Iga FC Kunoichi 1 - 1 JEF United Ichihara Chiba Ladies
In appalling conditions in typhoon-hit Mie, Iga and JEF United took a point each though both will have been unhappy at not claiming all three. Iga scored early in the game. Tsutsumi played a short corner to Kellond-Knight who returned the pass, and Tsutsumi then found Kobayashi free in the box. Her shot on goal was parried out by Yamane only as far as Michikura, who scored her second goal of the season from close range.
Iga held the lead until the eighth minute of the second half, when Hosaka Nodoka scored her second of the season after players from both sides failed to get a clean strike on the ball.
JEF United had much the better of the second half thereafter, but couldn't find a way through on the waterlogged pitch and had to settle for a point.
Iga finish the weekend in ninth place, three points behind Saitama, who beat INAC Kobe. Their last Regular Series game is against Niigata, who still retain slim hopes of finishing top. JEF United play Vegalta Sendai at home needing to win to join the top six. Any other result and they fight for relegation.
Iga FC Kunoichi:
Kuno Fubuki, Miyasako Tamami, Michikura Hiroko, Ohashi Mio, Elise Kellond-Knight, Nasu Maiko (capt), Matsunaga Tomoe, Kobayashi Makiko, Tsutsumi Saki, Matsunaga Yoshie, Ogawa Shiho
Subs: Sato Ai (Matsunaga Tomoe, 62 mins), Haji Madoka (Matsunaga Yoshie, 71 mins)
Unused subs: Sawada Norimi, Kiyohara Marie, Sugita Ami, Tameka Butt, Sonomura Nana
Scorers: Michikura Hiroko (8 mins)
Booked: Matsunaga Tomoe
JEF United Ichihara Chiba Ladies:
Yamane Erina, Wakabayashi Minori, Sakuramoto Naoko (capt), Chino Shoko, Ueno Saki, Hosaka Nodoka, Setoguchi Kozue, Kawamura Mari, Fukasawa Risa, Ikadai Risa, Sugasawa Yuika
Subs: Anzai Yuka (Setoguchi Kozue, HT)
Unused subs: Nemoto Mio, Tsurumi Ayaka, Oya Madoka, Matsuura Nagisa, Shimada Ayako, Kamogawa Miho
Scorers: Hosaka Nodoka (53 mins)
Booked: Ueno Saki
Nippon TV Beleza 3 - 0 FC Kibikokusaidaigaku Charme
Kibi held out until into the second half against Beleza in Hiratsuka, before the home side turned their superior play into goals and in the end ran out deserved winners.
Momiki Yuka followed up on her goal against INAC Kobe with the first in this game to break the deadlock in the 59th minute. Ariyoshi Saori fed half-time substitute Yamaguchi Mami and her quick pass to Momiki saw her unleash a powerful shot which beat Morimoto in the Kibi goal.
The second goal in the 77th minute also came courtesy of Ariyoshi, whose corner kick played into the area was lashed home by Beleza's top scorer Sakaguchi Mizuho. Beleza's third and final goal came in the 90th minute when Kobayashi Yayoi's speculative shot was knocked into the air by Morimoto who was unlucky in catching the ball when it had already crossed the goal line.
Beleza have a chance at winning the Regular Series with victory over Saitama, but need Urawa to slip up against INAC Kobe. Kibi's last game is at home against Belle in the Okayama derby.
Nippon TV Beleza:
Soyama Kanako, Shimizu Risa, Kinoshita Shiori, Iwashimizu Azusa (capt), Ariyoshi Saori, Hara Natsuko, Sakaguchi Mizuho, Sumida Rin, Momiki Yuka, Nakasato Yu, Tanaka Mina
Subs: Yamaguchi Mami (Tanaka Mina, 57 mins), Hasegawa Yui (Nakasato Yu, 74 mins), Kobayashi Yayoi (Sumida Rin, 81 mins)
Unused subs: Yamashita Ayaka, Doko Mayo, Kobayashi Miharu, Shimada Chiaki
Scorers: Momiki Yuka (59 mins), Sakaguchi Mizuho (77 mins), Kobayashi Yayoi (90 mins)
FC Kibikokusaidaigaku Charme:
Morimoto Kiyo, Nagano Momoko, Noma Fumika, Muramatsu Mafuyu, Asai Sakura, Tajima Mitsuyo, Oka Misako, Takano Saki (capt), Nishikawa Asuka, Hamamoto Marin, Kurakazu Shiho
Subs: Takahashi Chiho (Hamamoto Marin, 78 mins), Kadota Rui (Tajima Mitsuyo, 79 mins)
Unused subs: Eguchi Mika, Takatsuka Ayane, Komatsu Mina
Vegalta Sendai Ladies 0 - 0 Urawa Red Diamonds Ladies
The typhoon which disrupted football on Saturday moved north on Sunday and in the wet Sendai conditions League leaders Urawa once again failed to find a goal and had to settle for a point from their third consecutive scoreless draw. They stay top, but just by a point from Beleza, two from Belle and three from Niigata.
Urawa play at home on Sunday against INAC Kobe, against whom they won their opening game of the season, a season they have led almost throughout. A win against the champions and they finish top of the Regular Series and gain qualification for the International Women's Club Championship. Any other result leaves them in a vulnerable position.
Vegalta Sendai travel to Chiba to face JEF United, with a win or draw giving them entry to the title race. The loser enters the relegation battle.
Vegalta Sendai Ladies:
Saita Yuki (capt), Sakai Yuki, Yamamoto Risa, Osafune Kana, Sasaki Mayu, Tahara Nozomi, Kawamura Yuri, Uetsuji Yumi, Kakazu Asuka, Hamada Haruka, Ono Hitomi
Subs: Koyama Kie (Ono Hitomi, 63 mins), Takara Ryoko (Kakazu Asuka, 84 mins), Inoue Ayaka (Hamada Haruka, 90+2 mins)
Unused subs: Saito Ayaka, Takahashi Nana, Ideue Asako, Kawashima Haruna
Booked: Kawamura Yuri
Urawa Red Diamonds Ladies:
Hirao Chika, Dozono Ayano, Norimatsu Ruka, Kohata Shiho, Wada Naoko, Shibata Hanae, Naomoto Hikaru, Kishikawa Natsuki, Kato Chika, Kira Chinatsu, Goto Michi (capt)
Subs: Usui Rie (Wada Naoko, HT), Otaki Ami (Kato Chika, HT), Seike Kiko (Kira Chinatsu, 74 mins)
Unused subs: Ikeda Sakiko, Ishii Saki, Sakamoto Riho, Saito Akane
Booked: Kishikawa Natsuki
Okayama Yunogo Belle 0 - 1 Albirex Niigata Ladies
Another hugely disapponting home defeat for Belle - their third in the last five games - has taken the chance to finish top out of their hands. Niigata have performed above expectations this season and having stumbled, have now won five of their last six games to stand just three points off the top.
Kitahara Kana was the unlikely goalscoring heroine for the visitors. Kamionobe Megumi played a short corner to Sakaguchi Moeno who easily beat Kuzuma Riyo to open space to the right of goal and her ball across the face of goal was turned in by Kitahara for her first goal of the season.
Belle's loss means that they need results everywhere else to go their way for them to finish top. They will fully expect a win over Kibi in Okayama City in their final meeting this season. Niigata can finish top, but will realistically be happy with a home win over Iga on the last day and a good top four finish.
Okayama Yunogo Belle:
Fukumoto Miho (capt), Kado Yuka, Hosokawa Motoyo, Mizushima Kumi, Takahashi Sachie, Kuzuma Riyo, Nakano Manami, Miyama Aya, Asano Miki, Arimachi Saori, Matsuoka Miki
Unused subs: Taniguchi Kikumi, Tanaka Mayu, Kawano Saki, Fushiki Kaho, Kitaura Miho, Nakada Maiko
Albirex Niigata Ladies:
Ichitani Tomoko, Sayama Momoko, Kitahara Kana, Yamamoto Arina, Kojima Miku, Takahashi Haruka, Saito Yuri, Sakaguchi Moeno, Kamionobe Megumi (capt), Saeki Aya, Oishi Sayaka
Subs: Kubota Mayu (Oishi Sayaka, 62 mins), Yamada Shoko (Saeki Aya, 77 mins), Kodama Keiko (Sakaguchi Moeno, 84 mins)
Unused subs: Koganemaru Sachie, Obara Yuria
Scorers: Kitahara Kana (69 mins)
Booked: Sakaguchi Moeno
INAC Kobe Leonessa 0 - 1 AS Elfen Saitama
With all four of the weekend's other games already played, INAC Kobe went into this game knowing that they would be very likely to finish in the top six, but were unlikely to finish higher than fifth. They still needed to win, of course, though made changes to their lineup. In view of Clare Polkinghorne's return to Australia, she was dropped to the bench and Watanabe moved back into defence, with Minamiyama coming into the midfield.
Saitama pressed well in the early stages and took the surprise lead in the thirteenth minute through Ito Kanako, as she powered home a free kick past the despairing dive of Kaihori. INAC Kobe attempted to reply quickly with Sawa getting onto the end of a Nakajima free kick knocked into the box though the veteran midfielder couldn't connect well enough to beat Saitama's goalkeeper Yamago Nozomi.
Azami and Nara both had chances as Saitama found more space than they could have possibly expected, but were unable to finish well. INAC were passing the ball competently, but Saitama had clearly decided to get stuck in and to disrupt the home side's build up play as much as possible. Recently INAC Kobe have played a more direct style of play, and Saitama's tactic was clearly designed to stop the passes at source.
INAC had a few half chances, with Saitama more creative at the other end. Neither side scored again before half-time, and Saitama went in with a deserved 1-0 lead.
Neither side made a change at half-time, though both were already tiring in the high humidity. Early in the half, Yamago raced out of her area to clear a long ball but handled it and received a booking. The ball ended up in the net but Takase, who scored, was offside. The home side's pressure on the Saitama was increasing with each passing moment and it looked as if it would only be a matter of time before an equaliser was found.
Nakano Rino came on for Suzuki Kaoruko as Saitama made their first change in the 55th minute. Kyokawa was picking up ball after ball on the right wing and was causing the Saitama defence all kinds of trouble but from both open play and set pieces INAC were unable to make their chances count, with some poor crossing allowing the visitors to clear.
Takahashi Kaho came on for Nara in the 61st minute for AS Elfen Saitama, who were shaking at the back but INAC were yet to capitalise. The visitors' opportunities to score had become limited, but they still had potential in Azami, Arakawa and Ito. INAC Kobe soon responded with a change of their own, Minamiyama Chiaki making way for Masuya Rika.
Azami Rie had a good chance to score from a corner kick, for which Arakawa Eriko worked hard, but she headed over. That chance came with eighteen minutes remaining as Saitama continued to play well in midfield while trying to keep things tight at the back. Nakada Ayu came on with seventeen minutes remaining, replacing Watanabe, with the hope that should could open things up on the left wing.
Azami did wonderfully to create a chance for Takahashi, but she couldn't get her shot off and Saitama had to settle for a corner with ten minutes remaining, which was again wasted. INAC started to put pressure on Yamago's goal again, with Sawa and Takase more determined than most to make the difference, but Yamago was equal to every attempt on goal.
The introduction of Ito Miki was INAC's last throw of the dice, as she replaced Kyokawa in the 86th minute, though she made little impact in the remaining minutes. INAC became more and more desperate to get forward, but in midfield Saitama were continuing to make life very difficult and Arakawa consistently posed a threat.
INAC Kobe's last chance in additional time came again from a Nakajima free kick, which Yamago knocked wide for a corner, and when that was claimed by Saitama, the game was over and the exhausted Saitama players could finally celebrate.
INAC Kobe's last game is away to leaders Urawa. They are not yet certain of a place in the top six, though it is extremely unlikely that they won't make it given how much better their goal difference is in comparison to that of JEF United. Saitama play Beleza, who intend to win well as they are still in with a chance of finishing top though their game starts later than the Urawa game.
INAC Kobe Leonessa:
Kaihori Ayumi, Noguchi Ayaka, Kai Junko, Miyake Shiori, Watanabe Ayaka, Isokane Midori, Minamiyama Chiaki, Sawa Homare, Kyokawa Mai, Takase Megumi (capt), Nakajima Emi
Subs: Masuya Rika (Minamiyama Chiaki, 65 mins), Nakada Ayu (Watanabe Ayaka, 74 mins), Ito Miki (Kyokawa Mai, 86 mins)
Unused subs: Takenaka Rei, Clare Polkinghorne
AS Elfen Saitama:
Yamago Nozomi, Takeda Arisa, Saito Natsumi, Takahashi Yuko, Takeyama Yuko, Hagiwara Aimi, Ito Kanako, Nara Misaki, Azami Rie, Arakawa Eriko, Suzuki Kaoruko
Subs: Nakano Rino (Suzuki Kaoruko, 54 mins), Takahashi Kaho (Nara Misaki, 62 mins)
Unused subs: Funada Mayu, Saito Yuri, Sugiyama Takako
Scorers: Ito Kanako (13 mins)
Booked: Yamago Nozomi