The Squirrels took part in a very dull and scrappy affair between two misfiring teams last Saturday in wet conditions, which did nothing to improve the quality of fare, in front of a low crowd at the Yokohama Mitsuzawa stadium.
Very misleading was the early shot from Shunsuke Nakamura which hit the bar. If fans thought that would be the start of a great game, then they were sadly very wrong. An ageing F Marinos team failed to keep up with any of their young players, whilst an Ardija side on the slide could not seem to pass to each other for toffee, or tuppence or anything you choose, a roll of sushi perhaps. We certainly didn't seem to put their 38 year old defender under any real pressure. Laughably he seemed to make mistakes of his own accord.
Whatever, it was poor. 0-0 at half time, no one was too hopeful for the second half and nothing much changed, although the crowd were given two goals to "savour". The first went to the home team and came via one of their young and upcoming players Ono, and it drew lots of praise on twitter and various Japan football forums, and whilst I would agree it was a great strike, I would have to point out the acres of space our defenders lavished on him. This has certainly been a feature of many of the goals we have conceded this season. I find it depressing that when we have a team that so obviously cannot score many goals, we also have a defence that loves to give opposing forwards so much room to move in. Double whammy time.
With the wet conditions and the current form of both teams suggesting this game would not be a high skilled game, any manager with a tall, target man on the bench would surely stick him on, send him up front and send long balls up to him in search of goals and points. It might not be pretty but needs must. And finally Omiya's much maligned coach, Suzuki finally gave in and sent Yu Hasegawa on, and soon after Rafael connected with a high ball and nodded it down to Hasegawa who managed to control the ball well for a big, tall chap and knocked the ball in to the net from close range to bring the Squirrels level at one goal apiece. Typically the game drifted to a close and honestly it was a fair result for two very poor teams.
From an Ardija viewpoint the most positive thing was that we had 12 corners by the end (I think but close), certainly way more than the opposition. Sadly it doesn't point to any domination of play or real skill, and to be fair, most of the corners were wasted. Perhaps Suzuki should have sent the big lad on earlier.
Next up is the Saitama derby at Nack 5, and although the Reds lost midweek 4-1 at home, it was only in the Yamazaki Nabisco Cup, so I'm not reading too much into that. I hope our crowd creates a derby atmosphere and our players respond. However I'm not hopeful and have to say that the Reds must go into the game as favourites. In football, though anything can happen, so Squirrel fans let's hope it's a home win and we put one over our local rival. Let's go Omiya!