Misato, Sat 21st April. The Geckoes took on BFC in the first of the Footy Japan Cup Semi Finals at Misato on Saturday. Even though BFC started the game with just 11 players and one of them was hungover, as runaway league leaders they were very much the favourites for the match and were no doubt expecting an easy route to the final.
Before we get into the events of the day, it’s important we clear up one nasty rumour that’s doing the rounds. It’s been alleged that the BFC captain, Jon Day, was being plied drinks by the Geckoes players before the game. This is simply not true. It was only one player and he wasn’t playing the next day, the rest of the players were all safely tucked in bed before the game. Jon Day has actually gone on the record as saying: "It was a nice gesture from Brommie (a newlywed himself) to buy me a drink, albeit the biggest shot of Tequila I've ever seen in my life, to celebrate my upcoming wedding and it in no way detracted from my game - I think pre and post-bonding between TML players is a beautiful thing..."
Anyway, back to the events on the pitch
Things started well for the Geckoes as captain Spencer won the first of three tosses and BFC had to wear the bibs. He won the next toss as well meaning the Geckoes had the advantage of the wind in the first half. They started brightly but it was BFC that created the first clear cut chance when Jon Day, in his last game of football as a single man, was clean through only to be denied by a smart save from Rob to his right and the ball went out for a corner.
Again the Geckoes continued to press but failed to create any clear cut opportunities and it was BFC who took the lead. A ball was played over the top and the flying Shosuke managed to get his head there before either Ian or Rob and the ball looped into the empty net. And for the umpteenth time this season, the Geckoes had played well but were unfortunate to be going into half time a goal down.
The second half started just like the first with the Geckoes on top but BFC having the first clear chance of the half when Alastair Himmer was clean through but shot tamely at Rob.
The Geckoes were shortly back on level terms after a cross from the left was missed by the BFC defence and Kosuke Itamura scored a cracking debut goal for the Geckoes. Game on!
The Geckoes continued to press but couldn’t create any clear opportunities and BFC were restricted to a couple of shots from free kicks. Quentin, who had an excellent game, brought the half to a close and it was on to 15 minutes of Golden Goal Extra Time.
Top Tosser Spencer won for the third time and again decided to take the advantage of the wind, this despite the fact that both goals had been scored into the wind.
BFC were clearly tiring by this stage and it was the Geckoes on top with the younger and fitter Japanese lads causing all sorts of problems.
With 5 minutes to go, Kosuke Kitamura picked the ball up in midfield, played a one-two with Kazu and before you had time to wonder what on earth the left back was doing that far forward, he was calmly rounding the keeper and slotting the ball into the empty net.
Queue pandemonium as the Geckoes players and subs jumped on Kosuke as we celebrated reaching the first final in the club’s history.
It was a fully deserved victory built on a very solid performance from the back 4, a midfield that never gave up and forwards who seemed to cover every blade of grass (and grain of sand).
Bring on the final.
Report by Rob Manager