Shimizu S-Pulse were given a swift introduction to the challenges of Japan’s second flight after struggling to a scoreless draw against Ehime FC in the opening round of the 2016 MEIJI YASUDA J2 League.
Shinji Kobayashi’s men managed just six shots against their opponents, despite spending all three substitutions on attacking players.
They were still the strongest amongst the three relegated sides, with Matsumoto Yamagata falling 0-1 at Roasso Kumamoto and Montedio Yamagata losing 0-1 at Giravanz Kitakyushu.
2015 J3 League champions Renofa Yamaguchi made a splash in their own J2 debut, drawing a club record of 11,308 to Yamaguchi Ishin Park Stadium for their 1-1 draw against Fagiano Okayama.
Yatsunori Shimaya scored Renofa’s first-ever second division goal in the fifth minute, while Shinya Yajima netted the equaliser for Fabiano early in the second hlaf.
Machida Zelvia also breached 10,000 attendees for the first time in a 0-1 loss to Cerezo Osaka. The lone goal was scored by Kazuya Yamamura, who joined from Kashima Antlers this winter.
JEF United Chiba earned a dramatic 2-1 victory over Tokushima Vortis, with heroes Makito Yoshida and Kazuki Nagasawa both scoring in additional time to secure the three points.
At the end of the day it was Thespa Kusatsu Gunma who stood on top of the J2 table following a 4-0 romp over FC Gifu.
Shusuke Tsubouchi and Satoshi Tokiwa gave the hosts a comfortable league in the first half, with Yusuke Segawa adding a brace of his own in the final half-hour of play.