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I was just filling in a bit of time before Sunday really kicked into gear and noticed that runaway J-League 2 leaders Shonan Bellmare were in action, so I caught the first half of their game with Fagiano Okayama. I’d not heard of Fagiano before, but they’re fourth in the league, so I figured they’d be a decent test for Shonan.

So What Happened? To be brutally honest, not a lot. Both sides had little spells of pressure, though Shonan excelled. Both were happy keeping the ball, working it forwards and backwards, left and right, looking for a chance to play a cross into the box. As with a few games I’ve seen this week, though, there didn’t seem to be any purpose to putting the ball into the box.

The crosses were often pretty poor (long, in this case, rather than short) and the attacking players looked little like doing anything with it; more often, headed clearances dropped to midfield players who, having spent so long building up to get the cross, floating appalling shots yards over the bar. In fact, a lot of the time, it looked as if they were playing with a balloon – the idea obviously being to get height on passes, crosses and shots, but far too often they drifted out of play without showing any sign of coming to earth.

Shonan looked better on the counter, and certainly threatened a little bit more going forward, but neither side looked to be a particularly good advert for how good you need to be to get into the J-League. The fans were immense, though, particularly the green and yellow away supporters; might have been a fairly small bunch, but they gave it everything, so fair play to them. The home fans weren’t quiet, either, but more numerous, so it was less impressive.

Entertainment Value? 3/10