Friday 27 April 2018

Vs Sagan Tosu (away) 25/4/18 - J League match 10

Sagan Tosu 0 - 2 Kawasaki Frontale

The busy J League schedule continues and I am getting closer and closer to not finishing a blog post before the following game. That’s my first reason for this being a bit shorter than usual. Which to be honest, is probably a good thing as when I looked back on one of the old posts on my phone it did look overly long. I guess once I get started, I find it difficult to stop. The second reason for this being shorter than usual is that I was able to take advantage of both the local Sake and Shochu before the game and therefore find myself with not a lot of notes. The servings was very generous and needless to say, I had a great time at this game. In our usual excitement over the friendliness of Sendai, it’s often forgotten that we can also walk all the way round the ground at this fixture. Everyone was very nice too. Whilst this game didn’t quite live up to the exciting level last year’s super second half comeback reached, it was a decent performance and a reasonably comfortable win with only a few worrying moments. Well worth the long journey to Saga. I take my hat off to their fans who attend away games, as we only have a couple of really long trips this season, (this game and Sapporo), but they presumably have to take a plane for the majority of their away games. The schedule has certainly taken its toll on me and tomorrow’s early start to get to Kobe is already looking like it will give me a headache. But on we go!

The big team news before this match was that Oshima and Kobayashi were back on the bench. And both made their mark when they came on. I don’t particularly think we were struggling without them, but in the first half, perhaps things were starting to go a little stale for us. This was a fairly atypical game for us, with Tosu having more of the possession but us just about shading it on chances. The game started with a few decent early chances for them, but we were once again defending resolutely and when we weren’t Sung-Ryong was pulling out some quality saves. Things weren’t quite working out for us, with the final ball not really getting there. Neto was dropping very deep trying to start attacks with the two centre backs ahead of him on either side. We were getting forward, but both Kengo and Chinen weren’t quite at the races in the first half. Perhaps it was a little reminiscent of last season, where we played horribly in the first half and didn’t get going till we’d made a couple of changes. I think in that game it was Ienaga and Miyoshi who started and were replaced. Seems weird to think that Ienaga was struggling a little when he first joined us now, as he’s an absolute crucial part of the team now. We only managed a couple of shots in the first half. They did a bit better, mainly hitting us with quick breaks, but we stood firm and went into the break level.

Oniki brought on Kobayashi for Chinen at half time. It always feels a bit harsh to sub someone at half time, but if the change was due to come anyway, it makes sense to do it during the break. And it certainly seemed to give both the fans and the players a boost. We started looking a lot more positive. Oniki made his second change ten minutes later, bringing on Oshima for Morita, who much like Chinen, was doing ok, but not looking quite as sharp as we’ve seen him recently. Oshima was almost immediately involved, setting up Abe for his long overdue first goal of the season. It was a weird one, as the assist from Oshima was a header but I’m not sure it was completely what he intended. At the time, the finish looked a bit lucky, but watching the replay, it’s a lovely lob from Abe, who was doing a great job of holding off the defender, clipping it over the keeper, far enough away from the defender racing back to clear it. Delighted to see him off the mark finally. Let’s hope it’s the first of many. Our second goal was also a first of the season, this time for Kobayashi. [Actually, it was his second, guess the Shonan game was pretty forgettable.] Recent hero Ienaga put a lovely ball through for Abe, whose cross was inch-perfect and it was an easy finish for Kobayashi. This gave us a fair bit of confidence and we started piling forward a bit more. But it seemed that the game had been pretty much decided, with both teams not really coming that close to adding to the goals. Not the most beautiful of games, but another win and a professional job done.

There were a few positives to take from this match. Tosu are a bit of a bogey team for us, but we managed to beat them fairly comfortably with some good finishing (!?!). Hopefully goals will build confidence and this two game winning streak can continue. The big positive has to be the first goals of the season from Abe and Kobayashi. Kobayashi in particular is a confidence player and will get better the more he scores. It was a bit strange to see him score with one of his first chances, as he normally seems to need a few to find his range. I guess it helped that it was a header rather than a shot. Another big bonus is that our Tamagawa neighbours FC Tokyo gave Sanfrecce a bit of a going over. I don’t particularly want to see FC Tokyo win, but Hiroshima were on a bit of a dangerous run and stretching their lead at the top of the table, so hopefully that result should put a check on that slightly. It did mean that FC Tokyo stayed ahead of us in the table though, making our upcoming Tamagawa derby one of the more significant ones of the past few seasons, if you consider the relative league positions of the teams. I’m not going to pick holes in the performance and look for negatives. I had a nice time and we won what can be a tough away game. Perhaps the busy schedule is taking its toll on a few players, but hopefully the wins should cancel out a bit of the fatigue.

Next up, Kobe away in the league. Hope they’ve sorted that pitch out. After that, we’ve got a home game on Wednesday against Urawa Reds. Fingers crossed we can avoid them taking advantage of the new manager boost that teams sometimes get. Then to round off Golden Week, FC Tokyo visit us the following Saturday. Then we get a little break. Nine more points from these three games would make a pretty damn good Golden Week. Go Frontale!


GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 3. NARA Tatsuki 
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
MF 25. MORITA Hidemasa
MF 41. IENAGA Akihiro
MF 8. ABE Hiroyuki

GK 30. ARAI Shota
FW 4. OKUBO Yoshito (on for EDUARDO NETO 81')
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota (on for MORITA 55')
FW 11. KOBAYASHI Yu (on for CHINEN 46')
MF 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya 

My Frontale Man Of The Match

Plenty of options again. I was thinking about giving it jointly to Taniguchi and Nara as they were pretty solid. Sung-Ryong made a couple of excellent and crucial saves. Elsinho was a constant threat down the left and looked knackered at the end so had obviously worked hard. I think after watching the replays though, it should go to…

ABE Hiroyuki - Lovely finish for the goal and great cross for the second. Has been pretty quiet recently, working his socks off without things really clicking for him, so really deserves to get noticed for his contributions.



ABE (Frontale) 56' 0-1
KOBAYASHI (Frontale) 67' 0-2


The Frontale youtube channel usually has longer highlights provided by DAZN, but given that a previous 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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