Friday, 15 July 2016

Vs Albirex Niigata (home) 13/7/16 - 2nd stage match 3

Kawasaki Frontale 3 - 2 Albirex Niigata

So the games keep coming thick and fast at the moment. Wednesday night was the third game of the second stage and our third match in July and it was only the 13th. Three down, three to go. And three victories. And three goals scored in each game, although we conceded a couple last night too. There were a few worrying things coming in to this match. Kengo is injured, although not as seriously as first expected so that is a relief, but that is just one of quite a few injuries we have at the moment. Of course, there are the long term ones that we know about, but given that we had to call off our satellite league game this week due to an injury crisis I guess there are a few more that maybe we are unaware of. Itakura was on the bench and given that he hasn’t been in the previous few games when we looked a bit light defensively I guess this gives an idea of how deep the problem is. Nobori is back though and hopefully he is the first of a rapid succession of injury comebacks.

Going in to the game, I couldn’t help think of our pretty terrible performance in Niigata earlier in the season. Before this game, I think Albirex were the only team apart from Urawa that managed to stop us scoring all season. It’s a bit of a mystery how, as they don’t seem to be able to stop anyone else from doing so this year. Also they were lying fourth from bottom, which seemed to be pointing towards a draw. (I think I might have to revise my previous comment about teams in the bottom three or four always drawing with us. Judging by this result and last week at Nagoya, it seems that it’s the bottom three rather than the bottom four we have to worry about). Another bad omen was the fact that the referee was the notoriously bad (in my opinion), Enomoto. I can’t usually remember the names of any refs in the J League as they all seem to be of fairly similar skills and character. But when Enomoto’s name was read out before the game I was reminded that I am actually aware of one referee who seems to be from the school of refs that think people come to watch them referee rather than the football. 

As expected, he was pretty terrible, but towards the end of the game I couldn’t help think that he might have been more terrible in our favour for once. His first notable contribution to the game was a wonderful interception of a Frontale pass, neatly laying off the ball for Albirex to score. I knew he likes to be the star of the show but I never anticipated that he wanted to get an assist too. (I know, I'm exaggerating!). By this stage the score was already 1-1. We had huffed and puffed without really creating much for long periods of the first half. There were a few chances here and there but it was Niigata who took the lead with a pretty good shot that pinged off the left post and into the right corner. Can’t complain too much about that one. We managed an equally spectacular, or maybe more spectacular equaliser when Oshima smashed one into the top corner from miles out. A really great goal and another assist for Kurumaya. This is how it remained till half time. The second half was more of the same really. The game was fairly exciting but of a pretty low standard. We couldn’t hit the target really and Niigata weren’t doing much better. Their second goal which I was complaining about above was a real kick in the guts though as we had broken up an attack and were starting to break. Enomoto should really be able to get out of the way of a pass that he is facing. It was another decent finish from Albirex but the way it came about was a total stinker and I think we were a little caught off guard by the ref’s footwork. I don’t know if Enomoto’s decisions after this were affected by what had happened. It’s hard to tell when a ref is so random as a matter of course. At this stage I was hoping for a draw as it seemed things weren’t going work out for us and I couldn’t see us scoring twice. Thankfully, the Niigata centre back was there to help us out with this.

Before the second Niigata goal we had made a couple of subs. As has become a bit of a tradition recently, Otsuka was replaced by Takeoka and Elsinho pushed up. Then Hashimoto came on for Miyoshi who had quite a quiet game. I think at the moment he is most effective as a sub as he has played better off the bench than from the start. Very pleased to see him progressing and getting game time though. He will be a very important player for us at some stage, possibly quite soon. It was one of these subs who made the second goal for us. Hashimoto took a short corner to Oshima and the two exchanged a couple of passes, Oshima putting Hashimoto through into the box. His cross was deflected by Kobayashi (some said it was a handball, particularly those from Niigata, it’s really very difficult to see though and Kobayashi himself said after the game that it hit his torso) and Niigata’s centre back and captain Morita had to do something with the ball as it was going in. Fortunately for us he slotted it past the keeper. I did feel sorry for him though and the Niigata fans. After this equaliser the game got even more stretched. Frontale were definitely looking for a winner. Albirex didn’t seem quite sure what to do. The remaining 10 minutes were pretty crazy and we were putting them under quite a lot of pressure. This pressure finally paid off in the 94th and final minute. Kurumaya drove a cross in again, someone touched it, possibly Neto, possibly an Albirex player and it fell for Kobayashi right in front of the goal and he finished with a back heel. My first thought was that it was probably offside but there was no flag and we all celebrated like crazy, Kobayashi in the crowd with his shirt off and Neto following him in. He got booked for this of course. My voice is still suffering a little today. I’ve since watched as many highlights as I can find to definitively prove to myself that it was onside but I haven’t been successful in this mission. Equally though, I haven’t been able to determine that it was offside, so it definitely was a close call. 

So, tough on Niigata, but they were a bit of an unlikeable side. I really like their fans and their city, but the team is full of moaners. The ref put up with way too much of their complaining. It must have been difficult for him to concentrate his consistently irrational refereeing with such a distraction. I hope they stay up though as I really want to go back there next year. Positives, not many, but three points pulled out of the bag has to be a pretty big one, especially with our ongoing injury crisis. Negatives, a few more. Defensively we were a bit shaky and whilst no-one really had an off day, no one really played that well. It was a very scrappy affair. Terrible refereeing, random advantages played (he seemed to spend most of the game running around with his arms spread) whilst at the same time being ultra picky about the positioning of free kicks. Can’t complain too much about this though I guess, given our last two goals. Not saying we shouldn’t have had them, but I wouldn’t have been surprised if at least one of them was ruled out. So maybe the bad referee was actually a positive. We’re still top (second stage and overall) but the games keep coming. This weekend, we’re off to Iwata. It’s on Sunday as Monday is a public holiday.  Let’s hope we can continue the three trend by scoring three goals and coming away with three points. 


GK 1. S
ung-Ryong JUNG
DF 4. IGAWA Yusuke
DF 20. KURUMAYA Shintaro
MF 21. EDUARDO NETO (Yellow card 27')
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota
MF 27. OTSUKA Shohei
FW 11. KOBAYASHI Yu (Yellow card 90+5')
FW 13. OKUBO Yoshito

GK 30. A
RAI Shota
MF 6. TASAKA Yusuke (on for ELSINHO 79')
MF 7. HASHIMOTO Koji (on for MIYOSHI 63')
(on for OTSUKA 55')

NOTSUDA (Albirex) 36'  0-1
OSHIMA (Frontale) 38'  1-1
SILVA (Albirex) 65'  1-2
MORITA (Albirex) OWN GOAL 84'  2-2
KOBAYASHI (Frontale) 90+5'  3-2


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