Monday, 31 May 2010

Japan 1 - 2 England

Fuz Fuz writes:

When you're a Brit living in Japan and a game like this arrives, the question is who to support. Here at UK Ultras HQ we're a bit divided on this, and it depends on which part of the UK we're from. Basically, the English lot support England, the Japanese lot support Japan, and I, as a Scot, follow my world cup plan of supporting Japan and whoever England happen to be playing. As Scotland have once again failed to qualify, you can bet that I'm not the only person doing so.

Anyway, pregame I really wanted Japan to win but had a sinking feeling that we would get humped three or four nil. Much as I hate to admit it, but England are actually quite good. Or so I thought...

I'd say we were robbed, but it was more like handing England a big present with a huge ribbon on top. Going ahead early in the first half the hubby and I thought it was too good to be true and sat holding our breath for the response.... which failed to materialize. Half time came, England were lacklustre and Japan were looking quite good. Kawashima was bloody AMAZING last night. He saved quite a few good on target shots with magnificent moves, and even saved a penalty after a silly handball by Endo defending a free kick. Honestly, when the free kick was awarded we cringed; and then when it became a penalty the Fuz household sank into gloomy dread, only to be whipped out of it by a fantastic Kawashima save. Excellent!

And then disaster struck.

Tulio, not a favourite of the UK Ultras at the best of times (indeed, I had cheekily emailed Barry asking how he would feel if Oka-chan scored seconds before Tulio did, and the reply was along the lines of "I'd prefer it to Tulio" but not so polite), quite giftedly headed the ball into his own goal. What a spanner. All is not lost we thought, Japan might get it back. Kawashima continued to be great. Morimoto had a great chance... and then the ball deflected of Nakazawa. A second own goal, and we gifted the game to England.

I'm pretty gutted to be honest, and although I''m sure Barry was happy with a win, there can't be a lot of pride for England in that victory.

Makes me feel better about Scotland getting beat by Japan last November though!

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Urawa 0-1 S-Pulse (Nabisco Cup)

BarryBarry writes:

Urawa 0-1 S-Pulse
----------------------------- Hara 87

Att. 34040

Line Up


GK Nishibe

DF Tsujio
DF Iwashita (yellow 48)
DF Hiraoka
DF Ota

MF Hyodo
MF Honda
MF Ono

FW Nagai
FW Johnsen
FW Fujimoto

Subs Used

M. Yamamoto on for Hyodo (65)
Omae on for Honda (78)
Hara on for Nagai (78)

Report

I was expecting to watch this one on the box, but as it wasn't on live anywhere I was reduced, like a savage, to listening on *spit* Reds Radio. Urgh. As if that wasn't bad enough, the commentator wasn't even trying to provide a balanced account of what was unfolding at the Saitama Stadium.

I just checked the stats and was genuinely surprised to see we had 12 shots; only two fewer than the home team. You wouldn't have known it. The commentator took any S-Pulse possession as opportunity to babble on about the fact Reds fans were booing Nagai, that three ex Urawa players started for us today, that we hadn't won in four, or the fact that a draw wouldn't really suit either team.

Timely

So it was a confusing / hilarious / surreal moment when, with the presenter off on another mindless rant about God only knows what, he, completely out of the blue, started shouting and yelping about a goal. I was paralysed with fear as I tried to figure out what had just happened, but to cut a long story short, it was Kazuki Hara who had reaffirmed his semi-legendary status as our very own super sub.

I'm yet to see it, but will add a video is and when one appears online. These three points put us back in the race to qualify for the knock out stages, but anything less than a win against those sky blue scumbags next week will see our hopes for another cup run as good as over. Even a victory may yet prove to be insufficient as you can see:



Played Pts W
D
L
F
A
Gd
1 iwata 4 10 3 1 0 7 3 +4
2 S-PULSE 5 8 2 2 1 4 3 +1
3 Yokohama FM 4 7 2 1 1 5 2 +3
4 Yamagata 4 7 2 1 1 3 1 +2
5 Urawa 5 7 2 1 2 6 6 0
6 Kobe 4 3 1 0 3 4 7 -3
7 Shonan 4 0 0 0 4 2 9 -7

It's really too close to call. All we can do is win. See you at Nihondaira next week where there will be near on THREE TIMES more than was at jubilo's home game yesterday.

Videos

OK, so here they are, the highlights:


S-Pulse BEER!

FuzFuz writes:


Yes, that's right. S-Pulse Beer. Coming to a supermarket near you. I'm not sure of the story behind this, but basically our local super has started stocking some very nice Sapporo beer branded by the Pulse.

It makes me happy, and it made the husband even happier, as he's the one getting to drink most of it.


Go and get yours now!

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Pre-Season (!) Friendly Announced

BarryBarry writes:

EDIT - THIS GAME IS AGAINST KOFU, NOT KOBE. MY MISTAKE. :-S ALL DETAILS STAND AS STATED, THOUGH.

When is a pre-season friendly not a pre-season friendly? Answer: When it's played halfway through the season. :-D

Having got swept up in the excitement of a scoreless home draw and an away battering, I totally forgot to mention a "pre-season" friendly which has been arranged during the mid season break.

The guests to Nihondaira will be yesterday's adversaries Vissel Kobe. The game will take place on Saturday July 3rd with kick off at 6.00pm. A reserve team game between the same two teams (but not the same players, obviously) will kick off at 3pm.

After the game be sure to head to your nearest hostelry to catch the second set of World Cup quarter finals. If Japan are in them, I'm buying everyone in the pub a drink.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Kobe 3-1 S-Pulse (Nabisco Cup)

BarryBarry writes:

Kobe 3-1 S-Pulse
Tokura 15 ---------- Edamura 86
Edmilson 23
Popo 51

Att. 4483

Line Up

GK Nishibe

DF Takaki
DF Hiraoka
DF Bosnar
DF Arata

MF Hyodo
MF Honda
MF Edamura

FW Hara
FW Johnsen
FW Fujimoto

Subs Used

Ono on for Fujimoto (HT)
Iwashita on for Takaki (55)
Nagai on for Johnsen (70)

Report

None, because I didn't watch it. I was busy shifting boxes and preparing to move house this weekend. I'm eager to get as much done as possible, so I can keep Sunday free to watch the next Nabisco Cup fixture with Urawa. After slumping to defeat this evening, it is absolutely must win if we're to have any chance of progression from the group stage. A win on Sunday and then spanking Jubilo at home on the 6th will see us through. Simple as that. :)

Monday, 24 May 2010

Baby's First Game

FuzFuz writes:

So, finally, at the ripe old age of 6 months and 8 days, the youngest member of the UK Ultras made her Nihondaira debut.

Happy to be at the 'Daira

It was only a nil-nil draw in the end, but it was good to introduce Aisha to the footie and check that she is happy in the enivronment before next month's derby (cos if she wasn't, she was going to be left with Daddy for two hours!). As expected, she was fine, as any daughter of mine would be. The Orange is pulsing through her veins, and it can't be helped.

Laughing about Jubilo with her fellow supporters

Ah-chan settled down at Nihondaira very quickly, and despite a wobbly start where she looked like she might cry, she opted to have a snooze for the duration of the first half. To be fair, she didn't really miss very much and it let me watch the game, which was more than I was honestly expecting to be able to do. Half time came and she woke up to play with everyone and spent the second half awake, half watching the game and half trying to eat the orange banners that were on either side of us. Hey ho, at least she has good taste. By the end of the match, she was in her daddy's arms dancing along with the rest of us. Mission complete.

modeling the very best in Baby Fashion

Next stop: S-Pa vs Jubilo on the 6th of June. We can't wait.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

S-Pulse 0-0 Yokohama M. Flügels (Nabisco Cup)

BarryBarry writes:

S-Pulse 0-0 Yokohama M. Flügels

Att. 15269


Line Up

GK Nishibe

DF Tsujio (yellow 90)
DF Iwashita
DF Bosnar
DF Arata

MF Hyodo
MF Ito
MF Ono

FW Nagai
FW Johnsen
FW Fujimoto

Subs Used

Ota on for Bosnar (65)
Hara on for Johnsen (76)
Edamura on for Nagai (78)

Report

Sorry - this is going to be a bit late. If and when I get round to it (I'm moving house this week - loads of time spend shifting boxes, very little spent writing match reviews), but will try to expand on this a little the first chance I get.

In the meantime, here's a picture:

15000 for a Nabisco Cup Group Stage game? Blimey

Videos

Nothing to see here.

Seriously, there was nothing to see.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

2010 - Review of the Season so far

BarryBarry writes:

As we head into the extended break for the World Cup, I figured it was time for a review of sorts. With 12 games played, we're a third of the way through the season and the league table is starting to take shape. As it stands, we're top:

2010 Tables: Japanese J League
CLUB PWLDGDPts
Shimizu S-Pulse
127141125
Nagoya12741422
Kashima11623921
Urawa12642420
Kawasaki11632220
Yokohama FM12543518
Niigata12435117
C. Osaka11434016
Hiroshima
11434016
iwata12453-315
G. Osaska11335314
FC Tokyo12345114
Yamagata12462-714
Sendai12354-413
Kobe12372-511
Omiya11263-59
Kyoto11263-89
Shonan11263-89

So yeah, things are looking pretty well placed for our traditional summertime improvement in form. Top, best goal difference, most goals scored and fewest loses. There's not much room for complaint, and credit where it's due, we're top because we've earned it. The influence of Ono cannot be overstated, and as I wrote at the end of last year, the lack of a creative midfield play maker was the difference between at top three and a top seven finish.

In goal, Nishibe is playing well and is yet to pull off any howlers. Long may it continue in Yamamoto's absence. I'm hoping for a speedy return to the squad, if not starting member, for Kaito. Should Nishibe get injured again, third choice Takeda in goal in not an ideal situation by any means.

We've got by fairly well with starting defenders Iwashita and Aoyama out injured. Bosnar may not be a world beater, but he's been absolutely massive for us so far this season. The two goals he's contributed aside, his contribution to the side was most notable by his absence against Niigata. We're a better team with the big man in the starting line up, and when Aoyama and Iwashita are fully fit, the back line selection will cause Kenta some headaches.

The midfield trio has to be, to my mind, Ono, Hyodo and... Honda. In Honda's absence, I'd have either Edamura in there next, followed by Teru. Ono is world class. Simple as that.

Up front, Okazaki, Jungo and Johnsen have been banging the goals in this year, but with the future in mind, hopefully Hara or Omae will get some run outs when the chance arises. Nagai is also chomping at the bit to get some back into some regular football. I don't doubt he can still compete at this level - his speed is scary, and I want to see more.

So anyway, all things considered, a great opening third, but with 22 games still to go, noone's getting carried away just yet. The season's been on hiatus for two days and I can't wait for its return! In the meantime, here's my highlights of the season so far:

Best Game

Kyoto 2-4 S-Pulse
Report.

For the result it would have been the Sendai game, but for pure entertainment, a thrilling comeback, cards flying round like confetti, dodgy refereeing, half time desolation followed by full time elation, this game had pretty much everything. I wish I'd been there to witness it live, but a packed Dream House was something to remember in itself. There was enough in this game to talk about for days after. Will we have a crazier game than this before the season is up? I doubt it.

Best Moment


S-Pulse 2-1 Urawa
Report.

Johnsen's 93rd minute winner at a packed Ecopa. This video says it all:



Best Goal

S-Pulse 2-1 Omiya
Report.

(Yes, it was a cross but) Yamamoto's wonder strike in the 86th minute against Omiya. Timely and stunning.



Worst Game / Moment

S-Pulse 0-2 Niigata
Report.

Obviously.

In the last 12 games, there's been enough drama to last a year, but we're not even half way through. Stay tuned after the world cup for more crazy football fun J. style as S-Pulse march on towards glory!!

Saturday, 15 May 2010

FC Tokyo 2-2 S-Pulse

BarryBarry writes:

FC Tokyo 2-2 S-Pulse

Nagatomo 85 ---------------- Hiraoka 26
Matsushita 87 --------------- Fujimoto 68

Att. 28114

Line Up

GK Nishibe

DF Tsujio
DF Hiroi
DF Bosnar
DF Arata

MF Hyodo
MF Honda
MF Ono

FW Okazaki
FW Johnsen
FW Fujimoto

Subs Used

M. Yamamoto on for Ono (57)
Ota on for Fujimoto (84)
Nagia on for Johnsen (91)

Report

Right, no beating about the proverbial bush, the truth of the matter is that was a

HUGE FUCKING COCK UP
We got lucky with other results going our way this weekend, (both Kawasaki and Nagoya suffered heavy defeats meaning we were the only team in the top three to pick up any points) but the fact is we should be five, not three, points clear going into the World Cup break. 2-0 up with five minutes to go - we'd done the hard part, we just didn't have the balls to finish the job.

The travelling thousands

To say Saturday was two points lost is, of course, stating the bleeding obvious. I just hope everyone at the club is feeling the sense of waste as keenly as the thousands of orange heroes who journeyed up to the capital. If we end up missing out on a position due to a two point deficit, this game will come back to haunt us. I'm not pointing any fingers - it was a tough old match, and we'd done well to contain the home team up to that point. Nishibe for his part had a great game and wasn't at fault for either of the goals. The returning Bosnar was immense, as was Ono. Why he won't be on the plane to South Africa is a complete mystery to me.

The precise reasons for allowing a team back into a game at 2-0 down with five minutes to go allude a mere mortal like me, but what I do know is as shitty as this was, as gutting as it was to leave with a point when we should have shut the game down and left with all three, we need to learn from it and move on. Shit happens, and we've done exactly the same thing to other teams fairly recently ourselves. Yeah, it's two points lost, blah blah fucking blah, but if you let it, things like this can get on top of you and erode confidence. Hey, I didn't take a module of sport psychology back in 2001 without learning a thing or two. We can get things back on an even keel starting with Yokomari at home next week in the cup.

As for Saturday's good points, well both goals came from set pieces and both were very well taken. Hiraoka's header came from Ono's perfectly weighted ball into the box, and Jungo, who has always been a mean striker of a free kick, swung it over the wall and into the net right in front of us. Up until the 85th minute we'd kept the home team in check for the most part, but just couldn't see it through. I don't why Ono was substituted quite so early and while I don't believe the capitulation was purely down to this (we increased out lead and kept Tokyo at bay for nearly half an hour in his absence), taking our linchpin off before even the hour mark had me scratching my head.
"Fish and Chips" I should have known better really...

Well, anyway, bollocks. We drew, and that's that. On the bright side, it was my first time in three visits not to leave the grey bowl of the Ajisuta in defeat, and like I mentioned, our nearest rivals both lost. This meant we actually extended our lead at the summit to such that even if Kashima and Frontale win their games in hand it won't be enough to claim top spot from us.

Okazaki receives a sending off to South Africa
The first game after the World Cup is the biggest of the season: July 17th versus Jubilo Iwata in the Shizuoka Derby. This game will sell out, and if it's even half as much fun as last year's corresponding fixture, you won't wanna miss it!

Videos

Our opener:




From another angle:



Jungo's freekick which made it 2-0:

Gutted.

FuzFuz writes:

Right, I know Barry will give you all a full report full of facts and figures and all the goings -on as he actually went to the game, but seeing as I actually managed to watch most of today's game due to a well timed nap and some solo playing by the wee one (a rare event in itself) I wanted to actually contribute to the blog for a change.

I really enjoyed the vast majority of today's game. Right up until the 40th minute, to be exact. I thought in the first 15 minutes or so Tokyo looked to be the better team but then we picked it up and got going with a beautiful Ono free kick that Hiraoka knocked in. Nishibe pulled off more than one great save, and towards the end I thought we had it in the bag. Our second half goal was another beauty courtesy of Jungo, and another free kick due to Oka-chan getting kicked in the face. 2-0! We are the people! Orange Soldiers! AND Nishibe was literally on the ball. Oh happy days! Then Tokyo got a goal, and I had a sinking feeling in my stomach as soon as they got possession again and charged down the pitch. I knew it was going in, and alas, I was right.

Basically, I'm gutted. Should've been three points. We didn't lose, but I feel almost as though we did.

I'll say this though, Nishibe did have some bloody good saves. It could have been so much worse.

And now my computer time is up, as the bouncy baby wants played with, and frankly, I need something to take my mind off the result.

*sigh*

Saturday, 8 May 2010

S-Pulse 0-2 Niigata

BarryBarry writes:

S-Pulse 0-2 Niigata
---------------------------------Nishi 19
---------------------------------Michael 43

Att. 15396

Line Up

GK Takeda

DF Tsujio
DF Hiroi
DF Hiraoka (yellow 45)
DF Arata

MF Hyodo
MF Honda (yellow 22)
MF Ito

FW Okazaki
FW Johnsen
FW Fujimoto (yellow 90)

Subs Used

Takaki on for Hiroi (HT)
Nagai on for Ito (70)
M. Yamamoto on for Tsujio (70)

Report

Crap, I'm meant to write something here, aren't I? OK, where to start? Excuses? OK then. We were without top two keepers Nishibe and Kaito, defenders Ota, Iwashita and Bosnar, and midfielder Ono. So yeah, nearly half the team being out is going make any game an uphill struggle. Still, regardless of that, we were the better team in the second half. It was the first 45 where we blew it. A header at the near post from a corner, and an inability to curtail a run deep into our penalty area gave Niigata the chances they needed.

I was briefly wondering if starting the second half 2-0 down was some kind of grand plan. You know the type of thing - give ourselves a challenge and that. On Wednesday it gave us a chance to enjoy a truly memorable come back, and for the first ten minutes of the second half against Niigata it looked like the same thing was about to play out. We were charging up the field with purpose and within moments of the restart only a stunning save from point-blank denied Jungo.

The chances continued to come. Ten shots in the second 45 compared to one in the first, and 8 corners compared to two tell a lot of the story, but when it's not going to go in, it's not going to go in.

As time wore on, Niigata, who came out nervy and hesitant, grew in confidence and started looking dangerous on the counter attack. As time wore on Niigata also started the inevitable play acting and time wasting to help run the clock down. A mock substitution where the man to be replaced saunters at a snail's pace to the touchline only to turn around and rejoin play? That was 90 seconds run down right there. An Albirex player falling down and laying flat out for a good ten seconds before suddenly rolling over in supposed agony? Then waiting five seconds before rolling over the other way? Yep, all the possible gamesmanship tricks and time wasting ploys were out in force. It was embarrassing to watch, but I guess it just underlined the desperation of the visitors.

But all that aside, we just couldn't put the ball in the net. If Okazaki had not had his best chance stopped by an excellent one handed save I don't doubt we'd have been sufficiently motivated to mount a serious assault for the equaliser, but the breakthrough never came, time got shorter and we gradually ran out of steam.

Well, our first league defeat since November 29th last year is always going to be a major downer, but the facts remain we're the least defeated team in J1, we're top and we've got the best goal difference. Not at all bad for nearly a third of the way through the season. Saturday away at the Ajinomoto stadium with most of our regular starters back will be a different ball game entirely, and avoiding defeat will ensure top spot until the middle of July thanks to the World Cup break.

I wasn't going to bother with FC Tokyo this year (two visits, two defeats - I don't especially like the Ajisuta), but when there's so much at stake with every game at the moment, how could I possible stay away? See you in the capital on Saturday!

Videos

Highlights:

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Kyoto 2-4 S-Pulse

BarryBarry writes:

Kyoto Sanga 2-4 S-Pulse
Yanagisawa 31 ---------------------- Fujimoto 54 (pk)
Dutra 34 ---------------------------------Johnsen 59
Nakayama sent off 69---------------Fujimoto 78 (pk)
----------------------------------------------Bosnar 83
--------------------------------------------- Ota sent off 79

Att. 14016

Line Up

GK Takeda

DF Takaki
DF Hiraoka
DF Bosnar (yellow 84)
DF Ota (yellow 27, red 79)

MF Honda
MF Ono (yellow 1)
MF M. Yamamoto

FW Okazaki
FW Johnsen
FW Fujimoto

Subs Used

Tsujio on for Takaki (HT)
Hyodo on for M. Yamamoto (HT)
Kodama on for Ono (80)

Report

That was one hell of a game of football. Me and Yujiro arrived at Shimizu Dream House for the public viewing in plenty of time - or so we thought. Well over an hour before kick off it was standing room only as the place was swamped with fans hoping to see us extend our unbeaten run to ten games. In the event, that's just what they got to see, but, man, what a ride it was!

Standing room only

After a wretched first half we were two nil down and deserved nothing less. Kenta was still without Nishibe in goal, so rookie Takeda started, and the boss had also chosen to rest regular starters Hyodo and Tsujio. We visibly missed Hyodo in particular, and the first 45 minutes were painful to watch at times. Mistake after mistake after mistake, and when we did get within shooting range we blasted it over time and again. The worst offender was Ono when, after a head down by Johnsen, the midfield wizard was all alone with time and just the keeper to beat. He hit it first time into row Z.

Kyoto were clinical with the two best chances they had, although they should have made it three just before the break. The referee was card and whistle happy all game. The free kick which led to Kyoto's second looked like a fair challenge to me, but I'm not a referee and I wasn't there, so I'll give the man in black the benefit of the doubt. The kick was floated into the box and a purple-propelled header was sent home totally unhindered by anything as troublesome as defenders.

The atmosphere was one of utter dejection, and it felt like our unbeaten start to the season was as good as gone when the first half whistle went. While it wasn't quite as simple as Hyodo and Tsujio's absence causing all the problems, we were a transformed team in the second half when both were back on the pitch.

We were allowed back in the game via a Jungo penalty converted after Okazaki was clumsily bundled over. In the twenty minutes that followed, Mizutani, the Kyoto shot-stopper, pulled off two stunning saves in five minutes to deny Okazaki, but wasn't able to beat Johnsen to a pin point Ono cross which levelled the score. The equalising goal fired us up to the point that to my eyes we looked line a team of lions with had tasted blood and was tearing up and down the pitch eager for more. We were absolutely ravenous, with lightening play between the likes of Ono, Jungo and Johnsen carving routes through the home team and culminating in shots which on another day would have gone in.

The sending off of Nakayama only added fuel to the fire, and the inevitable happened when Okazaki was bundled down in the area for another Fujimoto penalty. It was a soft penalty for sure, but this ref was giving everything. He sent off Ota for a second yellow after a mid-air collision with no malice whatsoever, and he booked Bosnar for, I can only presume, his celebrations after he sent a 35 metre free kick into the back of the net. Bosnar's second goal of the season surprised everyone - the Sky Perfect TV cameraman included - and had the hundreds packed into Dream House dancing in the aisles.

The travelling hordes caught on the big screen

It was a performance of two halves, the first one shocking, the second, at times, awesome. We extended our lead at the top to four points after both Kashima and Nagoya lost, and Kawasaki dropped points in Osaka. There's absolutely no time to let up though, and we should be looking to beat Niigata on Saturday. After the cards for Ota, Bosnar and Ono, we'll be without all three, which will mean some rearranging will be necessary.

Videos

Full highlights (only half of Bosnar's wonder strike, though):

Saturday, 1 May 2010

S-Pulse 2-1 Urawa

BarryBarry writes:
S-Pulse 2-1 Urawa
Okazaki 17 ----------------Ponte 22
Johnsen 93

Att. 38851

Line Up

GK Nishibe

DF Tsujio
DF Hiraoka
DF Bosnar
DF Ota

MF Hyodo
MF Honda (yellow 25)
MF Ono

FW Okazaki
FW Johnsen
FW Fujimoto

Subs Used
Takeda on for Nishibe (HT)
Nagai on for Fujimoto (79)
Takaki (yellow 88) on for Tsujio (83)

Report

On a gorgeous Saturday afternoon third placed Urawa trekked out to the home of football in Japan, Shizuoka, for their biggest game of the season so far. Due to the prospect of a bumper Golden Week crowd, S-Pulse chose to stage this one at Ecopa. It was a decision that paid off as just shy of 39000 turned out to see the league leaders in action. The vast majority went home smiling like Cheshire Cats after Frode Johnsen rose in the 93rd minute to head home and claim three points for S-Pulse. His stoppage time header ensured we remain top of the table and extended our unbeaten start to the season to nine games - eleven in all competitions.

Not many empty seats to be found

The game, and the occasion as a whole, was a cracker. Both sets of fans were in full voice as two teams with genuine title ambitions had the opportunity to stake their claim over the other. Within seconds of the start both ourselves and the other lot had had shots on target and it was clear the game was going to live up to expectations. The thing is, games like this are all well and good for the neutral, but for supporters of either team it means ninety minutes of heart-stopping tension and goal-mouth scares.

Okazaki opened scoring from a corner, glancing a header across goal and into the far corner. Our celebrations didn't last too long though. Five minutes later Ponte repeated his feat of the same fixture last year, firing it home in front of the home end. Nishibe got a hand to it but it wasn't quite enough. Not long after, a poorly timed sliding challenge by Yamada led to lengthy treatment for our keeper. He managed to play on till half time, but was suffering from concussion and so was substituted at the break for youngster Takeda.

An hour from Shimizu, but the orange army was out in force

Ono went achingly close to restoring our lead, once directly after skilfully avoiding a defender and shooting just wide, and once with a world class pass into Okazaki's path who just failed to chip to advancing keeper. So it was all square at half time, a scoreline probably more suited to the away team.

The second half was equally anxiety ridden, and with the chances coming less frequently it was evident that one goal was probably going to win it. When we hit the bar in the 92nd minute that looked like our time was up and we'd have to settle for the draw, but cue the big Norwegian to pop up and head home from point blank range.

The hero of the piece

I've not known an explosion of delirium on the terraces like that since Cho Jae-Jin's stoppage time winner against Jubilo back in 2007. Being a home game with 35000 orange-clad maniacs in attendance, the noise when Johnsen's 93rd minute header hit the back of the net was something incredible. The goal won us all three points and maintains our place at the top of the table.

Onwards and upwards - next is Kyoto away on Wednesday. On the road the first priority is avoiding defeat. If we can play a tight game and stay top, then it's home to Niigata next Saturday. The games can't come quick enough!

Videos

Full highlights:



From a personal cam, Okazaki's opener:



And Johnsen's winner: