Kashima Antlers 1 - 1 Kawasaki Frontale
A trip to Kashima is never a particularly enticing prospect. Doing so in a pandemic year adds a little something extra. In a way, it’s a shame that due to Corona virus we had to sacrifice some nice away trips yet still got lumbered with this one. But given that it is Kengo’s last season and we are potentially on the verge of something quite special we decided to go for it and make the trip. Little were we to know that on Saturday morning it would be announced that Kashima had a Corona virus breakout in their camp and there were some doubt as to whether the game would actually be able to go ahead. In a normal season we would gave probably already been well on our way to line up for an hour before and then sit the stadium for three hours until kick off twiddling our thumbs. So in a way we can be thankful that this wasn’t a normal year. The late call to go ahead with the game came a little after 13:00 which was thankfully an hour before our bus was due to leave. The bus journey is always a bummer, but a bus journey to a canceled game would have been a bummer of huge proportions. I heard that if the game was called off when we were en-route the bus would turn around, which to be honest shows the benefits of booking a football game specific bus rather than the regular one. But as it was, none of this happened. Kashima apparently had one infected player and only a handful of others were deemed to have had close contact so they were able to put out a team which didn’t contain any of them and the game went ahead. Perhaps this corona tinted selection was the reason that we got to see Nara who it seemed has been hugely out of favour this year. Typically, this left him with something to prove. To show the manager what he’d been missing and to show his new fans that he doesn’t have any lingering Frontale feelings. He annoyingly did a good job, but as a past Nara super fan I would have expected nothing less. As for the rest of the Kashima line-up, it seems that only Yamamoto has spent a similar amount of time off the pitch this season as Nara, so it seems that Kashima were very lucky with the extent of the contact their Corona’d player had with the first team. Hopefully none of the players who actually played will turn out later to have actually had the virus and potentially passed it on. To be honest, after the Sagan Tosu/FC Tokyo Corona game debacle, I would have expected the league to have been a bit more careful and just called the game off. Neither Frontale or Kashima have ACL commitments, so potentially it could have been rescheduled. Hang on, I thought Kashima were in the ACL this year, weren’t they?… Oh… (We at least make it to the group stage before we supremely disappoint in spite of us playing our strongest line up). Anyway, this is enough Corona talk and Kashima baiting for now and let’s move on to what we might have learnt from this match.
Back! Back! Back! -
One big surprise in the selections for this mach was the return of Hasegawa to the bench. People often mention Oshima’s mystery injury absences but Hasegawa seemed to have totally disappeared from public view. There were some pictures of him in training but he seemed to be getting no closer to returning. For weeks I have been meaning to write about it in one of these blog posts but never got round to doing it till it was too late. It’s great to see him back and I hope he can get back to his early season form and his combinations with Damiao. It didn’t happen in this match though, but it was his first pitch time in ages so I’m just going to be delighted that he’s back. Also back was Oshima. This could be a crucial time for him to come back as we’ve wobbled a little recently and could do with him playing a big part again. Oniki shuffled the midfield a little from our loss to Sapporo and we saw Ao back in the anchor position with Kengo and Wakisaka ahead of him. Morita and Hatate disappeared from the match day squad. Up front we went with Damiao, Ienaga and Mitoma. We haven’t scored many goals recently and this trend continued in this game. Damiao seems to be great with the dirty parts of being a forward but isn’t really getting any chances. Whether that is down to him or down to his teammates or down to the opposition, I don’t know. It’s a bit of a shame though, particularly considering that Kobayashi is injured, and Miyashiro was out of the squad. It seems that Yamamura is now the back up striker, (instead of being the back up centre back), but he hasn’t really been called on for many minutes so perhaps Oniki isn’t sure about it. You’ve go to think that he’s going to be a fairly similar player to Damiao though, given his height and we’re still not giving Diogo a chance to play to those strengths with his crosses, so that’s clearly not helping things either. It was somewhat refreshing to see that they players who’d had dodgy games against Sapporo seemed to be back to some kind of form. Ienaga looked a lot better. As did Yamane. But we were still pretty toothless in front of goal which is something we’re going to have to deal with soon. It’s only two games where we haven’t won, but both in this game and the Sapporo game (and the Tokyo game to a certain extent), we really haven’t been testing the keeper enough. Against Tokyo we had 27 shots with only a third of them being on target. Sapporo saw us only make 11 chances with only six on target and this game we had 17 shots with only five on target. We only managed to score from a breakaway counter attack. We were unlucky though on a few occasions, hitting the post whilst dominating early in the first half and coming close in a few goal mouth scrambles. But unlucky isn’t much help when it comes to getting points. Extra shooting practice this week I reckon.
Dirty Kashima, useless referee (what a surprise...) -
There’s not really much point me writing this paragraph, just read what I’ve said in every Kashima post for the first part of the paragraph title and pretty much every other blog post for the second. In case you can’t be bothered to do that, (and why should you?), Kashima are a nasty little team of cloggers and foulers. It’s no surprise that this is SBO Leandro’s parent club. Certainly they seem to have replaced him like for like with the pathetic creep Everaldo. At least Leandro scores goals. Everaldo must have had at least half of Kashima’s 17 shots and probably only managed to hit the target once. Of course that one went in, as always seems to happen. The pantomime villain always does something to irritate, but for most of the match it looked like he was just going to blast the ball over the ball endlessly. The reason the creep got my attention in this match was when Taniguchi received his yellow card. Can’t argue with the decision, (could probably have argued with the numerous decisions where Kashima players booted us and didn’t get booked though…), but the offence was so clearly outside the box but Everaldo did his best to roll into the box clutching his chest, past the penalty spot, looking like he was going to end up in the net, before the scientific rolling phenomenon rules of nature kicked in and he began to roll back the way he’d come from. It really is pathetic and I hate this kind of behaviour. (Have just noticed that this is extra funny if you pronounce his name in a certain way). Even more odious was his little tantrum when he realised that a free kick rather than a penalty had been given and he monetarily forgot his extreme chest wound and looked liked he was about to stamp his feet and grizzle. It was lovely when he booted the ball almost out of the stadium shooting form the resulting set piece. Sorry for the semi foul language, but the guy seems like a total wanker. Another new addition to the wanker list is courageous Kashima captain Misao, whose awful very late, very high studs up challenge on Shimoda caused him to get a red card. Although in the replay you can see him mouthing something to himself after making the foul (which I presume was along the lines of ‘oh shit’), it still apparently came as a huge surprise to him to see the red card. So surprising that it took him almost two minutes to leave the pitch, being lovingly applauded by the knowledgable Kashima fans who obviously saw such a dangerous foul as being ‘fine play’. This allows me to neatly segue into my referee attack. Sato was the ref and I’ve grumbled about him recently for giving everything Nagoya’s way and failing to punish Urawa’s fouls. In this game, he failed to punish Kashima’s relentless hacking campaign for the most part and even when he did manage to get the card out he stopped a three against two attack we were on to do it. I realise that according to the rules if he does play advantage the red card becomes a yellow, but with a couple of minutes of injury time left I would have thought a yellow or a red wouldn’t have made much difference. And even though he did show the red, in spite of Misao taking two minutes to leave the pitch, Sato added just 13 seconds for us to take advantage of the sending off that he thought was important enough to stop our attack and the game for two minutes for. (By the way, didn’t see Shimoda rolling his way towards the Kashima goal after this, did we?). Basically, Sato rewarded a horrible tackle and foul play. Nice work! I realise that I’m complaining that he didn’t book their players and then also complaining that when he did, he should have played the advantage, but I’m biased, so my opinions don’t have to make that much sense, do they?
Fair enough -
In spite of all these grumbles, (and I’m sure you were expecting nothing less than a load of grumbles), this was a fair result as far as I could see. Both teams had sustained periods of pressure and ended up with identical shot counts and shots on target counts. The possession was slightly in favour of Kashima, but also pretty even. I feel a little like we should have been able to do a bit more considering how we’ve played at times this season, but looking at the Consadole game, I’m relieved we managed to at least score once. Clearly we need to get our goal scoring mojo back. It’s all very well making chances but unless we’re testing the keeper we’re not going to score. But a point away against a team who apparently really wanted to do their best to stop us winning the league is a decent enough result. Our possible sprint to the title has slowed to a dawdle recently and if Gamba and Cerezo hadn’t contrived to lose to the bottom two teams in the league we’d probably be feeling quite different about this result. But as it is, we can cross off another remaining win. We now need two more wins, or the equivalent amount of capitulations from our Osaka rivals. Fingers crossed. I feel like we need to find an alternative to playing Damiao for 85 minutes and then replacing him with Yamamura (who apparently might have picked up an injury during his brief cameo appearance, so that alternative needs to be found even more urgently). I’d probably go with Damiao against Marinos on Wednesday, but might also give Miyashiro some time too as I think he has something to prove. We really need to win on Wednesday to make up for us gifting them the title last year with a complete stinker of a performance. I’ll also add at he end here, in the fair enough category, that the drumming and clapping was much improved this time round. Perhaps because it was an away game or perhaps because we’ve got our act together. I was clapping so much and so hard that I have cracked open the skin on my hand. Better sort that out before Wednesday I guess. Perhaps I need some kind of clapping shield. I have applied my medicated hand cream.
So, it looked like this season could be an exciting romp to an early title but we’re making hard work of it recently. Fingers crossed that will all change on Wednesday. I suspect it won’t. YFM are another team who really don’t want us to win the league and will do their best to stop us. They’ve been doing pretty good recently so hopefully Wednesday will see them have one of their regular complete implosions. After that, we’re away to Oita next Saturday. Gamba and Cerezo aren’t playing this midweek, so it’s all about us winning if we want to take a step closer to winning the league. I won’t accept that it’s going to happen till we’ve done it, which might seem an extreme point of view, but I am terribly afraid of jinxes and generally lacking in confidence in most aspects of my life, so that’s just the way I do things I guess. Go Frontale!
GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
DF 4. JESIEL (Yellow card 90+2')
DF 5. TANIGUCHI Shogo (Yellow card 34')
DF 2. NOBORIZATO Kyohei
MF 25. TANAKA Ao
MF 14. NAKAMURA Kengo
MF 8. WAKIZAKA Yasuto
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro
FW 9. LEANDRO DAMIAO
FW 18. MITOMA Kaoru
GK 27. TANNO Kenta
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota (on for NAKAMURA 64')
MF 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya (on for MITOMA 78')
FW 19. SAITO Manabu (on for IENAGA 88')
MF 22. SHIMODA Hokuto (on for WAKIZAKA 78')
FW 34. YAMAMURA Kazuya (on for LEANDRO DAMIAO 88')
My Frontale Man Of The Match
Nice goal from Wakizaka but our general lacking of decent chances means that I’m going to look further back for this. Sung-Ryong made an absolutely amazing save in the first half, along with some other merely great saves, but for some reason, in spite of the yellow card, I feel it should go to…
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