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

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Nadeshiko League First Round

Nippon TV Beleza  5 - 1  AS Elfen Saitama
(Attendance: 1,238)

Beleza eased their way to a 5-1 victory over newly promoted, and renamed, AS Elfen Saitama today to give them a good start to their title challenge. The home side started with Yamashita Ayaka in goal, a first league appearance for the 18-year-old. Kobayashi Yayoi, who missed all of the 2013 season through injury, started on the bench. Saitama brought in newcomers Takeda Arisa, Saito Natsumi and Nakano Rino for their first starts for the club, alongside veterans Yamago, Ito and Arakawa.

Sakaguchi Mizuho scored the season's opening goal in the 31st minute, and with Momiki Yuka following up in the 42nd minute, Saitama's chances of taking a point were looking slim at the break.

Nakasato Yu made it 3-0 just two minutes into the second half, before Saitama finally got a reply, through the reliable Saito Yuri in the 51st minute, though any hopes of a revival were dashed just seven minutes later when Momiki scored again.

The game then petered out as both sides made changes. The crowd was pleased to see the return to action of Kobayashi Yayoi, and Shimada Chiaki also made her debut since joining from Nittaidai. She showed her merit on 90 minutes in scoring the final goal of the afternoon.

Beleza travel to Niigata next Saturday hoping for a repeat performance against another of the league's weaker sides, while Saitama will be desperately hoping to avoid another loss against fellow relegation candidates FC Kibikokusaidaigaku Charme.

Nippon TV Beleza:
Yamashita Ayaka, Takahashi Saori, Doko Mayo, Iwashimizu Azusa (capt), Ariyoshi Saori, Sakaguchi Mizuho, Hara Natsuko, Sumida Rin, Nakasato Yu, Momiki Yuka, Tanaka Mina
Subs: Kobayashi Miharu (Nakasato Yu, 73 mins), Shimada Chiaki (Tanaka Mina, 82 mins), Kobayashi Yayoi (Sumida Rin, 87 mins)
Unused subs: Mochizuki Arisa, Fukumaru Tomoko
Scorers: Sakaguchi Mizuho (31 mins), Momiki Yuka (42, 54 mins), Nakasato Yu (47 mins), Shimada Chiaki (90 mins)

AS Elfen Saitama:
Yamago Nozomi (capt), Takeda Arisa, Takahashi Yuko, Saito Natsumi, Nara Misaki, Ito Kanako, Azami Rie, Suzuki Kaoruko, Saito Yuri, Arakawa Eriko, Nakano Rino
Subs: Uchida Saki (Nakano Rino, HT), Sugiyama Takako (Suzuki Kaoruko, 64 mins), Hagiwara Aimi (Saito Yuri, 86 mins)
Unused subs: Funada Mayu, Utsumi Yui, Segi Aiki, Akitaya Misato
Scorers: Saito Yuri (51 mins)
Booked: Ito Kanako

INAC Kobe Leonessa  2 - 3  Urawa Red Diamonds Ladies
(Attendance: 3,517)

A new-look INAC Kobe, with a number of young players in the starting lineup, were looking for a good start in their quest to win a fourth consecutive title against Urawa, themselves a youthful side. Both sides introduced newcomers, Noguchi Ayaka for INAC Kobe and both Norimatsu Ruka and Usui Rie for Urawa.

Fujita Nozomi had the first decent shot on target for either side early in the game, as Urawa got stuck in and refused to allow INAC to play the game at their pace. With Goebel-Yanez and Kawasumi away in Seattle, and Ji having left for Chelsea, the home side's attacking potential was more limited. Certainly as the game progressed, Urawa had more possession and chances than they would probably have expected. Noguchi Ayaka at right back, the position vacated by Kinga Yukari, was clearly showing her inexperience and Urawa were not slow to try to exploit this.

Urawa had chance after chance and will have been frustrated not to convert any, while for INAC Minamiyama Chiaki was injured after 22 minutes and looked doubtful to continue.

New INAC captain Takase had her first shot on target after 24 minutes, but it was straight into the chest of Ikeda. Kyokawa had one of her own, finding herself free on the left following a deflection off an Urawa defender, as the champions' attack finally found some rhythm.

Having tried to run her injury off, it was clear that Minamiyama could not continue and Masuya Rika came in for her first start in the Nadeshiko League, having missed the 2013 Challenge League season with the JFA Academy Fukushima.

There were very few chances in the rest of the first half, though Urawa did hit the crossbar direct from a corner kick and Kira shot just wide when she really should have scored, Miyake having missed her attempt to head clear. It was scoreless at half-time, but with Urawa looking more like the ones who wanted to score, they were more composed and organised, with INAC looking panicky and hurried.

Sawa Homare was booked in the 49th minute for a trip, as she like many others looked lethargic in the INAC midfield. The game continued to be played at Urawa's pace, as the champions' passing style to which we have become accustomed broke down time and again, and it seemed that many of their players were unsure as to what their role was. Naomoto Hikaru, out of favour in 2013, was having a good game and in the 54th minute produced a good cross to Goto, but she headed straight at Kaihori. This was indicative of how the game was going though, with Urawa continuing to create good chances from many angles, and their level of confidence, so often at a low ebb last season, began to rise considerably.

The goal Urawa's play had been promising finally came in the 58th minute. Kai Junko made a terrible mistake, failing to control the ball and Goto Michi was quick in taking control on the right hand side of the box, and she spotted Kato Chika completely unmarked in the centre who couldn't miss.

Masuya and Takse both had a chance to score, with Takase shooting wide badly after Masuya's shot had been blocked. This came with 28 minutes remaining, and surprisingly INAC's new manager Maeda Koji had made no changes to the lineup, when it looked like his side could do with a shakeup.

INAC had begun to come back strongly, and eventually found an equaliser they barely deserved in the 67th minute. Nakajima found Masuya on the right, who did very well to keep the ball in play, and when she gave a pass to Takase on the right hand side of the area it seemed that the captain had nowhere to go, but she produced an extraordinary shot from a very tight angle to score, much to the relief of her teammates.

Urawa would probably have taken a draw before the game, but would surely have been feeling that they were more deserving of all three points, and looked to attack again and to take the game to INAC. In the 73rd minute they retook the lead through Naomoto Hikaru, who scored a sensational goal from well outside the area, though it may have taken a slight deflection. Shibata had a chance to double the lead just a minute later but shot straight at Kaihori, who hasn't had many days as busy as this in years.

Tanaka Yoko had been mostly ineffective and was replaced by Nakada Ayu in the 75th minute. Masuya Rika had looked the best of the young players for INAC and in the 77th minute produced a fine shot of her own, though Ikeda dealt with it comfortably. Urawa brought on Kishikawa for Kira in the 82nd minute as they looked to close out the game, though it was still they who were doing most of the attacking.

INAC's last throw of the dice was to bring on another newcomer, Ito Miki of Tokiwagi Gakuen, replacing her senpai Kyokawa Mai in the 87th minute. It was her other Tokiwagi senpai who equalised for INAC though, Nakada blasting home left-footed with a first time shot off Takase's cross from the left, and it looked like INAC had rescued a draw with two minutes remaining.

Kato was replaced by 16-year-old Seike Kiko in the final minute, who was only been registered with the league a few days ago, and she produced a fine run and shot demonstrating her confidence, resulting in a corner in additional time. From this, Kaihori could only punch away weakly, and with INAC failing to clear, Naomoto scored with another wonderful strike to give Urawa the lead for good. A final substitution was made by Urawa with seconds remaining, Kurishima coming on for Shibata to run down the clock.

The Urawa players were overjoyed at the final whistle, with Ikeda moved to tears by the result. It was no more than her side deserved, and every team in the league will take huge heart that they too can upset INAC, who must now reorganise and get themselves sorted before next week's trip to Sendai. Urawa are away to Iga and will feel extremely confidently of continuing their 100% start.

INAC Kobe Leonessa:
Kaihori Ayumi, Noguchi Ayaka, Kai Junko, Miyake Shiori, Watanabe Ayaka, Nakajima Emi, Sawa Homare, Minamiyama Chiaki, Tanaka Yoko, Takase Megumi (capt), Kyokawa Mai
Subs: Masuya Rika (Minamiyama Chiaki, 29 mins), Nakada Ayu (Tanaka Yoko, 76 mins), Ito Miki (Kyokawa Mai, 87 mins)
Unused subs: Takenaka Rei, Yamada Maho
Scorers: Takase Megumi (67 mins), Nakada Ayu (88 mins)
Booked: Sawa Homare

Urawa Red Diamonds Ladies:
Ikeda Sakiko, Dozono Ayano, Norimatsu Ruka, Kohata Shiho, Usui Rie, Shibata Hanae, Naomoto Hikaru, Fujita Nozomi, Kato Chika, Kira Chinatsu, Goto Michi (capt)
Subs: Kishikawa Natsuki (Kira Chinatsu, 82 mins), Seike Kiko (Kato Chika, 90 mins), Kurishima Akari (Shibata Hanae, 90+3 mins)
Unused subs: Tajiri Yumi, Ishii Saki, Saito Akane, Otaki Ami
Scorers: Kato Chika (58 mins), Naomoto Hikaru (73, 90+2 mins) 

Vegalta Sendai Ladies  1 - 0  JEF United Ichihara Chiba Ladies
(Attendance: 1,684)

Vegalta Sendai got off to a good start at home ahead of their meeting with INAC Kobe Leonessa, with both newcomers Hamada Haruka and Kawamura Yuri impressing. The weather was poor in Sendai, with incessant rain making conditions difficult, though JEF United's play was so ineffective that it probably would not have made any difference had it been dry.

Sendai attacked strongly from the start, with JEF only managing to create the odd chance at the other end. The visitors had the height of goalkeeper Yamane Erina to thank on a number of occasions,with their former player Kawamura determined to get on the scoresheet. Eventually in the 38th minute, she had the goal she both desired and deserved. A free kick from the right side was was knocked in invitingly by Uetsuji Yumi and Kawamura rose very well to power home a header past Yamane.

With the arrival of the first goal, it looked very unlikely that JEF, who had introduced Wakabayashi Minori and Setoguchi Kozue, would ever find an equaliser. This was to prove the case, as although they did make more headway in the second half, their linkup play was lacking and it seemed that they will need more time playing together to fashion an effective strikeforce. The team only scored fifteen goals last season, and cannot afford to allow points to slip away. They next play at home to Belle; Vegalta as mentioned, take on champions INAC Kobe.

Vegalta Sendai Ladies:
Saita Yuki (capt), Yamamoto Risa, Osafune Kana, Takahashi Nana, Hamada Haruka, Tahara Nozomi, Kawamura Yuri, Uetsuji Yumi, Yasumoto Sawako, Takara Ryoko, Ono Hitomi
Subs: Inoue Ayaka (Ono Hitomi, 79 mins)
Unused subs: Saito Ayaka, Sakai Yuki, Sasaki Mayu, Kakazu Asuka, Ideue Asako, Kawashima Haruna
Scorers: Kawamura Yuri (38 mins)

JEF United Ichihara Chiba Ladies:
Yamane Erina, Wakabayashi Minori, Chino Shoko, Koike Kokoro, Ueno Saki, Anzai Yuka, Setoguchi Kozue, Kawamura Mari (capt), Ikadai Risa, Fukasawa Risa, Sugasawa Yuika
Subs: Hosaka Nodoka (Anzai Yuka, 56 mins)
Unused subs: Nemoto Mio, Tsurumi Ayaka, Sakuramoto Naoko, Matsuura Nagisa

Iga FC Kunoichi  0 - 3  Albirex Niigata Ladies
(Attendance: 511)

Against Takatsuki last season, Yamazaki Marumi took just twenty minutes to score a second-half hat-trick, but she bettered that today, taking just nine minutes to score three against a very shocked Iga side in difficult conditions. Neither side brought in any of their new players as starters.

Yamazaki's first goal came after seven minutes. From a corner kick taken by Kamionobe, the tall Kitahara headed on and Yamazaki was left unmarked at the far post and volleyed home confidently. Five minutes later it was Obara Yuria who was the supplier, crossing from the right to find Yamazaki again poorly challenged and already it seemed that the game was up for Iga.

Just four minutes later the game was over as a contest, as Iga, who last year had one of the best defences in the league, again struggled to clear and when a seemingly harmless ball was swung into the area from the right by Hirai, Iga goalkeeper Kuno Fubuki was possibly confused by the presence of one of her own defenders, but in any case astonishingly failed to take it on the ground, allowing Yamazaki to simply walk the ball into the net.

Iga had only three shots in the entire match, and Niigata could simply play out time. Sugita Ami and Ogawa Shiho both came on for the home side, making their debuts. For Niigata, Yamada Shoko came on to make her first appearance since joining from Beleza.

Iga were seen as dark horses for the title this year, and the nature of this defeat will have been very disappointing. They next host Urawa in a game they dare not lose; Niigata are at home to Beleza and will have to again be at their best if they are to overcome the early league leaders.

Iga FC Kunoichi:
Kuno Fubuki, Miyasako Tamami, Michikura Hiroko, Ohashi Mio, Sato Ai, Matsunaga Tomoe, Nasu Maiko (capt), Kobayashi Makiko, Tsutsumi Saki, Matsunaga Yoshie, Haji Madoka
Subs: Sugita Ami (Matsunaga Yoshie, 32 mins), Ogawa Shiho (Matsunaga Tomoe, HT), Noichi Aya (Tsutsumi Saki, 74 mins)
Unused subs: Sawada Norimi, Kiyohara Marie, Okamoto Rina, Sakumoto Fumika

Albirex Niigata Ladies:
Ichitani Tomoko, Takamura Chisato, Yamamoto Arina, Kitahara Kana, Obara Yuria, Kamionobe Megumi (capt), Saito Yuri, Saeki Aya, Yamazaki Marumi, Kodama Keiko, Hirai Sakina
Subs: Oishi Sayaka (Hirai Sakina, HT), Yamada Shoko (Kodama Keiko, 64 mins), Sakaguchi Moeno (Saeki Aya, 83 mins)
Unused subs: Fukumura Kanae, Sayama Momoko, Shimokawa Saori
Scorers: Yamazaki Marumi (8, 13, 17 mins)
Booked: Takamura Chisato

Okayama Yunogo Belle  2 - 1  FC Kibikokusaidaigaku Charme
(Attendance: 2,585)

For the first of this year's Okayama derbies, Belle introduced four new players, Hosokawa, Kawano, Kuzuma and Asano. Kibi gave a debut to Eguchi Mika, who had been Je Vrille Kagoshima's goalkeeper for the 2012 season, before enrolling in Kibi International University last year.

Belle made a dream start to their campaign, Miyama Aya scoring after less than two minutes. The ball was worked down the right and when Asano's cross was headed out by Takahashi Chiho, Miyama was there in an instant, volleying powerfully into the top left hand corner well out of the reach of Morimoto.

Kibi responded well to going a goal down so early, with Nishikawa Asuka equalising just six minutes later. Kurakazu Shiho played a tidy ball into the box which was picked up by Nishikawa and she turned smartly and chipped the ball over the head of Fukumoto.

Kibi were overwhelmed in terms of possession and chances and in the 68th minute Matsuoka Miki gave the home side the lead for good, heading in from just under the crossbar after Nakano's cross had come back kindly off the crossbar.

An opening day win will have come as a huge relief to the beleagured Belle management, and they must believe that they can win again next week away to JEF United. Kibi have a very important game, even at this early stage, away to Saitama. Both games are on Sunday.

Okayama Yunogo Belle:
Fukumoto Miho (capt), Kado Yuka, Hosokawa Motoyo, Kawano Saki, Mizushima Kumi, Kuzuma Riyo, Nakano Manami, Miyama Aya, Asano Miki, Arimachi Saori, Matsuoka Miki
Unused subs: Hayashizaki Mei, Taniguchi Kikumi, Kitaura Miho, Fushiki Kaho, Tanaka Mayu, Nakada Maiko
Scorers: Miyama Aya (2 mins), Matsuoka Miki (68 mins)

FC Kibikokusaidaigaku Charme:
Morimoto Kiyo, Muramatsu Mafuyu, Takahashi Chiho (capt), Eguchi Mika, Yoshitake Manami, Takano Saki, Takatsuka Ayane, Miyake Ayumi, Kurakazu Shiho, Hamamoto Marin, Nishikawa Asuka
Subs: Adachi Eriko (Miyake Ayumi, 75 mins), Kanbara Misaki (Hamamoto Marin, 75 mins), Tachibana Mami (Takatsuka Ayane, 80 mins)
Unused subs: Isashi Kaede, Nakai Yuna, Tajima Mitsuyo
Scorers: Nishikawa Asuka (8 mins)

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