J2 Matchday 9
There's almost half an hour of post-game chat coming today in a bumper Episode 6 of Gas Talk, but here's an abridged Match Report to tide you over...
Again looking for consecutive wins for the first time since October 2009, FC Tokyo hosted Ehime FC in the leafy confines of Komazawa Olympic Park yesterday. Buoyed by our best performance of the season in the 4-1 trouncing of Kyoto, the manager made just one (enforced) change to the XI, bringing in Australian international Jade North for his first start for the club in place of captain Yasuyuki Konno, who is away with the Japan National Team.
There was good news elsewhere in the squad too, as fan favourite Naohiro Ishikawa was fit enough for a spot on the bench after steadily building up his fitness over recent weeks.
Dorompa got things off to a good start by clearly beating the four Ehime mascots on points. That frog took a pounding and the crowd lapped it up (no word yet on if Dorompa pulled the chick mascot). And then to the game...
After a fairly even opening few minutes, Tokyo began building pressure, creating chances for Hideto Takahashi and Yohei Otake as we began to dominate the game, and then we went ahead on 17 minutes as Sotan Tanabe continued his purple patch with a brilliantly taken volley. Takahashi won the ball back about 25 yards out, and after Otake and Yohei Kajiyama exchanged short passes on the edge of the box, Casual played it back for Takahashi, who dinked a cross to the far post, where Tanabe had gotten free and lashed the ball back across the keeper with his left foot to put The Gasmen 1-0 up.
The remainder of the first half was fairly comfortable for us, as North kept their Brazilian striker Josimar quiet, and their top scorer Saito had little impact on proceedings. Eight minutes into the second half Mr. Okuma made his first change of the afternoon, bringing on Tatsuya Yazawa for Otake, who apart from playing a part in the goal and getting off that ealier shot of his own, wasn't as involved as he was against Kyoto.
Ten minutes after Yazawa's introduction, with the game still running for us and Ehime not posing much of a threat, it was my shout so I headed out for a minute to get the beers in... Horrible timing, as in the two minutes I was out, Ehime drew level. Having seen it back now via YouTube it was actually a quality finish from Ishii, who dinked a perfect shot over Gonda's head after he was first to the loose ball following Morishige's attempted sliding clearance. If you're laying blame, Morishige should've been able to get more on the ball to hoof it out, but Gonda's positioning was also an issue, as he was caught off his line, albeit by a perfectly executed bit of skill by Ishii.
Ishikawa came on a minute later, replacing Tanabe, meaning that our two young guns had headed for an early bath while the more experienced but less effective Casual and Naotake Hanyu stayed on despite both being well below their best on this day. Sotan seemed a bit heavy-legged by the time he was replaced, but I would've liked to have seen him move into the centre and had Ishikawa replacing Roswell instead.
There was still time for one more head-scratching move from the manager though, as with 20 minutes left, North made way for Kenta Mukuhara. Not too sure how that helped us, as all that happened is that Yuhei Tokunaga moved into the centre, with Mukuhara taking over at right back. North acquitted himself well I thought, all bias aside, as he completely nullified Josimar and distributed fairly well from the back while he was out there. His start will, I'm 99% sure, only be a one-off, as Konno will return after the national team games, but at least we know we have a dependable back-up to either of the first choice centre halves.
In the last 20 minutes we never really looked like it despite enjoying the lion's share of possession. Nao had a few decent moments, but Yazawa frustrated and The Salad was fairly anonymous (dropping too deep), and with Casual having one of his poorer games of the season we were unable to unlock them, and once again failed to win a home game after going ahead.
At the end of the weekend we stayed in ninth, with other results meaning that we didn't lose any ground, and remain four points outside the promotion places. Next Sunday night its Kumamoto away, and the Kyushu side sit in sixth, three points above us. Should be a tough one, but we are so up and down these days, who knows how we'll get on?!