S-Pulse 1-1 FC Tokyo
Omae 41 ------------------- Vučićević 59
DF Jong-a-Pin (63)
MF Hattanada (72)
Brosque on for Ishige (57)
Shirasaki on for Hattanda (74)
Ito on for Muramatsu (85)
Starting with a whine, but got to get this off my chest: With the exception of Kashiwa Reysol, FC Tokyo are the absolute worst for claiming free kicks and complaining when they don't get them. It got to the point of farce the number of times blue and red arms were outstretched in hopeful appeal. Gonda in the away goal got a yellow precisely for prolonged remonstration about something or another. Consider the manner in which they won the recent cup semi final first leg, and I can surely be forgiven for not giving them the benefit of the doubt.
Accordingly, my stomach lurched as Omae dispossessed Yonemoto before teeing up the opening goal. The Tokyo midfielder was already stumbling before Omae took the ball, but he made sure to land flat out, arms spread wide. The ref was right in front of it and ignored him as he slid forlornly along the pitch.
A game of two halves, we were the better in the first 45, but were often under the cosh in the second. That said, out defence did a good job of restricting the visitors largely to attempts of little danger. They got what they came for in the 59th minute however, with a perfectly placed, and well struck, first goal from the Caron Baron, Vučićević.
Perhaps because of that notorious cup game, there was a tangible feisty air around the pitch. It was a fast paced, entertaining game for the neutral, I'm sure. It ended in frustration at 1-1, which the travelling fans seemed happy with, but in truth it didn't really suit either team's quest to make up ground on the ACL spots.
Good news was the return of Brosque from his international duties, and his introduction steadied the ship in a second half which threatened to get away from us. Omae's goal was a demonstration of his determination and striker's instinct to pounce on weakness, and his 10th of the season. So a draw, but a fair result. Nine games to go, with the next month arguably being the most important of our season.
In the next four weeks, we'll play title hopefuls Sendai at home, the sky blue scumbags away, Jymmy's current employers Tokyo Verdy in the Emperor's Cup, and the second leg of the League Cup semi final. Couldn't be a bigger month in terms of our year. Before all that we have a weekend in Osaka against the relegation threatened Cerezo on the 22nd.
Know how many of those I'll be at? None. :( I'm off to England in a fortnight, S-Pulse baby clothing in hand, for the birth of my brother's first son. I'll do my best to keep the blog updated, so stay tuned as we march on towards cup glory and the higher reaches of the league!
Blocked in Japan, but click here for highlights. For those of you J side, personal videos. First Omae's goal. He totally earned that one.
The equaliser, in annoying slow motion.