Wednesday, 31 March 2010

S-Pulse 2-0 Shonan Bellmare (Nabisco Cup)

BarryBarry writes:

S-Pulse 2-0 Shonan Bellmare
Fujimoto 85 (pen)
Hara 93

Att. 9015

Line Up

GK Takeda

DF Ichikawa
DF Hiraoka
DF Arata
DF Ota

MF Ito
MF Yamamoto
MF Fujimoto

FW Nagai
FW Johnsen
FW Omae

Subs Used

Hara on for Nagai (72)
Tsujio on for Ichikawa (72)
Honda on for Ito (79)

Report

Football. Well it's a funny old game. :) You wait 85 minutes for something to happen and then all hell breaks loose.

The Bellmare faithful in full voice

Our 2010 Nabisco Cup campaign got off to a victorious start, but it was far from as clear cut as the 2-0 scoreline suggests. The first 85 minutes were pretty uneventful truth be told, although a bright spot was 22 year old débutante Yohei Takeda's performance between the sticks. He had a good game and will surely be seen more of in the future.

But yeah, like I said, the first 85 minutes were no classic by any means. Neither team really looked like scoring, and if anything the visitors had the better chances. We had only M. Yamamoto, Hiraoka and Arata in the team from Saturday's game with Kawasaki, and it showed. We lacked fluency and were hesitant in our play. Heading into the final five minutes, the nil nil scoreline didn't look much like changing.

Ha.

Starting with Johnsen being bundled over in the penalty area in the 85th minute, things suddenly got interesting. Jungo duly dispatched the spot kick, and with the wind in our sails we were surging forward looking for a second. We got our chance when we were fouled in the box again. I'll be honest with you; I missed the offence, checking, as I was, my phone for latest scores elsewhere. Hara it was who stepped up to seal the victory, and...
Excellent save

But the story didn't end there. With the last attack of the game we won a corner. The kick was swung into the danger zone and who was there to get his head on it and make amends for his penalty miss? Hara made it two nil, the whistle went shortly after and suddenly an unsatisfactory goalless draw is a 2-0 win.

Well, it's a funny old game.

Videos


Till anything betters comes along, here's a personal cam of Jungo's penalty:




And one of Hara's penalty miss five minutes later:



Hara's goal, from a different cam:

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Kawasaki 0-0 S-Pulse

BarryBarry writes:

Kawasaki 0-0 S-Pulse

Att. 17716

Line Up

GK Nishibe

DF Tsujio
DF Hiraoka
DF Bosnar (24 yellow)
DF Arata

MF Ono (11 yellow)
MF Honda
MF Yamamoto

FW Hyodo
FW Okazaki
FW Fujimoto

Subs Used

Johnsen on for Yamamoto (70)
Takaki on for Tsujio (78)
Ito on for Fujimoto (84)

Report

After a combination of Google Earth's Street View research and blind luck on the trains I arrived at Kawasaki's Todoroki Stadium in plenty of time for Saturday's early kick off. I wasn't alone, as hundreds of S-Pulse came up for this contest between two teams who will surely be in the upper reaches of the table come December.

An excellent turn out
I'll be honest, the view from behind the goal was pretty awful. The terracing isn't really steep enough and the added drawback of the running track made it hard to follow play with any certainty. Things seemed better from upstairs, but that was full to overflowing with our travelling army long before kick off. The Todoroki was a nice place to visit and I'd go back, but not to stand where I did this time. When it came to watching the game I was getting so frustrated with the view, I ended up expending most of my energies in just cheering us on. Anyway, moan over.

The view behind the goal required binoculars

We had something of a makeshift starting line up. With Iwashita out for a month we had a re-jigged back line with Hiraoka and Tsujio both starting, but things held together well. We also had Hyodo playing up front in place of Johnsen. The Norwegian didn't make an appearance until the 70th minute, with Hyodo then (mercifully) dropping back into his regular place in the centre of the park.

It took a while for the chances to start coming, and Fujimoto drew a fine save out of the Kawasaki keeper from a free kick, but even when both teams found their shooting boots, real goal scoring chances were still pretty few and far between. Kawasaki's Renatinho was diving around at every opportunity and I'm sad to report the referee was getting played hook, line and sinker. He even succeeded in getting a yellow card awarded to Bosnar after launching himself in the air at the Aussie's challenge. Oh, well. Such is life, and players will keep trying it all the time the refs can't do their jobs properly.

Despite the early yellow, Bosnar wasn't put off his game and was instrumental in our defence keeping a third clean sheet of the season. The big man had an excellent game. Ono too, despite getting several knocks throughout the game, was different class and everything was channelled though him, though he picked up another yellow. He does like a a good chat with the ref, of that we've come to see. If he can remain injury free he's going to have a huge say in where we end up at the end of the year.
All over and a point keeps us near the top of the table

The biggest worry from the game was the lack of real fire power we displayed. Johnsen was only used as a sub and we missed his presence. If it's just a one off remains to be seen, and his ability (or not) to start games could prove a bit of a hindrance this year. We don't lack back up in strikers, but none of Hara, Nagai or Omae have the height of the big fella.

The game ebbed and flowed, with each team trying hard to carve routes through each other. Not a great deal of success was had, and our one or two shooting chances were blasted wide (Hyodo and Johnsen, and Ito at the death). As the clock started ticking down things seemed to kick up a notch as both teams went for the killer punch, but nothing was doing and the whistle went at 0-0.

So all told, a draw was probably fair, and a draw away at Kawasaki was no bad result. It certainly didn't leave me spitting fire like last year's injury time free kick dodgyness. We're proving a hard team to score against which is a very good thing. Next up is Shonan Bellmare in the Nabisco Cup on Wednesday in a chance to get our cup campaign off to a winning start.

Videos


The final three minutes from a personal cam:



Our travelling hordes did us proud as ever:

Saturday, 20 March 2010

S-Pulse 1-0 Kobe

BarryBarry writes:

S-Pulse 1-0 Kobe
Bosnar 82

Att. 15367

Line Up

GK Nishibe

DF Ichikawa
DF Iwashita
DF Arata
DF Ota

MF Ono (Yellow 70)
MF Honda
MF Hyodo

FW Omae
FW Johnsen
FW Fujimoto

Subs Used

Bosnar on for Iwashita (48)
Yamamoto on for Omae (64)
Hara on for Ichikawa (72)

Report

That was a tough old game, and one we were fortunate to get away from with all three points. We weren't especially good, and looked decidedly blunt up front without Okazaki spearheading the offensive.

We showed flashes of decent play but I spent most of the day frustrated. Kobe kept Johnsen under control, and Omae, on his first league start, didn't ultimately cause the visitors many problems.

Kobe went very close to scoring at least twice, once in the first half with Arata blocking the ball right on the line. A heart-stopping moment. When the game started looking like finishing up 0-0, it was substitute Eddy Bosnar who slammed in a 35 yard free kick. It was low and moved through the wall like the Nozomi Super Express. It managed to wrong foot the keeper, who'd had a good game till then. We held on for a nervy last eight minutes plus stoppage to move top of the table on goal difference.
We'll have to be better next Saturday against Kawasaki, although they'll still be smarting from getting destroyed 4-0 by Marinos. I'll be heading up to the Todoroki and packing my binoculars. From what I hear it's a bit of a distance from the away zone to where the action is taking place.

Some special thanks goes to the head call leader, whose name I still don't know, and didn't think to ask yesterday, for passing me the CD below full of the new chants for this season. Much appreciated, fella! Thanks a lot. :)
Videos

Eddy's cracker:



Full highlights to come if and when I find them. In the meantime, check out Nagoya's opening goal from their 2-0 defeat of Iwata:



This was in the very first minute of play. The Jubilo comedy show coming to a town near you sometime this year. :)

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

UK Ultras - The Book

BarryBarry writes:

Well, I guess it was only a matter of time.

On sale via Blurb. Click here

I'm happy to announce the publication of the first UK Ultras book, and the first English language J. League book for a while. The book is the UK Ultras' photo diary of the last few years spent following S-Pulse and is available here for purchase at the meager price of just £8.95 (around 1200 yen) in paperback. For that you get over 110 pictures crammed into forty lovely full colour pages - that's just 31 yen a page!



The book is unashamedly full of pictures of me and my friends, and if you've been to a game with me in that time, you're probably in it. :) I made this for my S-Pulse buddies, but have had a few people ask after one, so I figured I may as well make it available for anyone who is interested.

You can have a virtual scan of it here, and if you're interested in having a little look at some normal fans having some fun old times in the J. League, then you could do far worse than this little picture book. If you're already in Japan and follow some other team, then you can have a gander at how we roll down Shimizu way. ;)

Sunday, 14 March 2010

S-Pulse 3-0 Yamagata

BarryBarry writes:

S-Pulse 3-0 Yamagata
Fujimoto 13
Okazaki 88
Teruyoshi 94

Att. 18517

Line Up


GK Nishibe

DF Ichikawa
DF Iwashita
DF Bosnar (Yellow 15)
DF Arata

MF Ono
MF Honda
MF Hyodo (Yellow 87)

FW Okazaki
FW Johnsen
FW Fujimoto

Subs Used

M. Yamamoto on for Ono (72)
Omae on for Fujimoto (78)
Teruyoshi on for Okazaki (90)

Report

Having nervously checked the weather forecast everyday leading up to Saturday I couldn't help worry we might be in for a wet opening home weekend. As it was Shizuoka was actually bathed in a gloriously warm sunshine as we filed through the turnstiles.

Getting there early is what it's all about

The performance was a solid one against a determined opponent. We had a good first half and took the lead though a Johnsen shot deflected wickedly off Jungo. It wrong footed the keeper and hit the back of the right in front of us. 1-0.

We should have made more of our superior first half possession, but it was still one zero at half time. The second half Yamagata were a much improved team, and it was a nervous 44 minutes before we put the game beyond doubt.
The match ball was dropped in by helicopter for some reason I missed

Our second came from Okazaki's pinpoint head. After a free kick was played out wide to Ichikawa, the cross was swung over to Shinji who was waiting at the far post. He managed to nod it back across goal right in front of the keeper. It ending up in the far corner. Unfortunately, Okazaki went off injured within moments after getting a knock in the mouth.

That wasn't where the story ended, as Shinji's replacement Ito Teruyoshi managed to grab his first goal for three years with the last action of the game. 3-0 may flatter us a little, but a win was fair.
Making friends

Videos

All from YouTube user ssnnddttyy's personal cam, here are the goals. Our first:



Our second:



Our third:



Thursday, 11 March 2010

Referee Takuto Okabe Suspended After Trick Penalty

BarryBarry writes:

Referee Takuto Okabe, who was in charge of our opening weekend fixture with Hiroshima, has been suspended for two games. The reason being his failure to call Hiroshima's so-called "trick penalty" as illegal.

The penalty in question:



I barely mentioned this in my report for the game, but that was due to the TV signal cutting out for the spot kick and my subsequent not bothering to watch it.

The problem with the kick is that the eventual kicker is not clearly identified by the referee prior to it being taken, nor is he inside the penalty area when the whistle sounds. As Sato is outside the box when the whistle is blown, he is ineligible as the taker. The taker should be in the box along with the defending goal keeper.

Read about the rule-breaking penalty on Reuters, here. Okabe has got his punishment, but I think in the spirit of fairness, Hiroshima's goal should be struck off the record, and the three points given to us.


;-)

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Hiroshima 1-1 S-Pulse

BarryBarry writes:

Hiroshima 1-1 S-Pulse
Sato 3 (pk) -----------------------Omae 93

Att. 16216

Line Up

GK Nishibe (Yellow 3)

DF Ichikawa
DF Iwashita (Yellow 91)
DF Bosnar
DF Arata

MF Ono
MF Honda
MF Hyodo

FW Okazaki (Yellow 35)
FW Johnsen
FW Fujimoto

Subs Used

Ota on for Arata (69)
Omae on for Hyodo (81)
Tsujio on for Ichikawa (86)


Report

Football is back, and it feels so, so good. And it was an event-filled Saturday for the three of us who trooped over to the S-Pulse Dream House to watch it on the big screen.

It's usually busier...

Barely three minutes in, a Hiroshima forward goes to ground as Nishibe dives at his feet. Penalty given, striker jumps up celebrating. He steps up to take it aaaaaand.... the signal dies.

When we got back up and running (at 1-0 down), it was a frustrating first half as the home team dictated the game. We were playing 4-3-3 as in closed season, and it's going to take a while for things to gel. Fujimoto up front on the right seemed slack on several occasions when his first touch let him down or he was caught napping. Despite a whole lot of huff and puff it just wasn't happening in the first 45, and it took a talking to at half time to turn our game around.
A dead signal meant mobile phone digital came into it's own
The second half we dominated, and when not held back by the diving, simulation and all round dodgyness of the Bulgarian number 2 Stoyanov, we were able to swing in several decent crosses into the danger zone, though we singularly failed to really test the keeper.

Ono was different class, and he demonstrated the impact he's going to have this season. For his first full game I was very impressed with his touch, awareness and precision. Bosnar was also a presence at the back, and one we're going to benefit from. He was sent up for each of our seven corners along with fellow defender Iwashita. Once we've had a few games to let everyone get used to each other I'm looking forward to what we're capable of.

Speaking of Iwashita, anyone who saw today's game will be amazed how he stayed on the pitch till the end. Entering stoppage time, the hot headed newly-wed pushed a Hiroshima player away with his full palm on the opponent's face. Predictably, the Hiroshima player went down like he'd been shot in the head, but regardless of any making-the-most-of-it, any hand-to-face is a red card right there. The ref reached for his pocket and pulled out... a yellow. Absolutely amazing.

Within seconds of this, and with the clock at 92 minutes, we were up the other end with a final throw of the dice. We were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box, Jungo swung it right into the mix and it was met by substitute Omae Genki for his first league goal. It was no less than we deserved, and on balance 1-1 was a fair result.
Love Ono's pose here :)

Videos

Here's the Hiroshima penalty:



And here's our late, late equaliser:



Slightly more extended highlights, including Iwashita's facepalm.


Thursday, 4 March 2010

New Chants for 2010

BarryBarry writes:

As uploaded to YouTube user 12shunsuke12's account today, several new chants have been announced for 2010. It's all a bit different to back home where chants evolve organically on the terraces and either get taken up or forgotten about depending on the supporters. Here the songs are constructed in a studio and we are then told what to sing.

Well, it is what it is, and I'm not judging either way. I do miss the spontaneity of crowd humour you get so much of back home, but there's also something to be said for everyone knowing what they're meant to be singing at the same time. The noise is amplified ten fold, and the all round atmosphere benefits.

Anyway, I'm not here to bang on about the difference in terrace culture between Japan and the UK, I'm here to post this video:



Check out 12shunsuke12's page for the new chants for Ono, Bosnar etc, but the chant above is the one I'm most looking forward to belting out next Saturday.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Pre-Season: S-Pulse 2-0 Niigata

BarryBarry writes:

S-Pulse 2-0 Niigata
Johnsen 48
Fujimoto 61

Att. 6120

S-Pulse beat Niigata 2-0 on a sunny Sunday afternoon down Nihondaira.

Orange suits you, fella

Goals

Both from YouTube user ssnnddttyy's personal cam. First, here's Johnsen's opener:



And next, Jungo's cracker: