Niigata's first home defeat of the season, and a massive three points for us.
Eleven shots for each team tells the general story of this one. We looked much better than of late, although we were hanging on for grim life at the end. The calming influence of Paulo on 75 minutes went a long way to making sure we protected the lead we'd gained in the 52nd minute.
Seven minutes into the second half, an advancing Okazaki was brought down clumsily which led to a free kick in perfect range for Masaki. After a similar free kick in the first half which Hyodo smashed into the back row of the huge Big Swan stadium, Yamamoto was not about to let this one go waste. He stepped up, WALLOPED it into the top corner, and left the keeper no chance. Brilliant goal.
We still let far too many balls go to waste today, and we still seemed lost for ideas and direction more than is healthy, but for every time we ran the ball deep into Albirex territory only to run out of ideas and lose it, we also put together a sweeping passing move which harked back to some of our better performances last season. After dropping points at home to Chiba and Reysol, we're on the mend, and these three away points are massive.
Niigata and their legions of fans will probably feel a little hard done by not to have grabbed an equaliser, but they're decent team and will be fighting for an ACL place come December. We showed something we've been lacking lately, and that's BALLS. We're still not nearly physical enough and apt to go to ground under any half decent physical challenge, but today was a very important win. Great work lads, and our thousand or so fans who made the huge trip - you did us proud!
GK K. Yamamoto
MF M. Yamamoto
Paulo on for Hara (75)
Tsujio on for Hyodo (78)
Edamura on for Okazaki (89)
Click here for a personal cam highlights. Our goal comes on 8:00.
Read the report from The Rising Sun here. The write up includes a detailed discussion of something which has been baffling us for weeks. That's the recent promotion of Masaki to the status of a Guaranteed Stating Member ahead (depending on the week) the likes of Jungo, Teru, Paulo, etc etc. Worth a read.
Next up Kashiwa in the cup. I'll be heading up to Chiba Ken next Saturday, so fingers crossed I can see us win away for the first time since the 2007 Shizuoka Derby!
BARRY WRITES... I really should have thought of doing this as soon as highlights became available officially on YouTube a while back. Be...