Please note that the Japanese names in these posts are written in Japanese order, i.e. Family Name followed by Given Name

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Nadeshiko League Fifth Round

Urawa boost title hopes as Belle suffer first setback of season

Urawa Red Diamonds Ladies  1 - 0  Okayama Yunogo Belle
(Attendance: 2,098)

In front of just over 2,000 fans in fine - but windy - conditions, Urawa Red Diamonds put themselves back into the reckoning for the title with a 1-0 win over fellow contenders Okayama Yunogo Belle. Urawa showed their attacking intentions as early as the first minute when a slick passage of play from Shibata freed Arakawa who had the first shot on target but it was blocked and cleared. Belle's first chance came in the fourth minute from a free kick which was headed goalwards by Arimachi but was easily collected by Yamago. Arimachi found herself in a good shooting position again in the ninth minute but she scuffed the shot and the chance was lost.

For the opening seventeen minutes Urawa had attacked relentlessly, trying to bring in the midfielders to support Kira and Arakawa up front, though without ever having a decent chance. Eventually the pressure told though, and from a throw in Kira found herself free of her marker and from an ever-tightening angle found the net past through the keeper's legs. Kira had been hitherto tightly marked by Yasuda, but just as in their previous victory over Niigata a pinpoint throw had found her free to advance untouched and score her fourth goal of the season.

Urawa continued to attack and in the 25th minute Niwata made a run from outside the area to get on the end of a cross, but from a tight angle she could only hit the post and Fukumoto was relieved to collect the rebound. From a free kick in the 29th minute Wada Naoko found herself free but her long range effort sailed high and wide. With thirty minutes gone there was very little sign of an equaliser from Belle, with Arimachi their main threat, hassling the Urawa defence and in the 34th minute she drew a foul from Kohata Shiho which earned a yellow card for the Urawa midfielder in her maiden season. All the while in midfield Miyama was probably feeling she was not having as much of an impact as she would have liked, and her most dangerous balls were from a smattering of free kicks in midfield.

And so the pattern established continued until half time, with Kato, making her first start, and Wada finding themselves in acres of space on the left feeding Arakawa and Kira in the middle looking for a second. Attacks down the right were less frequent but no less potent when the opportunity arose. Belle looked for a way through but had little or no penetration. Just before half-time Yokoyama Kumi replaced Mizushima Kumi as Belle looked for more attacking prowess up front.

Entering the second half Belle sought to find their wingers with long balls, particularly down the left wing, but the wind had not relented and this tactic proved ineffective, with passes finding no one but Yamago in the Urawa net. At the back Urawa were well marshalled, kept their shape and never panicked. The Urawa philosophy of passing from the back, through midfield to the wingers who looked to find Kira and Arakawa found them the more likely to score. In the 55th minute Tsuchihashi on the right found Shibata in the box and her pass across the box was volleyed over by Kira. It wasn't close to goal by any means, but it was one of the better chances given their dearth in the second half.

For Belle their first half change of Yokoyama for Mizushima was beginning to show some promise as the smaller 18-year-old seemed more powerful and more willing to run at the defence. But it was to Urawa that the best chances were falling, with Kira having two chances fall to her, the second a last gasp save following a mistake by Yasuda at the back for Belle. For Belle, possibly their best chance came when Nakano attempted a cross from the left following good work by Arimachi, the wind caught the ball and it headed goalward. Fortunately for Nozomi in the Urawa goal the ball dipped enough that she could catch it.

Kira Chinatsu's work was over for the day in the 70th minute as she was replaced by Goto Michi. Shortly after Belle had their first genuine shot on goal of the second half. The industrious Yokoyama received a long pass to the right wing and looked inside. Wada Naoko who was tracking her showed some inexperience in sliding in to block a cross which never came. With a neat turn Yokoyama took the ball past the grounded Wada, turned outside past Yano and shot at goal, with Yamago happy to palm the shot round the post for a corner. From the corner Kado Yuka headed in but the goal was ruled out for a foul, presumably by Nakano on the 'keeper. At the other end 16-year-old Nagamachi Yuri cleared away a Goto shot, though it looked like it was destined to go wide anyway.

In the 80th minute Naomoto Hikaru, a transfer from Anclas, replaced Niwata Akiko for Urawa. The rest of the game petered out somewhat. Both sides continued to attack but the only chance of note was when Yokoyama found Matsuoka in front of goal. Matsuoka finished tidily though Yokoyama was ruled offside with replays showing that it was a close call, and Yokoyama would argue that she was level when the ball was played.

For Belle, this defeat will dent their confidence in their abilities to compete with Beleza and particularly INAC Kobe, while Urawa's despair at their inability to win their prior two games will feel even more acute following this win. Certainly they will feel that they can win their next match against Speranza, while Belle host Beleza in the match of the weekend.

Urawa Red Diamonds Ladies:
Yamago Nozomi, Tsuchihashi Yuki, Kohata Shiho, Yano Kyoko (capt), Wada Naoko, Shibata Hanae, Yanagita Miyuki, Niwata Akiko, Kato Chika, Kira Chinatsu, Arakawa Eriko
Subs: Goto Michi (Kira Chinatsu, 70 mins), Naomoto Hikaru (Niwata Akiko, 80 mins)
Unused subs: Ikeda Sakiko, Suzuki Rina, Dozono Ayano
Scorers: Kira Chinatsu (17 mins)
Booked: Kohata Shiho

Okayama Yunogo Belle:
Fukumoto Miho (capt), Yasuda Kuniko, Kado Yuka, Tsuhako Yumiko, Nagamachi Yuri, Takahashi Haruka, Nakano Manami, Miyama Aya, Mizushima Kumi, Arimachi Saori, Matsuoka Miki
Subs: Yokoyama Kumi (Mizushima Kumi, 44 mins)
Unused subs: Ikegaya Natsumi, Shigemoto Shiho, Nakamura Miki, Nakagawa Chihiro
Booked: Takahashi Haruka

Fukuoka J. Anclas  0 - 3  JEF United Ichihara Chiba Ladies
(Attendance: 315)

A casual glance at the result would lead one to believe that Fukuoka were easily outclassed by JEF United, but the fact is that for most of the game the sides were relatively well matched. Both sides came into this match having only scored two goals in four games each. In the first half both sides had chances but neither could find the net.

Eventually in the 73rd minute former Anclas player Fukusawa Risa scored to give JEF United the lead. Takahashi Sachie played a pass along the turf from her own half to Kawamura to run onto. The 13-year veteran played the ball into the box towards Fukusawa but it seemed to be too close to the marking defender to be penetrative. However Fukusawa darted in front and poked it home with her outstretched right peg.

Substitute Yamamoto scored in her first appearance this season to make it 2-0 after 81 minutes. Anclas have suffered badly when defending quick breaks against them and this goal exemplified that, with the move for the goal beginning with a throw-in by their own corner flag. From a long ball Shimizu Yuka received the ball just inside the JEF half and then held it up until reinforcements could arrive. Fukasawa made herself available on the right touchline and attacked down the right unopposed. Upon reaching the Anclas penalty area she simply shrugged off the sole challenge made, looked up and gave the perfect cross for Yamamoto to bury the header past Sawada.

With the game nearing its conclusion Anclas could feel the game was up, and after 88 minutes Yamamoto got her second to secure the game. From a corner by Hosokawa Motoyo, who was a substitute in this and every game this season, Yamamoto easily beat the three defenders around her to head in at the near post from inside the six yard area.

This win moves JEF United into sixth ahead of their clash next Saturday with AS Elfen Sayama who are level on points as things stand. Fukuoka J. Anclas travel to Iga to play the Kunoichi who similarly are hitherto winless.

Fukuoka J. Anclas:
Sawada Norimi, Uchihori Ritsuko (capt), Isokane Midori, Hanada Aiko, Akiyama Ryo, Doshita Misato, Kawamura Mari, Kiyohara Marie, Shibuya Yumiko, Kuzuma Riyo, Sato Kaede
Subs: Tagashira Yoko (Isokane Midori, 52 mins), Tanihara Yukari (Sato Kaede, 59 mins), Yatagai Mikiko (Akiyama Ryo, 75 mins)
Unused subs: Kushige Aoi
Booked: Kiyohara Marie

JEF United Ichihara Chiba Ladies:
Funada Mayu, Takahashi Sachie, Kawamura Mariko, Tezuka Saori, Chino Shoko, Ikadai Risa, Hanagiri Naomi, Hosaka Nodoka, Yanai Rina, Fukasawa Risa (capt), Kawamura Noriko
Subs: Shimizu Yuka (Tezuka Saori, 63 mins), Yamamoto Naomi (Hanagiri Naomi, HT), Hosokawa Motoyo (Ikadai Risa, 43 mins)
Unused subs: Koike Kokoro, Shimada Ayako
Scorers: Fukasawa Risa (73 mins), Yamamoto Naomi (81, 88 mins)

INAC Kobe Leonessa  2 - 1  Iga FC Kunoichi
(Attendance: 3,910)

The league champions welcomed Iga FC Kunoichi to Kobe this afternoon for another game which they expected to win. Both the team and the television companies covering their games are surely looking forward to the upcoming top of the table clashes. For their part, the Kunoichi arrive on the back of two impressive draws against Urawa and Beleza and have looked one of the more impressive lower table sides.

In the opening stages the Iga defence defended well, closing down the INAC players early and biting at their ankles, though they themselves found it difficult to break out and with ten minutes played neither side had yet had a shot at goal. As they had done in earlier games, the INAC midfield tried to get Kawasumi and Takase free on the wings, with Kyokawa waiting to pounce. A foul by Sakaguchi on Ji So-Yun in the 13th minute just outside the are gave Ono the opportunity to cross to Kyokawa who headed well over. Another foul just outside the box on Ji So-Yun, this time by Fujimoto, gave INAC the lead on 16 minutes. Ji So-Yun took the free kick herself and Takase volleyed with her left past Ono for her fourth goal of the season. After the goal INAC continued to press with Tanaka shooting just wide in the 20th minute following a neat backheel from Kawasumi.

Iga were playing the ball around neatly to one another, but their players were packed together too tightly, and there was no width to their game. INAC began to mix up their play as the half went on, and Sawa came more into the game as her team tried to attack through the middle more, pulling the Iga defenders out of position. With 30 minutes gone though, the goal remained the sole good opportunity - Tanaka heading over following confusion in the Iga defence on the half-hour.

With a flash of brilliance, Ohno Shinobu doubled the lead for INAC after 32 minutes. She played a wonderful one-two with Kyokawa, dribbled around the last defender and poked the ball home. Shortly after Kyokawa was worryingly stretchered off with an apparent leg injury. Kawasumi had a glorious chance to make it 3-0 in the 35th minute but shot straight at the keeper. This had come not long after Kaihori in the INAC net had come racing out of her area and almost gifted Iga a goal.

As Kyokawa couldn't continue, Minamiyama came on in her stead in the 36th minute. As the half wore on, Kawasumi found herself in more and more space on the left wing in which she could work her magic and time and again INAC had chances to increase their lead. Entering the final minute Noichi Aya had a shot from well outside the area for Iga when she had options left and right, her haste in shooting at the first opportunity evidence of Iga's lack of belief in their ability to make chances thereafter. That was only Iga's second shot of the half, in contrast to INAC's 10.

Into the second half, and the pattern of the game remained much the same. In the 57th minute Ono palmed away a Takase volley which looked destined to finish in the back of the net and from the corner kick Tanaka had another chance to head towards goal but put it well over. From a free kick well inside their own half, Miyamoto launched a long ball towards Nakade Hikari and she found herself in acres of space, half-time substitute Nakade ran through on goal and steered the ball past Kaihori with supreme composure to give Iga hope in the 59th minute. As in previous games the INAC defence was found to be less than 100% organised or composed.

Stung by this goal, INAC launched a flurry of attacks on the Iga goal though buoyed by their success, the Kunoichi dug in and refused to give way. A pattern of INAC attacking down the wings and Iga trying to hit them with long balls until the 69th minute, when Sawa had a goal chalked off for offside. Ohno had a shot from outside the area which hid the crossbar and bounced down. Sawa headed the ball in but the assistant referee had her flag raised. Replays showed that Sawa was at no point offside, though there was no protest. Following this incident INAC had corner after corner which found Tanaka's head though as before she was off target each time. Ji So-Yun received a yellow card in the 76th minute for not retreating from a free kick, indeed it was a feature of the game that Iga tried to take quick free kicks at every opportunity, when at times they'd have been better advised to take their time. A minute later Iga brought on Matsunaga for Haji, and she immediately began chasing and tackling hard in an attempt to break up INAC's rhythm.

In the 84th minute Kinga found herself free in the area following a trademark roving run down the right but she could only shoot over. Matsunaga continued to make a nuisance of herself at both ends and a nice ball freed Nakade in the area but when the ball came back to Kobayashi she could only lash the ball well wide, though Iga had shown movements that were worrying INAC at the back. A terrible ball by Kai Junko led to another promising attack by Iga but Kobayashi couldn't find the target with her header.

In the second minute of additional time, Iga had their last chance from a corner but the ball INAC will feel relieved to have got the win, especially as they will feel that they should have killed the game off. For their part, Iga will probably feel that they should have taken the game to INAC more, as they only really started attacking in the closing stages of the game.

INAC Kobe Leonessa:
Kaihori Ayumi, Kinga Yukari, Kai Junko, Tanaka Asuna, Takara Ryoko, Sawa Homare, Ohno Shinobu (capt), Ji So-Yun, Takase Megumi, Kyokawa Mai, Kawasumi Nahomi
Subs: Minamiyama Chiaki (Kyokawa Mai, 36 mins)
Unused subs: Takenaka Rei, Tanaka Yoko, Nakajima Emi, Nakada Ayu
Scorers: Takase Megumi (16 mins), Ohno Shinobu (32 mins)
Booked: Ji So-Yun

Iga FC Kunoichi:
Ono Maya, Miyasako Tamami, Michikura Hiroko, Ono Suzuka (capt), Fujimoto Ayano, Nasu Maiko, Miyamoto Tomomi, Kobayashi Makiko, Tsutsumi Saki, Noichi Aya, Haji Madoka
Subs: Nakade Hikari (Noichi Aya, HT), Matsunaga Yoshie (Haji Madoka, 77 mins)
Unused subs: Kuno Fubuki, Takeda Yuki, Park Yubin
Scorers: Nakade Hikari (59 mins)

NTV Beleza  3 - 1  Albirex Niigata Ladies
(Attendance: 3,183)

Having disappointingly dropped two points away to Iga in their previous game, Beleza were determined to win well against Niigata, and to give the fans in northern Akita a spectacle to remember. Within four minutes they had the lead. A loose ball in midfield was picked up by Sakaguchi who carried the ball infield looking for an option up front. Not finding one she gave the ball to Ariyoshi who herself gave the ball back to Iwashimizu who then picked out Iwabuchi who first miscontrolled and then chased the bouncing ball and just got enough of a touch to it to score before it reached the dead ball line. Beleza's second came nine minutes later and was something of a calamity for the Niigata goalkeeper Otomo. Another long ball from Iwashimizu towards goal was rushed at by Otomo who only succeeded in punching the ball straight to Kiryu who sidefooted into the empty net. Niigata's problem in the game was their inability to work the ball from the defence through to midfield and panicky, rushed passes simply allowed Beleza to recover the ball and launch attack after attack. By the 27th minute the game was over as a contest. Hirai Sakina was beaten by Hara Natsuko in the centre circle and the ball fell to Nagasato Asano who threaded the ball through precisely to Iwabuchi. The diminutive forward ran through on goal and placed the ball in the corner for her second of the game and third of the season.

Niigata didn't have much in the way of goal chances, but they did eventually score a consolation goal in the 87th minute, when a Niigata corner wasn't properly cleared. The ball found its way back to the taker of the original corner kick, Saito Yuri, who swung a beautiful cross in front of the Niigata forwards, who did well to stay onside and anticipate the cross. Kubota Mayu found herself on the end of the cross and poked it home for her first of the season, and indeed, the first goal for any Niigata player besides the injured Oishi Sayaka.

Both sides have tough assignments next weekend, Niigata host INAC Kobe while Beleza travel to Okayama to face Belle.

NTV Beleza:
Matsubayashi Miku, Sudo Akiko, Ariyoshi Saori, Iwashimizu Azusa (capt), Doko Mayo, Hara Natsuko, Ito Kanako, Kiryu Nanase, Sakaguchi Mizuho, Nagasato Asano, Iwabuchi Mana
Subs: Tanaka Mina (Hara Natsuko, HT), Nakasato Yu (Nagasato Asano, 77 mins), Soyama Kanako (Matsubayashi Miku, 90+1 mins)
Unused subs: Kinoshita Shiori, Kobayashi Yayoi
Scorers: Iwabuchi Mana (4,27 mins), Kiryu Nanase (13 mins)

Albirex Niigata Ladies:
Otomo Maiko (capt), Wakabayashi Minori, Kitahara Kana, Higashiyama Maiko, Nakamura Kaede, Kawamura Yuri, Saeki Aya, Kodama Keiko, Kamionobe Megumi, Yamazaki Marumi, Kubota Mayu
Subs: Yamamoto Arina (Higashiyama Maiko, HT), Hirai Sakina (Kodama Keiko, 34 mins), Saito Yuri (Hirai Sakina, 85 mins)
Unused subs: Suwa Erina, Nakamura Saki
Scorers: Kubota Mayu (87 mins)
Booked: Saito Yuri

Speranza F.C. Osaka Takatsuki  2 - 2  AS Elfen Sayama FC
(Attendance: 942)

A lively game in Osaka saw the teams share the spoils in a game both sides could have won. Arima Shizuka in the Sayama goal was the busier of the two keepers in the first half and in the 25th minute she found herself picking the ball out of the net when Tsuboi headed in the opening goal. Following some good interplay down the left wing, Hamada crossed goalwards and Tsuboi headed in when almost on the ground having dived bravely in front of Kumagai Sayaka, the ball just finding the corner. Speranza had most of the play for the rest of the half, but in the second half the game swung Sayama's way as they created far more chances on the Speranza goal. In the 58th minute they scored an excellent breakaway goal. With a Speranza attack breaking down at the Sayama penalty area, the impressive Azami Rie took the ball under control with an effortless flick, raced down the pitch and gave an inch perfect cross field pass to Watanabe Ayaka who took one touch and finished expertly past Suzuki.

In the 73rd minute Azami had a goal of her own, a goal her performance certainly merited. Following a Sayama goal kick the ball was flicked towards Azami by Suzuki Kaoruko. Her marker Hirano Satoko was clearly the favourite to win the ball but Azami's power and strength were simply too much as she took the ball in her stride and charged towards goal. Hirano's second attempt to win the ball back, or at least to hold Azami up, was equally futile and the small but powerful forward struck thunderously into the top corner of the net.

With time running out Speranza had the equaliser. Speranza's two substitutes Kameoka and Shimamura combined down the right wing, Shimamura collecting Kamoka's long pass. With the defence scrambling back, Shimamura picked out the onrushing Matsuda who kept her head and slotted home. All told, it was probably the fairest result.

Speranza F.C. Osaka Takatsuki:
Suzuki Risa, Torao Naomi, Okuda Akiko (capt), Hirano Satoko, Akiba Yumeko, Tsuboi Ayako, Toyoda Nayuha, Itami Emi, Matsuda Nozomi, Hamada Haruka, Maruyama Karina
Subs: Kameoka Natsumi (Hirano Satoko, 75 mins), Shimamura Yuko (Maruyama Karina, 85 mins)
Unused subs: Ueno Yukiko, Toyama Sayuri, Asano Miki
Scorers: Tsuboi Ayako (25 mins), Matsuda Nozomi (88 mins)

AS Elfen Sayama FC:
Arima Shizuka, Segi Aiki, Shibata Satomi, Takahashi Yuko, Kumagai Sayaka, Kobayashi Natsumi, Suzuki Kaoruko, Sugiyama Takako, Azami Rie, Muraoka Natsuki (capt), Watanabe Ayaka
Subs: Otani Erina (Segi Aiki, 58 mins), Saito Yuri (Sugiyama Takako, 70 mins), Uchida Saki (Suzuki Kaoruko, 77 mins)
Unused subs: Otani Haruka, Kawai Nayo
Scorers: Watanabe Ayaka (57 mins), Azami Rie (73 mins)

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