Kawasaki Frontale 1 - 0 FC Tokyo
This was more than just a normal game of football, this was the TAMAGAWA CLASSICO! Not exactly one of the most famous derbies in the football world, but this is still a fixture that both teams are pretty keen to win. And you would imagine Tokyo would be more keen given that we defeated them at their place earlier in the season. However, perhaps understandably given their recent form, it seems that some FC Tokyo fans actually were hoping that we gave them a good pasting so that they could sack their manager. We definitely didn’t hammer them, and it was a pretty poor game all round, but the manager still got sacked. The game had a godzilla theme, complete with two big footprints on the pitch (one of which you can just about make out in the photo below) and a man in a godzilla suit trying to take a penalty with his tail. Much more entertaining than the football on this occasion.
This was our first game without Oshima and Harakawa and we definitely missed Oshima in the middle. Thankfully though, Kengo was back, apparently fit, and he started. Not sure how fit he actually was as he didn’t have one of his best games, but I think his presence in the side gives confidence to the players around him so it was great that he was available. There was one change to the side from the Iwata game, Kengo in for Oshima, and Moriya and Nagano replaced Noborizato and Harakawa on the bench. The first ten or fifteen minutes we played pretty well, creating a few chances, Otsuka hitting the post after what looked to me like a handball in the box from the Tokyo defender (then again, I have to say that most things look like handballs to me). Hashimoto hit the bar from a Yoshito pass too. This was the decent football calm before the storm of mediocrity though. After this early bright spell, the football skies darkened and we were continuously giving away the ball. FC Tokyo weren’t any better though and it was just a case of both teams losing possession punctuated by the occasional shot, wide, high or straight at the keeper. Tokyo were playing pretty defensively with a lot of men behind the ball. I guess the manager might have been aware that he might be getting the boot if he lost. Whilst not being particularly physical, they were a niggly side, fouling a lot and not really creating anything. That was pretty much it for the rest of the first half.
The second half started with a couple of good chances for Tokyo. Sung-Ryong made a decent save coming out and stopping a Tokyo breakthrough. He definitely seems to be playing better recently. We started to pick things up a little afterwards. Kobayashi hit the bar (photo below, I think), Yoshito hit a few more shots straight at the keeper. Otsuka was replaced by Edu with Taniguchi pushing up into the midfield. Then nearing the end of the game we finally made the breakthrough. Hashimoto hit a free kick straight at the wall, we blasted another shot in which was blocked again and then the ball was fed to Kurumaya on the left and he floated a cross in which Kobayashi met with his head and put into the corner. After the goal, Takeoka came on for Hashimoto who I think had done a decent job again. Almost the same substitutions as last week, but reversed this time. Similarly effective though… Somehow our subs haven’t quite worked recently. They are pretty predictable and I wish when Otsuka comes off that we would replace him with a midfielder instead of shuffling the team around. But maybe there’s no-one who can do that job at the moment, but I’m sure Tasaka or Moriya wouldn’t mind having a go.
So, was the victory deserved? Probably, I guess, but this was a pretty bad performance. I don’t think Tokyo expected to get anything from the game and looked like they were playing for 0-0. They seemed to be time-wasting for most of the game. I guess that if even one of the times we hit the woodwork went in, I would definitely not be complaining so much and wouldn’t be feeling so worried. But once again, like the Niigata game, we left it pretty late to secure the points. Positives, back on top of the league, three points snatched from a poor performance, another Kobayashi goal (he’s catching you Yoshito), Takeoka’s new silver hairdo. Negatives, Yoshito is still misfiring. His shots seem to go straight to the keeper at the moment. He grumbled a bit about the system we are playing afterwards, but I think this might just be his frustration talking. He definitely needs a few goals to get his confidence back. If he wasn’t such a big player for us I think he might get dropped. But there’s not really anyone to replace him (what’s happened with Morimoto’s injury?) and his presence does make the opposition uncomfortable. But we need some more goals soon I think. The other big negative was the fact that the game was pretty terrible. But when you get three points and play terribly, it is difficult to moan too much.
Next, Shonan away. Terrifyingly, they are sitting second from bottom. Is a draw on the cards? I hope we can beat them easily with a few Yoshito goals and then I can stop talking about this bottom three draw curse thing. The ground, whilst being relatively close to Tokyo compared to some of the places we have been recently sounds like it’s a bit of a pain to get to, but I hope it will be worth the trip.
GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 18. ELSINHO
DF 5. TANIGUCHI Shogo
DF 4. IGAWA Yusuke
DF 20. KURUMAYA Shintaro
MF 21. EDUARDO NETO (Yellow card 60')
MF 14. NAKAMURA Kengo
MF 27. OTSUKA Shohei
MF 7. HASHIMOTO Koji
FW 11. KOBAYASHI Yu
FW 13. OKUBO Yoshito
GK 30. ARAI Shota
FW 13. OKUBO Yoshito
GK 30. ARAI Shota
MF 6. TASAKA YusukeDF 17. TAKEOKA Yuto (on for HASHIMOTO 82')
MF 19. MORIYA Kentaro
MF 22. NAKANO Yoshihiro
DF 23. EDUARDO (on for OTSUKA 60')
MF 26. MIYOSHI Koji
KOBAYASHI (Frontale) 81' 1-0