Friday 23 June 2017

Vs Tochigi UVA (home) 21/6/17 - Emperor's Cup 2nd round


Kawasaki Frontale 2 - 0 Tochigi UVA

Ah! The magic of the Emperors cup! I can safely say that now we're through to the next round. This year's second round saw quite a few upsets and whilst we were facing a team from way down the leagues and we were expected to win, its always nice to actually get the job done. I had great hopes that this might be the game we finally got to see Tabinas do his stuff for the first time and Chinen score his first professional goal for us. Sadly neither happened, but Tabinas made it on to the bench and Chinen tried his hardest as a second half sub, but he'll have to wait a little longer to open his account. The weather looked like it wanted to have a say in the game. The rain and wind were horrible right up to a couple of hours before kick off. The rain stopped, but the wind still reared its head from time to time during the game and on occasion looked like it could make things interesting. Thankfully we avoided any meteorological mishaps.

The starting line up was understandably shuffled, but the it actually looked unexpectedly strong. Admittedly a number of first team regulars were rested (Sung-Ryong, Taniguchi, Edu, Kurumaya, Neto, Kengo, Kobayashi, Abe), but I guess it's a sign of the amount of injuries we've had this season, or the fact that we're still in search of our best eleven, that most of our first team to face Tochigi UVA had already played a fair bit this season. In goal Arai got a rare chance to start. In front of him it seemed we were playing a back three of Tasaka, Nara and Itakura. The defensive midfield spots were taken by Kano and Moriya. On the wings we had Rhayner and Hasegawa. And then up front were Otsuka, Ienaga and Miyoshi. On the bench were Ando, Tabinas and Chinen, and a few regulars, presumably to be brought on in case of emergency (Taniguchi, Kurumaya, Elsinho and Kobayashi). From the start of the game a few things became apparent. Firstly, our 3-2-4-1 was actually more like a 1-4-4-1. Nara stayed in defence but Tasaka (captain for the night) and Itakura spent most of the time pushing forward. Tasaka seemed to almost be playing his usual right back role. This was an interesting, if slightly unnerving tactic, especially given that our defensive midfielders weren't exactly naturals in that position, being more attacking minded themselves. Also, it seemed that most of the team were keen to get Ienaga his first goal. Recently, Ienaga hasn't been looking too happy and I wonder if the fact that he still hasn't scored is playing on his mind. Sadly that goalless run continued in this game, despite our players apparently trying to set him up all the time. Ienaga certainly looked up for it, but I wonder if the fact that he was the big name on show meant that he was getting a lot of attention from the UVA defenders. A few times he looked like he was going to break through on goal only to be denied by either the linesman's flag or a foul from a defender. A bit of a frustrating night for him again. Miyoshi also seemed to be in the mood and was getting involved. Otsuka now seems to have moved on from the run-around-like-crazy role he had last season to be playing deeper, coming to collect the ball and make things happen. You could see this was a relatively untested line-up as whilst we were doing ok, things weren't really clicking. The willingness of the defenders to attack caused us a few worrying moments in the first half and it looked like we were in for a tougher game than we might have expected. Then we scored! After our usual passing the ball around the midfield, Ienaga set up Tasaka who powered the ball into the corner of the net from just outside the box. It was good to see someone have a shot for a change! A nice goal, and very pleased to see Tasaka score as captain. Not a lot else happened in the first half apart from a bit more chaotic defending. Yes, they are three leagues below us, but we probably couldn't really expect Nara to deal with everything and let everyone else attack. We weren't passing particularly well either and plenty of players were having quiet games. When we did create chances we inevitably overplayed things, always favouring another pass over having a shot. It's telling that the goal came when we didn't try to pass the ball into the back of the net, but instead gave it a whack. All in all, it was a pretty sloppy first half. I can't particularly say they troubled us too much, but at the same time I couldn't say we particularly deserved to be any further ahead.

The second half starred with a substitution. Perhaps as a response to the fragility of our defence, Oniki decided to replace Kano with Kurumaya and switch to four at the back (Tasaka right, Nara and Itakura in the middle and Kurumaya on the left). Kurumaya kept his record of playing every game so far this season going. Hope that can continue for the sake of him keeping a nice run going, but I suspect he might like a rest at some stage! Otsuka took Kano's place alongside Moriya. Interesting... I felt a bit for Kano as he hadn't had a great game, but he was playing out of position. I wonder if Otsuka can be an option for us in the defensive midfield postition. I'd have to say the jury is still out on that after this game. He did ok, but I wouldn't really want him and Moriya playing there against stronger opposition. Perhaps either of them with Neto would be fine though. Without a strong tackler there we're a bit exposed I think. The second half followed a pretty similar pattern to the first really. We attacked, tried to get the ball to Ienaga to score but he was fouled. The new formation definitely seemed to give us a bit more stability at the back though. Our second goal came on 62 minutes with Moriya spreading the ball out to Kurumaya on the wing. He crossed the ball and Hasegawa was able to angle it past the keeper into the corner. A nice move but perhaps there wouldn't have been so much space against tougher opposition. Not long after the goal Miyoshi was replaced by Chinen. Was it to be his night? No... but he really tried. He made an immediate impact and added a bit more height to our forward line. I guess Ienaga's not small but Chinen definitely seemed to be carrying a bit more of a aerial threat about him. He seemed determined to score and he had a few chances, once agonisingly stumbling when going through on goal. He definitely showed the potential he has though. I was quite pleased with how he played and am optimistic about his future with us. Another player determined to score was Moriya, who put in his usual 100% performance and wasn't afraid to try to hammer one in from distance. It also wasn't to be his night. As the game entered its last ten minutes Elsinho came on for Rhayner who'd had a fairly quiet game by his standards. This gave us another boost and we looked pretty dangerous in the last ten minutes. But we didn't score again and the game finished as a slightly underwhelming 2-0 victory. Credit to UVA, who aren't having the best of seasons, for stopping us from having an easy night. I suspect we also kind of stopped ourselves a bit though, as it wasn't exactly a vintage Frontale performance. But, it was a win and we move on to face the challengingly named Thespakusatsu Gunma in the next round.

Positives and negatives. We'll start negative I guess. Not a convincing performance or result against a fairly weak side. Ienaga and Miyoshi both failed to open their accounts against probably the weakest team we'll play this year. Most of our attacking threat came from players not playing up front. Positives. We won and are through (even if the performance was a bit dodgy), unlike our neighbours FC Tokyo. Tasaka played well as captain and scored a cracker. Hasegawa continues to be in the right place at the right time too. Chinen looked like he has plenty to offer when he has the chance. Tabinas was on the bench and whilst I was sad that he didn't get an opportunity to make his debut, I'm pleased he's made it to the bench.

Next up, we're away to Gamba Osaka, a game being played inconveniently on Sunday evening... I'm praying for a better result than the last time we went to Osaka on a Sunday as the defeat to Cerezo really took the shine off the beers after the game. It will no doubt be a tough game and will show us how much chance we might have of having a go at the league this year. Whilst we're approaching the halfway stage, no one has really marked themselves out as being streets ahead yet, so victories in these kind of games are crucial to keep in touch at the top. It's a very nice stadium so hopefully our performance can be equally good. Go Frontale!


GK 30. ARAI Shota
DF 6. TASAKA Yusuke
DF 3. NARA Tatsuki
DF 28. ITAKURA Ko   
MF 19. MORIYA Kentaro
MF 25. KANO Kenta
MF 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya
MF 27. OTSUKA Shohei
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro

GK 24. ANDO Shunsuke
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro (on for KANO 46')
MF 18. ELSINHO (on for RHAYNER 82')
FW 20. CHINEN Kei (on for MIYOSHI 67')
DF 26. TABINAS Jefferson

My Frontale Man Of The Match

Fairly average performances from most of the team, but good work as captain and a nice goal mean that it probably has to be...

TASAKA Yusuke - leading by example!


TASAKA (Frontale) 29'  1-0
HASEGAWA (Frontale) 62'  2-0

Seems that there aren't any highlights of this game. No idea why as some other teams games are up. But anyway, here are a couple of videos taken from the crowd of the first and second goals.

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