play-off bound.
From there on in, it was all quite straight forward for the visitors. Goal-shy Mahasarakham didn't, or perhaps couldn't, launch a comeback. Statistics show that if you take the lead against 'The Crab' it's almost certain that you will win. Korat should have made the game safe a couple of minutes from time when Pratheep squared the ball to Marcel just six yards out. Unfortunately, the Cameroonian couldn't even hit the target. How costly that miss might have proved as news came through on 90 that Samut Sahkon had taken the lead at Ratchaburi. A goal for Mahasarakham and Korat were out of the play-offs.
The fourth official indicated four minutes of injury-time which Korat managed to see out with minimum fuss. The final whistle brought a mass pitch invasion and joy unconfined. But fans will be hoping that this is just the start of Korat's adventure and that there are many more days like this to come in the months and years ahead.
Starting line up
Etoundi Claude Pie
Philemon Onobominuru Abel
Dapley Togbe Hugues Marcel