Nittaidai Football Club Ladies 1 - 2 Iga FC Kunoichi
Goals in additional time at the end of either half gave Iga an away victory and all of the impetus they will feel they need to get a similar result in the second leg to keep them in the top division. The first half was an even contest, with Nittaidai looking to beat Iga's offside trap - though largely failing - while Iga's on-loan American Kristie Mewis wasn't shy about taking every chance she got to shoot at goal.
Nittaidai looked good for a lead at half-time after Uemura Shoko had put them ahead with a fine goal in the forty-third minute, but the students' defence lacked alertness in additional time, allowing Haji Madoka to score from a strike down the right, with Mewis assisting.
In the second half Iga asserted their superiority on the game and created far more chances, though Nittaidai were always dangerous on the counter-attack, particularly down the left wing. Just when it seemed that the game would end in a 1-1 draw, Mewis took a speculative shot from the right which caught Inoue Nene off her line, and with just seconds remaining the Iga players and supporters were understandably ecstatic.
Iga are likely to receive another boost with the return of Rachel Van Hollebeke in defence, and with her ability and experience the Kunoichi will feel their one-goal lead and two-away-goal advantage enough of a platform to see them survive.
Nittaidai Football Club Ladies:
Inoue Nene, Sakurai Mayuka, Haza Hisui, Nozu Erika, Yamakawa Natsuki, Ishii Chiharu, Goto Ami, Enokidani Misaki, Ito Yukina (capt), Uemura Shoko, Hirata Hikari
Subs: Fuse Kanako (Ishii Chiharu, 83 mins), Nagashima Hikari (Goto Ami, 89 mins)
Unused subs: Matsuda Kasumi, Abe Rie, Matsunaga Saki, Kitano Rie, Maeda Risa
Scorers: Uemura Shoko (43 mins)
Booked: Enokidani Misaki
Iga FC Kunoichi:
Kuno Fubuki, Yamaguchi Ayako, Miyasako Tamami, Nasu Maiko (capt), Ohashi Mio, Matsunaga Tomoe, Sugita Ami, Haji Madoka, Matsunaga Yoshie, Tsutsumi Saki, Kristie Mewis
Subs: Kobayashi Makiko (Haji Madoka, 78 mins), Noichi Aya (Matsunaga Yoshie, 86 mins)
Unused subs: Sawada Norimi, Michikura Hiroko, Ogawa Shiho
Scorers: Haji Madoka (45+1 mins), Kristie Mewis (90+2 mins)