Tuesday 18 April 2017

Vs Consadole Sapporo (away) 16/4/17, J-League match 7

Consadole Sapporo 1 - 1 Kawasaki Frontale

Yep, can still keep using the same blog post with a few details changed. Another game and another vaguely unsatisfying performance and scoreline. So, what was different this time? Well, I suppose the injury situation got slightly better with the return of Abe to the bench. But presumably we’ll have lost someone to injury from this game. Most likely suspect is Taniguchi, who fell heavily on his hand/wrist just before half time and looked to be in some discomfort. He played the second half, but knowing our luck with injuries recently, I wouldn’t rule out him having picked up something that keeps him out for a few games. I could probably have predicted it at the time, but the most exciting footballing part of the weekend was when we found ourselves to be on the same flight as the team on the way up. Ridiculously, I felt a little star struck and the most I could manage was to awkwardly say ‘こんにちは’ to Moriya and Miyoshi who were standing right in front of me. They responded with the same words and the same awkwardness.

Our starting line up was slightly shuffled again. It was reminiscent of how we lined up in the second half against Guangzhou, with Sung-Ryong in goal, a back four of Tasaka, Taniguchi, Nara and Kurumaya, Neto and Kengo as the defensive midfielders, Rhayner and Nobori on the wings and Kobayashi and Hasegawa up front. Rhayner didn’t seem to have as much freedom as he was given against Guangzhou and stuck to his right wing position for the majority of the game. So another slight tweak to the formation/line-up but with not a great deal of noticeable difference to the performance, game and result. The subs bench was made up of Arai, Morimoto, Miyoshi, Moriya, Otsuka, Itakura and a back from injury Abe. This was the first time I had been to the Sapporo Dome and the first time I had watched a football match indoors. The stadium and the atmosphere was pretty good though. If you weren’t aware, there is an intricate process of transforming the dome from a baseball stadium to a football stadium which involves wheeling the pitch in from outside where it spends most of it’s time growing and getting some sunlight. There’s a video of the process here if you are interested in that kind of thing. Perhaps because of the roof, the stadium seemed pretty loud. The Consadole fans were in good voice and it was nice to see them give a good reception to Nara, returning to the club where he started his career. It was also nice to see the Console mascot giving its all with the cheerleaders before the game. Classic entertainment!

The first half began with us giving them a few chances with some dodgy defending. We seemed incapable of marking and were leaving lots of gaps. I have no idea why, as this has been something we’ve been ok at recently (aside from the FC Tokyo game obviously, but that was a bit of a false result in some ways). Our passes were also not quite going where they were supposed to be. I wonder if there was something a bit weird about the pitch, as before the game, a few of the Frontal staff were bouncing, kicking and running balls along the pitch, suggesting that things weren’t going to be exactly as we were used to. Just my theory anyway, and we did seem to get to grips with it after 20 minutes or so. As I’m writing this on the same day as the game, I haven’t seen the highlights yet, but I don’t remember there being a great deal of them. Tasaka had a decent shot saved by their keeper at the other end of the pitch. Taniguchi almost scored another own goal (poor him! or rather lucky him as it was an almost own goal rather than actual own goal) when he got his head on a shot, trying to block it and diverted the ball on to the post. Bit of a let off to be honest! We did seem more willing to shoot though and were maybe a little bit more direct than usual. At least in the first half anyway. This wouldn’t be a Frontale Rabbit blog post if I didn’t complain about the ref, so I’ll give him the usual stick. He was weak. I don’t think there were any glaring errors from a decision point of view, but he was letting way too much go in my opinion. And he was really being given a lot of lip by the Consadole players who were surrounding him for almost every decision that went against them. He did seem to be getting influenced by this bullying, but remember that this is coming from an extremely biased point of view. First half progress report would probably say something like, ‘showing decent potential and desire to get forward, but must learn that it’s not physically possible to pass the ball through the opposition players’. I don’t know if they were pressing us well, but it looked more like we were just kicking the ball against them all the time. 

The second half continued where the first left off. Consadole using their strength and us not really getting anything going. Taniguchi’s wrist or hand was strapped up so something was wrong with it. Let’s hope it’s not serious. I was as always, disappointed to hear another team singing ‘The Sodding Entertainer’. Maybe that’s not the official title, but it’s certainly the first thing that springs to mind when I hear these songs. The ref was still wafting across the pitch getting blown around by the grumbles of the Consadole players. Nothing much was happening really. On 71 minutes, Abe came on for Hasegawa, who’d had a quiet game. And then we should have had a penalty. Kobayashi was shoved to the floor by the defender who had absolutely no interest in the ball whatsoever. It was waved away by the ref and the defenders, who I guess indirectly had some kind of say over most of the decisions in the match. Shortly afterwards, after a couple of decent Kurumaya goal attempts, we had another appeal and we got that one. Haven’t seen the replay but Kengo was driving into the box and was upended. I thought it was a penalty but was expecting it not to be given. But it was, and Kobayashi put it away, not before pretty much 75% of the Consadole players had stood in the way, or tried to talk to him to put him off or moved the ball or do just about anything part from get out of the way and get on with the game. Weak ref again. The distraction was so intense that I was a little worried it was going to work. But he put it away. The keeper was close, judging by my photo, certainly closer than I remember, but close is not good enough and we were one up. So, unfamiliar territory, at least recently. But it wasn’t to last long. Down the other end of the pitch Tasaka battled with a Consadole player running towards the goal line outside the box, he won the battle and then slid to prevent the ball from going out for a corner. Just as I said ‘maybe he shouldn’t have done that’ the loose ball was picked up by another Consadole player, crossed and was in the back of the net, at least metaphorically speaking. It was saved, but Sung-Ryong was way behind the line when he did so. Who to blame? I guess it has to be between Tasaka, for setting up the cross but that feels a bit harsh, Kurumaya (I think…) who was out jumped by Tokura or Sung-Ryong who seemed to be beaten quite easily. Probably it’s fair that they share the blame. As a reaction to the goal, Oniki brought on Miyoshi for Rhayner. I think Miyoshi needs to get more of a chance soon, and maybe he will as Rhayner picked up his fourth yellow of the season in this game so now will miss the next match. But to be honest, it felt like too little too late. It seems that we get going when we concede, but I wish we could do it before we concede. Our final substitution was Moriya coming on for Nobori in injury time. It’s a bit weird, as Consadole seemed to be playing for the draw but we were the team making the time-wasting substitution. So, 1-1. We only had three minutes of injury time which didn’t seem much given the time it took to get the penalty taken and various other things, but even if we’d played for eight minutes I wouldn’t have been that confident we’d have got a winner. 

So, 1-1. It felt like it was probably a fair result and looking at one site's early statistics, it seems like it probably was too. We had the same amount of shots and shots on target, and whilst we had an advantage in possession, we know that most of our possession was passing the ball backwards and sometimes sideways. It’s the same story as a few games recently. We haven’t looked like we were in much trouble at the back, but haven’t really looked like we are causing much trouble up front. I know we still have a huge amount of injuries, but I would have hoped that we would be scoring a few more goals as we’re not playing badly at all. Positives and negatives. Let’s start positive. Aside from the goal and the almost own goal, we didn’t look threatened by them too much. Our defence is definitely feeling more solid than last year. At least most of the time anyway. Another big positive is the fact that we are only four points off the top of the table still. I know it’s early days, but it’s good that we’re not being left behind whilst we’re struggling. We were playing with a bit more directness at points in the game which hopefully should help us, but didn’t particularly today. Also, Abe is back, which could be a positive if he can start playing well. Negatives, a few more. A weak goal to concede. A lack of chances. 11 shots yeah, but not many that we can look back on and think almost went in. A fourth booking for Rhayner meaning that probably our most creative player recently in a very uncreative slump won’t be able to play the next game. I don’t think anyone had a stinker, but the whole performance was a bit underwhelming. Not sure Kengo is best suited to playing in defensive midfield with Neto. Although to be honest both of defensive midfielders have been getting forward a lot recently, although to not much effect. I think Oniki has some thinking to do.

Next up are Shimizu S-Pulse at home on Friday. They’ve had a reasonable start to the season so have the potential to cause us some problems. Let’s just hope that we can cause a few problems ourselves. The absence of Rhayner means that Oniki has to make at least one change. Let’s hope he can shuffle the pack again and this time come up with something that works a bit better. Go Frontale!


GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 6. TASAKA Yusuke
DF 3. NARA Tatsuki
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
MF 22. RHAYNER (Yellow card 32')
FW 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya

GK 30. ARAI Shota
MF 8. ABE Hiroyuki (on for HASEGAWA 71')
FW 9. MORIMOTO Takayuki
MF 13. MIYOSHI Koji (on for RHAYNER 84')
MF 19. MORIYA Kentaro (on for NOBORIZATO 90+3')
FW 27. OTSUKA Shohei

My Frontale Man Of The Match
Not sure anyone particularly deserved it to be honest. Everyone was kind of average, but I'll give it to Nara as he's been doing ok lately and was going back to his old club. And I have got his gacha gacha keyring thing.

NARA - solid homecoming.


KOBAYASHI (Frontale) PEN 74' 0-1
TOKURA (Consadole) 82' 1-1


The Frontale youtube channel has longer highlights provided by DAZN, but given that last year's highlights got wiped when the broadcaster got changed, I'm going to stick with the official J League ones. But you can watch the longer highlights here if you want.

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