Top teams continue winning ways; times are tough at the bottom
Speranza F.C. Osaka Takatsuki 0 - 6 INAC Kobe Leonessa
Takenaka Rei made her first appearance in goal for INAC Kobe Leonessa, as they began the second half of the season fully expecting a comfortable win in Osaka over struggling Speranza. In their first meeting newcomer Kyokawa Mai scored twice in INAC's 7-0 win, accompanying goals from Kai, Ji, Kawasumi, Ohno and Takase. Rebecca Moros was starting her first league game having played extensively in the League Cup.
For Speranza, Hamada Haruka was left out, and Asano Miki started for the first time since the fourth game of the season. The Speranza faithful were hoping to see at least an improvement in their team's development, if not an outright win, as they battle against relegation.
It took fewer than four minutes to score, as Takase beat Tsuboi in a race to the through ball from Ohno and easily slotted home. Both before the goal and after, INAC were in complete control and were happy to stroke the ball around and make Speranza chase shadows. Sawa Homare found herself completely free to head toward goal from a corner but just steered wide in the 11th minute. Still INAC looked for openings on either wing and down the middle, while Speranza had a rare chance to attack through Asano on the left in the 18th minute.
Takase doubled the lead in the 23rd minute when Matsuda was easily dispossessed when she would have been better advised to have hoofed the ball clear. Kawasumi found herself in space on the right wing after a pass from Kinga, and from her cross into the box, Ohno tried to flick the ball home but missed entirely allowing Takase to comfortably sidefoot home. Speranza had showed that they were capable of some tidy football but defensive lapses such as these are gifts for INAC's forward line.
In the 30th minute the rain which had been threatening all afternoon finally came down in anger, and the players soon found the going difficult. Takase had a shot saved by Suzuki but she couldn't hold on to the slippery ball and Sawa Homare followed up to score her first of the season, that goal coming in the 34th minute.
The first half continued until half time at a slower pace, as both sides looked forward to getting out of the rain. Kawasumi looked bright down the right, more so than Moros on the left who seemed to struggle to keep her feet in the wet conditions. Speranza attempted to create attacking opportunities but at no stage worried Takenaka in the INAC goal.
Early in the second half Speranza found themselves completely outpassed in midfield. In a quick flowing move, Sawa found Ji who gave a perfectly weighted pass to Kawasumi. Though she slipped, she managed to give a pass through to Ohno who beat both defenders and goalkeeper through sheer pace, and having found herself wide of the goal, gave a simple pass across goal for Takase to score her hat-trick. That goal came in the 49th minute, and INAC were clearly hungry for more, with Sawa and Ohno taking shots having made attacking runs from midfield. Speranza withdrew Shimamura, and replaced her with Takahashi in the 57th minute, Takahashi making her first start in the league following two substitute appearances in the League Cup. For INAC, Ohno was replaced by Nakajima in the 61st minute, Ohno's substitution coming just as she had a decent shot which just sailed wide.
Following a collision with Kai, Maruyama Karina had to be stretchered off with an apparent knee injury, and there was genuine concern on the part of the INAC players, particularly Sawa, that she may have had a recurrence of the injury which had blighted her recently following an injury this time last year. Hamada Haruka came in to replace her immediately, and set about making her presence felt on the left wing.
INAC continued to make most of the running though, especially down the right with Kawasumi. Following a headed clearance by Kameoka from a corner in the 72nd minute, Nakajima volleyed home beautifully, though Kameoka was badly injured and had to be taken off, with Toyama replacing her. At the same time, Sawa was replaced by Nakada for INAC.
Takase had a chance to go clear at the top of the scoring charts when a fabulous through ball from Nakajima saw the Hokkaido native clean through on goal, but a deflection was enough to send it wide of the post. Any sense of relief Speranza felt was quickly wiped away when Ji's corner was headed home by Tanaka Asuna; her first goal of the season and she'll rarely score an easier one, such was the lack of pressure from the Speranza defence.
In the end, INAC didn't quite match their seven goal victory to open the season, but the difference in class meant that once again Speranza had simply no answer. INAC's next game is a home game against Anclas (though being played in Hiroshima), another team they beat by seven goals early in the season. Speranza's relegation fight looks as tough as ever, and the possible loss of Maruyama will not help their cause.
Speranza F.C. Osaka Takatsuki:
Suzuki Risa, Tsuboi Ayako, Okuda Akiko (capt), Akiba Yumeko, Matsuda Nozomi, Itami Emi, Torao Naomi, Kameoka Natsumi, Asano Miki, Maruyama Karina, Shimamura Yuko
Subs: Takahashi Chizuru (Shimamura Yuko, 57 mins), Hamada Haruka (Maruyama Karina, 64 mins), Toyama Sayuri (Kameoka Natsumi, 74 mins)
Unused subs: Ueno Yukiko, Matsui Miki
Booked: Takahashi Chizuru
INAC Kobe Leonessa:
Takenaka Rei, Kinga Yukari, Kai Junko, Tanaka Asuna, Rebecca Moros, Minamiyama Chiaki, Ji So-Yun, Sawa Homare, Kawasumi Nahomi, Ohno Shinobu (capt), Takase Megumi
Subs: Nakajima Emi (Ohno Shinobu, 61 mins), Nakada Ayu (Sawa Homare, 75 mins)
Unused subs: Kaihori Ayumi, Takara Ryoko, Shimizu Akane
Scorers: Takase Megumi (4, 23, 49 mins), Sawa Homare (34 mins), Nakajima Emi (72 mins), Tanaka Asuna (84 mins)
Fukuoka J. Anclas 0 - 3 NTV Beleza
Both sides in this encounter were in search of a much-needed win, but for very different reasons. With just two points from their opening nine games, Fukuoka are very much expected to be relegated at the end of the season and will need to start winning soon to give themselves a chance. Off the back of their League Cup victory over rivals INAC Kobe, Beleza wanted to give themselves every chance of catching the league leaders. Beleza started with Kobayashi Misaki for the first time, and newly acquired Koreans Lee Min Sun and Kim Kyoung Sin started for Anclas.
Beleza settled into their rhythm well, and having exerted almost all of the pressure, finally took the lead through deadly striker Nagasato Asano. Kobayashi Yayoi fed Kiryu on the left wing. Kiryu cut inside, easily beating the defender and supplying the perfect ball for Nagasato to finish at the near post.
It was Nagasato's power and pace which enabled her to score her second early in the second half. A wonderfully worked one-two with Ito Kanako on the edge of the area saw Nagasato through on goal and she finished with aplomb. Ariyoshi finished the scoring in this facile win for Beleza, a rasping shot by Nagasato was blocked and as it ran free Ariyoshi was there to apply the finish.
Anclas' next match couldn't be more difficult, as they travel to Kobe for a meeting with champions INAC. Beleza are in Sayama expecting to win and keep themselves in with a chance of the title.
Fukuoka J. Anclas:
Sawada Norimi, Uchihori Ritsuko (capt), Isokane Midori, Kiyohara Marie, Sato Kaede, Hanada Aiko, Kawamura Mari, Kim Kyoung Sin, Shibuya Yumiko, Tagashira Yoko, Lee Min Sun
Subs: Yatagai Mikiko (Shibuya Yumiko, 58 mins), Hirata Hikari (Tagashira Yoko, 58 mins)
Unused subs: Doshita Misato, Fujimoto Yuki, Kuzuma Riyo
Matsubayashi Miku, Sudo Akiko, Ariyoshi Saori, Kobayashi Misaki, Iwashimizu Azusa (capt), Hara Natsuko, Kobayashi Yayoi, Ito Kanako, Kiryu Nanase, Sakaguchi Mizuho, Nagasato Asano
Subs: Kobayashi Miharu (Sakaguchi Mizuho, 60 mins), Tanaka Mina (Kobayashi Yayoi, 81 mins)
Unused subs: Kobayashi Shiori, Doko Mayo, Takahashi Saori
Scorers: Nagasato Asano (35, 50 mins), Ariyoshi Saori (81 mins)
Booked: Iwashimizu Azusa
Urawa Red Diamonds Ladies 2 - 1 AS Elfen Sayama FC
Urawa's largest crowd of the season to date saw their side dominate Sayama in Saitama today. Urawa's U-20 heroines were back for this game, though none started. Instead Kishikawa and Goto both started for the second game in a row, while Sayama notably started with veteran goalkeeper Kobayahshi Mai, previously of Iga.
Urawa controlled the first half but were unable to breach the Sayama defence, who relied entirely on Azami Rie at the other end. Neither side made any changes at half-time, and after nine minutes of the second half, Goto Michi scored her second in two games to give Urawa the lead. Tremendous build-up play from the back saw Niwata find Tsuchihashi free on the left wing. She gave a first time pass to Kira whose cross was scrambled home by Goto, Arakawa having missed the initial chance.
The home side then pushed on for a second, and it came from Niwata, whose only previous goal was in the first meeting between these sides. On that occasion it was the first in a five goal rout, but on this it was enough just to calm the players' nerves. Following an attack down the left side the ball was only half-cleared and the ball came back to Niwata who struck an unstoppable shot into the top right corner of the net.
Sayama had made little of the running but were given a way back into the game following a howler from Yamago. A very hopeful punt from Sugiyama Takako saw the Urawa goalkeeper come out of her area to clear, but she didn't connect cleanly and the ball fell kindly for Sayama's star player Azami Rie to put it into the empty net.
That goal, however, was the only real chance that Sayama had, and Urawa were able to see out the game and take all three points. They will hope to do the same against JEF United next Sunday to keep up the pressure on the three sides above them, while Sayama face a very tough test against title-seeking Beleza.
Urawa Red Diamonds Ladies:
Yamago Nozomi, Tsuchihashi Yuki, Kohata Shiho, Yano Kyoko (capt), Saito Akane, Kishikawa Natsuki, Dozono Ayano, Niwata Akiko, Kira Chinatsu, Arakawa Eriko, Goto Michi
Subs: Naomoto Hikaru (Dozono Ayano, 60 mins), Wada Naoko (Saito Akane, 70 mins), Shibata Hanae (Kira Chinatsu, 81 mins)
Unused subs: Ikeda Sakiko, Yasuda Yuki
Scorers: Goto Michi (54 mins), Niwata Akiko (66 mins)
AS Elfen Sayama FC:
Kobayashi Maiko, Segi Aiki, Shibata Satomi, Takahashi Yuko, Akitaya Misato, Azami Rie, Kobayashi Natsumi, Uchida Saki, Watanabe Ayaka, Suzuki Kaoruko, Muraoka Natsuki (capt)
Subs: Sugiyama Takako (Suzuki Kaoruko, 62 mins), Hagiwara Aimi (Uchida Saki, 85 mins), Kawai Nayo (Watanabe Ayaka, 85 mins)
Unused subs: Arima Shizuka, Saito Yuri
Scorers: Azami Rie (75 mins)
JEF United Ichihara Chiba Ladies 1 - 4 Okayama Yunogo Belle
Belle maintained momentum following the summer break to record their third win in a row, and this victory keeps them firmly in third place, one point behind Beleza. Ogawa Shiho made her first appearance for JEF since arriving from INAC Kobe, as did two new young players, Yasuda Saki and Tsurumi Ayaka. Belle picked their usual strongest side, with Nagamachi Yuri back in the starting eleven.
After just seven minutes Belle had taken the lead. A free kick midway inside the JEF half was taken, as always, by Miyama Aya and even from that distance she decided to have a shot at goal. Her shot was on target, and Funada could do little more than deflect it onto her crossbar. From the deflection the ball was played back into the box and Nakano was on hand to poke it home.
JEF pushed hard for an equaliser and they were rewarded in the 22nd minute when a Hosokawa corner was headed home by Yanai Rina, leaping highest to score her first goal since transferring from Belle this season.
Arimachi Saori followed up in the 24th minute with the second of the afternoon for Belle, and the second created by a wonderful pass by Miyama. She found Nakano in space on the right and once again the resulting shot was saved only to be deflected off the crossbar and finished off by Arimachi. Both Nakano and Arimachi had broken a six-game streak of having not scored, and will be relieved to have started the second half of the season in fine form.
The two sides were quite even in terms of chances created, but it was Belle who were taking theirs, and on 73 minutes the game was sewn up. Nakagawa Chihiro had scored Belle's very first goal of the season against JEF in their opening day victory, and against the same opposition scored her second. While Funada had been unfortunate in conceding the first two goals, she was more than a little culpable in the concession of the third. A long ball from Miyama saw Funada rush from her area to clear the danger but she missed completely and in the melee the ball came free resulting in an easy finish for Nakagawa.
JEF again tried in vain to claw their way back into the game but the result was put beyond any doubt in the 73rd minute when Nakano scored again. Once more Miyama was the catalyst as her perfectly weighted through ball split the defence and Nakano was there to finish past Funada for her second of the day and fourth of the season.
Belle look forward to hosting Iga, a side they beat by five goals early in the season, while JEF will travel to Saitama hoping for another good result against Urawa Reds, with whom they drew in their first meeting.
JEF United Ichihara Chiba Ladies:
Funada Mayu, Tsurumi Ayaka, Takahashi Sachie, Kawamura Mariko, Hosokawa Motoyo, Yasuda Saki, Hosaka Nodoka, Yanai Rina, Ikadai Risa, Fukasawa Risa (capt), Ogawa Shiho
Subs: Yamamoto Naomi (Yanai Rina, 76 mins), Kawamura Noriko (Yasuda Saki, 70 mins), Anzai Yuka (Ikadai Risa, 52 mins)
Unused subs: Sugiura Maki, Sakuramoto Naoko
Scorers: Yanai Rina (22 mins)
Booked: Funada Mayu
Okayama Yunogo Belle:
Fukumoto Miho (capt), Yasuda Kuniko, Kado Yuka, Tsuhako Yumiko, Nagamachi Yuri, Takahashi Haruka, Nakano Manami, Nakagawa Chihiro, Miyama Aya, Arimachi Saori, Matsuoka Miki
Subs: Yamaguchi Mami (Arimachi Saori, 83 mins), Yokoyama Kumi (Nakagawa Chihiro, 88 mins), Sakai Nozomi (Tsuhako Yumiko, 89 mins)
Unused subs: Ikegaya Natsumi, Mizushima Kumi
Scorers: Nakano Manami (7, 73 mins), Arimachi Saori (24 mins), Nakagawa Chihiro (57 mins)
Iga FC Kunoichi 2 - 2 Albirex Niigata Ladies
Both sides had the lead and the chance to win but in the end both will be reasonably satisfied with a point, which keeps them midtable - not in danger of relegation but not going to trouble the top four either. Iga started with Sato Ai for the first time this season, while Niigata did likewise with Hori Yoshie.
Iga dominated the first half but it wasn't until additional time that they took the lead. A corner taken long was punched out by Otomo in the Niigata goal but only as far as Sato, who crossed the ball back in and it was headed home by Matsunaga, with Otomo struggling to get back into position.
Niigata brought in regular starter Yamazaki Marumi for Kodama at half time. Nominally a defender, Yamazaki joined the attack and was to prove her worth in this role. On 73 minutes she scored her first goal, when Otomo launched a deep free kick towards the Iga goal. Kamionobe was first to get a touch, and she played in Yamazaki perfectly and her deft lob over the onrushing Ono was exquisite.
Niigata's second goal also came ultimately from a free kick taken by Otomo. Her initial long ball was cleared but Wakabayashi picked it up in midfield, and her long ball down the right wing found substitute Nakamura in space. Her ball across the face of goal was perfectly weighted for Yamazaki to sidefoot into the roof of the net to the delight of players and coaches alike.
The Kunoichi were not finished though, and in the final minute with just their second chance of the half, found an equaliser. A free kick to the right of the area taken by veteran Miyamoto found Noichi, and her clash with Otomo led to the ball running loose with Nasu Maiko on hand to score her first goal of the season.
Both sides are away next weekend. Niigata will feel they have the easier test as they take on Speranza on Saturday, while a day later Belle welcome Iga to Okayama.
Iga FC Kunoichi:
Ono Maya, Miyasako Tamami, Ono Suzuka (capt), Sato Ai, Yamaguchi Ayako, Kobayashi Makiko, Nasu Maiko, Miyamoto Tomomi, Tsutsumi Saki, Matsunaga Yoshie, Nakade Hikari
Subs: Noichi Aya (Matsunaga Yoshie, 68 mins), Matsunaga Tomoe (Sato Ai, 78 mins), Sakaguchi Sakie (Tsutsumi Saki, 82 mins)
Unused subs: Kuno Fubuki, Fujimoto Ayano
Scorers: Matsunaga Yoshie (45+1 mins), Nasu Maiko (89 mins)
Albirex Niigata Ladies:
Otomo Maiko (capt), Wakabayashi Minori, Nakamura Kaede, Higashiyama Maiko, Hirai Sakina, Yamamoto Arina, Saito Yuri, Kamionobe Megumi, Kodama Keiko, Kubota Mayu, Hori Yoshie
Subs: Yamazaki Marumi (Kodama Keiko, HT), Nakamura Saki (Kubota Mayu, 50 mins)
Unused subs: Suwa Erina, Ichitani Tomoko, Nakaoka Maiko
Scorers: Yamazaki Marumi (73, 83 mins)
Booked: Wakabayashi Minori