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Sunday, 4 May 2008

All square in derby 1 of 4

So my three nil prematch prediction was always going to be case of the heart ruling the head! There's not been a three goal derby winning margin since 1999, and yesterday neither team looked like breaking that record. When the final whistle blew there was a distinct feeling of anti climax around Nihondaira, particularly as Jubilo had played out the last 25 minutes with just ten men.

More about the game later. The UK Ultras experience is never just about the football, and yesterday was no different. The derby fun an games started on Friday with a 15 mile round trip to Nihondaira to reserve our space in the queue. We weren't alone, with around two hundred other die hards standing in line from 10pm. Midnight rolled around and we taped our plastic sheets down and headed home. It was a trip well worth having made, as when we arrived Saturday four hours before kick off, the line was colossal. It was a familiar story inside the ground with a full house meaning hundreds of people were left seatless. Where so many seats disappear to is a mystery, but with ours secured, we settled in and demolished a few prematch cans in the balmy May sunshine.

Three hours before kick off
When the game finally got underway, Jubilo came out the stronger and when on the 34th minute they breached S-Pulse's defences to go one up, the shower of four letter words masked the feeling deep down that it had kinda been coming. Fast forward to the second half and we didn't have long to wait for the goal we needed. As Hara scrambled the ball over the line I was still stuffing my face with my half time chicken pasta salad, and what was left of it went flying as I steamed down the stand and into the mosh pit. Despite Jubilo having Kawamura sent off on 64 minutes, we couldn't find a way through for a second, and even with the introduction of Okazaki and Yajima on 72, the barrage of S-Pulse attacking came to nothing. As we got stuck into an incredible post-match £2.50 all-you-can-drink deal, we knew all too well that the beer would have tasted that much better had we made more of our one man advantage.

A late Jubilo free kick Jubilo came to nothing (thank f**k)
While we were left wondering what the Japanese was for 'anti-climax' we knew its only three weeks until we get to do it all again in the league cup. I doubt we'll be seeing another full house, but there should still be a decent enough crowd down 'Daira to cheer us on to the second round. Victory would pretty much ensure our path through the group stage while defeat for Jubilo would leave their chances hanging by a thread, so there's all to play for. After yesterday, frustrating as it was, we've now lost only one of the last ten derbies. Can't be too unhappy with that, but it'll be a whole lot better should we knock them out of the cup on the 25th.

Next up is Niigata away on Tuesday. As far as I know, no Ultras will be in attendance, with this one nipping off to Kyoto for two days of temples and suchlike. There's no Sanga home game sadly (I checked) although it's probably just as well as the better half looked none too impressed when I jokingly suggested we take in a game at the Nishiyogoku stadium... I'll leave you with the choreography from yesterday. We were in the centre of the second 'E'. :)