Mike Mulvey gets better of Thai legend Zico as BEC Tero return to form
Former A-League-winning coach Mike Mulvey was delighted to see BEC Tero Sasana get back to winning ways with a last-gasp 2-1 victory over Port FC in the latest round of the Thai League (T1).
But the result meant more misery for Port boss Kiatisuk "Zico" Senamuang, who saw his side lose for the fourth time in six winless games.
Buriram United stayed ahead of the pack with a 5-1 thumping of Sisaket, while Muang Thong United consolidated second spot with a 4-1 win at Suphanburi.
Here are five things we saw on T1 Matchday 27:
1. Relief for Mulvey, misery for Zico
BEC Tero's match at home to Port FC saw a meeting of two head coaches with big reputations, who have struggled to make an impact since joining their respective clubs in June.
Former Brisbane Roar boss Mulvey had won just two of nine T1 matches, with last week's 2-1 defeat at struggling Thai Honda the latest in a series of disappointing results. Meanwhile, much was expected of Kiatisuk after a successful spell in charge of the Thai national team, but a solitary victory in eight T1 games was not what was expected of such a legendary figure.
On Saturday evening, Mulvey's side took a fortuitous lead when Pakorn Prempak volleyed into his own net. Port captain David Rochela levelled with a header early in the second half, and the game was heading for a draw until Wichan Nantasri exploited some tired defending to chip home an exquisite finish.
"You could see from the players' performance that they were really trying very hard for the club, for each other and for the fans, and this is fantastic," Mulvey said. "I think it was a pleasure to coach against a legend like Zico for Port and enjoy the game.
"You saw tonight there was a fantastic atmosphere. My job now is to get through to the end of the season, looking at the players and next season we really go for a big push."
2. Sisaket suffer from latest Buriram Blitz
It has been a difficult six weeks for Sisaket, with head coach Velar Popov leaving, midfielder Bjorn Lindemann quitting the club after less than two months and former Premier League striker Leroy Lita departing after rumours emerged of delays in his salary payment.
The last thing they needed was a visit from league leaders Buriram United, who showed no mercy. Brazilian strikers Jaja Coelho and Diogo Luis Santo helped themselves to a hat trick and a brace respectively in a 5-1 victory.
Sisaket fell six points behind Sukothai in the battle to stay in T1, and they will be desperate for a result when they host Ratchaburi on Wednesday.
3. Sintaweechai howler rounds off Muang Thong victory
Muang Thong United stayed six points behind Buriram with a 4-1 victory at Suphanburi that was less comfortable than the scoreline suggests.
With Kawin Thamsatchanan still injured, Prasit Padungchok made several fine saves before a spectacular error at the other end embarrassed Sintaweechai Hathairattanakool.
The visitors grabbed an early goal as Elizeu's attempted clearance was charged down by Leandro Assumpcao and the ball looped into the net. The hosts soon levelled with a Nicolas Velez penalty before Leandro struck again, and Heberty Fernandes made it 3-1 before half-time.
Prasit then kept the hosts out before Adul Lahso's backpass caught Sintaweechai by surprise. The former Thailand keeper had time to react but let the ball roll under his foot and into the net.
Bangkok United defeated Nakhon Ratchasima 2-0 at home to stay three points behind the Kirins, ensuring that it is all to play for when the 2nd and 3rd placed teams clash at the SCG Stadium on Wednesday.
3. Sukhothai blow chance as Cooper blows top
With rivals Sisaket at home to Buriram, Sukhothai had the perfect opportunity to pull a potential eight points clear of the relegation places when they hosted Ubon UMT United on Saturday.
Sukhothai made the perfect start when Kabfah Boonmatoon gave the Firebats the lead in the third minute. But things took a turn for the worse as goals from Carlao and Thaweekun Tong-on turned the game in the visitors' favour before the 20th-minute mark.
Sukhothai were boosted as Ubon were reduced to 10 men when Suree Sukha was controversially sent off with 24 minutes on the clock, but they soon fell 3-1 behind as Prat Samakrat scored an own goal.
The home side staged a second-half recovery and Kabfah completed a hat-trick to level the score at 3-3. But despite a late onslaught from the hosts, Ubon held on and Sukhothai pulled just six points clear of Sisaket when it could have been eight.
Ubon head coach Scott Cooper, meanwhile, was furious with the referee.
"We played 11 against 12 to start the game, then 10 versus 12 to finish the game," Cooper said.
"Let's look at Sukhothai's third goal. This referee -- [but] I'm not going to call him referee.
"He tries to give us advantage. We have the ball, we're fouled, we're winning 3-2. I've got one player up front against four Sukhothai defenders, and he plays advantage. I don't want the advantage. Why would I want the advantage at one against four? They score from that."
5. 10-man Rabbits stun Chiang Rai
Bangkok Glass have endured an injury-plagued season, with key attackers Ariel Rodriguez and Daniel "Toti" Rodriguez both out for long spells. They have also had to do without Jhasmani Campos due to his long distance travels to be with the Bolivian national team.
When Campos was sent off for an elbow in the first half of Sunday's match at home to Chiang Rai United, it looked like a bleak night was in store for the Glass Rabbits.
When the visitors took the lead on the stroke of half-time through Felipe Azevedo, Bangkok Glass fans must have feared the worst.
But the hosts found strength in adversity and took the game to the Beetles despite their numerical disadvantage. Apisit Sorada levelled the score when he punished a defensive slip in the 63rd minute.
Surachat Sareepim then rose at the far post to head home the winner in added time to send the home crowd wild and take Bangkok Glass above Chiang Rai into fourth place.
Bangkok-based Paul Murphy has lived in Asia for a decade, writing for ESPN FC since 2014. He is a former Daily Express sub-editor. @PaulMurphyBKK