S-Pa 1-0 Kawasaki Frontale
Some days are just made for football. Some days, to be anywhere else other than behind the goal at Nihondaira, ice-cold beer in hand, would be a crime. Today was sunny, hot, and the crowds were out in force for an action packed game, and a massive three points for S-Pulse.
We started the game with Hara partnering Johnsen at the top. Okazaki was in midfield, but he moved back to the familiar territory of up front after Hara was subbed at half time for Jungo. It only took Okazaki 16 minutes to grab the only goal of the day, and ensure his third straight game with a goal. A good picture of a celebrating Okachan can be seen here along with some more official pictures.
The goal was a cracking header and it came off a pinpoint Hara cross. The goal should by rights have never been. Only a totally inexplicable (and for the S-Pulse fans behind the goal who got a front row view, totally hilarious) falling over of Kawasaki's number 26 led to Hara gaining possession and getting his excellent cross in. Okachan, as befits his national team member status, made no mistake in slamming it down low past the keeper. Not long later, another fall from a blue and black defender almost let us in to make it 2-0, but we didn't capitalise.
We had several more chances in the first 45 but they all ultimately came to naught. These included Junpei finding himself through on the keeper much like in the Kyoto cup game, but he could finish it this time around.
Kawasaki are no slouches, and the team that won 5-0 in midweek (albeit against relatively weak opposition) will probably feel hard done by to not have got an equaliser. They are a fast moving, dangerous outfit, and when in full motion they had me hiding behind my flag for fear of what might be coming. Our defence held firm for the most part, but on a couple of occasions we got away with murder when inability to deal with the advancing blues had them swamping our penalty area.
We went close a couple of times in the second half, even hitting the woodwork at one stage, but when the whistle went it was a great deal of relief that swept around the stadium. Today was a big, big three points. Frontale will be there or thereabouts come December, and they gave us a hell of a test today. See how they pushed it right to the wire with this video of the last minute:
We've now won three in a row, with none conceded and in fact have let in the joint least of anyone in J1. We have strength in depth in midfield and attack, and our back line is pretty solid. Next week is the derby, and three points there will put us anywhere up to 2nd - as if destroying Jubilo isn't motivation enough! See you all at Ecopa then!
Fujimoto on for Hara (HT)
Ito on for Edamura (75)
Paulo on for Hyodo (83)
Okazaki's goal (personal cam). Sadly, the comical fall by their number 26 isn't included.
Loco Loco, joined in for the first time by the players! :)
More of the same, but this one shows just how Palchan managed to convince half the team to join in. :)
Read Mike Tuckerman's report of the game here.