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If I was choosing a team who would feature in these mini-reports twice first, it would probably have been Marseille; as it happens they’ll have to wait because I caught the middle half of Shonan’s J-League 2 game on Sunday morning. It wasn’t planned, but I remembered enjoying Shonan last Sunday, and thought they might do better against a lesser team.

So what happened? Well, I wasn’t disappointed. Even though away from home, and even though comfortably top of the league, Shonan absolutely burned themselves getting forward – their breaks frequently involved five and six men, looking almost like rugby the way the ball carriers were flanked. It was an infectious belief that they simply couldn’t not succeed that drove them forwards, and in Okada and Wellington they had two strikers who were brilliant at everything until the ball came to them to shoot. The lofted loose shots of last week were a thing of the past. This week, they were drilling it wide.

This week there were far more Shonan fans (I did the research – last week’s journey from Hiratsuka to Okayama was 614km, whereas this week, Tochigi was just 184km away – next time, Omiya-ku is only 89km, expect a huge turnout in green and yellow) but they were just as boisterous as last week, which was nice to see. They got a wonderful goal to cheer before half time, as well, Okada turning and drilling home from the edge of the box.

I’m not normally one to come back for the second half, but I did this time and was rewarded with Shonan playing the same positive, infectious football as the first half, flowing on the break and playing some lovely wide play. This time it was Wellington who netted, smashing home from a similar position as Okada and wheeling away delight having sealed the game for his team. Great stuff, and a deserved win.

Entertainment Factor? 8.5/10

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