Sunday, 31 March 2013

S-Pulse 0-4 Hiroshima

Barry Barry writes  

S-Pulse 0-4 Hiroshima 
---------------------------------- Ishihara 14
---------------------------------- Sato 69 (pen), 82
---------------------------------- Mizumoto 73

Nihondaira
Att. 13137

Line Up

GK Hayashi

DF Takaki
DF Okane (38, 59)
DF Jong-a-Pin (68)
DF Yoshida

MF Muramatsu
MF Sugiyama
MF Hattanda

FW Ishige
FW Bare
FW Kawai (44)

Subs Used

Takagi on for Ishige (HT)
Senuma on for Hattanda (70)
Lee Min-Soo on for Takaki (87)

Report

Well, bugger me. Another spanking. This time thanks in large to a second yellow for Okane which left us short handed against the champions. Already 1-0 down, the game was decided at that moment.

The fairly unimpressive league title winners took a half chance in the first half to go in with the advantage. It was an lead they deserved by dint of being more deadly in front of goal. Apart from that one goal, both teams were making a lot of passing movement, but not creating a lot at the end of it.

The second half was a different story, with S-Pulse looking likely to restore parity. Bare off the bar! It was coming, but a late tackle from Okane on the hour which the ref deemed worthy of a second yellow, put the kibosh on that. Can't help thinking Jumpei Iida was too eager with his card. Okane's a young lad and not wont to play dirty. Already on a yellow, you'd have hoped the ref would take him aside, tell him to calm it down etc etc. They are granted license to use their judgement after all. Well, no. He just reached for his pocket.

After that it was a familiar story that played out. Our beleaguered heroes trooped off at the end, not to boos, but to a rousing chorus of S-Pulse! S-Pulse! You all know what happened after the league cup game with Iwata, but the majority of our fans know we're in a rut, and the worst thing they can do is get on the team's  back.

The team was warmly welcomed, and cheered off at the end
It's a rough old time of it right now, but everyone knows they can do better, and know they will. As the old saying goes, We Believe. Believing's easy when you're riding high, but when you're down, struggling and wondering where your next win's gonna come from, that's when you need to man up. 13000 at Nihondaira on Saturday did just that. We're only four games into the season. Bring on the next 30!

Highlights

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Stay Positive! Things Can Only Get Better!

And now in song form.


Sunday, 24 March 2013

Iwata 5-1 S-Pulse (Nab Cup Group Stage)

Barry Barry writes  

Iwata 5-1 S-Pulse
6, 21, 69 ------------- Ishige 86
75, 90

Yamaha Stadium
Att 10690

Line Up

GK Takahara

DF Kawai
DF Hiraoka
DF Inukai
DF Yoshida

MF Muramatsu
MF Lee Min-Soo (5)
MF Hattanda

FW Bare
FW Ishige

Subs used

Senuma on for Kawai (58)
Takagi on for Uchida (66)
Jong a Pin on for Hattanda (80)

Report

Crap stadium. Crap performance. Crap home fans. Crap defending. Crap service station on the way back to Shizuoka. An all round complete crapper of a day.

The Yamaha Stadium

Almost as infuriating as our capitulation was the way the home fans barely seemed bothered. When we beat them by the same scoreline in 2009, there was a party on the terrace with 20 minutes still to go. We kachiloko'd, beer was flying around, we sang their victory song, and generally rubbed their noses in it. Yesterday? Nothing.

So maybe it was only the league cup, but it somehow annoyed me more that they didn't revel in a big derby win. That was left to my Iwata supporting brother (Why does he like Jubilo? In short, he's a twat) who pasted my Facebook full of sky blue nastiness. Something they did do was after each goal move their arms up and down repeatedly in mass banzai-type celebration. It somehow reminded me of the Time Warp, and was equally as camp.

Tickets went on sale today for the home league derby. Saturday, April 13th. 5pm. Payback time. Stay positive, people!!

Highlights

Well, Ishige's freekick was quite good I suppose. Apart from that, pure suicidal defending.



Wednesday, 20 March 2013

S-Pulse 1-1 Kofu (Nab Cup Group Stage)

Barry Barry writes  

S-Pulse 1-1 Kofu
Hattanda 9 ----------------- Hugo 32

Att 9411

Line Up

GK Kushibiki

DF Kawai
DF Inukai
DF Jong-a-Pin
DF Yoshida

MF Muramatsu
MF Lee Min-Soo (39)
MF Hattanda

FW Takagi
FW Ishige
FW Ito

Subs Used

Bare on for Takagi (HT)
Senuma (71) on for Ito (63)
Uchida on for Lee Min-Soo (78)

Report

2013's league cup campaign began with a 1-1 draw against Kofu. If Saturday's game with Nagoya was anything to go by, Yamaniashi's finest may prove to be this year's surprise package. Never mind the lucky stoppage time which won the game for the reds, Kofu had been the better team for an hour before being (needlessly harshly) to ten men, and even then were the more likely to score.

Saturday was a different game given both team's were largely altered from their league incarnations, but was still a keenly fought, and at times fiery encounter. We opened scoring early via Hattanda but were punished for defensive hesitancy at the half hour mark. A loose ball wasn't dealt with and Kofu were able to restart an attack.

The referee excelled himself in pedantry calling half time after Ito broke through for a one on one with the goal keeper, but didn't trouble Kawata in the away goal enough over the 90 minutes to really complain about the draw.

Next in the league cup is our second group game against Iwata. Saturday March 23rd, the game is at the Yamaha, kick off 1pm. We've not beaten Iwata at the Yamaha since Teruyoshi Ito and Alex scored in a 2-0 league victory in 2000. That said, most derbys have been held at Ecopa since then, but three points tomorrow would be a massive result and boost to our season.

Videos

Click here for the highlights.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Shonan Bellmare 1-1 S-Pulse

Barry Barry writes  

Shonan Bellmare 1-1 S-Pulse
Taketomi 21 ------------------------------------------ Hattanda 63

BMW Stadium Hiratsuka
Att 9453

Line Up

GK Hayashi

DF Jong-a-Pin
DF Hiraoka
DF Yoshida

MF Kawai
MF Muramatsu
MF Sugiyama
MF Ishige
MF Hattanda

FW Bare
FW Senuma

Subs Used

Takagi on for Sugiyama (59)
Ito on for Senuma (88)

Report

After last week's disaster, it was all about the result. Not losing, not getting beat, and clawing back some confidence.

Shonan know their lot this year. After their last spell in J1 (relegated with several games remaining) they're approaching this season defensively, content to soak pressure up and aim to hit teams with counters attacks. We went behind to just such a counter, and with last week's battering perhaps in the back of our minds, we began hoofing long balls up field at Bare and Senuma.

Come the second half, and after a good talking to, I'm betting, we calmed it down a bit. Easier said than done, but you have to forget the scoreline and keep playing your football. If you're doing what you're meant to be, the goals will usually come. Hattanda was the one to knock home our equaliser when it did arrive. The Shonan keeper fluffed a punch and we gratefully accepted the freebie.

The home team were reduced to 10 men for the final ten minutes, which gave us plenty of time to practice shooting, but a winner wasn't to be. Sho Ito went closest with a cracking header stopped by some good anticipation work by the keeper. The bottom corner is normally a safe bet to sneak one in, but Abe in the home goal was equal to it.

Three games in and no win yet, but look on the bright side - we've scored in every game so far! (EDIT: what am I on? We scored precisely zero last week. Thanks to Amir for pointing that out. Not sure how I managed that one...) Wednesday is a national holiday and it sees the opening game of the Nabisco Cup group stage. We welcome Kofu to Nihondaira, and I'm looking forward to it. Three days later it's off to the Yamaha Stadium to play Iwata, also in the cup. They lost again today, putting them joint bottom of the table with Kawasaki. Nice.

Videos

Highlights.



Wednesday, 13 March 2013

S-Pulse 0-5 Yokohama F. Marinos

Barry Barry writes  

S-Pulse 0-5 Yokohama F. Marinos
---------------------------------- Nakamura 8
---------------------------------- Hyodo 36
---------------------------------- Marquinhos 71, 88, 90

IAI Stadium Nihondaira
Att 16487

Line Up

GK Hayashi 

DF Takaki
DF Hiraoka
DF Jong-a-Pin
DF Uchida

MF Kawai
MF Sugiyama (c)
MF Lee Min-soo (22)

FW Ishige
FW Bare
FW Takagi

Subs Used

Senuma on for Kawai (HT)
Hattanda on for Sugiyama (68)
Ito on for Uchida (76)

Report

September 23rd 2007. 2-0 away at FC Tokyo, going into the final minute of stoppage time. That was the last time I left early.

When I looked up from Angry Birds (apologies, but I'd already checked out at 4-0) to see Marquinhos poke home his hat trick, I was down the stairs and out the back before I knew what I doing. An involuntary reaction at witnessing something just too painful.

For the ultimate horror of the final scoreline, the game didn't begin all that bad. Nakamura's corner deflected home by Bare wasn't an ideal start obviously, but until the second goal (where time seemed to stand still as Hyodo stepped through our back line and placed it past Hayashi) we weren't overwhelmed by any means. Kawai was clearly off full match fitness though and was substituted at half time as a result.

The second half chugged along as we managed one effort on goal and never looked in it. While we never looked like getting back into it, only in the last 20 minutes did we really fall to pieces. The goals say it all.

From what got relayed to me, save for a number of understandably angry voices, at the whistle the ground was largely just a morgue of morose silence. Amazing really, but it does suggest most people accept that shit happens, and that this was game 2 of 34.

It took me long enough to update the blog and I don't want to dwell. Away to Lee Min-soo's old team Shonan on Saturday, then home to Kofu in the Nabisco Cup group stage Wednesday afternoon (it's a national holiday). Saturday is the time to put in a decent performance, keep a clean sheet, and for Bare to net his first goal (in the right end). 3-0 to the boys in orange!

Signed: An Incurable Optimist

Pictures

Outsourcing! No more
Cheerleaders for the away team??? Only in Japan
 Ready? Set? Lose 5-0!

Videos

You are joking, right?

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Representin!

Barry Barry writes  

Just three days to go before the home kick off against Yokohama F. Marinos, and tickets are selling fast. Got yours yet?

Our recent opening weekends have been away from home, and it has in the past been partly down to the Sumpu Half Marathon being held the first Sunday of March each year. Well, so it was on this Sunday just gone, and was the reason I wasn't up in Saitama the previous afternoon.

 A well earned pint
After football, I love a good run, and Sunday was a good one. My third half marathon and a new PB. Wearing the orange meant a lot of love from the hundreds of people lining the route. I managed to pass fans of Urawa, Kawasaki, Omiya, FC Tokyo, and there was even a Machida Zelvia shirt out there. An honourable mention must go the yellow of Watford, but bizarrely, no Iwata shirts were seen. 

Beer rarely tastes better than when earned, but a close second is in the warm spring sunshine up Nihondaira. This Saturday you can toast S-Pulse with some Shimizu branded Sapporo beer. On sale throughout Shizuoka prefecture, and in demand as far away as J. Soccer Towers in Kobe, where this batch is headed.
Cheers!

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Omiya Ardija 2-2 S-Pulse

Barry Barry writes  

Omiya Ardija 2-2 S-Pulse
Jong-a-Pin (og) 56 --------------------- Ishige 74
Aoki 65 ------------------------------------ Uchida 84

Nack5 Stadium
Att 11330

Line Up

GK Hayashi

DF Yoshida
DF Hiraoka
DF Jong-a-Pin (86)
DF Takaki

MF Muramatsu
MF Sugiyama (95)
MF Min-soo

FW Ishige
FW Bare (11)
FW Takagi

Subs Used

Senuma on for Muramatsu (70)
Uchida on for Yoshida (70)
Ito on for Takagi (90)

Report

Football is back, and it feels so good!

A game of two halfs. Playing into the sun and against the wind, we were second best in the first 45. Neither team created too many clear cut chances, but Omiya were the more likely. They made good on their promise with two goals around the hour mark.

The first came from the most unlikely of sources - a Jong-a-Pin own goal. His attempted clearance of a dangerous cross only succeeded in finding the net. 1-0, and ten minutes later the lead was doubled after  Novakovič scythed down the wing, beating Calla at the touchline to play the ball back for Aoi to stroke home.

Senuma and Uchida were brought on shortly after and both played a role in clawing a point back. Senuma was active and putting himself around the park and it was from a Bare header that he was one on one with the keeper. Neither player made it cleanly, and the resulting collision left the ball to spill free to a waiting Ishige. He poked it home for his first league goal. An easy goal, but he was crucial in our comeback. Not long after Omiya doubled their lead a meandering run has ended in a shot from the edge of the area cannoning back off the bar. He earned his tap in today.

Ten minutes after his goal a darting run down the right wing saw him get brushed by the Omiya defender. Brushed enough to kick his own legs and go down? Well, down he went and the resulting Uchida's freekick was swept into the box only to be missed by everyone, keeper included.

2-2 and cue a frantic last 10 minutes. We may well have scored, probably should have done, but if you don't take your chances what can you do? 2-2 was fair, and a better result in the end for us than them. Now we can all look forward to next week's home opener versus Yokohama F. Marinos. After today's absence I'll be there in earnest!

Videos

Highlights.

2012 in Review

Barry Barry writes  

Overview

Another season is over, and not an uneventful one by any standard. We ended the year midtable, but going into the home straight had a top three position to play for and a cup final to look forward to. It wasn’t to end favourably in either case, but 2012 had more than its share of ups to match the downs, and we can go into 2013 with confidence that our young team will only improve.

2012’s first home game was against eventual champions Hiroshima. They headed home empty handed, just as they would when we played them at their place. Taking full points off the champions is no mean feat, nor is repeating the act against second placed Sendai. While we disposed of the best teams in the country, we struggled against Niigata and Gamba Osaka, the latter now condemned to life in J2, the former surviving on the last day. This is an inconsistency borne perhaps out of a squad which went through a number of significant personnel changes over the year.

Ins, Outs and Standouts

 We took on, at different ends of the season, forwards Jymmy Franca and Kim Hung-Sung. The Korean was effectively a replacement for the Brazilian, who failed to make the required impact on the score sheet. Other incomings in the form of Hattanda, Ishige and Senuma made full team debuts towards the end of the season, but perhaps the biggest impact was felt in the departures. In midfield alone, Brosque received an offer he couldn’t refuse, lingering remnants of the Hasegawa years Iwashita and Edamura were loaned to Gamba and Cerezo Osaka respectively, and captain Shinji Ono moved as a marquee signing to the developing A. League.

Those outgoings were, to a man, well established at Nihondaira, and high on the list of influential faces in the changing room. While some changes were made to move the club forward, others, such as Brosque’s loss to Al Ain FC, meant a rapid rebalancing of the squad was required. Kobayashi and Sugiyama, plus youngsters Kawai, Hattanda and Ishige, took over the centre of the park. The youngsters especially closed out the season with plenty of promise.

Given his youth, Ishige grabbed most headlines as a breakthrough player of the year. He spent time in January training with Manchester City, and much will be expected of him next season. However, Kawai and Hattanda made equally impressive first forays into professional football. Kawai especially looked established beyond his years and gave 32 solid performances. The age of our squad was a constant prominent factor. As the veterans were phased out, or were unavailable through injury, we frequently deployed the youngest starting XI in the country. The more experience and maturity they gain we can expect only bigger and better things in the coming years.

Other standouts included Hiraoka at centre back, and Lee Ki-Je to his left. The Korean may have been in his first season in orange, but he ensured our previous left back wasn’t at all missed. For me, our player of the year was another defender, the Dutchman Jong-a-Pin. An immense presence in the centre of our back line, he rarely put a foot wrong and was consistently one of the best defenders in the country. His commanding and calming influence saw him take on the captain’s armband as the year progressed. With his signing of a new contract at the end of the season I heaved a large sigh of relief. We would have missed him immensely had he made a big money move elsewhere.

Season Highlights

A home and away derby double and a league cup run which took us to the final were certain highlights, but topping even those I’ve selected my three most memorable games. Sadly I was out of the country for the away derby victory and the wonderful cup semi final second leg triumph, or these may well have featured.

Consadole Sapporo 0-2 S-Pulse
League, September 1st

A true away day if ever there was one. Jumping on a plane with your mates and jetting off to the football. We made a long weekend of it to fit in the requisite sightseeing, but the highlight of course was a solid 2-0 away win at the spectacular Sapporo Dome. Hundreds of S-Pulse fans made the journey and ensured it was an away day to remember.

FC Tokyo 0-1 S-Pulse
League, April 28th 

The Ajinomoto Stadium has in recent years not been kind to us. With my three previous visits ending in disappointment, I almost had second thoughts about making a fourth trip. Entering the last 15 minutes of April’s tie reduced to nine men, this was all set to end in a similar vein. Cards had been flying around all game, and when our second player of the day saw red in the 74th minute, we all feared the worst.

Three minutes later, step forward former S-Pulse defender Kosuke Ota. The left back had left us under mildly acrimonious circumstances the previous season, so it was with a sense of justice that his mistake should gift us an unlikely win. High up on the left wing, Ota made an inexplicable pass straight back to Takahara in the middle of the field. The home team were caught on the counter as Taka stormed forward before dinking the ball over to the advancing Takagi. Toshiyuki nearly tore a hole in the net as he slammed the ball home in front of the delirious travelling fans. The combination of disbelief and joy was unforgettable, and we held on to the final whistle for a memorable win.

Nagoya 3-4 S-Pulse
League Cup Quarter Final, August 8th 

The second leg of the league cup quarter final was an incredible affair. Having lost the home leg 1-0, we needed a high scoring win to advance. We got it, but entering the final two minutes behind 3-2 on the night and 4-2 on aggregate, nobody would have dared dream it. Up until this point alone the game had been a roller coaster, but we’d not yet seen anything.

Debutante Senuma joined play in the 84th minute, just in time to see Nagoya score their third and put the game seemingly beyond reach. He was not ready to concede defeat, and as we piled forward he pounced on a loose ball to reduce the home team’s advantage in the 88th minute.

Deep in stoppage time and now needing just one goal to grab an away goals victory, Nagoya was seemingly equal to everything we managed. As the clock edged towards 93 minutes they had just to run down the clock the remaining 90 seconds. With the situation desperate, a hopeful S-Pulse cross was aimed towards the penalty area. A deflection from an outstretched Nagoya leg looped the ball perfectly over to the far post, and who was steaming in to meet it but Toshiyuki Takagi. His header found the net and the celebrations were off the scale as the clock finally ran out and a barely believable comeback was completed. A climax to a game that will be talked about years down the line.

2013 Starts Here

2012 may have ended empty handed in terms of silverware, but the journey was an unforgettable one. With kick off just hours away, if there are memories to be made anywhere near as good as the last twelve months, it’s going to be a great year!