Sunday, 19 October 2014

Yokohama F. Marinos 1-0 S-Pulse

Barry BARRY WRITES... 

Yokohama F. Marinos 1-0 S-Pulse
Fujimoto 58

Att 19310
Nissan Stadium, Yokohama

Line Up

GK Kushibiki

DF Kawai
DF Jakovic
DF Hiraoka
DF Yoshida

MF Musaka
MF Honda
MF Ishige
MF Takagi T

FW Omae
FW Novakovic

Subs used

Takagi Y on for Novakovic (67)
Murata on for Takagi T (81)
Lee Ki-Je on for Musaka (90)

Report

Not looking good is it, chaps? A pretty dire offering from both teams to be honest, but while we were unlucky in that Yokohama got a deflection to put the ball away, that would be to ignore the fact that they were the only team really in it. That they were painfully mediocre just served to highlight our own addled ineptitude at making much in the way of goal ward progress .

One highlight was Novakovic, his hard work and toil was only limited by those around him. He must be sick of playing for teams at the wrong end of the table. He deserves better. We were better of course until the manager was sacked. Mid table may not have been setting the J. League alight, but it was solid. It certainly wasn't staring down the barrel of a year in J2, and I struggle to see us getting out of the hole we've been dragged us into. Oenoki was never the man for the job, that's obvious, but with four of our last six games at home, Nagasawa and Jong a Pin on the brink of return, a spirit lifting cup run, and the unfaltering support of all in orange, he has everything working towards him in his mission to save us.

Home to Niigata on Wednesday, where we will gather, and we will support. If we can stay up it will be the result of a mammoth effort of all involved. In this, our darkest hour, it will be the fans shining the guiding light, and for them our team must now be playing. We were let off the hook yesterday with Cerezo losing and Kofu drawing, but we're still in a whole world of trouble.

It really is now or never.

Videos

Highlights.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Nagoya 2-2 S-Pulse (AET) S-Pulse win 5-3 on penalties (Emp Cup 1/4 Final)

Barry BARRY WRITES... 

Nagoya 2-2 S-Pulse (aet) 
Ogawa 72 ------------------ Takagi Y 65
Nagai 82 -------------------- Takagi T 67

S-Pulse win 5-3 on penalties

Att 6113
Mizuho Stadium, Nagoya

Line Up

GK Kushibiki

DF Kawai
DF Jakovic (79)
DF Hiraoka
DF Yoshida

MF Takagi Y
MF Honda
MF Murata
MF Ishige

FW Takagi T
FW Omae

Subs Used

Mizutani on for Takagi Y(76)
Lee Ki-Je on for Kawai (81)
Murata on for Ishige (106)

Report

No classic, but the only thing that matters is that we squeezed through. On balance we probably deserved it, especially away from home. Defending on their goals was cause for concern, though. That said, we were solid as a rock from set pieces, so credit where it's due, we may be heading in the right direction.

Without Novakovic we were left to juggle a bit up front, especially given the lack of anything approaching what can be called height. You have to work with what you've got though, and that we did. Both goals came via decent approach play on the ground, and the brothers Takagi put their respective goals away very tidily indeed. Given the chances we made we should have had the game beyond Nagoya's reach going into the final 15 minutes, but I can't really moan. An away win (draw, but you know) for the second Emperor's Cup tie in a row, both against in-form teams.

The semi final will be in Tokyo, so neutral ground for whoever we face (Omiya or G. Osaka). But just when the traditionally-ignored-by-the-masses-until-the-final Emperor's Cup is starting to get interesting, the semi final is scheduled for a Wednesday night. Go figure. Well, I don't doubt we'll still get ridiculously over excited and subsequently heartbroken. That's what this wonderful, pointless, beautiful, infuriating, gorgeous game called football is all about.

Videos

Got a bit of time on your hands? Why not watch the whole 90 minutes? Via YouTube user, nay YouTube legend, Terukaza Oyama. Amazing work, that man. First half, part one:



First half, part two:



Second half, part one:



Second half, part two:



No extra time I'm afraid, but you can jump straight to the penalties courtesy of YouTuber JagdOrkus:

Sunday, 5 October 2014

S-Pulse 3-0 Cerezo Osaka

Barry BARRY WRITES... 

S-Pulse 3-0 Cerezo Osaka
Ishige 8
Hiraoka 77
Murata 94

Att 11917
IAI Stadium Nihondaira, Shizuoka

Line Up

GK Kushibiki

DF Kawai
DF Jakovic
DF Hiraoka
DF Yoshida

MF Honda
MF Omae
MF Musaka
MF Ishige

FW Novakovic
FW Takagi T

Subs Used

Murata on for Omae (84)
Mizutani on for Honda (85)
Takaki on for Takagi T (90)

Report



Our first win after six defeats and a draw. Halle-bloody-lujah.

Not enough to take us out the drop zone though, and nothing has been achieved yet. Regardless, this is huge in terms of turning our season around. Yes, Cerezo were crap. They were irritable, desperate and let themselves down, not least for their red card. But we dominated from start to finish and should have been 3-0 up at half time, let alone full time.

The starting eleven, still missing Jong a Pin, was far more solid than some of Oenoki's recent line ups. Kawai I'll take over Mizutani any day of the week, and the same for Jakovic over Miura. Defenece after all is where we've come undone with goal after goal seeping through. Today we kept a clean sheet, and when Cerezo were hitching it forward for Diego Forlan for the last half an hour, that's far from a given, even in a game we dictated.

That's what these last seven games are all about. Being solid. Getting points. This is not the time to give minutes to youngsters, at least not from kick off. So a better performance, but everything still to do. We have four of our last seven games at home, so with home advantage and our boys doing what we all know they can, we should stay up.

Well, next week we have the nice distraction of the cup 1/4 finals. Away at Nagoya, which is going to be very tough to overcome, but with the carrot of a semi final dangling in sight we'll be up for it. Kick off Saturday at 7pm - excited? I know am. :)

Videos

Highlights.



The goals in beautiful slow motion from YouTube user imoimo9.







Sunday, 28 September 2014

Omiya Ardija 2-1 S-Pulse

Barry BARRY WRITES... 

Omiya Ardija 2-1 S-Pulse
Zlatan 9 ----------------------------------- Honda 50
Ienaga 73

Att 11684
NACK5 Stadium, Saitama city

Line Up

GK Kushibiki
DF Bueno, Hiraoka, Miura G, Kawai
MF Ishige, Honda, Musaka, Musaka
FW Omae, Novakovic

Subs Used

Takagi T on for Mizutani (67)
KiJe on for Kawai (76)
Kaneko on for Ishige (84)

Report

The seventh defeat since Ghobti was fired, inevitably we're now sitting in the relegation zone. I could reel off some of the increasingly long list of horrendous stats our new boss is racking up, but what's the point? The club are happy enough it would seem. 

Cerezo at home on Sunday., and with just eight games to go, it's do or die. Make no mistake, we are definitely going to get relegated unless something major is done.

Videos

The goals. Honda's one is something special. Omiya's second, on the other hand... Jesus wept.


Tuesday, 23 September 2014

S-Pulse 0-3 G. Osaka

Barry BARRY WRITES... 

S-Pulse 0-3 G. Osaka
---------------------------------- Usami 21
---------------------------------- Niwa 84
---------------------------------- Lins 95

Att 15093
IAI Stadium Nihondaira

Line Up

GK Kushibiki

DF Bueno
DF Hiraoka
DF Miura G
DF Yoshida (18)

MF Ishige
MF Honda (64)
MF Musaka
MF Mizutani

FW Omae
FW Novakovic

Subs used

Takagi T on for Mizutani (63)
Murata on for Bueno (77)
Hiroi on for Honda (86)

Report

Surprised? No, me neither.

We weren't that bad, but G. Osaka are a team in form, and the chances we made didn't even come close to being converted. To sum up what's wrong in three seconds, I present Lin's goal. Has a defence every looked so thoroughly defeated? It's painful to watch.

Now on six defeats from eight, eight goals for but TWENTY TWO against, we've now dropped to 15th. Only Tokushima sport a worse goal difference.

If we don't beat Omiya next week, we can have no complaints if we get relegated in December. Right now it's all about getting points. In that regard, things have to improve, or down is the only way we're headed.


Videos

Highlights.


Sunday, 21 September 2014

Vissel Kobe 3-1 S-Pulse

Barry BARRY WRITES... 

Vissel Kobe 3-1 S-Pulse
Pedro 11, 58 -------------------------- Novakovic 69
Marquinhos 39

Att 14850
Kobe Universiade Memorial Stadium, Kobe

Line Up

GK Kushibiki

DF Yoshida
DF Bueno
DF Hiraoka
DF Miura G

MF Musaka
MF Honda
MF Takagi T
MF Lee Ki-Je

FW Omae
FW Novakovic

Subs used

Ishige on for Takagi T (HT)
Mizutani (81) on for Honda (HT)
Murata on for Bueno (66)

Report

Another Saturday, another handful of goals for the opposition and no points for us. This new appointment really isn't going very well so far, is it? Since the new boss's first game away at Tokyo, we've conceded a total of 19 goals. That's almost half our entire season's amount in seven games. We welcome 4th top scorer's Gamba Osaka to Nihondaira on Tuesday, the team who put four past us before the World Cup, so brace yourselves!

Taking over with two thirds of the season gone, Oenoki never had the luxury of a substantial transition period. Five defeats out of seven is poor, but most worrying is the number of goals we're leaking. Yes, we've been without Jong a Pin and Jakovic, but are we really that one dimensional? Of course not, but it's getting harder to ignore the fast accumulating pile of negative stats.

Two points off the relegation zone, but one defeat from 17th. 10 games to go. Safe to say any transitional period has expired. We're not a bottom half team. Time for Oenoki to start delivering.

Videos

The goals.




Saturday, 13 September 2014

S-Pulse 1-4 Urawa Red Diamonds

Barry BARRY WRITES... 

S-Pulse 1-4 Urawa Red Diamonds
Hiraoka 76 ----------------- Moriwaki 22
--------------------------------- Lee 28
--------------------------------- Makino 72
--------------------------------- Own goal 91

Ecopa Stadium, Fukuroi city
Att. 19059

Line Up

GK Kushibiki

DF Yoshida
DF Bueno
DF Hiraoka
DF Mizutani

MF Musaka
MF Honda
MF Takagi T
MF Ishige

FW Omae
FW Novakovic

Subs used

Takagi Y on for Mizutani (69)
Murata on for Honda (80)

Report

With this result Urawa, the only team in Japan I know named after a shape, strode four points clear at the top of J1. On today's evidence, I can't see them relinquishing their lead. They were far from spectacular, but while we were disjointed and, aside from a lively opening 20 minutes, didn't trouble them, what they did they did well. They made fewer mistakes than most J. League teams, broke with pace and purpose, and defended their lead deep and well. Come December, if we don't see them adding to their 2006 J1 title I'll be one very surprised little Englishman.

As mentioned, we started brightly, and Novakovic should have opened the scoring around the 15 minute mark. Within 15 minutes of that chance, the visitors were two up, and we were reeling. The second half saw us all bluster and no end product, with possession generally progressing to the edge of the final third before a black shirt (not the ref, Urawa's bloody gorgeous away kit) intervened.

A 72nd minute Makino header off a corner put the game beyond us. At 3-0 there was still time for Hiraoka to snatch his own headed corner goal four minutes later, but the flurry of Shimizu attacks that followed rarely troubled Nishikawa. In stoppage time Aizawa fluffed a clearance to a black shirt and in the resulting mess the ball rebounded in off an orange shirt, and that really was game over.

Hopefully we'll look back on this game as a pivotal one in the Oenoki era. It lends stark contrast to the last game at Ecopa against Urawa under Hasegawa's charge. Just shy of 39000 were there, 20000 more than today, and we snatched victory in the most exhilarating of circumstances. Oenoki will take time to find his best XI, and there may be more bumps along the way until that happens. Today he was missing Jakovic through suspension and Jong-a-Pin through injury, which is half our defence right there. The 18 year old Mizutani worked hard, but it was a tall order for him to make the step up against the league leaders. What we need to do now is avoid defeat away next week, because another loss could see us in the relegation zone.

The Curious Case of The Perpetually Booing Fans

I mentioned something on Twitter which I'll elaborate on here, and that's Urawa's supporter culture. Until today I've always watched Shimizu Urawa match ups from behind the goal. If you've ever had the pleasure you'll know barely anything is audible over our joyous samba din. I now help with the S-Pulse English Twitter service, so am lucky enough to view matches from the press zone. Today I was located half way towards the away end, and WHAT. A. FUCKING. ROW.

The best thing about Urawa fans in their numbers. They've had the biggest traveling support for many years now. The worst thing is the booing and whistling. When they had the ball, they sang their hearts out. When we had it, and we had it a lot despite the result, a soul destroying caterwaul of jeering and whining oozed from the away end. This held true the full 94 minutes, even when at 4-1 up away from home you'd think they'd be reveling in their successful away day. Is it intended to break the spirit of the opposition? If it is, then it's ineffective. They've not won any domestic silverware since 2006, more than once coming off second best in winner-takes-all situations. Maybe that's precisely why the team with the biggest gates and deepest pockets have been consistently unable to make the most of those enviable resources; the simmering negativity and antagonism which infuses every game they play.

My background as a fan is in the lower leagues of English football, and there is absolutely no shortage of negativity there. But it's all shot through with a self-depreciating sense of humour, and like most any supporter culture, ultimately a premium is placed on supporting your own team over abusing the opposition. With Urawa it comes off, at best, 50/50. If that's what works for them, who am I to judge? What I will say though is upon my arrival in Japan I count my blessings I wasn't stationed in Saitama. Had I been, I might now be stood behind the goal spending as much energy taunting and heckling the visitors than supporting my own team. I don't doubt that would quickly become a pretty dreary way to watch football.

Which begs the question, why is a supporter culture so focused on the negative able to boast the biggest crowds in the country? The reasons for being the best supported club go way beyond this one particular custom, but in a country where every other team has fans which spend their effort supporting over haranguing, could it be that Urawa's uniquely toxic atmosphere actively attracts fans? Simply because it's the only club in the country, perhaps one of the only opportunities in Japan full stop, to encourage and revel in abusive behaviour? Urawa may be cannily tapping into a human instinct oft suppressed in Japan - the occasional requirement to blow off some vitriolic steam.

Well, that's a whole sociological and psychological study right there, and maybe I'm just talking bollocks. After all, every Urawa fan I've spoken to has been a thoroughly nice chap/chappet. I stand by what I said, though. No amount of silverware (not that much in Urawa's case, anyway) could make up for stripping away the joy of singing and cheering and replacing it with bile and disdain game in, game out. I'd rather samba any day.

Videos

Highlights.