Sunday, 31 May 2009

Kashiwa 1-2 S-Pa (Nabisco Cup)

BarryBarry writes:

2-1 - get it up ya, Kashiwa. :) Our group campaign is back on track, but it will all be for nothing if we can't see off the other yellow half of Chiba on Wednesday evening when JEF visit.

Try telling this lot the cup's a waste of time

The biggest concern came when Nagai hobbled off after pulling his hamstring barely five minutes after coming on for Hara. It didn't look too serious, but it's really not the most fortunate state of affairs after the rather hit and miss (more miss, so far) start to his S-Pa career. All the best for a speedy recovery Nagai - looking forward to seeing you banging them in sooner rather than later!

Kick off. Three minutes later we were one up :)
Cheers lads! You made a trip to Japan's armpit worthwhile
Line up

GK K. Yamamoto

DF Takaki
DF Aoyama
DF Iwashita
DF Arata

MF Edamura
MF Ito
MF M. Yamamoto
MF Hyodo

FW Hara
FW Johnsen

Subs used

Nagai on for Hara (60)
Paulo on for Nagai (67)
Fujimoto on for Hyodo (80)

Highlights

Iwashita's goal (personal cam)

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Kashiwa v S-Pa (Nabisco Cup Preview)

Barry Barry writes:

Right, I'm off to Kashiwa. We need a win here to get our group campaign back on track, so don't let us down, boys! I may well be cursed, because in ten games on the road, I've not seen us win away from home since November 2007. After our lacklustre disaplay against Yamagata ten days ago, I'm not holding my breath too much! :-D

Prove me wrong!

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Kirin Cup 2009: Japan 4-0 Chili

Barry Barry writes:

Great result for the Samurai Blues in the opener of this year's Kirin Cup, and an excellent evening in particular for Shimizu's own Okachan.

Okazaki opened the scoring on 18 minutes when the Chili keeper could only parry Honda's long range shot, and on 23 minutes he doubled the lead with a classic Okachan finish.

Top work, fella! You do this city proud!



All the goals from Japan v Chili:

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Niigata 0-1 S-Pulse

Barry Barry writes:

Niigata's first home defeat of the season, and a massive three points for us.

Eleven shots for each team tells the general story of this one. We looked much better than of late, although we were hanging on for grim life at the end. The calming influence of Paulo on 75 minutes went a long way to making sure we protected the lead we'd gained in the 52nd minute.

Seven minutes into the second half, an advancing Okazaki was brought down clumsily which led to a free kick in perfect range for Masaki. After a similar free kick in the first half which Hyodo smashed into the back row of the huge Big Swan stadium, Yamamoto was not about to let this one go waste. He stepped up, WALLOPED it into the top corner, and left the keeper no chance. Brilliant goal.

We still let far too many balls go to waste today, and we still seemed lost for ideas and direction more than is healthy, but for every time we ran the ball deep into Albirex territory only to run out of ideas and lose it, we also put together a sweeping passing move which harked back to some of our better performances last season. After dropping points at home to Chiba and Reysol, we're on the mend, and these three away points are massive.

Niigata and their legions of fans will probably feel a little hard done by not to have grabbed an equaliser, but they're decent team and will be fighting for an ACL place come December. We showed something we've been lacking lately, and that's BALLS. We're still not nearly physical enough and apt to go to ground under any half decent physical challenge, but today was a very important win. Great work lads, and our thousand or so fans who made the huge trip - you did us proud!

Line Up:

GK K. Yamamoto

DF Takaki
DF Aoyama
DF Arata
DF Ota

MF Okazaki
MF M. Yamamoto
MF Ito
MF Hyodo

FW Johnsen
FW Hara

Subs used:

Paulo on for Hara (75)
Tsujio on for Hyodo (78)
Edamura on for Okazaki (89)

Highlights:



Click here for a personal cam highlights. Our goal comes on 8:00.

Links:

Read the report from The Rising Sun here. The write up includes a detailed discussion of something which has been baffling us for weeks. That's the recent promotion of Masaki to the status of a Guaranteed Stating Member ahead (depending on the week) the likes of Jungo, Teru, Paulo, etc etc. Worth a read.

Next up Kashiwa in the cup. I'll be heading up to Chiba Ken next Saturday, so fingers crossed I can see us win away for the first time since the 2007 Shizuoka Derby!

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

S-Pulse 0-1 Montedio Yamagata (Nabisco Cup)

Barry Barry writes:

Well at least it wasn't 6-2. :)

8200 S-Pulse, and (maybe) 45 Yamagata supporters turned out

Yamagata were a very hard team to play against. They spent most the second half with eleven men behind the ball and / or five players swarming round our player in possession. They also didn't stop - they challenged for everything, they ran for everything and gave us a lesson in BOTHERING.

This wasn't helped by our endless, and I do mean endless, stream of unforced errors, sloppy errors in judgement and general hopelessness in maintaining anything beyond two or three minutes of threatening football at any one time. I can't be bothered to write much else, and if you'd been there too, you'd not begrudge me that one little bit.

The highlight of my, and quite possibly Fuz's, night was scoffing a Sasebo Burger before kick off. Much like a kebab at 4am, it doesn't look so good in the cold light of day, but trust me when I say is was bloody luverly.

Yum
Back to the league on Saturday, away to Niigata.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

S-Pulse v Yamagata (Nabisco Cup - Preview)

Barry Barry writes:

Seeing as I can't ever seem to mention Yamagata without bringing up that game, I may as well get it out the way early: MONTEDIO YAMAGATA SPANKED LITTLE JUBILO 6-2 ON THE OPENING DAY OF THE SEASON RIGHT IN FRONT OF MY EYES, AND I NEARLY SHIT MYSELF WITH MIRTH.

OK, that's that done.

Now onto the game in question: match day three of the 2009 Yamazaki Nabisco Cup. Due to the colourful way the tournament is organised this year, this is our and Yamagata's second game, but Kashiwa who currently sit top of the group have already played two. But they won't play tomorrow, so we can go top with a victory. Click here to let Wikipedia explain it all for you. All we need to worry about at this stage is grabbing three points.

This will be our eighth game in a month, so perhaps even above and beyond the fact it's the Nabisco group stage, expect to see some unfamiliar faces in the starting eleven tomorrow. I'm hoping to see Kaito in goal again after last Saturday. Having just come back from a long spell on the bench it'll help him regain his match sharpness. I also want to see Tsujio at the back, and Nagai start up front. Genki on the bench would also be nice. I've not seen him since he smashed the bar against JEF in the Emperor's Cup last year.

And, hey, why not put a couple of kids on the bench? Dong-Sub has been called up to the South Korean national team at under 15, 18 and, this year, under 20 levels, so I'd love to see him get a run out if things are going well. Perhaps that's a big if given recent weeks, but you never know.

This is our first ever meeting with Montedio "6-2" Yamagata, although they'll be back in a month for their league fixture. As for conditions, I'm pleased, no, I'm happy, no, I'm ABSOLUTELY BLOODY ECSTATIC to report that after Reysol, Chiba and Oita, the forecast is CLEAR for tomorrow. In hindsight, we got off lightly against Oita where the drizzle held off for the majority of the night. The following day torrential rain lashed Shizuoka all day long. If nothing else tomorrow, it'll just be nice novelty not to have to wring out my socks at full time.

We've not seen a plus 10000 evening crowd in the Nabisco for nearly a decade, and the last time wasn't even at Nihondaira. We drew in over 12000 to the wonderfully grassy Kusanagi Athletics Ground, in the centre of town and a short walk from Higashi Shizuoka Station, against Nagoya back in 2000. Will we see a five figure crowd tomorrow? I hope so, but I doubt it. Therein lies 'Daira's problem, but that's a whole other "special feature" to come when I get round to finishing it. In the meantime, just consider if the Kusanagi and surrounding sports grounds were redeveloped into a spanking new 40000 seater ground - with roof - and how many we would then get through the gates each week, even on rainy days! Hey, I can dream. :)

So yeah, three points tomorrow please, lads.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

S-Pulse 3-1 Oita Trinita

Barry Barry writes:

Well, I'd have preferred this scoreline last November, but beggars can't be choosers!

The players line up

It was a vastly changed starting 11 from Kenta as he continues to search for the best combination. Nishibe was out, and replaced by the safe hands of Kaito. He showed time and again how he can come out with confidence and stamp his authority all over the penalty area. He can also do something Nishibe can't seem able to manage, and that's catch the thing. See Jubilo's opener on Black Sunday for a perfect example of the sort of mistake you don't see Kaito making.

In the back saw Ota making his first start, and while he made one or two sloppy errors in judgement, for his début he looked eager and hard working. He was harassing the Oita midfield with steaming runs up the wing, and I'm looking forward to more from him. Okazaki started in midfield along with Edamura, Hyodo and Yamamoto, with Hara and Johnsen up front.

Despite the threat of rain, S-Pulse fans were out in force

It was defender and secret weapon from corners, Iwashita who opened the scoring on 14 minutes, and the lead was doubled when the long legs of Johnsen brilliantly controlled a ball which he then despatched under the helpless Nishizawa. Oita gave their travelling tens some hope on 37 when they pulled one back, but in the second half, while it took until the 73rd minute, we always looked like extending our lead. It came from Johnsen, but a wicked deflection off a defender was needed to steer his shot into the gaping net. That said, he did really well to win the ball and create space for himself, so top work there, fella.
2-0! Goals make us happy :)
An improvement on recent weeks, but Oita, who had lost eight in a row and have most their team out injured or otherwise unavailable, were never going to a the biggest of challenges. We have a few winnable games coming up, so hopefully we'll be climbing the table as the summer heats up. What I wrote previously regarding Kenta's future at the club still holds true, so despite the win, nothing has changed on that front. Away at high-flying Albirex Niigata on Saturday will be more of a measure of where we stand.
A pitiful away support (and the drizzle) kept the crowd below 14000
Next up is Yamagata in the league cup this Wednesday. Not to be underestimated - Jubilo 2-6 Yamagata anyone? :-D - we should have what it takes to claim all three points and take a huge step towards qualification to the next round. With such a hectic schedule of late, we can expect to see the likes of Jungo, Nagai, Paulo and perhaps even Tsujio start, all of who were rested against Oita.

Line Up:

GK K. Yamamoto

DF Takaki
DF Aoyama
DF Iwashita
DF Ota

MF Okazaki
MF M. Yamamoto
MF Edamura
MF Hyodo

FW Johnsen
FW Hara

Subs used

Hiraoka on for Iwashita (63)
Ito on for Hara (77)
Paulo on for Hyodo (91)

Videos:

Iwashita's opener on 14 minutes:



Johnsen's first. 17 minutes:



Oita pull one back on 37 minutes:



Johnsen's second on 74 minutes:



Loco Loco celebrations after the whistle.



Links:

Read The Rising Sun's report here, and click here for Mike Tuckerman's take on events which, I'm sad to report, will be his last from Nihondaira for the foreseeable future. Good luck fella, and if you're ever back in town, drop me a line!

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Kashima 2-1 S-Pulse (Barry)

Barry Barry writes:

We were poor. We made countless unforced errors and we lacked direction and purpose. It was a stark contrast seeing how well Kashima moved the ball around the park today. They had purpose. They had direction, and they had physical strength (although they were also extremely eager to go to ground under the slightest challenge).

It's no surprise that they're top with a game in hand - Antlers are by far the most organised and clinical team we've come up against. But even given that, the difference between success and failure is so very, very small. They ran the first half, were pulling us all over the pitch, and 1-0 was probably more than we deserved.

In the second 45 we were let off the hook once when an Antler managed to wallop it over when it was easier to score. But we still outshot the home team, and with Tsujio on for Takaki we displayed, albeit short, periods of confident forward movement. One of these led to Edamura pulling a goal back. An excellent surging run down the right wing by Tsujio resulted in a cross the red defence couldn't handle, and Edamura was there to smash it home.

The problem is, you know it's going to be a long afternoon when your two best midfielders are on the bench. As expected, Yamamoto started, and Hyodo (excuse me while I adjust my shorts) was also in again. And therein lied the difference. The calming, organised influence and solid physical presence of Paulo (not forgetting how he never gets given the run around, and his intelligence in movement) was replaced by the error-ridden play of Hyodo. The pace and attacking mind of Jungo was absent for Yamamoto's speculative long range efforts. When they go in, wonderful. When they don't, the less said the better.

So despite enjoying a healthy amount of possession in the second half, and occasionally looking like a team with a clue, time and time and time again we were reduced to passing it backwards / hopeless long balls which ended up nowhere / losing possession altogether under little to no pressure.

These shortcomings were summed up in our last move of the game when after running it deep inside the red half, the move ground to a halt when noone seemed to know where anyone else was / what anyone else was thinking. Ball lost, full time, zero points and we're down to 15th. Had we shown some decent direction and just a little inspiration in our movement, Kashima were there for the taking.

Well, we face Oita on Saturday. Oita are not defending champions. Oita have lost their last EIGHT games in a row. Oita have only won once all year. Kenta looked like a worried man today, and rightly so. If we don't win Saturday, and win well, his must know his days are numbered. He's a Shimizu legend no doubt, but that only buys so much goodwill with the fans and the board, and with so much quality in the team, to be wallowing where we are is unacceptable. His lack of experience is costing us, and barring a vast, VAST improvement over the next few games (Oita at home, Kyoto at home, Yamagata at home - ALL must win) if he's still at the helm in 2010 will remain to be seen.

Line Up:

GK Nishibe

DF Takaki
DF Aoyama
DF Iwashita
DF Arata

MF Hyodo
MF Ito
MF Yamamoto
MF Edamura

FW Johnsen
FW Okazaki

Subs used

Tsujio on for Takaki (HT)
Hara on for Okazaki (73)
Fujimoto on for Ito (80)

Highlights

Full highlights:



Kashima's 1st: (personal cam)



Kashima's 2nd: (personal cam)



Links

The Rising Sun's report is here.

Antlers 2- 1 S-Pa (Fuz)

Fuz Fuz writes:

Not got a lot to say. Yet again wondered at team selection, substitutions were made far too late and for the wrong players. Hyodo missed a ball near the goal because he found it preferable to fiddle with his shorts than pay attention to the game. Johnsen is still too slow and clumsy. Nishibe apparently chooses to go to clown training instead of football practice.

And judging by the reactions around me down Dream House, I'm not the only one who thinks so.

Basically, Mr Hasegawa should get himself down to Hello Work, because I don't see him having a job after this season, if he survives that long.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Kashima v S-Pulse (Preview)

Oooh, what to say about this one? Going away to the defending champions, the runaway most successful team in Japan, and the owners of S-Pulse's very own ex-player and all round danger man up front Marquinhos is never an easy task.

We've not come away from Ibaraki with three points since 2002, and even then we needed extra time to get the job done. That said, they were defending champions that year too. Kashima being Kashima are defending champs more often than not though, so ahead of tomorrow we just have to try and forget the perpetual drawing mode we've slipped into and go for it. Another way of looking at it is that we're bloody well due a result up at their place!

Antlers are unbeaten at home in the league since August last year, and have only lost once this season. They've not had the hardest start to the season however, and drew recently with Yamagata and Marinos. They've also been travelling all over the continent with their bid for ACL glory, so will they be somewhat softened up for us? We can prey!

I'm hoping to see Jungo, Paulo, Teru and Edamura in the centre (although for Paulo, it'll probably be Yamamoto) and Okazaki and Johnsen up front. The back four will probably be as you were with Nishibe punching when he should be catching and generally giving us all heart attacks.

One thing to consider before tomorrow, after today's results, we're now below Little Jubilo for the first time since I can remember. A dodgy start to the season is one thing, but getting overtaken by some small club who can't even manage 10000 in the blazing May sunshine is just plain embarrassing. This is a completely unacceptable situation for Shizuoka's best supported team to be in. Sort it and and soon, Kenta.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

S-Pulse 2-2 Chiba

Forget your glamour of Gamba Osaka winning the Asian Champions League and forget your glory of Kashima Antlers securing back to back J. League titles. This is the true nuts and bolts, bread and butter, and any other clichés you want to throw into the mix, this is what your average J. League match day is all about.

Awful conditions made it something of a lottery

A hard-fought two all draw in the pouring rain? After last night and our Reysol meeting, I've felt recently like I've been transported back to England where I spent countless evenings watching football in the rain when I should have been out meeting girls or something. Last night at two nil down, dripping wet and with time running out, my fighting spirit and belief was in danger of running out with it.

What followed was a late, late show from our boys in orange, with Johnsen (80) and Edamura (88) chipping in with goals to salvage a point from what looked like a lost cause. I'm not ashamed to say I had tears of relief in my eyes when Edamura smashed the ball home with barely 120 seconds left. Eight minutes before that, Johnsen's first goal in an orange shirt had got us back in a game where our hopes were on the verge of disappearing down the drain with the falling rain and the spilt beer. It's taken a while coming, but now that issue has been put to rest the big man can concentrate on adding to his tally.

Well, four draws on the bounce, and while we've not lost since the derby, we've not won, or really looking like winning. Now are these games we'd have lost last year? Are these points we would have dropped entirely in 2008? I'm tempted, in my blind faith in all things bright orange, to say YES, and that yeah, we've drawn games we should have probably won on paper, but we've also drawn games we might easily have lost. It's easy to forget that before winning the (fictional) second stage last year, we had such horrible days at the office as the 4-1 spanking by later-to-be relegated Verdy.

So what's my point? To quote detective Columbo, I'm not sure I have one. Anyway, onwards we go and it's champions, best team in the country and all round tough old nut Kashima away on Sunday. It'll be nice to play a team who doesn't swamp the midfield (Hiroshima had six midfielders while Chiba had five) so we may be able to play some more football. Having etched out narrow draws with the likes of Reysol and Chiba, we'll probably go and beat Kashima 2-0. :-D

Just one more thing, after yesterday we are in dire need of a good performance, as the crowd reaction last night shows:



Line Up:

GK Nishibe

DF Takaki
DF Aoyama
DF Iwashita
DF Arata

MF Hyodo
MF Ito
MF Yamamoto
MF Edamura

FW Nagai
FW Okazaki

Subs used:

Johnsen on for Yamamoto (67)
Hara on for Nagia (67)
Tsujio on for Takaki (78)

Links:

Read another perspective here, from Mike Tuckerman. Click here for The Rising Sun's match report.

Highlights:

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Hiroshima 0-0 S-Pa

Third draw in a row, and this time a nil nil. Just what you need after a four hundred mile journey! :-D The late report is on account of only having got back from Hiroshima last night. We made a long weekend of it seeing the sights, hitting Miyajima and scoffing unhealthy amounts of okonomiyaki. Brilliant. :)

A good couple of hundred make the mammoth trip out west

As for the game, despite some nice link up work and good forward movement by the likes of Jungo and Paulo, we lacked the final ball time and time again. As a result, our best chances came from long range or set pieces. When we did manage to get a great ball onto Nagai's head it needed a stunning save from the home keeper to deny him.

A second half effort comes to naught

On the bright side, we successfully shut out the second highest scorers in the league, and kept our fifth clean sheet of the season in the process. Yet another draw is not doing us any favours, though, and three points against Chiba today is a must. We have to go to Kashima next week who are, as expected, topping the table.
Goal! Goal! Ooooooh, Goal! Goal! Ooooooh!
The players got our goal call until every last one of them was out of sight and down the tunnel. We demand goals, and starting today against JEF, they must surely come! As of yesterday afternoon nearly 17000 tickets had been sold, so let's not let our orange hordes down!

Highlights:

Monday, 4 May 2009

S-Pa vs JEF (Preview)

Fuz Fuz writes:

Seeing as Shizza buggered off to Hiroshima all weekend, I thought I'd better do his job for him and knock up a quick preview of tomorrow's game. Some people neglect their responsibilities at times.

Nah, only joking, I'm just jealous I couldn't go!

OK - so here we are, the great and glorious Shimizu S Pulse, four games and no wins.... I'm not going to complain about not losing - and Yohei even managed a clean sheet on Saturday, but a win would be a pleasant change.

Now, I don't particularly hate JEF. They don't get up my nose in the way Urawa or Little Jubilo do, or even those dirty so-and-sos Tokyo Verdy. At least two UK Ultras have a soft spot for Alex Miller, fellow countryman and ex-Ger - ok, so the ex Rangers player part is only appreciated by me, but still - but that doesn't change the fact that I'd like to see them get completely destroyed tomorrow.

It may well happen. JEF haven't had the best run recently either - losing, drawing and losing, and they are currently sitting second bottom. S-Pulse have started to pick up, with Paulo in the team we look a lot stronger and there is a fight starting to come through.

I'll be surprised if Johnsen is still first choice tomorrow - he hasn't done anything of importance to date and Nagai is looking a lot hungrier. I'd start Nagai and Oka-chan and having Hara waiting in the wings, but who knows what Kenta is thinking. It's a 7pm kick off, so no fear of Nishibe missing the ball for the sun... he might manage another clean sheet if he concentrates on catching the ball rather than batting it away and giving our opponents another chance at scoring.

Come on lads, a Golden Week victory is just what Shimizu needs. I'd like some fireworks before I go home tomorrow!

Friday, 1 May 2009

Hiroshima v S-Pa (Preview)

OK, this isn't really a preview at all. It's just to let you know that I'm off to Hiroshima for a long weekend of football and seeing the sights, so no report until at least Tuesday. Have a good Golden Week one and all!

Three points, please boys!