Kawasaki Frontale 3 - 0 Albirex Niigata
It was a pretty nice day for a football game, or at least it was up in the SG section. There we don’t get the direct sunlight and there was occasionally a nice cooling breeze stopping things from getting overheated. When the players came out for the warm up I was shocked to see new haircuts for both Neto and Edu. Presumably, it’s half price this week for people called Eduardo at the local barbershop. I was also shocked to see Oshima back. Shocked and pretty happy to be honest. Instead of having to find someone to play in Oshima position we could use the man himself. There were a few changes in the line-up as you’d expect after a result like we got against Cerezo. Sung-Ryong continued in goal, the defence was Tasaka, Taniguchi, Edu and Kurumaya. In front of them were Neto and Oshima and then from right to left Kobayashi, Rhayner and Hasegawa with Abe up front. I’m pleased to see that Oniki read my last blog post and moved Kobayashi. The bench was Arai, Nara, Morimoto, Miyoshi, Takeoka, Moriya and Otsuka. I feel it was a bit harsh to drop Nara after last week as it could have been any of the defensive players, but clearly someone had to take the blame.
The first half began as many of our first halves have begun recently. Hugely scrappy, not much in the way of skill, control or football from us and a few decent chances for them. We couldn’t hold on to the ball and were giving them way too many easy chances. Thankfully, their strikers seem to have been using the same training techniques as ours have recently and were wasting any chances they got. According to the stats, they only had two shots in the first half, but that’s really not how I remember it being. Perhaps their chances didn’t result in shots, but we were riding our luck again a bit. Rhayner was coming really deep and was pretty involved in the game. Hasegawa’s running at their defenders seemed to have them wobbling a bit too. The game did feel a bit boring though. There was a general lack of quality on show which was a bit worrying. Whilst realistically speaking I don’t think we’ll be winning the league this year, I don’t think we are relegation contenders but this is a bit how this first half felt. Both teams were nervous and playing football of dubious quality. I guess they have had a pretty bad start to the season and I guess we have also had a bit of a sticky patch. It was looking like being more of a slog-fest than a slug-fest. But then Rhayner turned up with his first goal for Frontale and everything was right in the world again. Actually he scored shortly after I had made a note saying that his control and dribbling is great but he doesn’t seem to be able to shoot. Very pleased that I can take some of the credit for the goal with my reverse jinx. The goal came from a fast break with Abe putting a lovely ball through for Rhayner to slot home through the keeper’s legs. Very pleased another player has got off the mark. The more people we have scoring the better I guess, This was probably the only real highlight of the first half, but it meant that we went in to half time leading.
The normal script we’ve been following lately would have meant that we were due for a second half of fluffed attempts on goal, then conceding a late one to get the usual 1-1 draw. But it seemed that we came out with a bit of determination after the break. We were making more chances! Would we score another goal? We would! In what was a lovely move, Hasegawa battled to win the ball near the halfway line, turned and ran at the Albirex defence beating a few players on the way and ending up with five of the opposition around him. He passed the ball over to Abe in the middle who was in plenty of space thanks to everyone running towards Hasegawa, and who made a first time pass to Kobayashi who slotted the ball home. It really was a lovely goal. And very happy to see Kobayashi get a goal as he’s had a period recently where nothing has been falling for him. Another player getting a confidence boost hopefully. And another assist from Abe (who I said hadn’t done anything in the last game. Another excellent reverse jinx from me!) Two goals from open play in the same game! Amazing! Naturally we followed it up with almost conceding from a corner, twice in a row. The two goal lead seemed to cause things to get scrappy again. Not long after Kobayashi hit the post again. He must be leading the charts for hits of the woodwork in the J League. Actually, I bet that statistic does actually exist. I feel for him, as every time he hits the post or the bar it always seems to bounce away from the goal rather than in. I guess that’s what happens when you’re on a bad run. On the 65th minute Miyoshi came on for Hasegawa who’d had a good game. It seemed that Miyoshi went up front with Kobayashi, with Abe moving to the left and Rhayner to the right. Our third goal came shortly afterwards and was another nice move. Miyoshi passed to Abe who did a lovely one-two with Kobayashi and then rolled the ball into the corner from the edge of the box. It’s weird, but his shots never seem to be the most powerful, but keepers do seem to have trouble stopping them. So, two assists and a goal for Abe. Pretty impressive. With a three goal lead Oniki did the right thing and took off Oshima. Best not overdo it as he’s only just back. He’d had a pretty good game and it’s crucial that he stays fit. Moriya came on in his place. We continued to make some chances and Albirex huffed and puffed but to be honest the game was kind of over at this stage. The only other notable incident was the return of Takeoka who replaced Rhayner on 87 minutes. Nice to see him back on the pitch again.
So, definitely a step in the right direction. Like I said, the score flattered us and we have to remember who we were playing. Albirex are definitely not going to be our toughest opponents this year. Whilst we might not have put in the most convincing performance at the back, we didn’t concede. And we scored three good goals and in between big periods of not quite getting things right, played some football that was pretty exciting. Positives and negatives. Let’s start negative. It didn’t have any bearing on the result, but we gave them plenty of chances that a better or more confident team would have taken. Also, if I’m being really picky, (and it seems I have to be today to come up with some more negatives…) long periods of the game were quite boring, so I guess we’re not really back at the free-flowing-super-attacking stuff we played last year. But let’s not be greedy. Positives. Goals!!! Three of them and they were all from open play and all pretty nice. Big plus must be the fact that Kobayashi has found the net again. We need his near misses to start going in and goals make confidence which breeds more goals. Similarly Rhayner scored his first for the club. Let’s hope it’s the first of many. And I guess I have to mention Abe scoring and setting two up. In this game he seemed to have developed a nice understanding with Kobayashi. Having Oshima back is a big plus too. Although sometimes it’s easy to not notice him, I think that actually speaks volumes. We looked a lot more solid in that area with most of the Albirex threat coming from down the wings. We do have a team of quite short players, but many of those players do seem to be surprisingly strong on the ball and in the tackle. Well done to Oshima, Abe and Hasegawa particularly in this respect in this game. It feels mean to not mention more players, but let’s not get carried away. If we win a few more games then we can start getting effusive and excited. Until then, let’s try to stay calm.
Next up is Eastern at home in the ACL. Our fate is very much in our own hands. A win will take us through to the knockout stages. We should have enough to beat them, but we probably thought that before the away game. Even when we were down to ten, we probably still should have won, but that was all written about on a different post and I’m trying to forget that game. After that, it’s away at Jubilo Iwata. This will be the first league game we’ve missed this year. Decided not to go as the games are really coming thick and fast at the moment and last year’s trip there was blighted by a distinct lack of seating, poor view from the stand, slightly dodgy performance and a nightmare snail’s pace bus journey back to the Shinkansen. It will give me my first opportunity to watch a game on DAZN and presumably afterwards complain about their coverage. Anyway, let’s hope we can build on this win with a couple more and a load more goals. I’m going to stay optimistic for the time being. Go Frontale!
GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 6. TASAKA Yusuke
DF 5. TANIGUCHI ShogoDF 23. EDUARDO
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
MF 21. EDUARDO NETO
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota
MF 11. KOBAYASHI Yu
MF 22. RHAYNER
MF 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya
FW 8. ABE Hiroyuki
FW 8. ABE Hiroyuki
GK 30. ARAI Shota
DF 3. NARA Tatsuki
FW 9. MORIMOTO TakayukiMF 13. MIYOSHI Koji (on for HASEGAWA 65')
DF 17. TAKEOKA Yuto (on for RHAYNER 87')
MF 19. MORIYA Kentaro (on for OSHIMA 76')
FW. 27 OTSUKA Shohei
My Frontale Man Of The Match
For once it could have been a few people. But I think two assists and a goal seals it for Abe. Unfortunately I still haven't got him in the gacha gacha, so no picture.
ABE Hiroyuki - did the business with a complete performance.
GoalsKOBAYASHI (Frontale) 50' 2-0
RHAYNER (Frontale) 40' 1-0
RHAYNER (Frontale) 40' 1-0
ABE (Frontale) 75' 3-0
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.