Wednesday 28 September 2016

Vs Yokohama F Marinos (home) 25/9/16 - 2nd Stage match 13

 Kawasaki Frontale 3 - 2 Yokohama F Marinos

I don’t really know where to start with this game. As it’s taken me a while to put this post up I imagine everyone already knows the score and has seen the video. I’ve certainly watched it a few times since Sunday too and I still feel pretty amazing when I recall what happened. Not sure I will be able to convey this feeling in words, but I’ll give it a go. Sorry for the blurred photos. Everything was a bit too exciting.

So, going in to the game we had no Yoshito and no Neto. It was a bit of a surprise a couple of days before the game when it seemed that Kano Kenta was going to be one of their replacements. He seems to have been out of favour recently, many times not even making the bench but maybe he was injured and not dropped. He did make it to the bench a few times and then disappeared again. But the whole team injury situation this year has been quite confusing I guess. It seems that we’ve had a huge amount of injuries and it also seems that we don’t really get much information about them. Every time we’ve talked about a player having disappeared from the squad, a few games later we’ll hear that he’s coming back from an injury we never even knew he had. I don’t know if this is a tactical lack of information or just the way we do things. In any case it has sometimes created some surprising team selections. Not least Kano back in the starting line up for a game against his old side. Perhaps we were looking for the classic 'score against your old team thing'…

The formation on the night was a little difficult to detect but it seemed that we were playing three at the back (one of whom was Tasaka). This confusion was not helped by the team announcement which seemed to suggest four at the back and Tasaka up front. I wonder if this is a tactical thing too. Although I suppose the confusion it might create won’t last too long till people work it out. Certainly makes it fun to guess though. The ‘kazoku’ were absent again. During the week three people (presumably members of the 'kazoku') received bans from attending Frontale games. One person got a five game ban and two people a one game ban. The one game bans will have been served by now, but maybe they are all waiting till the five game ban is done before they come back. This could be interpreted as them equally sharing responsibility for what happened, or could be seen as them being angry about the five game ban and withdrawing their support during this time. What little communication from them has come out suggests that it is the former. They will be disappointed though to have missed a very exciting Todoroki night. And I have another referee to add to my list of bizarre and useless officials. The announcement of Iemoto as ref caused a few boos around the ground before the game had started and it seems that he is another notorious official (who was actually struck off once and also had a ‘cooling off period’ after a bizarre performance) who I now have a grudge against. This is probably something to be talked about somewhere else at another time, but it does seem that the standard of refereeing in the J League is, generally speaking, pretty bad.

The first half was pretty good for us. We didn’t seem to be struggling too much with the absence of a couple of starting members. Possibly we were losing the ball a bit more often than we usually do, but when we had the ball we were really pushing forward and making chances. Maybe our play recently has got a bit too ponderous with too many passes going sideways or backwards. I like the way we play, keeping possession well and waiting for an opportunity, but against Yokohama we looked very exciting. Right from the off Kano Kenta looked well up for it against his old team and Miyoshi was doing what Miyoshi always does, running at the opposition and causing them problems. There was an amazing amount of shirt-pulling coming from Yokohama, all going unpunished by the useless ref, who instead seemed to want to concentrate on making himself the centre of attention. I’m not sure where he learnt how to officiate, but he seemed to be so confident that he was playing with his own set of football rules which neither team ever really got used to. Oshima seemed for the most part to be playing the Neto role, sitting in front of the defence and he was doing a good job of it. The opening goal came from Kano Kenta (who else) and was a lovely half-diving header from an Kobayashi cross. Kano celebrated like crazy which suggests he doesn’t have so many fond memories of his time at Yokohama. His passion and enthusiasm was a constant feature of his time on the pitch. Him playing like this could be very useful for the rest of our season. We totally dominated the first half with nine shots to Yokohama’s two. I haven’t seen us play like this for a while and given that this a potentially tricky local derby with Yokohama having moved up to fourth place in the second stage it was a very impressive opening 45 minutes. They had a few chances but we were in total control.

My notes for the second half are a little limited as my phone battery was dying and it all got a bit too exciting. One of the most notable moments was the injury to Arai. From a Yokohama corner Shota took an elbow in the face (from Taniguchi!) as he was jumping to punch clear. He spent a considerable time on the ground getting treatment and being booed by a section of the Marinos fans. Lovely lot, aren’t they? It’s funny as before the game I was saying how in general it’s wrong to dislike fans of other teams as often you can’t really help how you ended up supporting the team you do. Obviously I would make an exception for Urawa, as there is always a reason to dislike everything about them! However, the actions of some of the Yokohama fans was pretty low. I don’t understand why they would think we wanted to waste time when we were well on top. After getting an initial lengthy treatment, Shota was able to continue, but shortly afterwards he went down again (cue more booing from the Marinos fans) and was stretchered off with a broken cheek and concussion. Keep it classy Marinos! He was replaced by Shun Takagi, one of the few squad members I haven’t seen play so far this season, who I guess has to be considered our fourth choice keeper. Sung-Ryong and Shunsuke Ando are both injured and so is Shota now. Let’s hope someone can get at least half fit for Saturday otherwise we might be promoting another youth team player. Or maybe Tasaka can fill in there too! I guess Yokohama were aware of Takagi’s lack of match experience as they immediately started firing shots at him from distance and bumping him in challenges. He made a couple of great saves though and I was very impressed with him given the circumstances. Around 80 minutes Kano left the pitch to be replaced by Komiyama, who went in to the back three and Tasaka moved up to play on the left side of our attack. A couple of minutes later he played a beautifully weighted ball through for Miysohi who chipped the ball over the outrushing Yokohama keeper. Lovely pass and lovely finish and great for both Tasaka and Miyoshi who had both played very well. So we were coasting towards three points. What could possibly go wrong?

Reaching 90 minutes, the fourth official signaled nine minutes of injury time, which was about right. Shota was down for a long time with his injury. Somehow the proximity to victory caused us to lose concentration a little. We gave away a free kick (or maybe an offside) around the edge of the Yokohama penalty area. They pushed the ball towards the half way before taking it, stealing quite a lot of ground. The referee seemed to whistle to say take it from the right place but then changed his mind and waved play on and this is where the first Yokohama goal came from. Disappointing that Iemoto, who had been so horribly picky about everything for the whole of the 90 minutes decided to not be picky this time. But can’t really blame the goal on this. We just went to sleep at the back. We gave them plenty of space to put a cross in, the initial header from an unmarked Yokohama player was pushed onto the bar by Takagi and then they managed to bundle the rebound in. The defenders (apart from Komiyama) were static. Obviously now, nerves were shredded. We had been in almost complete control for the whole 90 minutes but the deficit had been halved and things were tense. This first Yokohama goal was on 90+6 minutes, so we only had to hold on for three minutes more. On 90+8 minutes they drew level. There was some confusion in Miyoshi’s pass to Oshima and a Yokohama player stole the ball, rounded the keeper and then passed the ball to a totally unmarked teammate who lifted the ball into the top of the net. Lack of concentration again and totally deflating. I sat with my head in my hands whilst the Yokohama fans went crazy. One thing seeing the replay that really pissed me off is the huge push from Martinus on Miyoshi after he passes the ball. Surely a foul. I know the ball had gone and it didn’t really affect what happened but can you really get away with this in the professional game? Particularly annoying as Martinus was a constant fouling lump the whole game, shoving, hacking and shirt-pulling. Would have liked to see him get a yellow at some stage for at least one of these. So, we had thrown it away, the season was over, there was no way our morale would be able to recover from this, especially given that it was our neighbours who’d done it to us.

Morimoto was thrown on for Miyoshi for the final couple of minutes. I guess a last throw of the dice to put someone big up front. There was a surprisingly great response from the crowd to us conceding. We were singing louder than ever and desperately trying to get one more attack out of the tiring players. And we had one last chance on 90+9 minutes, a corner taken right in front of us. Kengo’s delivery was headed to the other side of the box where it was picked up by Tasaka, who turned and floated a ball in to the back post where it was met by Kobayashi’s head and drifted (unbearably slowly, it seemed at the time) into the corner of the net past the struggling keeper. Everyone went wild. My voice was pretty much ruined through too much screaming. It was absolutely amazing. To go from the despair of conceding the equaliser to the joy of scoring a winner nine minutes into stoppage time was unreal. The players celebrations were great. There is a great video online of the last few minutes of the game in the video below. Keep an eye on Edu around 2:43. I love his reaction.


There obviously wasn’t much time left to play after that and the ref blew up shortly after the restart. Most of the Frontale players fell to the ground at the final whistle. Huge celebrations were going on in the stands and the result was totally justified given the whole ninety minutes but it really felt like a massive win against the odds after coming back from conceding the two goals. I don’t think I have ever gone through anything like that at a football game. It’s kind of tough on the Yokohama players and fans to lose in such a way, but over the course of the game, justice had probably been done.

Looking back, the margins between this game signalling the end of our season and being a huge confidence boost are tiny. If we hadn’t managed to get the winner I can’t imagine we would be able to pick ourselves up for the remaining games and would have faded away getting nothing from our 2016 campaign. Getting that winner will give us a lot of confidence and hopefully also has made us realise that we need to concentrate for the whole length of the game. We’ve been giving way some stupid goals recently and we’ll need to stop doing this as we can’t always rely on an insane end to every game. Positives and negatives. Negatives first, sloppy defending and lack of concentration to concede twice in injury time and potentially throw the game away, and of course, the injury to Shota. Positives, mainly the fact that we threw the game away but we managed to grab it back. Our attacking desire persists for the entire length of the match but we need to work on our defensive efforts matching that. Great performances from Tasaka, Miyoshi, Kano and Takagi. Although it seems unfair not to mention all of the team. You have to remember we did this without two big names. Our performance was good (ignoring the first part of injury time) and we were creating plenty of chances. Just a shame that we couldn’t put them away. I’m pretty sure we will bring Yoshito and Neto back into the starting line up on Saturday against Kobe, but there could be a case for leaving the team as it is, as they did a good job and we looked a lot more positive than usual. Although given that Kobe is Yoshito’s old team though it would seem foolish not to put him in and let the 'scoring against your previous team' thing carry on.

On to Kobe, a new ground for me and a team that will probably be pretty tough opponents. They have a free scoring striker Leandro who will be keen to keep ahead of Yoshito and Kobayashi (who are now level) in the goal scoring charts. All of these players though are still behind Hiroshima’s Utaka. Kobe have replaced Yokohama in fourth place so they are a team that are doing well in the second stage and are in some good form. Let’s hope we can come back with three points and that we can get a nice result in the Urawa vs Gamba game taking place five hours before our game starts. Fingers crossed!

[Can't believe I forgot to mention it, but this win has secured our place in the end of season championship. If we can remain top of the league over the course of the whole season we'll go straight to the final, so that has to be our aim. But at least we know we'll be there at some stage now].


GK 30. ARAI Shota
DF 6. TASAKA Yusuke (Yellow card 78')
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota
MF 25. KANO Kenta
MF 20. KURUMAYA Shintaro

I Shun (on for ARAI 69')
DF 3. NARA Tatsuki
DF 8. KOMIYAMA Takanobu (on for KANO 82')
FW 9. MORIMOTO Takayuki (on for MIYOSHI 90+9')
MF 19. MORIYA Kentaro
FW 27. OTSUKA Shohei 


KANO (Frontale) 14'  1-0
MIYOSHI (Frontale) 84'  2-0
NAKAMACHI (Yokohama) 90+6'  2-1
ITO (Yokohama) 90+8'  2-2
KOBAYASHI (Frontale) 90+10'  3-1

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