A squad plagued with injuries, travel and hangovers showed as Hotspurs narrowly lost out to the Japanese in a 9 goal thriller at Turf City. Hotspurs, wearing their new all orange away kit, were short on players today, and it didn’t help when club captain Jones and centre mid Farnham went off early in the first half injured. Neither team created much in the first quarter, but Nippon went in 1-0 at the water break after a long range shot somehow found the back of the net. Hotspurs pulled it back to 1-1 on the 30 minute mark. Skinners corner fell to Hearn near the edge of the box - Hearn took a touch to bring it down and strike a lovely left foot half volley into the top corner. Nippon grabbed another just before the half time whistle, much to the frustration of the team in orange, who went into the break with heads down. It didn’t get better after the break. Nippon extended their lead to 3-1 - another strike from outside the area from the midfield. But Hotspurs reacted well and pulled one back almost straight from the kick off. An ever-energetic Skinner hassling the defender down the right hand side, saw him the nick the ball off the defender and put in a great cross across the box, for substitute Addy Cutts to slot home from 4 yards. Momentum was stunted though, as Hotspurs let Nippon in again. Loosing the ball in their own third, Nippon broke down the right hand side into the box, passing the ball across for the striker to tap in. With 10 minutes to play, Hotspurs bounced back once again. A long throw in by Hearn wasn’t cleared, and it fell to him again on the left foot volley. The strike hit a Nippon defender on the back and deflected into the goal. 4-3. Hotspurs couldn’t capitalise. Once again letting Nippon extend their lead. This time an excellent finish from the Nippon midfielder, bending the ball into the bottom corner from range. Hotspurs gave themselves a lifeline in stoppage time when Hearn picked up his hattrick. Another goal from the right hand side, skinner laid it back to Nick K who’s shot across the box was cooly flicked on by Hearn, with the ball sneaking in off the post. Sadly it wasn’t enough. The final minutes played out and Hotspurs lost 5-4. Well played to Nippon, in a fair and well thought contest. Hotspurs now have a week off, giving some much needed time off for a very injured squad.
Although small, FC NIPPON brought a very fit squad with the ability to play aggressively for 90minutes. The pitch was so hot when the game started at 1500, so NIPPON decided to use many passes and move the ball widely to save their energy and make the opponent tired which turned out to be the right strategy. In the first quarter, Nippon's new face, Jo, scored a beautiful goal from a middle range shot outside of the penalty area. However, HOTSPURS reacted very well. The number 66 managed to squeeze in a tricky shot inside the penalty area after collecting a loose ball from a corner kick. Nippon followed their initial strategy and kept moving the ball while attacking from both sides leveraging their young dribblers. The second goal was borne by Nippon, thanks to the great combination and delivery from Ryuhei and Taku. It wasn't that difficult for Takuya to smash it into the empty goal. Both teams made a few chances but the score didn't move anymore in the first half. The second half was a very competitive one with in total 6 goals borne. It started from Nippon where Nara scored a wonderful middle range shot that made a beautiful curve. HOTSPURS reacted soon after the water break by using their right side and managed to score a goal from a side attack. Nippon though remained focused and reacted with another goal from a quick counter attack where Jo delivered a great pass to Yachi who had to just redirect the ball to the goal net. Again, HOTSPURS reacted very well by gaining another goal from a long throw-in. Nippon was uncomfortable with this situation and wanted to change the mood when Jo scored his second goal today from another great middle range shot. The score became 5-3 with only 10minutes left and Nippon started to use as much time as they can, but HOTSPURS never gave up the game. They made tireless efforts and managed to score their 4th goal again from a side attack from their right side. However, Nippon was eager to win today after losing 3 games since league commencement and they managed to close the game with 5-4. Overall, super competitive and great fighting spirits both sides. Well played! Special thanks to the Referees who effectively managed the game which was very clean till the end. Thank you all.