S-Pulse 3-1 Oita Trinita
Hiraoka 67, 76 ----------- Kijima 90
IAI Stadium Nihondaira
Shizuoka City, Shizuoka Prefecture
DF Hiraoka (58)
MF Lee Ki-Je
Musuka on for Ito (71)
Ishige on for Kawai (84)
Murata on for Takeuchi (87)
S-Pulse in blue? At home? To clear up any confusion as to why we were in blue and not Oita, it was all to do with Mt Fuji. That famous symbol of Japan, the pride of all Shizuokans, and visible on a clear day from Nihondaira, was recently confirmed a world heritage site. Not only was Fuji itself, but so was Miho Pine Grove, the scenic coastline which borders S-Pulse's training grounds. In commemoration of Fuji San's achievement, yesterday was designated a memorial Mt Fuji game. So why did we wear out away kit? Well, Fuji itself is incorporated into shirt's design, as modelled here by Musaka:
So onto the game. Hayashi was back in goal, and Jong-a-Pin back in defence. The former reclaimed his spot after Kushibiki was given a run between the sticks. He did just fine for the most part, but he's still so young and in what is a young team anyway, so Hayashi's experience saw him back in goal. Calla (That's Jong-a-Pin for the uninitiated) missed the midweek defeat with Kashima through suspension.
Oita came into it bottom of the table, but on the back of a mini revival. I say revival, but it was more a case of just not losing as much. They'd gained their first win and impressively held Marinos to a draw within their last four games, but after a first half where they effectively held us at bay, we ran rampant for the second.
We didn't break through until the 67th minute, and when we did it was from the unlikely source of Hiraoka. In a textbook move Yasuhiro connected with a corner at the near post. The ball rocketed past Tanno in the Oita goal. We doubled the lead ten minutes later, again, surprisingly, from our number three. Hiraoka got the faintest of touches on an in-swinging free kick and it was enough to see it home. Two in one game? I bet the couldn't believe it.
In the closing stages we put the game out of reach through Ishige's poke home, but it was a result of Bare's slicing though of the Trinita back line. He'd been unlucky not to get on the score sheet, and I was willing it as much for the goal itself as for the chance to belt out Volare (Oh, Bare!) by The Gipsy Kings some more. This has to be one of the most fun chants to sing at a football ground, period. Love it.
It was after Bare's mazy run that he played the ball over for the perfectly placed teenager to touch home. 3-0 and game over, although there was still time for former S-Pulse man Kijima to grab a consolation for the visitors. So job done against basement team Oita, who will more than likely be returning to J2 come December. With only one win from 16 it's hard to see them turning it around.
Well, the games keep on coming. Next up is away to 2011's champions Kashiwa Reysol on Wednesday. We've not had much joy up there in recent years, but Reysol have been a shadow of their championship winning selves, and sit only two places above us. We've got every chance.