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Thursday, 29 August 2013

Shimizu S-Pulse 4-3 Kashima Antlers

Barry BARRY WRITES...

Shimizu S-Pulse 4-3 Kashima Antlers
Radončić 31---------------------------------------- Osako 1, 68
Takagi 45, 49, 88 --------------------------------- Yamamura 6

Att 9238
KO 7pm, IAI Stadium Nihondaira
Shizuoka City, Shizuoka Prefecture

Line Up

GK Kushibiki

DF Yoshida
DF Hiraoka
DF Jong-a-Pin (66)
DF Kawai

MF Muramatsu
MF Sugiyama
MF Honda (83)
MF Ishige

FW Omae
FW Radončić

Subs Used

Takagi on for Kawai (35)
Ito on for Radončić (69)
Murata on for Omae (87)

Report

First things first. There was no update for Cerezo away or Urawa at home (well, Ecopa) because I was away for two weeks. Fortunately I returned in time for today's game with Kashima, which would transpire to become an S-Pulse evening to top most others. Accordingly, I'm going to try and complete a report while it's still fresh in the memory and before I give in to some pressing jet lag issues. 

 
The full time scoreboard doesn't even begin to tell the story

Where to start? Well how about kick off, where after three passes and a shot Kashima had taken the lead. 10 seconds that had taken. Not the fastest ever J1 goal, but definitely top three. OK, time to regroup. Shit happens, and we still have 89 minutes to go. Five minutes later it was 2-0 from a corner. Right, then. From behind me jeers rang out, but to be fair, the vast majority of fans just started singing that bit louder. Credit to J. League fans. We may all be tempted to give the team hell after a disastrous start to a game, but clearly that's when they need the 12th man the most. Japanese fans really do support in the truest sense of the word.

Not only were we 2-0 down, but Iwata were 2-0 up. Away. Looking like, maybe not yet striding out of the relegation zone, but making the first steps towards safety. The night was young, but so far couldn't have been worse. But two down less than ten minutes in, we responded well. Great, in fact. Radončić hit the post with a cracking free kick, and we created goal scoring chances besides that. You know what, though? I've been watching football too long and my optimism has been worn down. I was already feeling like it was too little, too late. Kashima are the last team to surrender a commanding lead.

What do I know, eh? Roll on the half hour mark and an S-Pulse free kick poorly cleared was chipped back into the mix for Radončić to effortlessly control and smash home. 2-1. Sensing the swing in momentum, in what transpired to be a master stroke, Ghotbi threw Takagi on for Yoshida, moving Kawai to left back. As you know, Takagi had been struggling early on in the season, but in the last few games has been showing signs of a return to form. With his old mate Genki back in the team, you can almost see the rise in Toshiyuki's spirits. To add a further burst of wind under those wings, just prior to the break a long ball flicked on by Radončić had Toshi chasing Sogahata for the ball. At this point I was already hovering at the top of the staircase to beat the bathroom rush, but time slowed down as the two ran hard, Toshi beat the keeper to it, and nodded the ball home. Nihondaira exploded, and not for the last time.

With impeccable just-before-haltime timing, a change in impetus saw the second half begin all S-Pulse. It felt only a matter of time before we broke through to complete the comeback. This sentiment was underlined when, after fantastic work from Toshiyuki to capitalise on Kashima's defensive indecisiveness, a shot was turned onto the post by an Antlers defender. A lucky escape? Yes. A short reprieve ? Yes. Moments later a pinpoint ball from Jong-a-Pin was collected by Radončić, taken down and laid it off to an advancing Takagi. With his trademark coolness Toshi stroked it home and the celebrations at 2-2 paled into insignificance as the roof, had he had one, got lifted clean off.

3-2. Given the way we were looking after 6 minutes, a monumental turnaround. A 4th goal to kill it off was required, but instead of that, a Kashima corner floated long beyond the far post was sent back goalwards only to meet Jong-a-Pin's arm. Was it intentional? Unlikely. Did the referee give a penalty? Of course. Few refs wants to explain the intricacies of the handball rule to a packed stadium, and most just give the spot kicks.

In a sleep deprived, mildly hallucinogenic, state I had begun to believe that tonight was had been set up just for me. It was a fairytale comeback arranged for my personal enjoyment, and as such this penalty was destined for Row Z. Nope. Kushibiki was clinically sent the wrong way by Osako, and we were at 3-3. 20 minutes remained, and the momentum had shifted again. Or had it? Just minutes later Sho Ito met a cross on the edge of the six yard box but, thanks to the slightest of deflections by the defender, couldn't keep it down. High over the bar it sailed. What a chance! S-Pulse were the most likely, but time was running out and any little mistake had us all aching with the sense of missed opportunity.

But you know what? I was right. Tonight was a fairytale, conceived just for me. Well, I like to think so, anyway. I may be dreaming for all I know. I haven't had any decent sleep since Monday, eight time zones away. On 88 minutes, Takuya Honda, former S-Pulse favourite and until recently Kashima nearly-man, shoved his marker, and the visiting fan's booing, aside. Moving hard through the centre circle, he threaded it through to the recently introduced Murata.

Murata sped down the right wing, and sold the dummy to end all dummies to his marker. His man on the floor, there were still three white shirts separating the ball from his intended target, but with a level of accuracy you expect from deep inside a Seiko wristwatch, Kazuya chipped it in towards Toshi. The ball arced majestically over the defenders, dropping on a sixpence to our man. You think after netting two he's going to let this one slip? Not a bloody chance. Takagi put it home not only with efficiency, but with style.

If you thought the celebrations at 3-2 were something... Well. :) Bedlam ensued. The stand behind the goal dissolved into one heaving mass of orange. Total strangers bear hugged each other. Tears flowed (I get emotional when overtired ;) ), and as news filtered through that Iwata were now 4-2 down, the despair of 80 minutes previous gave way to delirium. Stoppage time extended unbearably into a sixth minute, but when the ref finally blew up, it marked the conclusion of a truly memorable comeback.

 Once I'd calmed down a bit

At two behind, looking down and out, you sometimes just pray for a quick conclusion. A kind of football euthanasia. Perhaps a draw if you're lucky. But ask any of our lads that tonight and they'd have been having none of it. Given what we had to deal with, we were brilliant on the day. You may counter that Kashima let it slip, but I say no. They did have chances, even hit the woodwork, but so did we. The difference was we ultimately converted ours, with an extra edge to make it count. All earned and worked for. A fantastic game of football, straight into my S-Pulse top three. A night up Nihondaira I'll never forget. 

Videos

Snatched off the TV.



Better quality, but short, and for some reason not including all the goals.


Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Genki's Coming Home!

Barry BARRY WRITES...

Omae Genki! (Wow wow!)



Genki Omae has rejoined S-Pulse on a loan deal until the end of May next year. The news has been met with joy by fans. He was always massively popular at Nihondaira, and his reception at the Sendai game demonstrated that sentiment hadn't faded since leaving for Germany.

He's still only 23 so has many years ahead of him to try his hand abroad again, but for now I'm made up to see him back in orange. No doubt Takagi will also be beaming this evening. The two had a fantastic partnership last year and are also good friends.

Welcome back, Genki! Great to have you home. 

Saturday, 10 August 2013

S-Pulse 3-1 Shonan Bellmare

Barry BARRY WRITES...  

S-Pulse 3-1 Shonan Bellmare
Radončić 8, 36 ----------- Kikuchi 82
Murata 85

Att 15395
Saturday August 10th, Kick off 6pm
Nihondaira Stadium, Shizuoka City

Line Up

GK Kushibiki

DF Yoshida (29)
DF Jong-a-Pin
DF Hiraoka
DF Lee Ki-Je

MF Muramatsu
MF Honda
MF Takeuchi (65)
MF Kawai

FW Radončić (37)
FW Takagi

Subs Used

Ito on for Radončić (60)
Murata on for Kawai (79)
Musaka on for Takeuchi (90)

Report



I had a feeling we had some goals coming our way, and there you go. Three at home against Shonan Bellmare. Biggest news was of course the Caron Baron Radončić getting two on his home début to add to last week’s strike at Niigata. Three goals already from the big man, one more and he’s equalled Bare’s league haul for the first half of the season. I’m not having a go at Bare, but goals are a forward’s currency, and what they ultimately get judged on.

So far (he’s only been with us barely a fortnight, remember) Radončić has slotted in to the team seamlessly. Both goals were from wide crosses, and that’s where his size and positioning really come into play. The first goal, after 8 minutes, saw him get on the end of a fantastic Takagi cross (more on him later) and while Santana in the Shonan goal made a complete pig’s ear of it, the move was a good one.

The Montenegrin’s second saw him rise to beat two defenders and power home an unstoppable header. I say unstoppable because it was within the keeper’s reach, but just had too much on it. The cross came from Lee, back from suspension. 

2-0 at half time, Shonan came out in the second half giving it everything. Kushibiki played a blinder those opening stages with a string of stops maintaining our two goal cushion. The way Shonan were playing a goal at that stage would have made it a very different game, but as the half wore on we had more an appearance of biding our time than being purely on the back foot.

The heat and humidity in Japan right now has reached the point that you break into a sweat just picking up a beer. I have every respect for those 22 men working so hard in such conditions. It inevitably takes a toll though, and Shonan faded as the second half wore on. Toshiyuki, possibly buoyed by news of Genki’s (now confirmed) return to Shimizu, was looking a lot more like his own self. I love seeing him running at defenders and on one that occasion that he did just that, the visitors couldn’t deal with him at all. His shot glanced the outside of the post, but he’s getting back in the zone, and the goals will come.

With 16 minutes to go Shonan brought on defender Iwagami and with 14 minutes to go the referee sent him off. Kawai had got behind the defence line and was chasing down the ball when he got bundled over by the number 15 for a straight red card. Two nil and a man up, we maybe relaxed a little bit too much as Bellmare hit us with a sucker punch shortly after to pull a goal back.

Nerves (mainly mine) may have jangled for a few minutes, but on the pitch we responded brilliantly. Ito had a header turned onto the post and soon thereafter substitute Murata picked up the ball from Takagi, (who had cut inside beating his marker) he took a step or two and stroked it home to put the game beyond reach. I have a lot of time for Murata. He causes the opposition all kinds of problems out wide and creates opportunities.

We remain in 13th, but the gap between us and 14th shows a clear split in the table. A couple of results over the next few weeks and we could jump up to the top ten. Keep the faith! I’m not going to be at Cerezo (away) or Urawa (home), instead being at a Brighton game or two, but I promise to keep the site, and my Twitter, updated, so don't go anywhere! 

S-PULSE!

Videos

Highlights.



Our goals in super slow motion. No sound.



Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Fujieda MYFC / Shimizu Impulse? / Signings / Summer Games

Barry BARRY WRITES...  

Good evening all from a muggy, sticky Shizuoka city. What with Twitter having taken over as my medium of choice for breaking S-Pulse news, this site tends to miss out a bit. So I think it's time for a digest. There's been a few things I've been involved in of late, so here they are in no particular order.

Fujieda MYFC

After my summer visits out to the Citizen Ground, I penned an article on Fujieda MYFC and the issues they may face making their way in the football dense Shizuoka prefecture. It was published on the fantastic In Bed With Maradona, and you can find it here.

Shimizu Impulse?

Another up and coming football site which focuses everywhere but the obvious places in The Inside Left. They had been in touch so it was my pleasure to produce a slightly hefty 2000 words on how this S-Pulse love affair began and the subsequent birth of the UK Ultras. Please check it out. You can find this one here.

Bare Out / Radončić In / Genki?

Old news now of course, but Bare left for China shortly after the Reysol game. Fair play to S-Pulse as we wasted no time in recruiting a replacement. Montenegrin Dženan Radončić started last weekend against Niigata and scored on his début.

In other news, Genki Omae, who left for Germany at the end of the season, was rumoured to be moving back home. Nothing further has been reported, but it certainly whipped up some excitement around the orange corners of the internet.

Summer Games

As a result of travel and other commitments, coverage of the Cerezo Osaka away (Aug 17th) and Urawa Red Diamonds home (Aug 24th) will be minimal, but to make up for it Oita away (Aug 31st) will be not just a match report but a bumper travelogue feature. I'm heading to Kyushu for three days to make the most of it and all being well will arrive back with a full article early the following week.

I Think That's Everything

I think that's everything. Well, we're due a big win and I reckon Shonan are going to be on the end of a spanking this Saturday. Don't stop believing!

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Albirex Niigata 3-1 Shimizu S-Pulse

Barry BARRY WRITES...  

Albirex Niigata 3-1 Shimizu S-Pulse
Kawamata 18 (pen), 70 ------------------- Radončić 75
Okamoto 91 

Att 22650
KO 7pm, Niigata Stadium
Niigata City, Niigata Prefecture

Line Up

GK Kushibiki

DF Yoshida
DF Hiraoka
DF Jong-a-Pin
DF Ishige

MF Sugiyama (16)
MF Honda
MF Muramatsu

FW Ito
FW Kawai
FW Radončić

Subs Used 

Takeuchi on for Yoshida (63)
Musaka on for Ito (63)
Takagi on for Honda (81)

Report

Afraid I didn't see any of this one. Real life getting in the way again. Disappointing result through.  I note that Niigata managed to pick up six yellow card, including two for defender Kim Jin-Su. Must have been a rough game, and I'm glad we didn't pick up any injuries.

Fantastic to see new signing Radončić get off the mark in his début, and seems like he could have had more. Today's strike may have come off a Niigata mistake, but it does move him 25% the way towards matching Bare's haul. Yep, Bare only scored four league goals in the first half of the season. Looking forward to seeing the Caron Baron's* contribution the remaining 15 games. 

Next game is home to relegation threatened Shonan Bellmare on Saturday. Three points a must!

* A caron is the name of the mark over the first C in Radončić's name.

Videos

Highlights. Sugiyama's challenge for the penalty was right on the line, which I always though would mean a freekick, but I'm clutching at straws, aren't I? Bad timing and he was lucky not to see red.



Thursday, 1 August 2013

S-Pulse 0-0 FC Tokyo

Barry Barry writes  

S-Pulse 0-0 FC Tokyo

Att 10781
KO 7pm, IAI Stadium Nihondaira
Shizuoka City, Shizuoka Prefecture

Line Up

GK Kushibiki

DF Hiraoka
DF Jong-a-Pin
DF Lee Ki-Je (63, 87)

MF Ishige
MF Takeuchi
MF Honda
MF Muramatsu

FW Kawai
FW Musaka
FW Ito

Subs used

Takagi on for Musaka (75)
Murata on for Takeuchi (75)
Senuma on for Ito (87)

Report

To come.

Videos

As I thought at the time, a real weak second yellow for Lee. Momentum took him past the defender, the keeper was there coming the opposite direction. It really was that simple. The ref blew it.