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, November 10, 2010

FC Tokyo 1-1 G.Osaka: J1 Week 29

After the win in the typhoon against Shimizu, FC Tokyo returned home to a beautiful sunny day at Aji Sta last Saturday to face Gamba Osaka. Almost 28,000 fans were in, our best crowd since early September (against the Red CubicZirconias), and with only three home games remaining the Gasmen knew a strong performance was needed as we sat just two points out of the relegation zone. Gamba had been stunned by a second half explosion by our relegation rivals Kobe last Saturday evening, losing 4-2 after leading 2-1 at halftime, but still sat third in the table.

 Casual was missing due to suspension, so Oh Captain, My Captain returned from his own suspension to partner Yonemoto in central midfield, Yone making his first start at home this season. The rest of the XI was unchanged from the win in Shimizu, but Ricardinho, who is going to struggle to get a start the rest of the season as long as Hanyu and Ishikawa stay fit, returned to the bench. It was also nice to welcome Mr. Nishimura, the World Cup ref, back to Aji Sta, he had a very good game when we hosted Kashima way back in early April, and earned positive reviews for his performances in South Africa. Not so nice to welcome Judas' Kaji and Lucas back, though.

 The Gasmen looked to set the tempo right from kickoff, and there were early chances for Oguro and Ishikawa, but Morishige was the first to test the keeper, firing straight into his arms from outside the box. Yonemoto was unsettling the Gamba midfield with his pressing, and the visitors were unable to get into any sort of a rhythm going forward. Ishikawa was looking lively, and had two chances well saved: in the 10th minute he hit a shot first-time from inside the box after he was played in delightfully by Hirayama; and then in the 17th minute he cut in from the right and launched a left-footed effort that was heading for the top corner before the keeper palmed it away. We were well on top, but needed to make our dominance count with a goal (god, how many times have I written that this season...).

 Hirayama has been looking more and more confident on the ball in previous weeks, and three minutes after Nao's shot, he was the catalyst for us going in front, dribbling through a crowd before Gamba cleared for a throw. Hanyu took, Sota played it back to him, and after showing inside but dinking back onto his right foot, Roswell crossed to the penalty spot, Oguro arrived under pressure and glanced a fantastic header across the keeper and inside the far post to give the Gasmen a deserved lead.

 He's had his knockers, and I'll hold my hand up as one of them, but Oguro's fourth goal in the last five games proved his qualities as a frontman, and was vital, as word had filtered through that Kobe had beaten Sendai 2-0 and had thusly gone above us. A second goal before halftime would've been priceless, and that man Oguro almost got it, when, from Nao's corner to the near post he got across his marker and volleyed low and hard, the ball took a slight deflection off their fullback Yasuda and could've gone anywhere, but unluckily for us the keeper had his body in the right place, and the ball cannoned off his shoulder and out for a corner.

 We had played them off the park, but there was a nervous moment before the break when Tokunaga fouled in roughly the same area near our box as he had against Niigata (which resulted in the Richardes goal), but Endo, a past master at taking set pieces, fired well over. An excellent first half from us, but a nagging feeling that we hadn't made our dominance count enough on the scoreboard was prevalent as the players returned to the sheds.

 I'd love to be able to say we made a bright start to the second half and looked to build on our lead, but Gamba were noticably better, and forced us right back onto the back foot. We sat much deeper and let them come at us, a tactic that Okuma should know by now hasn't worked particularly well (not at all, in fact) for us this season. Gamba simply have too much quality if invited to attack you, and they launched wave after wave of attacks as we couldn't keep the ball. Some important blocks by Yonemoto and Morishige had meant that Shuichi Gonda hadn't had that much to do though.

 The two men responsible for our goal were taken off by Okuma, Matsushita replaced Hanyu in the 71st minute, and then Rica came on for Oguro three minutes later, as we looked to hang on and possibly hit them on the counter. Gamba had dominated the ball second half, but hadn't had loads of chances, then with ten minutes remaining Usami slalomed through our box and shot low for the near post, forcing an excellent save with his left foot from Gonda, the ball going out for a corner. Endo had had an ordinary day at set pieces, but he made this one count as he fizzed over a ball that was met by Nakazawa, who had out-jumped Morishige, his header flying in to give Gamba their equalizer.

 We couldn't really complain, as we'd invited pressure on ourselves by sitting so deep for basically the entire second half, but we now had eight minutes plus stoppage time to turn things around and get a winner. Rica tried his luck on a couple of dribbles, one saw him charge into the box and square to Ishikawa, but the ball was behind Nao, and as he spun and shot Yasuda slid in and the danger was gone.

 Our final chance came in the 88th minute, when Matsushita's excellent cross from the left was mis-controlled by Endo and fell for Sota, the big man shot first time and the ball deflected out for a corner, but Mr. Nishimura missed it and awarded a goal kick. The final act of the match saw Gamba awarded a free kick just outside our box, and while obviously not as dramatic as Gonda's penalty save against Niigata, it wouldn't have surprised the way the season's gone if it had gone in. Surprisingly, Endo didn't take it, it sailed over the bar and the ref blew up for full time.

 A proper game of two halves then, we dominated the the first and then stopped playing in the second, but the point ensured we stayed above Kobe, on goal difference (-4 to -13). We fell back to 15th though, two points behind Omiya, after they won at home against Yamagata (and will most likely be five tonight after they play their game-in-hand against Shonan).

 Five games remain, and the next three are also against teams up near the top of the league, but our last two results have shown we are capable of mixing it with the better sides. Off to Yokohama on Sunday then!

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