Kashima Antlers 1 - 1 Kawasaki Frontale
It’s fair to say I’ve been a bit disillusioned with most things Frontale recently. Even when we’ve won I’ve found ways to get upset about it. I’ve had plenty of issues with team selection and transfers, (us getting rid of one of our best players and not really signing anyone when the rest of the league strengthened around us). It’s also true that I’ve had a few issues with Oniki, which I’ve bored on about in writing on this blog and orally on the recent episode of the J Talk podcast (listen here if you dare). There has also been a distinct lack of enthusiasm from me for going to games, which I feel seemed to also be present in some of our players. For some reason though, an away Levain Cup game in the notoriously pain in the backside to get to Kashima (at least as far as I’m concerned. I’d much rather travel much further on a train than that distance on a bus), seems to have rejuvenated me somewhat. I had a surprisingly good time at this game, having a good old pantomime moan at the officials and the opposition and not being made despondent by what was going on on the pitch.
As I’m now skirting round these match blog posts in a fairly random and slightly less verbose way, I should probably circle back on a couple of other notable aspects of the match. Chinen and Akasaki again showed hints of something interesting. I think they could make a good front pairing. It would be interesting to see one of them up front with Kobayashi at some stage, but that probably isn’t going to happen any time soon. Akasaki was unlucky not to score when he belted the ball in from a tight angle but was given offside. To be fair, it looked offside even from where we were, directly behind the goal, but i still enjoyed robustly questioning the linesman’s decision. Chinen caused them quite a few problems. It looks like he’s picking up Kobayashi’s nice sharp turns and he won the penalty doing one of these, completely wrong-footing the defender. He also put the penalty away pretty calmly. A good game from him I think. In spite of us coming agonisingly close to finding a winner when we hit the post, shot from the rebound, only to be denied by a goal line clearance, and then hit the post again from that clearance, we had to defend at times and Arai, a somewhat surprising selection in goal, claimed quite a lot of balls that I would normally expect our keepers to punch. That was pretty pleasing to see to be honest. Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t a vintage Frontale performance. Five shots in each half tells you it wasn’t exhilarating, but there seemed to be a spirit there that has been in short supply recently. Although this could entirely be all in my head. Perhaps it was because we were up against a ‘big team’ whose pre-game animation of their title stars bursting onto their crest was tacky at best, and presumably designed almost entirely to irritate opposition fans. Perhaps the cup gave us a welcome break from what is looking like an ultimately unsuccessful league campaign. Perhaps some of the players missing haven’t exactly been shining recently. Whatever it is, and I’m by no means saying all or any of these are true, I came away from this game feeling pretty happy with the performance and experience. Let’s just hope we can play with similar spirit in the ‘home’ leg on Sunday and send Kashima packing. Last year’s Levain game at the Ajinomoto stadium was pretty fun, and even though we were the away team on that occasion, and the opposition are different, a similar result this weekend would be most welcome! Go Frontale!
GK 30. ARAI ShotaDF 18. ELSINHO (Yellow card 41')
DF 29. MICHAEL JAMES
DF 3. NARA Tatsuki (Yellow card 72')
DF 2. NOBORIZATO Kyohei
MF 5. TANIGUCHI Shogo (Yellow card 75')
MF 14. NAKAMURA Kengo
MF 27. SUZUKI Yuto
MF 37. SAITO Manabu
FW 20. CHINEN Kei
FW 9. AKASAKI Shuhei (Yellow card 27')
GK 30. ANDO Shunsuke
MF 6. TASAKA Yusuke
MF 8. ABE Hiroyuki (on for CHINEN 76')
MF 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya (on for SAITO 59')
MF 22. SHIMODA Hokuto
DF 23. EDUARDO
MF 41. IENAGA Akihiro (Yellow card 90') (on for AKASAKI 72')
My Frontale Man Of The Match
Like I said above, there were a decent amount of decent performances. Given the shuffle of personnel though, I’m giving it to...
TANIGUCHI Shogo - won tackle after tackle in the middle and distributed the ball well. I’ve had my doubts about him playing in this position, but it seems that every time he’s asked to, he does a great job. Bravo!
NISHI (Kashima) 19' 1-0
CHINEN (Frontale) 32' (PEN) 1-1