Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Vs Yokohama F Marinos (away) 8/4/18 - J League match 6

  Yokohama F Marinos 1 - 1 Kawasaki Frontale

The games are coming thick and fast at the moment. We’ve got Wednesday and Saturday games for the next four weeks. Seems like I’m going to be doing a lot of writing for this blog over the next month or so. I know I always say this, but I’ll try to keep things a bit briefer where I can. But this was a local derby, so I don’t think that brevity thing is going to work on this occasion. Last year’s fixture at the Nissan Stadium was a bit of a disaster and was a day most of us probably want to forget. I’m not sure we went into this game particularly looking for revenge, but local derbies always add a bit of excitement and there was the added element of a certain summer transfer between the clubs to contribute something extra to the mix. As predicted exclusively on the last J Talk Podcast by me, we got a look at Manabu Saito in action for us for the first time. This prediction makes it look like I’ve got my finger on the pulse, but please rest assured, it was nothing more than a lucky guess. I can confirm that I really know absolutely nothing!

Our line up for this game was a big change from Wednesday’s ACL game, but only a slight change from our last league game. Kobayashi was absent due to illness and his place up front was taken by Chinen. Also Nara was back in defence with Taniguchi. Kurumaya went back to left back and Nobori dropped to the bench. Joining him there were Arai, Moriya, Morita, Hasegawa, Okubo and the aforementioned Manabu Saito. No complaints about the line up from me. A very rare situation! It was great to see Oshima back again too. Seems his injury wasn’t too serious after all. We’d taken a lot of fans and our end was pretty loud. Marinos had also attracted a decent number of fans, so the atmosphere was pretty good, as you’d expect it to be at a derby. We started really brightly, and could have been three or four ahead fairly early on in the first half were it not for or old friends poor finishing and the woodwork (both Chinen and Abe hit it). Yokohama’s new style of play with their keeper really advancing up the pitch and everyone pressing high is clearly still in the early stages and not quite clicking yet. Through some lovely long passes from Kengo and Neto we were able to get down the channels and caused them loads of problems. Well, their defence at least. The issue was that we weren’t really causing their keeper too many problems. But, it was pretty positive stuff, and much much better than against Hiroshima last weekend. I feel that if we’d taken one of the early chances we might have gone on to score quite a few. But we didn’t, and we allowed them back into the game. They had a few good chances themselves, and at half time we could reflect on a much improved performance but unfortunately without any end product. I’m not sure I really want to watch those misses again to be honest, but I’m sure I will at some stage. There was plenty to be happy about. Chinen was looking good again and was unlucky to hit the post. He’s still raw, but he is promising great things. If he carries on like this I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up in Europe at some stage. Our midfield was looking solid with Neto and Oshima in control and with Kengo defying his age with another high energy performance.

As usual, I don’t have much in the way of notes for the second half. It seems I always give up making them. Writing this the same evening, I can say that the second half felt a lot more even. We had some major let offs with them hitting the post twice (I think), and blazing a few shots high and wide. It wasn’t the highest quality football on display, but I guess that’s to be expected in a derby match. On 58 minutes we went ahead and after missing four or five of what would have been lovely moves and goals, our goal was actually a pretty scrappy finish, with Ienaga’s shot coming off the keeper on to the post and the bouncing back off the keeper’s face into the goal. But they all count! Surely this would get us really going and we’d step things up a bit? No. Instead, we conceded not long after the restart and it was in a similarly scrappy way. Nakazawa easily beat Taniguchi from a Yokohama corner (bet he won’t get dropped though...), and his header bounced off Elsinho’s face completely wrong footing Sung-Ryong. Unfortunate, but we can’t moan given the way our goal went in. This goal really put the wind in their sails and we struggled for a bit. Okubo came on for Chinen five minutes later and we started to steady the ship a little bit, to use a second nautical metaphor in two sentences (perhaps quite appropriate given the opposition). However, we were still prone to lapses in concentration allowing them through on goal. Five minutes later Nobori was on for Kurumaya who seemed to have picked up an injury. There were a few meaty challenges going in. Unsurprising, as it was a derby, but surprisingly there were no bookings in the whole match. The ref was Kimura and whilst I strongly disagreed with some of his decisions (the ones that went against us naturally), I’m surprised to hear myself say that he probably did a decent job! I haven’t watched it back yet, but I do think he missed a handball from Nakazawa in the penalty box late in the game though. Our one remaining change brought the player we had been hoping to see on to the pitch to a chorus of boos from them and loud cheering and excitement from us. It didn’t take him long to show what he could do and in the fifteen or so minutes he was on the pitch he really had an effect. Although it was only a cameo performance probably mostly intended to play mind games with the Marinos players and fans, I think Saito has gone quite some way to staking a claim to play a much bigger part in the near future. He almost scored a beauty and almost set up a few others with his driving runs really shaking up the Marinos defence. Looking forward to seeing his first start. Perhaps it could be on Wednesday against Cerezo, although maybe that’s too much too soon. In any case, the future looks bright. The game at this stage was really end to end stuff and both teams could have won it in the last five minutes. As it was, it finished 1-1 and I think that probably was a fair result. As close as we’d come on quite a few occasions, we’d also ridden our luck and just about got away with it. The end of the game felt a bit disappointing, but we’ve got to remember how near we came to it being really disappointing. Although the result wasn’t what we wanted, the performance was a lot better and with a few tweaks here and there we could be moving towards some kind of form with some good performances and results! Blimey.

Positives and negatives. Positives first. The big one has to be the debut of Saito and the hugely encouraging performance from him. It feels bad to say it, as I like both of them, but Abe and Hasegawa have got a real fight on their hands for the left wing spot. I wonder if Oniki might have a few things to think about. Was great to see Nara back in defence again and he had a solid game. As I said above, Kengo was great and looked the best I’ve seen him all season. Chinen also did a good job up front. And Elsinho caused some real problems for them down our right. Last but by no means least, Neto and Oshima were great in midfield, winning the ball and spraying lovely passes all over the pitch. I also should say that I don’t have any Oniki moans this week. Selecting Saito could easily have backfired if we’d lost, but I think it was a good call and we didn’t lose. Negatives, not many really. We were quite wasteful in front of goal, but that’s not uncommon recently. Hopefully Kurumaya isn’t seriously injured. And a disappointing but not uncommon lapse in concentration shortly after we'd scored. Think that’s about it though.

Next up, Cerezo at home in the league on Wednesday. Now there’s a team we owe a beating to. Fingers crossed we can do it on Wednesday. After that, away to Sendai in the league this Saturday. As I never tire of saying, one of my favourite away trips. Six points from those two games would be very welcome! Here’s hoping!


GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 3. NARA Tatsuki 
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota
MF 41. IENAGA Akihiro
MF 8. ABE Hiroyuki

GK 30. ARAI Shota
DF 2.  NOBORIZATO Kyohei (on for KURUMAYA 71')
FW 4. OKUBO Yoshito (on for CHINEN 66')
MF 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya 
MF 19. MORIYA Kentaro
DF 25. MORITA Hidemasa
MF 37. SAITO Manabu (on for ABE 77')

My Frontale Man Of The Match

Plenty of good performances in this game, as I mentioned above but I’ll have to narrow it down a little. If Saito’s lob had gone in, he might have got it, just for the hell of it. Kengo could have had it but his miss in the first half snatched it from him and gave it to...

EDUARDO NETO - could easily also have gone to his midfield partner Oshima as they were both great but I think Neto just about edged it with his lovely passing and crunching but fair tackling.


IENAGA (Frontale) 58’ 0-1
NAKAZAWA (Yokohama) 61’ 1-1


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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