S-Pulse 1-0 Iwata
IAI Stadium Nihondaira, Shizuoka
DF Lee Ki-Je (76)
FW Takagi (70, 94)
Ishige on for Kawai (64)
Hattanda on for Takeuchi (78)
This last week brought the sad news of former S-Pulse player and youth team coach Yasuhiro Yamada's passing at the desperately young age of 45. A pre-match tribute on the big screen and a minute's silence gave us all a reminder of the bigger picture, but in his honour there were no half measures when the game kicked off.
It was a derby befitting of the title. Rough, niggly, tense, at times messy, nervy, and most of all at Iwata's expense, unforgiving of wastefulness in front of goal. The visitors, full of confidence after their sauntering league cup win, were the better for most of the first half, fluidly stringing passes together and with some decent finishing could have had a hat-full before the half hour mark.
With a little bit luck perhaps,we went into the break all square, and Iwata probably knew in the back of their minds that a game there for the taking had been let slip. We knew it too, and were grateful of the reprieve. The second half was a different, and as time went on a far more even, story. The space Jubilo had been allowed in the first half was whittled away to eventually nothing. Our patience and hard work, especially for me in the form of Takagi's hussle, paid off.
In the 80th minute Jong-a-Pin collected a half-cleared free kick on the edge of the area, shimmied, dummied, and under pressure from two blue shirts, swung a perfect cross in the melee in the danger zone. Muramatsu was there to thump the ball home with his forehead, right in front of a packed Kop. The noise at that moment went something a little like:
FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!! YES! YES! COME ON! COME ON!
FAAAAAAAAAAACK!!!!!!! (Repeat for around 60 seconds)
And that was just this reporter. The pent up frustration of the opening two home games and the tension of a finely balanced derby game combined to created a scene of bedlam. When I recovered some semblance of sanity the game was already back under way, and I've never seen a team fall apart as completely as Jubilo did. Almost immediately we could have made it two, and before the game was up we broke through the high-pressing Jubilo time and again. We should have ended the game 3-0 in the same way Iwata should have scored three before half time, so in that respect we're all square.
Entering the three minutes of stoppage time, the gamesmanship and needle boiled over as Kawaguchi was at one point stood over an injured Bare shouting at the Brazilian to stop time wasting and / or get off the pitch. Time wasting isn't pretty, but to be fair it was already deep into stoppage time before we started, and I've seen Iwata do far worse, so no sympathy. Such were the levels of excruciating tension as the clock ticked two minutes over the allotted stoppage time, when Takagi tangled with an Iwata defender I didn't even register that he picked up a second yellow. I only noticed when I checked the match report three hours later.
So full time, 1-0. That's now three league derby wins on the trot and takes us into a second decade unbeaten at Nihondaira against Iwata. It's a third clean sheet in all competitions, and second win in the league. It also leaves that lot six matches into the season without a win and second bottom. All in all, a good day's work, and an effort from everyone on the pitch that didn't go unnoticed or unappreciated. Well done lads and thank you!!
After the kachiloko was done, after the Flag of the Kings was sung, and after we watched the highlights on the big screen, we stood as one, raised our faces to the sky and belted out one final chant.
YAMADA! YAMADA! YAMADA!
Yasuhiro, this one's for you. Forever orange. RIP.
A special selection this week, staring with the greeting of the buses. Skip to 4:30 for our bus to arrive, and 6:30 for the other lot (Iwata! Iwata! Kusottare!).
1. One who shits themselves uncontrollably. A sufferer of incontinence.
2. A motherfucker, a shit head. A piece of shit.
From Japanese: くそったれ (kusottare)
Muramatsu's goal, in stunning slowmotion.
An extended digest of the day. Brilliant, and captures the occasion perfectly.
And finally, highlights from the TV.