Two changes were made to the side which beat Rayong 2-0 in Korat. Watcharapong was dropped as Nuttawat made his return from injury and Genny Michel replaced the injured David Le Bras. Korat's sicklist now numbers four with first-teamers Kitti Soraro, Jagkree Burapha, Surat Khaklang and Le Bras all on the treatment table.
The opening spell of the game was marked by yelllow cards for both Nuttakorn and Nuttawat as Rayong generally looked the more composed of the two sides in a fairly even contest. The first good chance fell to Rayong who hit the post through Masawudu in the 18th minute. They took the lead two minutes later when a glorious free kick by Pongthep Musali gave Prasit in goal little chance.
Korat rallied though. Bani had a shot saved on 30 minutes and on 35 minutes Marcel pulled his side level with a fine solo goal. Showing neat control, he beat a defender in the area before cooly beating the keeper at his far post. Hard to believe it was the same player who missed an open goal in the reverse fixture. The half finished 1-1 with Rayong looking the better side but without dominating to the extent which they did in the second half in the first fixture between the two.
Korat started the second half well: both Prompong and Nuttakorn had chances but it was Rayong who retook the lead in the 66th minute when a push by Etoundi on a Rayong player led to a penalty being correctly awarded and a booking for Etoundi. Prasit saved the initial spot kick, but taker Sirisak managed to just squeeze the ball in on the rebound. The Korat defence was very slow to react to the save. In the modern era, it's not unusual to see players encroaching into the area even before the taker has struck the ball. But on this occasion, the defenders didn't even move until the ball had returned to the taker's feet. A lesson learned.
Korat could have had a penalty of their own when a high boot connected with Prompong's head. The referee presumably viewed the incident as 'dangerous play' and duly awarded an indirect free kick in the area. The away fans screamed for a penalty, but replays suggest the referee may have got the decision right.
Rayong made it 3-1 in the 80th minute when a good passing move carved the Korat defence open ending up with a simple tap in for number 10 Sirisak. A bizarre sliced own goal in the 90th minute gave Korat some hope, but it wasn't to be. However, that consolation goal may turn out to be of no little importance as it means that Korat have a better head-to-head record against Rayong (four goals to three) and it will be head-to-head used to split the teams should they finish level on points.
Thanks to Korat's win in the first game, defeat wasn't a disaster here. And coach Thewet will be confident of using Rayong's post-match conduct as a means of spurring his side on in the final four play-off matches. Promotion still a real possibility for the men in orange.