PHUKET: The Phuket FC Islanders ended the 2012 season in great form on Saturday evening, sealing their Thai Division 1 standing with a 4-0 win over JW Rangsit FC.
Going into the final match of the season, 13th placed Phuket were under pressure to win in order to avoid relegation.
Meanwhile, their 16th placed opponents — third from the bottom of the 18-team table — had no chance of escaping such relagation threat, and thus were only playing for pride.
Played at Phuket’s Surakul Stadium, thousands of fans packed under the facility’s west-end covered stands, not only for a good view, but also to avoid the wrath of the late day sun accompanying the early 4pm kickoff.
The home side took charge from the start, scoring in the opening minutes, with team captain Nonthapan Jiensathawong converting one of his deadly free kicks — his fourth goal for the team this season.
Though possession was balanced through the rest of the first half with chances on goal enjoyed by both sides, the Islanders would go on to double their lead in the final minute of the half.
Cashing in on his side’s brilliant passing game, Ivorian import, Makalou Ibrahim (commonly referred to as Kanoute) sustained pressure in the box, finally breaking through to score his fourth of the season on 44 minutes.
With Phuket up 2-0 at the half, pressure seemed to be eased for them in the rest of the game, and to the pleasure of the crowd, kept up their form to double their lead with two more scores — first by Thawin Butsombat on 63 minutes, and nine minutes later when Kanoute Kanoute scored his second of the match and fifth for the season.
The score might have been 5-0 had a late goal by Nenebi Slyvester not been disallowed to an off-sides flag.
After the final whistle blew, Kanoute was awarded man of the match honors for his strong attacking pressure and two goals .
The result ensured that Phuket remain in 13th place, one spot on top of this year’s five team relegation pot, and thus will have another shot next season (beginning February, 2013) to fight for promotion to the prestigious Thai Premier League.
Following is a gallery of pictures of the match taken by Steven Layne. Also for other league info about relegation and promotion, see text following the gallery.
Other Division 1 (Thai Yamaha 1), Thai Premier League and Champions League news
Teams to be relegated from Division 1 this season: Songkhla (14th), Patttalung (15th), JW Rangsit (16th), Rajpracha (17th) and Chanthaburi (18th)
Teams to be promoted from Division 1 to the elite Thai Premier League: Ratchaburi (1st place), Suphanburi (2nd) and Bangkok United (3rd). These teams will be replaced by the three teams who were relegated from the TPL: Thai Port (16th), BBCU (17tth) and Thai Tobacco Monopoly Chiang Mai (18th).
As for the five teams to fill in the Division 1 vacancies, four are currently being decided in the Champions League Division 2 play offs, currently going into its fifth of 10 scheduled weeks. It is being contensted by 12 teams: Ayutthaya FC, Pak Nama Po, Roi Et United, Pattani FC, Rayong United, Pitsanulok, Trat, Rayong FC, Si Saket FC, Chiang Mai FC, Thai Honda and Trang FC.
The other spot will be filled by Nakhon Pathom FC, who retains its Division 1 standing following a two year ban in the league after it was penalized at the end of the 2010 season when a riot broke out on its home pitch following a heated playoff match with Si Saket FC (currently Isaan United).