J2 Matchday 10
Made all the more urgent by the end of the European seasons, I headed out to the Hub in Kichijoji for my football fix to watch this one. I have always liked watching FCT games in there; helped by the flow of alcohol the atmosphere is usually pretty good. Weather conditions down in Kumamoto were quite bad, apparently trains had stopped running in the area due to the heavy rain. The pitch was pretty soggy and led to gasps and shrieks from those watching as defenders from both sides fluffed clearances and attempted foolhardy passes which slowed on the surface. However it did not affect the game too badly and we have certainly seen worse in this country (e.g. the farcical Okayama v Tokushima game on the same day) where it seems to be acceptable to play football in a lake. WHY?
FC Tokyo lined up with the same members that took the field last week in Setagaya, save for Yazawa, in for the harshly dropped Otake. Particularly harsh when you ponder how much Yazawa has contributed so far this season.
The game started pretty brightly for the visitors. Roasso were playing quite a high line at the back and Cesar and Morishige (!?) were both able to break the offside trap early once and get behind the Kumamoto defence. It was definitely “Tokyo pace” as they say early on and the Gasmen got the goal their dominance merited when The Salad showed composure to neatly volley home a botched clearance from about eight yards out. This seemed to give the number nine a shot of confidence and he soon after nearly finished off a great run into the box, his diagonal shot going just wide.
From about halfway in to the opening period though, the home team seemed to settle down a bit or Tokyo seemed to slow down a bit, probably a bit of both. Anyway from then on it was pretty turgid stuff, reminiscent of large parts of last week’s game. This was punctured though by an incident in which Kumamoto should have drawn level, Tokunaga’s awful headed clearance going straight to the forward Nagasawa who had all the time in the world to pick his spot past Gonda. Comically though, all he could do was miscue his effort back to the original culprit, off whom it rebounded harmlessly into the arms of the Olympic goalie.
FCT couldn’t muster much in the second half; just a blocked shot by Yazawa and a great burst into the box by substitute Ishikawa, who seemed to have recovered some of his old pace. He was unable to find a teammate with his cutback from the by-line however, with the keeper nowhere. As for Roasso, they gave as good as they got in the second half, and that man Nagasawa was to provide us with another comedy moment when he could only miss his kick spectacularly with the goal again at his mercy, this time as a result of a weak punch by Gonda. It was nail biting stuff towards the end, and the overriding emotion at the end was one of relief more than anything.
Once again we were unable to find a cutting edge for much of the game, although it was good to see us get behind the opposition defence on a few occasions for a change. Pass marks for Cesar, Ishikawa when he came on and I thought Takahashi had a decent game. Hanyu and Kajiyama disappointed again though, neither of them able to impose themselves on proceedings. As they are deployed in such key positions at the moment if they don’t perform it is hard for the team as a whole to click. So it was a victory and there are things to be positive about, but that has to be tempered with the fact that if Kumamoto hadn’t employed a comedy striker things might have been much different. Still, seven points from three games is acceptable and let’s hope this is not another false dawn. MON' THE GAS!