Nippon started the first half excellent. Everyone knew we only had 11 people, but we started aggressively with a plan to get goals early and make a solid block after that. The strategy seemed working very well in the first quarter. Nippon got a goal from a free kick. Tom quickly received a pass after the foul and delivered a low cross from the left where Koichiro ran into the point and scored a beautiful one. The team controlled the game very well after that, almost shutting out every threats. However, the game suddenly changed after one apparent foul was ignored and Gaelic managed to deliver a feed to a free forward. The forward easily won the 1 on 1 with the keeper and scored the equaliser. This was very disappointing to the team as the linesman was waving his flag to appeal that foul, but there was sadly no VAR in Cosmo. The game didn't move much after the equaliser in the first half, but the second half was too harsh for the Japanese eleven. Gaelic gradually got the control from long balls and they managed to get a goal leveraging their physical strength. Some injuries accelerated this situation and Nippon started to struggle to defend as usual. Gaelic scored their third goal from an excellent header (from a free kick). Nippon got a goal soon after from a beautiful long shot by Tom, but it couldn't change the momentum in Gaelic. Many.players were exhausted and there were no players to substitute while Gaelic kept sending fresh players to the pitch. One after another, Gaelic created threats and scored. Overall l, the game ended 2-6. A well deserved victory for Gaelic and an obvious learning for Nippon that one cannot win if you only have 11 men in Cosmo games. The referees were absolutely perfect although we had a big question mark on the equaliser.
Of all the kick off times in this league the 3 pm Saturday is the most unforgiving when you don't quite have the squad together so hats off and total respect for Nippon who had the bare 11 on the day and more than made of a match of it. So much so they would open up the scoring, Lions switched off at a set piece well worked by Nippon. A quick ball down the left outside of the boot across the box and a confident finish 1-0 Nippon. Gaelic where well in the game however and a deserved equalizer did arrive before the half, a brilliant through ball which Sean latched onto, one of them he had plenty of time to over think it but a very cool finish for a deserved equalser. 1-1 at the half. With the Lions welcoming back a few players from injury it was a seriously strong bench and being able to bring on Gezza and Hans at half time knowing Nippon had no subs to make was a big advantage to the lions. We also had Churchie still up our sleeve who would also come on and help strengthen the back 4 and see the game out. The goals started to come as Nippon started to tire , Ronan with a great finish and then 3-1 pretty soon after that. If we thought that was job done well we were proved wrong as Nippon grabbed a 2nd to make it 3-2 and ensure Gaelic knew we where still in a game here. Eventually however Nippon would inevitably run out of steam and we where able to see the game out 6-2 with another from Sean and 2 great finishes for Daire for his first in the league for Gaelic, a real cheery on top for us and many more to come from Daire in this league. Nothing but admiration for Nippon who battled hard all day and got through the 3pm Scorcher with their first 11. Gaelic had one ruled out at 1-1 I thought Chris was just stronger than the Nipon keeper in that particular instance but Rob was convinced it was a free and we moved on. That aside as always really well run. Rob always brilliant with his communication and talking through the decision making. Thank to Rob and the line officials for a well run game. Pleny of MOM candidates on both sides. The 3 lads with braces worked tirellesly all day, great to see Dyno back at centre mid and we also welcomed back Angus to the heart of our defense. Will go with Chris Keay however great to see our big centre half so dominant and back to his best yesterday. For Nippon as already mentioned all 11 worked their socks off in a hot afternoon the second goal in particular was an absolute belter of a dipping volley so will go with Koichiro Kosugi.