First home league win of the season...
It was a while coming! After such an indifferent start to the season, while the fact that boos rang around Nihondaira after defeat by Nagoya came as little surprise, the voracity and anger of the jeering did. The fans' point was made, and it clearly impacted on the team. Undefeated in three, things are looking more promising going into the biggest game of the season so far: the Shizuoka Derby. The 5-0 demolition of Verdy was "only" in the League Cup with both teams fielding weakened teams, but the impact on the confidence of the team was obvious. Away at Marinos and home to FC Tokyo, S-Pa came out swinging and looked a whole lot more threatening going forward than they have so far.
The game on Saturday was split down the middle - nine corners in the first half, and none in the second half for S-Pa. The near-opposite was true for Tokyo, who had S-Pulse on the racks for long periods after the break. Any goodwill I had towards accepting 'fair' results has already been tested to the limit this year, so I was more than happy to see us cling onto our 1-0 lead to the end of stoppage time. S-Pa could have taken an early lead with a move which scythed through the Tokyo team and ended in Fujimoto bringing fine save out of the keeper. At the same end in the second half, a wayward penalty area clearance very nearly found the net to level the score. This was after our ninth corner of the game had born fruit in the form of an Aoyama headed goal. The defender rose above all others to head it into the ground. The speed of the bounce foxed the keeper as it bounced up and through his hands. Deep into first half stoppage time: 1-0 S-Pa. It was an open game with several chances for each team, but only one stuck the ball in the net, and that's what it's all about!
A few thoughts on the day: 1pm kick offs don't do anyone any favours. Great traveling support from Tokyo again, although they don't make nearly as much noise as they could, given their numbers. Our season start was pretty awful, but for a missed stoppage time pen we'd be two more points better off, and three of our four defeats were against early high flyers Reds, Gamba and Nagoya, which were always going to be tough.
We're gearing up nicely to take Jubilo to pieces on Saturday in front of a packed 'Daira - a third straight derby win please! Before that, it's Reysol away on Tuesday which is never an easy place to go to. The UK Ultras founder members won't be in attendance, although several of the extended Ultras family will be BDOing it to Kashiwa to fly the flag for Shimizu. Three points would be awesome, thanks very much!