|1||Kieran Hallahan (0)|
|2||Alan Yang (0)|
|3||Andy Vaughan (0)|
|4||Lars Rasmussen (0)|
|5||Masaki Sakai (0)|
|6||Romen Barua (0)|
|7||Rick Zwart (0)|
|8||Kei Kusano (0)|
|9||Tom Thurman (0)|
|10||Shotaro Itaya (0)|
|11||Masatsugu Tsukui (0)|
|12||Kyohei Mori (0)|
|Tokyo Panthers FC||8|
|Albion Old Boys FC||0|
It was a close call at 11am on Saturday morning - after a pretty heavy shower we weren't expecting to play. Luckily we got a break and things went ahead.
After switching pitches we were underway, S-3 looking far more grass covered although in some parts too much - a rake would have been useful. Panthers began by passing the ball around neatly and dominating possession early on and kept Albion in their own half. We were expecting a physical Albion side and this resulted in a lot of free kicks throughout, helped perhaps by some going to ground easily at times from the Panthers it must be said. However overall I think the referee had a fair game and made the right calls.
After about 15 minutes some good passing on the Panthers left led to a square ball to Rick Zwart, who was about 25 yards from goal to the left of the penalty box. He hit an early curling shot which caught the keeper a little off guard and as he was retreating to his line could only palm the ball into the goal. Well deserved goal for the big man, usually the provider with his missile throws - his first goal for the Panthers!
Second goal came soon afterwards after good work from the front two - Sho laid the ball off to Tom Thurman who placed a first time through ball in behind the Albion back line. Sho raced on through, but the keeper was quickly off his line (their keeper had a good game throughout, great handling and kicking all game). He ran into a bit of bad luck this time though, his clearance smashed straight into the back of Sho as he closed down well. The rebound went straight into the Albion net from just inside the box.
The rest of the half continued with Panthers shading the midfield battle and moving the ball well, winning a succession of free kicks and corners. Albion were strong in the air and apart from a glancing Rick Zwart header from a corner, they dealt well with the Panthers probing without any real clear chances.
Second half Albion started brightly making their first goal attempts of the game, I remember a shot from Naoki just going over and a volley from their other striker just going wide. They also had a loud penalty appeal for handball which the referee waved away. Panthers matched their direct play with strong, calm defending and continued to attack them with their quick passing and movement. Albion seemed to tire as the second half went on and Panthers were able to expose the space.
Kei was causing problems on the right, he pinged some great crosses and through balls for Ma who scored 4 goals in the second half. Some great finishes. Sho scored one memorable goal as he latched onto a through ball, shrugging off two strong challenges and finishing immaculately into the corner. His third was a great early shot into the left corner.
The second half got scrappy at times as the game became a little heated. A few verbal exchanges that were unnecessary and more fouls and free kicks. I think the referee kept good control of the game, and there weren't too many dangerous tackles despite the high school dialogue. After the game it was all friendly and no issues.
Albion were a tough team to play against and didn't give up until the final whistle. Overall Panthers played a solid game, matching the strength and aggression of the opposition but also playing some great passing football at times.
There were a lot of good individual performances, debutants Mori and Lars had great games, Rick was solid as usual, Kei was particularly dangerous second half - but the attacking players stole the show with some lethal finishing and six goals in the second half between Ma and Sho.
That will most likely be the most grass we ever see on Misato for the remainder of its availability in the TML, but we'll be back next Saturday against BEFC!
Report by Romen Barua
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