the opening goal of the game. A goal kick from Pierluigi Gollini saw the ball travel no more than 40 yards, and as it hung in the wind, the Reysol centre-back jumped to clear and found his winger wide on the right. Pushing the ball back to his full-back, he spun around Luke Hendrie and was able to take the return ball in his stride. As he strode into the box he hit a stinging shot at goal which Gollini did well to parry, only for the ball to fall to striker Noki who, as United’s defenders tried to cover on the line, was able to fire into the net.
As United tried to find their rhythm after the goal they were again exposed when the right wingman got free along the right. He cut in, and let fly but Gollini made a wonderful flying save tipping the ball over for a corner-kick. United pushed forward in an effort to find an equaliser, and on 43 minutes a nice through ball from Pearson found Wilson but the striker’s effort was weak and failed to trouble the Japanese keeper. Just a minute later however, United were denied what appeared to be a clear penalty. Pearson got into the box and as he rounded his marker, he was blatantly pushed off the ball. The referee saw differently and to the amazement of the watching crowd and of the United players, he waved play on. Just seconds before half-time, James Weir went on a strong run from midfield and got himself into a decent position inside the box, but his shot went high and wide.
At half-time, Warren Joyce replaced Hendrie with Grimshaw, and Wilson with Rothwell. With the advantage of the wind behind them, United pressed forward and on 48 minutes Daehli got free down the left and whipped in a low cross which flew towards goal. Fortunately for Reysol, the ball just evaded the far post. On 53 minutes Jack Barmby came on for Weir, and Harrop for Fornaisier. Just a minute later Rudge replaced Daehli as United rung the changes in an effort to try and find a way to an equaliser. Rudge’s first involvement nearly brought a goal as like Daehli before him, he whipped in a cross which again eluded everybody but flew wide of the far post.
The Japanese team were playing some good football, keeping the ball on the ground and using quick triangular passing movements, and were trying to catch United on the counter. On 65 minutes, Rudge had a shot saved and, five minutes later, Tyler Blackett’s strong free-kick effort cannoned high off the defensive wall and went behind for a corner. From the resulting corner, Blackett missed a wonderful chance to