What started as a drunken idea in a bar has morphed into this - a fantasy football podcast from me and my mates. The goal: make an interesting and entertaining fantasy podcast that might help you do alright, but hopefully not as well as me. We've heard what's out there, and we reckon we might be able to do just as well as those other duffers, maybe even better.

There's also some FC Tokyo stuff on here, but I now blog on all things Gasmen at On the Gas (click on link below).

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

FC Tokyo 1-1 Niigata: J1 Week 27

With games running out fast, and our position still very precarious, The Gasmen returned to Ajinomoto Stadium for the first time in almost a month to face Niigata in Week 27. We had moved out of the relegation zone following our 3-0 win over Shonan at Kokuritsu in Week 25, but the team was coming off the previous weekend's horrendous collapse away at Sendai, where we crashed to a 3-2 loss after leading 2-1 with four minutes remaining. Couple that with Niigata's stunning 4-1 win at home against leaders Nagoya last time out, and the signs were looking pretty grim for Tokyo...

There was some good news at the selection table, however, with Yohei Kajiyama and Naotake Hanyu both fit to start, and more pleasingly, Takuji Yonemoto was named in the squad for the first time this season after completing his rehabilitation from pre-season knee surgery. Yone's return - even though he was named on the bench and didn't come on - was a welcome boost for the supporters, and meant that our squad was basically at full strength, as shown by some of the names on the bench: Otake, Kim (who was squeezed out after Morishige returned to centre-half following Casual's return), Ricardinho (replaced by Roswell) and Matsushita (who has been a disappointment but would hopefully be fired-up to face his former side). A decent crowd of 23,047 were in (bolstered by a good turn-up of visiting fans) as the visitors kicked things off.

Tokyo made a bright start and should have gone ahead in the third minute: Tokunaga played a nice ball over the top for Ishikawa, and Nao crossed from the byline for Oguro, who rose but powered his free header wide of the near post. Hokuto then forced a low save out of the keeper before a bullet header from Morishige from Nao's corner was kept out at full stretch by the East Exit. Ishikawa himself shot high and wide, and there was another chance for Hokuto cutting in from the left, but Tokyo couldn't make their chances count.

The visitors came more into the game as the half went on, enjoying plenty of possession but never really looking that threatening, until, as stoppage-time loomed, a Niigata throw-in was passed to Marcio Richardes, who surged forward and went down under Tokunaga's challenge at the top of the D. Great time to score, and all that, and the little Brazilian dusted himself off and curled the free kick through the top of Gonda's wall and past his despairing dive, giving Albirex a halftime lead.

The Gasmen could easily have been rocked by that late dagger, but we also started the second half on the front foot, and Ishikawa looked certain to level things up when Kajiyama's brilliant pass (after good link-up play from Hirayama) found him totally unmarked inside the area, but Nao was unable to hit the target and his shot flashed across the face of goal. Hanyu hadn't had much of an impact and was replaced by Rica just ten minutes after the restart, and then five minutes later, the course of the game changed for the better. Casual sent an innocuous-looking high ball up to Hirayama in the box, just as the big man was set to rise to head (with his back to goal) he was head-locked and pulled to the floor by a defender and the ref blew for a PENALTY TO TOKYO! Seen 'em given, seen 'em not, to be fair to Sota he didn't go down theatrically or anything, and by the letter of the law the ref got it right. Rare as hen's teeth, penaks in our favour, and, after a couple of minutes of Niigata players arguing their case, hopelessly of course, with the ref, Casual stepped up and drove the ball into the corner to the keeper's right. He guessed the right way, did the East Exit, but Tokyo were level and now had 30 minutes to find a winner.

And bugger me if we didn't waste about six chances to bag said winner. Hirayama had the first, and the best, after incisive play from Rica and Casual saw the ball break to him six yards out, but Higashiguchi flung out a hand and got lucky, as the ball went out for a corner. It was Oguro in particular, though, who was guilty of wasting two very good chances to atone for his first half miss, the second of those was eerily similar as he headed wide of the near post from Mukuhara's low cross.

Okuma sent on Matsushita for Ishikawa in the 84th minute, and then Otake for Oguro four minutes later as The Gasmen continued to push for the win, but our chances had dried up. In stoppage-time Mukuhara was booked for a clumsy challenge 25 yards out and Richardes tried another curler that Gonda held safely, and as he punted out of his box we thought it was our final chance to go forward. Unfortunately that little bugger Richardes latched onto the ball and, after eluding Hirayama and Kajiyama, played a long ball of his own forward to their fullback Sakai, who would never have touched the ball but for a misjudgement from Rica. Sakai dribbled into the box but his touch was heavy, and, with Morishige coming across to cover he went down like he'd been shot after a touch on the shoulder from Rica (not a push or a pullback), and this time the ref got it horribly wrong and gave a penalty to Niigata. He also gave Rica a second yellow, but that was academic as the pen was going to be the last kick of the game, and we were going to lose, and I was going to jump off the footbridge on my way back to the station....

And then GONDA SAVED IT! Gonda saved it! A poor pen from Richardes, but kudos to the big man for guessing the right way, and salvaging a point for us on a day we deserved all three but at the death looked like we'd get none. So it was a positive lap of honour for the players, and there were some good contributions worth cheering, especially from Casual, Hokuto, Konno and, to be fair, Tokunaga, who probably had his best game in central midfield all season (anything to do with Yone now breathing down his back for his spot?!). On another day Oguro could've had a hat-trick, and we'll definitely need some goals from him in the coming weeks, as we sit just two points ahead of Kobe (who are in the relegation zone), and our next five games are against top-half teams.

We can worry about what lies ahead on the weekend, but for now, praise Gonda, coz Gonda Saves!

1 comment:

  1. In retrospect it was actually a relatively interesting game, but yet another one which should have been done and dusted. We were not even surprised when the penalty was given after all that has gone on this season. Thanks for the detailed report.