28-29/10/2000 Kawaguchi-ko Soccer Festival
The trip report can be seen on the Upupaepops page.
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08/10/2000 Kanto 22 - LeGazza 2
The originally scheduled three team tournament in preparation for the Kawaguchi-ko trip at the end of October was replaced by a single 7-a-side game against an understrength LeGazza team at Kita-Moto Sogo Undo-koen, and the 'Kanto Eight' who will be travelling to Yamanashi Prefecture set about their final training game in tremendous form.
With Jerry Colthup unavailable, and Rowan Chandran making his impressive debut in a yellow shirt, the Kanto side dominated for the whole game on their 'lucky' ground, interchanging positions and passing the ball with consumate ease to the embarrassment of their opposition.
Yoshi Morishita stepped into the LeGazza team to even the sides up, but even his unnerving presence couldn't halt the yellow machine from demolishing an opposition for their largest ever winning margin.
Every on-field player got on the score sheet, Alan Hill, Martin Hill and Rowan Chandran all scored once, Neil Willis scored a hat-trick, Alex Yardley claimed four, James Knight five, and Brian Malone six, and goalkeeper Mike Coleman came close with a header from a corner late on, but in trying to repeat the move ended up conceding a second to a well-taken break-away goal.
The overall movement and team ethic was in place from the first period, and although the score was only 5-1, Kanto were showing an understanding not seen for some time, after the second period the LeGazza capitulation was complete, and an eleven goal haul in the final period finished off the surgical display.
To be fair, the Kanto hard work was made easier by an uninspired LeGazza showing, who will be more than disappointed with their part in an unexpectedly one-sided affair, mustering only a fraction of the goal chances created by Kanto, and failing to grasp the midfield movement of Malone, and the running of Mssrs. Hill, Hill, Yardley, Chandran, and Knight alongside the firm covering of Willis at the back.
If Kanto are to impress in Kawaguchi-ko, they will have to face sides far superior, and be prepared to dig deeper into their arsenal of skills and tricks than they were called to do in Kita-Moto, but for a morale-booster, a twenty goal win against any team is impressive.
24/09/2000 Kanto 3 - Kumagaya ACT 3
With the scheduled opponents, Taiheiyo Cement, unable to fulfill the fixture, Kumagaya Arakawa Calcio Team (ACT) stood in, and on a large, flat, muddy surface at Kumagaya Sports' Ground came back from the dead to clinch a draw against a flowing, inspired Kanto.
In front of a huge crowd for a few seconds an hour, when the nearby bullet trains sped past, Kanto got off to a flying start themselves when James Knight scored within a minute. Knight ,who was playing his first game for over six months after being the team's top scorer last year, raced onto a perfect through ball and nestled the ball in the net to give an undermanned Kanto team some confidence after a recent poor spell.
The glory was short-lived however, as almost immediately ACT equalised with a well-worked move down their left, and found enough space to rifle a shot into the far corner.
Gradually the game settled down with Kanto taking firm control in midfield, and the more the midfield relaxed and passed the ball around, the less likely they seemed to concede another with Matt Watson playing an accomplished game at centre-back.
The second quarter saw some of the best football Kanto have played for a long time, with ACT limited to just two shots, and the outstanding Jerry Colthup finding both pace and space to unnerve the home side's defence. Colthup scored after 6 minutes of the second quarter's kick-off, and Kanto should have been cruising by the time Richard Tuley slotted home the third right on half-time. The hard-working Tuley looked more comfortable than in his previous starts, and he and Knight up front were being rewarded with the opportunities created by Alan Hill, Alex Yardley, Colthup and the energetic Neil Willis behind them, and by the surging runs of Watson from the back.
The third period continued in much the same vein, two Japanese guests, Nobu and Tomo, along with occasional Kanto player Yoshi Morishita came into the game more, and although there were no goals, Kanto were dominant, and had more chances to extend their advantage, with ACT struggling to find any rhythm at all. Despite all their possession, Kanto were lucky to still be two goals up at the 3/4 stage following a turned down penalty claim after Willis had scythed down an ACT forward in the box, and goalkeeper Mike Coleman had made an incredible save from a 25 yard shot curling into the top corner.
The last quarter saw the tiring Kanto side face a fresh set of legs as ACT brought on three substitutes, and despite playing solidly Kanto were unable to stop two break-away goals in as many minutes, although the second had more than a hint of handball about it, and the game was level at 3-3.
As disappointing as it was to be dragged back at the end, the Kanto spirits were relatively high, knowing that they had given a solid performance, and the fact that there was even a game at all following two days of heavy rain in the Tokyo area.
Team: Coleman, guest, guest, Morishita, Watson, Colthup, Yardley, Willis, A.Hill, Knight, Tuley.
10/09/2000 Kanto 0 - Kaneshin FC 3
Only the goalkeeper stood between Kanto and a result in a sultry Toda. Unfortunately, it was their own.
All the goals came in an abysmal second half for Mike Coleman, which killed off any hope Kanto had of receiving anything from an otherwise evenly fought contest against a tidy Kaneshin side.
The first goal was an easy tap-in after Coleman failed to make any contact with a bouncing through ball, the second came after he failed to hold on to the ball after committing himself to dive at the on-coming forward's feet, and by the time an own goal leaked into the far corner of the net after a deflection with minutes remaining, the match was essentially over.
Coming back after their summer break, Kanto had looked fairly competent until the first goal, in a game where both sides had good spells of possession football, and were trying to play the ball around the vast playing surface.
Martin Hill and Jerry Colthup were lively up front, and were being supported well from the midfield, where Neil Willis and Paul Noel were acting as the engine room, and Alex Yardley and Alan Hill the production line for balls into the danger zone.
Although scoreless at half-time, it was an encouraging return to action.
A slight change in tactics for the second half made the game slightly more open, as Kanto changed to three at the back, Dave Leverick was pushed into the gap in front of the defence, leaving Matt Watson alone in the central position behind him. For a time, Kanto were using the extra man in midfield well, but would always be susceptible to quick counter attacks, with a lack of cover at the back.
Willis, Noel, M. Hill, Yardley, Colthup and Leverick all had chances to put their names on the scoresheet, but Hamish Daya, Watson, and the guest player were being outnumbered at the back when Kaneshin received the ball.
After hitting the bar and the upright, which signalled the beginning of the goalkeeping video nasty, one of the Kaneshin counter attacks opened the scoring, and the movement and possession Kanto had enjoyed suddenly stopped. After the second went in, any chance of a draw disappeared, which for the most part was deserved.
Team: Coleman, guest, Watson, Leverick, Daya, Yardley, Noel, Willis, A.Hill, Colthup, M.Hill.
30/07/2000 Kanto 5 - Sanwa Shutter 1
After a disappointing July, Kanto finally got back to winning ways with a workman-like performance against Tokyo company, Sanwa Shutter at Kita-Moto Sogo Undo koen.
The game, which was played as an eight-a-side, four twenty-minute period contest on a shortened pitch, to allow for officials and some respite from the summer sun, kept a consistent tempo, and the result never seemed in jeopardy.
The first period finished 0-0 as both teams tried to come to terms with the available space, the high bounce of the ball, and the afternoon heat, but Kanto, who would run the midfield throughout the game, created the better chances, and should have been comfortably ahead at the break.
The second period saw the tight defence of Street, Scrimgeour and Morishita hold firm, and the midfield of Yardley, Leverick, Sasaki, Hill and Colthup continue where they had left off.
The deadlock was broken when some skilful work by Sasaki led him to a shooting opportunity, and the Sanwa goalkeeper, who would be in good form throughout the game, failed to stop the ball finding the net. Yardley rifled in a second goal following some hard work by Leverick, and then had a header cleared off the line, as Kanto began to dominate, and take a two-goal cushion into half-time.
The third period continued to see chances being made by the lively midfield, and Leverick was finally rewarded for his tenacity as he steered in the third.
The final period saw a rare foray into the Kanto box by Sanwa produce an unorthodox and unexpected goal, before Kanto had their best spell of the game, scoring twice through Leverick and Colthup, who slotted the ball past the hapless goalkeeper to round off an assured victory.
The return of Sasaki (wearing the boots of Japan U-23 International, Nagai!) to the team gave Kanto that extra edge, but the all round improvement in passing and movement from the week previous was most noticeable. If only Kanto could finish more of their attacks off..............
Team: Coleman, Scrimgeour, Street, Morishita, Yardley, Sasaki, Colthup, Hill, Leverick.
23/07/2000 Kanto 2 - Mingalaba 5
The Kanto team experienced a footballing low in the dusty environment of Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo just three days after one of their best ever displays.
The four twenty-minute period game on the hard, gravelly surface started well for Kanto who had the better chances, and finally notched a goal from Yardley following a Hill corner. This was followed by a shot cum cross by Willis which agonisingly came off the bar.
The second period remained close, as Mingalaba changed their players around to accomodate their huge squad, and the score remained 1-0 until a breakaway goal right at the end levelled the game up.
The third period started in much the same way, with Kanto grabbing their second when after some neat work in the middle of the park, Dennison was set free and he scored with a strong right foot shot. Unfortunately the lead, and then the game disappeared when the Burmese team scored three times in quick succession to end the period 4-2 up. The first was powerfully headed in from a corner off both a defender on the line and the crossbar, the second looped despairingly into the corner of the net from about six yards out as the inconsistent bounce caught out the defence, and the third was just a comedy of errors, which was well finished with a lob over the stranded goalkeeper. There was still time for Mingalaba to see another of their chances cleared off the line before the period concluded.
The fourth and final period saw only one goal as Kanto became desperate to add to their tally, and with players pushing forward, the Mingalaba front-line strode through the defence, and with the help of a lucky ricochet, and a defender on the line, ended the contest.
The disappointing defending, poor movement and marking, and lack of an out-and-out goalscorer up front led Kanto to their longest losing streak for 16 months, and served to remind them that on their day, like any team, they can be highly entertaining, or highly lacklustre.
Team: Coleman, Daya, Durman, Street, Scrimgeour, Dennison, Yardley, Willis, A.Hill, Tuley, Reynolds.
20/07/2000 Kanto 1 - Omiya City Hall 2
What a difference a year makes. Twelve months ago, Kanto were played off the park by a side who had come third in the Japanese City Hall Cup the previous year, but at Horisaki koen, Owada last night, the new look Kanto side fought back admirably to almost earn a deserved draw in a game of high tension and full-blooded determination.
The first half was played out in midfield, with both sides looking to find a way to break the deadlock. City Hall were given a couple of free-kicks on the edge of the box as the game began to open up slightly, and Kanto began to concede a string of fouls. However, some confident goalkeeping by Coleman and some tight marking by Scrimgeour and Street in defence kept the game scoreless at half-time, after City Hall had hit the bar and Daya was within inches of heading a Kanto goal following some good work by Malone in the opposing area.
The second half was an entirely different game, as the City Hall fitness began to tell, and the Kanto midfield found some space, Leverick moved into midfield and Pearson, playing his last game in the yellow jersey of Kanto, moved back into the defence. Willis, Yardley, Hill, Malone and Reynolds, making his debut, ran tirelessly in pursuit of a goal, and Daya and Jennings who alternated at right back following the unfortunate first-half injury to Noel, ably assisted Street and Scrimgeour at the back.
The mood of the game swung as City Hall, who clearly believed they should have been leading, became frustrated, and as more space became available to both teams, so the ferocity of the tackles increased, and the referee was forced to warn both sides to calm things down.
The instigator of much of the bad blood, the City Hall playmaker, finally broke the stalemate when a beautifully flighted ball found him clear of the Kanto defence, and after controlling the ball well on his chest, slotted it into the corner of the net.
The game continued to be well refereed as free-kick after free-kick was given for a whole manner of fouls, and the City Hall playmaker continued his running battle with the Kanto back-four. Both sides created chances, but some quality defending by City Hall and solid goalkeeping by Coleman kept the score at 1-0.
With five minutes remaining, a good Kanto move set Yardley free on the left, and his perfectly crossed ball found Willis free in the box to head home the equaliser, and send the supporters into a frenzy.
Just after the goal, the City Hall playmaker finally lost control, and following a hearty challenge from Scrimgeour, he petulantly kicked him in the chest. With the tension spiralling, and a melee of players surrounding the referee, the referee had no choice but to dismiss him, and remind both teams that this was a friendly encounter.
The game had barely re-started when City Hall scored the winner after some hesitant defending by Kanto, and despite the greatest of efforts to restore the parity, time was not on Kanto's side and the final whistle was blown.
A valiant effort, and a very exciting game for those who watched it.
Team: Coleman, A.Hill, Scrimgeour, Street, Leverick, Yardley, Willis, Pearson, Noel (Daya) (Jennings), Reynolds, Malone.
09/07/2000 Kanto 2 - Mingalaba 3
WITH six regular players unavailable, and three more not turning up on the day, the sub-par Kanto side with three new players and a couple of guests in the team put in a sub-par performance, and with the lack of a referee or linesmen present, some exceptionally sub-par decisions led to a very disappointing result.
The three-20 minute period contest was all-square at the first break, after both teams had created chances, but neither was able to finish them off. The return of Dave Leverick in midfield and the display of Alex Yardley as an uncharacteristic centre-back were reasons to be optimistic, but the constant off-side calls against Richard Tuley and Neil Willis up front were a painful reminder that the rule has various interpretations around the globe.
It was to that end that the game began to turn. The friendly Burmese disputed every through ball, and dubiously took the lead after one of their own through passes found a man clear of the defence, who had the simple task of slotting the ball home past the unconvincing Mike Coleman in goal.
A free-kick halfway inside the Kanto half was taken by Coleman, and with a flick on by Willis, the ball was executed from 25 yards by an on-running Leverick who lobbed the out-coming goalkeeper, and the scores were level.
Another goal by Mingalaba after some poor defending restored their advantage, which should have been cancelled out after another Leverick strike, but, almost expectedly, it was disallowed for off-side, and despite some fine build up play in midfield from player/manager Alan Hill, Leverick and Willis, the opponents defence was remaining static at any attempt to slice them open.
The third period saw another free-kick go over-the-top into the Mingalaba box, and with the running timed perfectly, although naturally disputed, Willis chested it down for debutant Tuley to score Kanto's second 'legitimate' goal of the game, and tie the score.
A string of corners led to the winner after Coleman failed to hold on to the ball at the far post, and a Burmese forward had the simplest of tasks in putting the ball in the net.
The final whistle sounded a few minutes early, by which time the heat and the length of the grass had taken its toll on the players, and the frustration of being so close to a result despite the controversial tactics of the opposition and the overall poor level of performance began to sink in.
Team: Coleman, Daya, Yardley, A.Hill, Leverick, Willis, Tuley, guest (Foster), guest (Noel), guest.
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Revised: October 30, 2000 .