Buriram maintained their lead over Muang Thong but were far from convincing against a hard-working Chiang Rai side. The visitors were not content to sit back and frustrate Buriram but posed little threat up front.
However, they could easily have snatched a point at the death after Coelho had put put Buriram ahead just before the interval. The home side just about deserved their victory but a lack of creativity in midfield and an ineffectual performance by Diogo is a cause for concern.
The game almost got off to a disastrous start in the 8th minute when Tunez allowed a right-wing cross to squirm between his legs but Siwarak did superbly to block a goal-bound shot with his legs.
There was little goalmouth action at either end until the the 26th minute when Diogo advanced into the box before going down under a clumsy challenge but as usual these days, the referee waved play on. Replays showed that clear contact was made and it’s time that officials accepted that Diogo does actually get fouled sometimes !
Buriram were forced to make a substitution in the 35th minute when Supachok came on for Seul-Ki who had suffered a dead-leg in a heavy challenge. The youngster almost made an immediate impact when he met Narubadin’s excellent right-wing cross with a first-time shot which was deflected narrowly wide.
The breakthrough came in the 44th minute when Supachok found Narubadin with a great ball wide right. The midfielder advanced to the byline before delivering a superb cross which found Coelho unmarked at the far-post and the Brazilian rose to power a header into the net.
The second-half got under way with Buriram again on the front foot without creating anything of any significance. The disappointing Jakkaphan was replaced by Suchao in the 57th minute before Buriram went close to increasing their lead six minutes later.
A right-wing cross found Coelho who turned and fired in a shot which took a big deflection. The keeper was going the wrong way but somehow managed to twist and turn the ball wide for a corner. A brilliant save.
He then punched Suchao’s right-wing corner straight to Supachok just outside the area but his low,first-time shot produced another good save.
Siwarak had been pretty much a spectator but he produced a fine save when he dived low to his right to turn a 69th minute free-kick round the post. Shortly after Buriram replaced Diogo with Bastos.
The substitute had a great chance to make an immediate impact but headed Supachok’s excellent right-wing cross over the bar in the 77th minute.
Two minutes later the home side had a big let-off when former Buriram player Jandson was clearly held by Narubadin in the box but it was not spotted by the officials. Tunez then came to Buriram’s rescue in the 83rd minute with a superb last-ditch tackle when a goal looked likely.
Chiang Rai were not finished and Jandson had a great chance to embarrass his former employers deep into stoppage time but headed over with the goal at his mercy.
So a welcome win but not a convincing one. One thing that did emerge is that Supachok needs to be in the starting line-up on a regular basis. He is an outstanding talent and Buriram need his skill and pace in midfield. Playing just behind the front two he is reminiscent of Peter Beardsley in his England glory days.
Next game is Sisaket away on Saturday September 16, 6pm.