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The first half offered little in the way of entertainment, the first minute offering the best chance of a goal with Shibasaki making a horrendous meal of a backpass. Ishii pressured Shibasaki who had all the time in the world, Ishii came closer and Shibasaki completely missed the ball when trying to clear, Ishii took a shot the ball rebounded off the lucky Shibasaki to Saito who lifted his effort over the bar.
Maranhao got back to his usual "missing when clean through" trick today with the first of his two misses coming in the first 10 minutes, saved by Harihaga in the Ehime goal. Hiroki Kawano was restored to the line up and had a busy game, always looking to take on his man and he probably should have done better with a chested volley from Kikuoka`s raking pass. He also had a speculator come back off the joint after 35 minutes. An all round good comeback from Kawano. In the first half Ehime looked far more likely to score though neither side managed to break the deadlock.
Ehime opened the scoring just after half time with Manabu Saito once again scoring against the Greens. A fast break down the right saw the Verdy defence outnumbered and eventually the ball came across the edge of the box to the extra man Saito who made no mistake, slotting low past Shibasaki. Following this Verdy were able to mount a bit of pressure, Maranhao sending a header straight at Hagihara, he then went on to miss his second one on one with the keeper, missing the ball completely when shooting.......thankfully that was the last of the action for Maranhao with the welcome return of Kazuki "Goal Machine" Hiramoto. Hiramoto was given the last half an hour and did nothing wrong. He didn`t score but he was able to hold the ball up and tidily bring the other players in. More importantly he didn`t miss any open goals, one on ones, or fall over every time he got the damn ball.
Verdy were to get one back through Takuma Abe for his seventh of a breakout season for him. He had been anonymous for the whole game prior to his goal and he met Kawano`s inswinging free kick well for a powerful header from six yards. He`s a strange player Abe. He isn`t particularly fast, he isn`t particularly skillfull not in the Kawano sense of the word anyway, he isn`t particularly big or particularly powerful yet he keeps scoring. Left foot, right foot, headers, tap ins, long rangers, penalties. The lot. He has a knack at the moment of being in the right place at the right time and finishing his chances. Nice one Takuma!! So, Verdy were back in the game and looked to be the more likely to go on and win it. Until Yusuke Mori gave away a penalty on the edge of the box with 5 minutes to go. Definate penalty and yellow card for Mori to boot. Saito scored it and even with SEVEN minutes of injury time Verdy were unable to force an equaliser though Abe was again close with another header coming back off the bar in the final minutes.
Yusuke Mori was involved with some handbags with Saito at the final whistle and didn`t line up for the usual handshakes so seemingly something was going on there. Just as the action was starting the camera quickly cut to a crowd shot so I couldn`t really see much. Maybe Saito knocked him out on a one inch punch as Mori didn`t line up for the handshakes but Saito did. Hope so!
Oita Trinita at Ajinomoto next and with a "Bring a Friend For Free" ticket promotion for Verdy Fan Club Members, hopefully a bigger than normal crowd to see it. Tokyo Nerdy will be there how about you??
Onwards and Upwards The Boys March On!!