Monday, 16 July 2018

Vs Mito Hollyhock (away) 11/7/18 - Emperor's Cup 3rd round

Mito Hollyhock 1 - 1 Kawasaki Frontale (AET) (2-4 on penalties)

We’re back to playing football again. This is a bit of a blessing as I was getting fed up with writing posts about players leaving and I think people were probably getting fed up with me expressing my opinions (mainly negative, naturally!), on the bizarre goings-on at the club. On the other hand it seems that it’s a bit of a shame that the season is lurching back into action as judging on this performance we’re very rusty and only just managed to progress in the Emperor’s Cup against lower league opposition for the second game in a row. It’s certain that this game and the 3-2 against Sony Sendai which bookended the World Cup break were far from our best performances of the season. In fact they probably are vying with the majority of the ACL games and a few clangers in the league for the worst performances of 2018. At least we managed to get the win in these games though, even if it did take a very unwelcome extra time and then penalties in this match. Sorry for taking so long to get this post done. I’m sure plenty of people are having their schedules messed with by the World Cup at the moment and that’s partly my excuse here. The journey back from Mito followed by the World Cup semi final on TV looked a bit challenging even before we went to extra time and penalties. After that, plenty of us were left waiting on Akatsuka station platform for 50 minutes as a huge storm prowled around us, waiting for the optimum time to strike and cause the maximum disruption. It hit as we reached Sanuki station, where we were told that we were not going to be going any further with the station lights going off and on as lightning seemed to be striking very close by and some higher force seemed to be using a giant jet washer to try to dismantle the platform. We made it home just before 2am, my plan of having a nice nap before the England game in tatters, and my Thursday at work looking a bit tricky. Sadly for me, England couldn’t get the extra time and penalties result that Frontale had grasped. I can now say that a second helping of extra time in one 24 hour period is a bit of an ordeal for the spectator, particularly if they are sleep deprived and have a banging headache. This banging headache kept me subdued for the majority of the game. In spite of going through what I think was around eight PET bottles of water and Pocari Sweat, it seems that I still managed to get dehydrated. Because I’m a pasty Brit I guess. Anyway, this is all just an excuse to explain why this post is a little lacking on detail. The terrible performance also contributed to this, but I’m prepared to shoulder some of the blame. I also apologise in advance for the moaning that’s coming up quite soon.

The team for this game was a surprisingly strong one. Particularly given that Mito, who were playing a league game a few days later, put out the reserves. Even though Oshima didn’t get on the pitch during the World Cup, it was no surprise to see him absent. Of course Neto (and Okubo) were also absent, having departed the club in the break. So we started with Morita and Moriya in the defensive midfield positions. Most of the rest of the team was our preferred starting eleven. However, Saito made another start in place of Abe, after disappearing from the matchday squad for a while. And Michael James started alongside Taniguchi which was a bit of a surprise. I’m not aware of any injuries to Nara or Edu, but they weren’t even on the bench. Perhaps they’ve got themselves into Oniki’s bad books again. The sole defender on the bench was Noborizato, if you consider him a defender. Shimoda also appeared on the bench again alongside some more familiar names. It seemed a bit of a weird bench and I think demonstrates how stretched we are in the middle at the back at the moment. A couple of injuries to a centre back and a defensive midfielder would put us in a very difficult situation with regards to cover. No sign of any new players coming though, and presumably they'd be short attacking midfielders if they do appear. We did start the game fairly well though, scoring an early goal through Taniguchi, which seemed to suggest that maybe we’d overdone it a bit with the first teamers. No worries though about us going on to comfortably sew the game up with a Mito morale sapping high goalscoring first half. We were mediocre at best, making more chances than them, but not really threatening to actually put them away, aside from Ienaga hitting the bar. It was quite comfortable though. Mito weren’t causing us many problems and apart from a bit of sloppiness in possession at times, things looked fairly safe. Elsinho was having a good game in defence and attack, but no-one else was really standing out. Well, actually Taniguchi was, as he was a lot less composed than usual and was having a bit of a mare, but somehow getting away with it. Saito didn’t seem to be getting much of the ball and still seems to be struggling to find his way into the Frontale system at the moment. Guess the limited pitch time isn’t helping, but you’d have to say that his first brief substitute appearance against Yokohama is still the best he’s played for us so far. Michael James was doing alright, but still looks a bit like he has an error in him waiting to happen at any time. His limited pitch time presumably also contributes to this. You probably wouldn’t have picked it as being J1 versus J2 though as it looked more like two similarly sloppy teams playing out a meaningless end of season game with nothing at stake. So far, so mediocre.

I’m not going to write much about the second half as it was abysmal. We didn’t appear to have much desire to try to score again, which inevitably would come back to haunt us in the 93rd minute when we conceded and plenty of people’s journey home was thrown into turmoil. The main thing that was clear from the second half and extra time was the mess that the bench was. Hasegawa replaced Saito. Fair enough, Hasegawa deserves a chance, but Saito was getting no service and is unlikely to be able to find some form if he is constantly being hauled off or not even put on the bench. He is after all our big signing this year, but is another one who is suffering from 90% of our squad wanting to play in the same few positions on the pitch. Chinen on for Kobayashi was fair enough too, but once again Chinen is getting the ‘he loves me, he loves me not’ thing from Oniki, who apparently thinks he will solve all of our problems from the bench, but doesn’t give him a chance to do so for more than 45 minutes as a starter. The next sub was Shimoda on for Moriya. All of the changes in this game were like for likes, which makes a change from the usual way Oniki does subs. And I suppose it’s better than the somewhat random changes he makes sometimes, but you couldn’t really say any of them had much effect on the game. And I wonder if once again we could do with a plan B which consists of more than just making subs apparently decided on before the match. We were a lot less effective going forward in the second half with Mito having three times as many chances as us and Sung-Ryong had to make quite a few saves from decent Mito chances. Maybe the writing was on the wall, but it was a bit harsh on them leaving it until the 93rd minute to get their equaliser. It was nothing less than we deserved though. We looked a bit shaky at the back and kind of clueless going forward. I don’t want to suggest there is a morale problem in the squad, but they didn’t really seem up for it. The recent departures can’t have failed to cause some kind of upheaval though.

So, on to extra time, which turned out to be even worse than the second half. It was also a little weird as the drums and megaphones were put away by both teams’ fans. I guess this was perhaps something to do with the circling thunderstorms, but it certainly made for a disjointed lot of singing with the spread of fans meaning that songs quickly degenerating into chaos, out of time and sounding like they were being run through a big reverb unit. We had a few chances, one very nice one which Elsinho unfortunately put just wide. But they did too. Mito were being a bit more physical and we couldn’t cope with it. Our extra time extra sub showed up the crazy bench selection with Nobori coming on for Morita who seemed to have taken a knock. Our centre back pairing became Kurumaya and Michael James and Taniguchi pushed up alongside Shimoda. How we had gone from almost the regular starting eleven to this line up, with a couple of totally unfamiliar pairings at the back seemed almost impossible using only four subs. So it’s no surprise that we looked hopeless to be honest and at stages looked like we wanted to hang on and take it to penalties. Maybe we did, as we proved pretty good at them, scoring four out of four. Penalties are taken in the ABBA format in this competition, which makes it slightly confusing to work out what’s going on, but fortunately they sent one over the bar and hit the bar with another whilst we put ours away fairly comfortably, so it was pretty clear we’d won. But we’d been taken to penalties by a J2 team’s reserves. Yeah, maybe we’re rusty, but it’d be a shame if we have used the World Cup break to reset to our usual crappy start of the season form. Remember, it was supposed to be FC Tokyo and Sanfrecce who were disrupted out of their good form by this break and ACL teams were supposed to get back into the groove of things. Let’s hope this was a blip, but 120 minutes in pretty sticky conditions isn’t exactly what you’d want to kick off the second half of the season.

I’m not going to talk about positives and negatives in this game as it’s hard to find anything particularly positive. Sure, we’re though to the next round, but we look a mess and this was for the most part the regular starting eleven playing. I’ve been losing my mind a bit recently criticising Oniki and I don’t think it’s doing anyone any good, least of all me. I am deeply worried about him as our manager, particularly from a team morale point of view. I don’t think he’s a nasty person, but he doesn’t seem to have any awareness of the consequences of his actions on the players’ morale. I have no idea why we didn’t have Nara or Edu on the bench. We’re leaving ourselves very short in important areas and it’s almost impossible to understand the thinking behind it. We were lucky in a way that we had this game, as if our first game back was the away game against Consadole, I think we might have got smashed. I’m not sure we won’t do when we go there next Wednesday. Maybe it’s just me, but I have a real sense of impending doom at the moment. I couldn’t bring myself to go to the fan event and thought that going to games again would pull me out of my malaise, but this isn’t exactly what I was hoping for. I get the sense that people are getting fed up with me moaning about Oniki so I’m going to try to stop doing that so much, but I’m really worried. I feel like we’re in a lifeboat in the middle of the ocean and our leader has just decided to start a fire with the oars in the bottom of the boat. This is stressing me out!

Next up we return to league action away against Consadole Sapporo on Wednesday. Miyoshi won’t be playing as he’s not allowed to, but maybe he’ll come out and give us a little bow like Itakura did. Let’s hope we can be a bit more convincing than we were in this game. After that we’re back at Todoroki the following Sunday against V-Varen Nagasaki. Six points please from those two games and then you can all call me a complete idiot.


GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
MF 19. MORIYA Kentaro
MF 25. MORITA Hidemasa
MF 41. IENAGA Akihiro
MF 37. SAITO Manabu

GK 30. ARAI Shota
MF 2. NOBORIZATO Kyohei (on for MORITA 98')
FW 8. ABE Hiroyuki
MF 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya (on for SAITO 58')
FW 20. CHINEN Kei (on for KOBAYASHI 70')
MF 22. SHIMODA Hokuto (on for MORIYA 83')
MF 27. SUZUKI Yuto

My Frontale Man Of The Match

Let's not beat about the bush on this, plenty of players were pretty ordinary and anonymous at best. In spite of him missing a good chance for us to avoid penalties and maybe get home at a more reasonable time it has to probably go to...

ELSINHO - wasn't rubbish

TANIGUCHI (Frontale) 4' 0-1
TOMITA (Mito) 90+3' 1-1

TOMITA (Mito) 1-0
Frontale) 1-1
SHIMODA(Frontale) 1-2
KISHIMOTO (Mito) 2-2
FUNATANI (Mito) 2-2 (over bar)
Frontale) 2-3
HASEGAWA (Frontale) 2-4

SAITO (Mito) 2-4 (hit bar)


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