Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Vs Vegalta Sendai (away) 2/7/16 - 2nd stage, match 1

Vegalta Sendai 0 - 3 Kawasaki Frontale

This weekend it was an away trip to Vegalta Sendai. This is the third time we have met them this season. We drew with them at home when they were languishing near the bottom of the table back in May (as we do with teams near the bottom) and then beat them, also at home, in the Nabisco cup when it was pretty much too late for us to qualify for the knockout stage. There’s a very good relationship between the two clubs, mainly due to Frontale being the first team to play Sendai after the earthquake in 2011 and I personally also have a soft spot for them as they seem to be a nice bunch and their chants are quite rocky. This also was a new city for me so I was very much looking forward to this fixture. I liked the ground as it was quite compact (no running track, hooray!). The nicest part was that there was no enforced segregation around the ground (apparently this is only for Vegalta vs Frontale games due to the good relationship between the clubs). It was nice to be able to walk the whole way round the stadium through all the home fan areas and see the fans free to mingle. I saw plenty of Frontale fans buying Vegalta goods and Vegalta fans buying Frontale goods. I spotted one Frontale fan buying a Vegalta bicycle helmet which is really going the extra mile. Most people were sticking with towels. Anyway, I hope this relationship continues as it makes a very welcome change from the ill-feeling towards the opposition that is often present in football. 

On to the game. The starting line-up was the same as for the Omiya game, so it seems clear that this is Kazama’s favoured 11 with the current injuries. Not sure what has happened to Noborizato as I haven’t heard of any injury and he has dropped out of the squad completely. Maybe it’s not something serious and he’s just slowly recovering at the moment. In any case, this team seems to be doing the job at the moment. The first half was pretty impressive. We had quite a few chances and didn’t really ever look like conceding. Neto and Oshima were consistently winning the ball back in the middle when Sendai tried to attack and we looked dangerous every time we went forward. The defence didn’t have much to deal with, but everything they did have to do, they did well. Sendai played quite a physical game we were knocked about quite a bit, but we kept attacking and got a couple of first half goals. The first was from Otsuka sweeping the ball in after Oshima floated a ball over and Kobayashi headed back in front of the goal. A nice easy finish for him and given Yoshito still isn’t scoring it’s good to see that Otsuka is getting in the right place to put chances away. The second was a weird one and from the other end of the pitch it took a little while to even realise it was a goal. Yoshito did a nice back heel to Kengo who did pretty much what Oshima did with the first goal. This time Kobayashi’s header back towards the goal was fumbled into the net by the keeper as he clattered into the post. Not exactly a wonder goal, but they all count.

We started the second half pretty well too. Otsuka was replaced by Takeoka during the break, so Elsinho moved up into the midfield. We had quite a few chances in the first part of this half but then things started going a little awry and Sendai really got back into the game. Even though we had a two goal lead, things weren’t that comfortable and I was worried to think what might have happened if they managed to get a goal back. But the defence was playing pretty well, and whilst they were having chances we were dealing with everything. Something wasn’t quite working though and we were up against it a bit. We still had a few chances but nothing was going in (and many weren’t going on target even). Kengo put a free kick just over and Taniguchi almost scored with a header from a Kengo corner. (I wonder if we will ever score from a corner again…). Miyoshi came on for Elsinho with 15 minutes to go and had a positive effect. I think he always worries the opposition as he is the kind of player who drives at them running with the ball. He made a couple of chances for others and had a curling shot which just went wide of the top corner. Then on 87 minutes we counter attacked, the ball came to Miyoshi who cut inside and bent one into the bottom corner with his left foot for his first ever professional goal. This was maybe the highlight of the game for me as I think he’ll be an important player for us in the future and it's good to see homegrown talent coming through. He always has lots of energy and is wiling to shoot. I hope this will give him plenty of confidence and this will be the first of many goals. After this the victory was sealed. Hashimoto came on for a brief appearance and almost scored. He could have squared the ball for Yoshito though, and I wish he had as he really needs to start scoring again. Thankfully for Hashimoto, they are friends so he didn’t get too much of a mouthful.

So, in the end, it looked like a comfortable victory and I guess for large parts of the game that is exactly what it was. However we did have a pretty long and quite nervy period of not doing very much in the second half. But we didn’t concede. And we’re back at the top of the league, only having vacated the spot for the most important part of the first stage. Positives: another good game from the defence (Kurumaya and Taniguchi particularly), a clean sheet, scoring a few goals (Otsuka keeping his run going), Kengo looking full of energy and Oshima playing well and of course Miyoshi’s first pro goal. Negatives: Yoshito really needs a goal, things not quite working out for Elsinho in spite of plenty of effort from him, worries about what we'll do when Oshima and Harakawa go to the Olympics soon. But not too much to be negative about. Next stop Nagoya on Saturday.


GK 1. S
ung-Ryong JUNG
DF 4. IGAWA Yusuke
DF 20. KURUMAYA Shintaro
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota
MF 27. OTSUKA Shohei
FW 13. OKUBO Yoshito

GK 30. A
RAI Shota
MF 6. TASAKA Yusuke 
MF 7. HASHIMOTO Koji (on for KOBAYASHI 88')
(on for OTSUKA 46')
MF 19. MORIYA Kentaro
(on for ELSINHO 75')

OTSUKA (Frontale) 17'  1-0
KOBAYASHI (Frontale) 21'  2-0

MIYOSHI (Frontale) 87'  3-0


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