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 By Paul Murphy

Muang Thong ride luck as Buriram's Ghotbi starts with win in Thailand

Muang Thong's Michael N'Dri
French striker Michael N'Dri struck late to complete the comeback victory of leaders Muang Thong United.

Muang Thong United needed a late rescue once again as Michael N'Dri's injury-time header gave them a vital comeback win at BBCU FC in the Premier League of Thailand (PLT).

The league leaders' form is stuttering but, most importantly, they are still winning, as second-placed Bangkok United continue to match them. The Bangkok Angels edged a tight match at Chonburi 1-0, while Afshin Ghotbi's Buriram United tenure got off to a winning start as the champions defeated Nakhon Ratchasima 1-0 at home.

Here are five things we saw in PLT Matchday 14:

1. Muang Thong ride their luck again

The Kirins racked up their ninth consecutive victory when they beat bottom club and neighbours BBCU FC 2-1 on Saturday evening. At the start of this sequence, four of the five wins by were margins of three or four goals. The last four have been by one goal -- three of them coming very late.

N'Dri sealed three points with seven minutes remaining against Pattaya United, while Cleiton Silva struck the winner deep into injury-time at home to Sukhothai last weekend.

On Saturday, the hosts took the lead early in the second half when Naret Ritpitakwong finished off a breakaway. Cleiton soon had the visitors back on level terms with a smart glancing header from Tristan Do's cross. But Muang Thong fans had to wait for their winner as it was in the 91st minute that N'Dri rose to head home a delightful, floated cross from Sarach Yooyen.

Totchtawan Sripan's men breathe again but this is becoming a stressful habit.

Bangkok United coach Mano Polking
Bangkok United coach Mano Polking, centre, played down the inexplicably long injury time at Chonburi.

2. Mano's men survive testing finish

While Muang Thong were benefitting from the added time, Bangkok United had to face an inexplicable eight minutes of injury time at Chonburi before the referee blew for the end of the match.

Thailand international defender Mika Chunuonsee gave the visitors the lead with 20 minutes remaining but that turned into 25 when the referee's assistant indicated five added minutes. Five became eight and United had to survive a late scare when Korrakot Wiriyaudomsiri's curling free kick was brilliantly pushed wide by Kittipong Phutawchueak in the 98th minute. The final whistle was met with a mixture of elation and fury by Bangkok United players and staff.

While victory was vital, they also demanded answers as to where the extra and almost costly minutes came from. But head coach Mano Polking was philosophical when he told ESPN FC, "I don't think the added time was against us. It's just part of the game. I thought we played some good football and we had to defend and hang on to the result at the end."

Polking's side remain just two points off the top and have repeatedly shown that they can find different ways to win matches. But the Brazilain insists that this does not make his side title contenders.

"I wouldn't say that this is the form of champions," Polking said. "I just know that we have a team that can beat anyone in the league but Muang Thong are still the favourites. We have won some important games -- Muang Thong, Ratchaburi, Bangkok Glass and Chonburi away -- so we just have to try and keep this level as long as possible."

Suphanburi coach Ricardo Rodriguez was denied victory against former club Bangkok Glass.

3. Glass deny former boss Rodriguez

Coming into Matchday 14, Bangkok Glass were in danger of seeing a promising season drift into mediocrity. Three defeats in four matches had seen them fall well behind the leaders and when Rangsan Viwatchaichok opened the scoring for home side Suphanburi in the 71st minute, things looked bleak.

War Elephant head coach Ricardo Rodriguez -- sacked by Bangkok Glass last year -- was on the verge of his best victory of the season but the visitors had other ideas. Daniel Toti Rodriguez quickly equalised and, just two minutes later, Pravinwat Boonyong put the Glass Rabbits in front.

Anurak Srikerd's side remain in fourth, having been in danger of slipping to seventh, while Rodriguez struggles to get last year's third-placed team Suphanburi going in the right direction.

Bangkok Glass skipper Matt Smith told ESPN FC, "I think we have been a bit unlucky at times in some of our recent games. On Saturday, we battled through the game and I'm proud of our players for not giving up, especially when they scored first."

The Glass Rabbits were without star striker Ariel Rodriguez, who scored for Costa Rica against Venezuela last week in a pre-Copa America friendly.

"We will miss Ariel as he's had a great start here," said Smith. "But it's a great achievement to represent your country, especially at a major tournament."

4. Ghotbi gets off to a winning start

It may not have been achieved in the desired style but Go Seul-Ki's first-half goal was enough to earn new Buriram United head coach Afshin Ghotbi a victory in his first game in charge.

New Buriram coach Afshin Ghotbi
Ex-Iran national boss Afshin Ghotbi made a winning start as coach of Buriram United.

Alexander Gama was dismissed last week after a shaky start to the season and former Iran manager Ghotbi was swiftly appointed. His brief will be to reinvigorate the Thunder Castle's drifting season and back to back wins see them clear in third spot. They're eight points behind Muang Thong, which is not an unbridgeable gap with more than half the season to go.

Ghotbi will not have been too impressed by Buriram's attacking options. But with just three goals conceded in the last six PLT games, he knows the defence is looking stronger.

5. Success on the road at last for Sisaket

Unbeaten at home, but with just one point won on their travels, Sisaket's season has been following a predictable pattern. But this week saw a dramatic turnaround for the northeastern side and another huge blow for Pattaya United, who lost 6-0 at Ratchaburi last weekend. Sisaket won 5-0 in Pattaya to take their first away victory of the year in style.

Kyrgyzstan international Anton Zemlianukhin and Hungarian Norbert Csiki were among the scorers for Bozidar Bandovic's side, as they put their travel sickness well and truly behind them for one weekend at least.

PLT action resumes in two weeks, following next weekend's mini international tournament, the King's Cup.

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

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