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).

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Shimizu 1-2 FC Tokyo: J1 Week 28

With typhoon no. 14 bearing down on the Kanto area on Saturday the living room was definitely the place to be, but 7,117 hardy souls (including a brilliant turn-out of travelling Tokyo fans) headed to Nihondaira for the early afternoon clash between Shimizu and FC Tokyo. Just seven games remained before kickoff, and the teams had vastly different ambitions heading in: S-Pulse were sitting sixth and pushing hard for an Asian Champions League spot; and the Gasmen were hanging on for dear life just two points outside the relegation zone, with our last league win against a team not named Shonan coming in early May, away at Yamagata.

Week 27 also provided vastly contrasting results for the teams: Shonan belted Yamagata 3-0 away (the same score we'd beaten them by there, coincidentally); and Tokyo needed a stoppage-time penalty save from Shuichi Gonda to earn us a point when we'd deserved all three at home against Niigata. Still, despite all our struggles and the nine places between us in the table, Tokyo had good reason to be optimistic and we only had to look at recent history to see why: we were unbeaten in our last nine games across all competitions against S-Pulse (P: 9 W: 5 D: 4), starting from our Emporer' Cup quarter-final win in December '08, and all of this season's three meetings so far had resulted in draws (although there was the small matter of them knocking us out of the Nabisco Cup on away goals....).

As well as our excellent recent record against Shimizu, we were boosted by the return of Takuji Yonemoto to central midfield for his first appearance of the season following knee surgery. The 19 year old replaced suspended captain Yuhei Tokunaga in the only change to the XI that started against Niigata, and his box-to-box qualities would be tested to the limit in his return by the horrendous conditions, and, presumably, a lack of match fitness, although the club handled things well and didn't rush him back, allowing our number 7 to build up his fitness in training.

And Yone was right into the thick of things from kickoff, although he gave us a bit of a scare in the 5th minute when he came up limping after sliding in on a 50-50 ball. Hanyu had the first chance of the game a minute later, taking Hokuto's neat pass and advancing into the box, but a defender slid in to cover and deflect the ball away.

There was little in the way of chances for the next 20-odd minutes: Ishikawa fired a free kick a couple of yards wide, and Mukuhara had to be alert at the other end to shepherd the ball out for a goal kick after Shimizu's towering Norwegian international Frode Johnsen had headed down in the box. Then, from Gonda's restart in the 26th minute, Tokyo had the ball in the net after a crisp passing move started by Hirayama and involving Ishikawa and Kajiyama, but Hanyu had strayed slightly offside before taking Casual's through ball and dinking over the keeper.

We'd had the better of things, but failed, again, to make our dominance count, until the 32nd minute when Big Sota came through in style. A sloppy S-Pulse pass was cut out by Hanyu, who dashed down the left and crossed for Oguro near post, though a defender got across and headed out for a corner. From Nao's delivery, Hirayama rose at the far post and his brilliant downward header found the net for his fourth league goal of the season.

Pleasingly, after the goal we continued to press forward in hopes of adding a second, whereas in other games this season we've tended to sit back and absorb pressure. S-Pulse had created next-to-nothing, and Gonda had not had to make a save until the 44th minute, when he was suddenly called into action twice in a minute, and thankfully he was alert and up to the task. The first came following a neat move started by Shinji Ono, whose square ball was played through Morishige's legs by Fujimoto and found Edamura, who shot low to Gonda's right. The big man stuck out a paw and produced a brilliant save, with Ishikawa scrambling the loose ball out for a corner. From that corner after a brief scramble the ball bounced up for Ota, whose hooked shot was heading for the top corner before Gonda leapt to his right to palm clear.

There was one more chance for Tokyo before the break, or at least there should've been, but as Ishikawa led a break and played the ball forward for Oguro, the striker had quite stupidly strayed offside, and then got himself booked as he played on and kicked the ball away.

A minute after the restart Hokuto's free kick struck the Shimizu wall and bounced narrowly wide with the keeper rooted to the spot, but for the next 15 minutes S-Pulse enjoyed more of the possession as they searched for an equaliser. Our defence held up well though and restricted them to one clear chance - Gonda needing to get down well to his left to save a Hyodo effort.

Then, in the 65th minute, Hanyu cut out a pass just outside our box, and that started a passing move that wasn't quite Argentina-in-the-2006-World-Cup-like, but was as close as we're ever going to get. Casual played it to Oguro, who laid it back to Morishige, who then chipped out to the left to Hanyu. Roswell moved it on to Yone, who sprayed a pass out to the right to Mukuhara, who then played it back to Morishige, near the halfway line. With Mukuhara then looking to overlap, Ishikawa's marker left him and Morishige knocked the ball up to Nao, who turned and squared to Kajiyama in the centre. Hirayama had snuck down the left and Casual found him in acres of space, he crossed first-time and the ball took a slight deflection off a defender and rolled to Oguro, who tapped in from two yards. Champagne football from the Gasmen and we were good value for our 2-0 lead.

Hirayama, with his tail well and truly up, almost added a third two minutes later, but his curled effort from outside the box didn't quite curl enough. Shimizu naturally committed more men forward as they searched for a way back into the game, and our defence continued to hold them out well, until the 78th minute when Genki Omae, who had only been on the pitch for a minute, gave them a lifeline. The ball was crossed from the left and bounced in the area, Hokuto overran it and Omae cut inside and fired through Gonda's legs.

It was now backs-to-the-wall time, and S-Pulse rained crosses in, and there was a heart-stopping moment in the 87th minute when Nagai chipped a shot over Gonda, but the ball hit the bar and rebounded safely away. Two minutes later though, the game was safe after an amazing 40 yard freekick from Shigematsu (on for Oguro) bounced and swerved in front of the S-Pulse keeper, who fumbled Robert Green-style and allowed the ball to bounce a good yard over the line before clawing it out....HANG ON! THE LINESMAN'S NAPPING AND HASN'T SEEN IT CROSS THE LINE! HE'S NOT GIVEN IT! WHAT THE F#CK!

Quite frankly, after that inept officiating, if Shimizu had then gone on to nick an equaliser my TV would've gone out the window, but, despite a scare when Fujimoto blazed over, we hung on for the five minutes of stoppage time and the joy of the players and travelling fans at the final whistle was brilliant to see. Hirayama had his best game of the season, Casual was excellent, and the back four was very steady for the entire game, but special mention has to be made of Yonemoto, who has a massive engine and ran out the game amazingly well considering it was his first competitive game in almost 11 months.

Three precious points took us up a spot to 14th, above Omiya on goal difference, and most importantly, five points clear of Kobe, ahead of the other games on the weekend. Shockingly, Kobe came back from 2-1 down to batter Gamba Osaka 4-2 that evening, so our buffer was back to two points (and Omiya have a game in hand after their game against Shonan was postponed due to the typhoon), but the positives from our performance should hold us in good stead for the final six games of the season, starting with Gamba at home on Saturday.


  1. Thought Yone made a HUGE difference, just his simple ability to keep winning the ball back in midfield inspired the rest of the team I think.

    Tough run in but no reason to fear anyone, we tend to do better against teams who look to try and dominate us anyway.

  2. I went to Out-sourcing Stadium on storm day. So, maybe one of the hardy soul supporter.

    Yone's return is good news for FC Tokyo. I hope Tokyo wil win next game.
    Let's crash Gamba and we'll stay on J1 league.