What a difference a few days makes. After the despair and disappointment of Wednesday night when we slid out of the ACL without really putting up much of a fight (at least from an attacking point of view anyway…), we got back to winning ways away at Shimizu. This ground was voted the ground with best scenic views in the J League and I would probably have to agree. The reason for my slight lack of confidence is that with a typhoon on the way, the visibility of the apparently beautiful views was severely compromised, but there was enough of a hint of it probably being a very nice place to watch a game of football. Apart from the views looking out of the ground, the views inside are pretty good too. No running track and some enjoyably steep and high stands meant that we got to watch the match from a decent viewpoint for once. Apart from when the big flag in front of us was waving, much to the chagrin of a few people around me. From our particular position, it was pretty much covering the whole goal which was a little irritating when the action is in that exact place. Once again, it was another stadium where we were allowed to walk around the ground and fans were mixing freely. Apparently there’s only one team’s fans who this doesn’t apply to and I think you can probably guess who that is.
There were a few changes to the starting line up. Read into them what you like, but the basic facts were that Neto was replaced by Moriya, and Abe by Hasegawa. I imagine it was more to give them a rest than for any reasons of form, but who knows really? I guess both of them had to put in a bit of a shift in the last game. It was nice to see that Kurumaya, who has played the most minutes of everyone this season wasn’t rested, as I’m sure he wanted to get back on the pitch and get playing again after his red card on Wednesday. He more than redeemed himself in this game, although to be honest, I don’t think anyone was holding it against him anyway. The two changes mentioned above were straight replacements, so no formation changes or anything like that. The difference from Wednesday was huge though. I reckon a few lessons have been learned since then. We came out positive rather than nervy and consequently our play was a lot better. Of course, Shimizu and Urawa are different teams so any direct comparisons are not really worth making, but we were back to our old attacking selves. The constant rain prevented me from writing too much down, but we were certainly playing a lot better. Passing the ball out from the back was in evidence again and we were keeping possession nicely. We were also cutting through the Shimizu defense with ease at times with some nice moves. Shimizu weren’t causing us too many problems but they had a few shots. I hope they can get some good results (after Wednesday), and stay in J1 next year. I'd like to see their nice views and this was a ground that I really enjoyed visiting. Our first goal came from a free kick just outside the edge of the box, I guess kind of like a close-up corner. Taniguchi beat the markers and headed the ball home. If there’s one thing that seems to have changed a lot recently, it’s the fact that in the last couple of years we seem to have started being able to score from set pieces which makes a nice change. Corners used to give us little more than an opportunity to lose possession but now they pose a real threat. Things were looking bright for us. Hasegawa and Moriya were both doing a good job of making the most of their starting eleven chances. Hasegawa’s pace and trickery is a real boost and I wish he’d been used against Urawa to try to do something with one of those many hoofed clearances. Moriya looked solid defensively and was spraying some nice passes around. I’m sure it’s not his preferred position (I’m also sure I’ve said this a few times before), but it does seem to be the place where he will get his chance this year unless something changes drastically. On 25 minutes we doubled our lead and the goal was set up with a lovely through pass from Taniguchi to Kurumaya, who rolled the ball across perfectly for Kobayashi to smack it home. I think the keeper got a hand on it, but it was hit with enough power for it to go in pretty easily. The reaction to the goal was strangely subdued. We were all at the other end of the pitch and weren't quite sure what had happened. Wearing no glasses (it was raining too much for them to be of much use), I decided it must be a hand ball, so that shows just how much I know (and how much I can see). But a goal it was, and we seemed to be back to where we left off last weekend. Shortly after the goal Taniguchi made an amazing block in the box as a Shimizu striker pulled the trigger. He was having a good game! A few other points of note from the first half are the fact that once again Shimizu have some very fun songs, particularly the samba style ones and of course that the referee was absolutely atrocious again. Nakamura, another name for the crap ref list. The linesman was a bit of a joke too. He didn’t have a clue with the majority of throw in decisions, waiting to be told by the ref before raising his flag. But, we seemed to be in control and were playing some nice stuff, so all was right in the world.
The second half continued much in the same vein as the first, although perhaps Shimizu came back into the game a little and we took our foot of the gas a bit. Memories of the home game earlier in the season came back, when they scored a 95th minute equaliser. We were pushing for a third though but it wasn’t quite coming. Quite a few players had chances but they were either blocked, saved or off target. However, we were knocking on the door. Abe was brought on for Hasegawa on 72 minutes. I think he’d done a decent job but was maybe running out of gas a little. By this stage Shimizu had already used all three of their subs and the 95th minute goalscorer from the last game Thiago Alves was on and was looking a little dangerous. Sung-Ryong had to make a couple of saves, but, we were defending pretty comfortably most of the time. Six minutes later it was Morimoto’s time to have a go, this time getting a few more minutes than in the last match. He scored almost immediately. A long cross field ball out of defence from Taniguchi was just about collected by him (he stumbled over it a bit), and he decided to shoot from outside the box. It clipped the boot of the defender who was coming across to tackle him and arced perfectly over the keeper into the back of the net. Morimoto looked both delighted and surprised. It’s a bit tough on the keeper but these things happen I guess, and who knows, it might have been going in anyway. Three up and with ten minutes to go, things petered out a little. Neto was brought on for Ienaga on 88 minutes and could have made it four but instead of smacking it he tried a fancy rabona type pass. I don’t mind him doing this 3-0 up with five minutes to go I guess. The arrival of Neto seemed to provoke Thiago Alves to try some similar ball tricks, as if he had been suddenly made aware of some kind of ‘samba football man of the match’ award. In the event, this imaginary award wasn't actually presented. There were no more goals, so we ran out fairly comfortable 3-0 winners. The players looked pleased. I think we sometimes can forget that they are also pretty upset when they lose, and it must have been good for them to get back to winning ways. I guess we should also be pretty pleased how many fans we took. It’s not so far and it’s a nice ground, but after Wednesday and with a typhoon on the way, I guess some people could have had second thoughts. But it didn’t seem like they did. We were numerous, loud and fairly optimistic I’d say. It was a pleasantly redemptive experience.
Positives and negatives. Let’s start negative. The weather was bad. Let’s not pick at anything else this time. It wasn’t the slickest of performances, but we did a good job in the situation we were in. Positives, good performances from Moriya and Hasegawa demonstrated that we might have some options beyond the first eleven. A couple of well taken goals and a nice, but slightly lucky one from Morimoto. Kurumaya looked determined and was pretty effective. Likewise, Elsinho seems to be coming into some form recently. Kobayashi is catching Koroki and Sugimoto in the goal scorers chart. Not sure he’ll overtake them, but who knows. Oh, I forgot one big negative. Kashima were losing 2-0 away at Niigata at half time but pulled it back to a 4-2 victory. Damn them! We’re running out of games for them to drop points, but we can keep our fingers crossed I guess. As long as we keep winning our games we can remain hopeful I guess.
Next up is Shimizu at home in the Emperor’s Cup. Not sure how much bearing the league match will have on Wednesday’s game. I suspect we might see some changes in the line-up, but I’m still not sure which competition we are prioritising at the moment. I guess there’s one less on the table now, so maybe we won’t be as stretched as we might have been. After that, we’ve got what was a killer away game last year, at Kobe on Sunday. Last year we got a very humbling pasting from them when we really didn’t turn up. Hopefully we can get some revenge for that fixture. Although I fancy they might want some revenge for the 5-0 at our place in July. A couple of wins by this time next week would do very nicely thanks. Go Frontale!
GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 18. ELSINHO
DF 3. NARA Tatsuki
DF 5. TANIGUCHI Shogo
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
MF 19. MORIYA Kentaro
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota
MF 41. IENAGA Akihiro
MF 14. NAKAMURA Kengo
MF 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya
GK 30. ARAI Shota
MF 6. TASAKA Yusuke
MF 8. ABE Hiroyuki (on for HASEGAWA 72')
FW 9. MORIMOTO Takayuki (on for KOBAYASHI 78')
MF 21. EDUARDO NETO (on for IENAGA 88')
MF 22. RHAYNER
DF 28. ITAKURA Ko
My Frontale Man Of The Match
Some decent performances. Redemption for Kurumaya, goals from Kobayashi and Morimoto, few good saves from Sung-Ryong and nice efforts from Moriya and Hasegawa, but it has to go to the person who had a hand in all of the goals and made an amazing defensive block.
TANIGUCHI Shogo - Perhaps mainly for the passes for the first and third goals and the defensive block, but he also finished his chance well, so got his name on the scoresheet. Maybe one of the best performances I've seen from him. Bravo!
TANIGUCHI (Frontale) 14' 0-1
KOBAYASHI (Frontale) 25' 0-2
MORIMOTO (Frontale) 79' 0-3
The Frontale youtube channel usually has longer highlights provided by DAZN, but given that last year's highlights got wiped when the broadcaster got changed, I'm going to stick with the official J League ones. But you can watch the longer highlights here if you want.
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