Another strange game! But also another win. I can’t really explain what happened here as I didn’t really feel we deserved to be losing 2-0 at half time. The second half comeback was fantastic and I wonder if in a way we will get a lot more confidence from it than we did from a walkover victory like the one against FC Tokyo. We do have a tendency to give Sendai a head start at their place and we also have a tendency to concede goals to Shun Nagasawa, who some consider a donkey, but who seems to be kryptonite to our defence. Although we conceded twice in the first half I don’t think we were in much trouble aside from the goals. Both goals saw our defence look pretty dodgy despite having plenty of players around, with us lunging for tackles and getting only fresh air. The second goal came from us gifting them possession and looked like a wonder-finish but of course I’ll pour water on that and mention that it was deflected and therefore they were lucky (hehe). I think, given that we’re focused on attack we’d all be ok with us giving away one of these kind of goals per game, but to gift them two in the first half with nothing on the board for us was a bit of a blunder. I think we weren’t awful in the first half, and had loads of possession, but just couldn’t make any chances and the better chances were definitely going to Sendai and they took them. Hasegawa went off injured just before half time. Hopefully it isn’t serious as he’s been great so far this season. However he hadn’t done much in the first half (or against Yokohama to be honest), so maybe a little rest is good for him.
Perhaps this forced change made Oniki decide to bring on Kobayashi for Damiao at half time instead of the usual 55-60 minute change we’d expect. The change was a good one though. Damiao just didn’t seem to be getting a sniff in the first half and Kobayashi once again has come off the bench and scored twice, somehow getting chances that Damiao didn’t seem to. I guess we have to put this down to Kobayashi’s skills so full credit to him. Even though Damiao now seems a lot better integrated into the team, I think that if Kobayashi is fully fit it would be pretty harsh to not start with him next game as he’s really doing the business right now. Probably likewise Mitoma who really grabs the games he’s involved in by the scruff of the neck. Hasegawa seems to be able to dribble and beat players through his trickiness but Mitoma seems to just grab the ball and charge towards the goal, with it sticking to him magically, even when he loses it it seems to bounce off the defender back to him. So far he hasn’t had to do it from the start of a game, but it can surely only be a matter of time. Hatate seems to be improving and is starting to show some of the massive talent that we know he has. His cross for Kobayashi’s first was very nice. Yamane made up for gifting Sendai possession for their second goal with a nice run and finish after a one-two with Kobayashi. I think our defence is still our most likely downfall though with us being short of numbers in that area. But if we continue to score at least three goals a game we’re probably going to win most weeks even if the defence is a bit leaky. Oh, and once again an honorable mention for Ienaga, who is playing loads of minutes and is doing a magnificent job wherever he is asked to play. To be honest though, wherever he plays he seems to do his own thing quite a lot and as long as that’s working, good for him!
So next up, Shonan at home on Saturday. They’ve just picked up their first win of the season against bottom part of the table dwellers Kashima Antlers. Who bizarrely have lost every game apart the one from against Yokohama F Marinos. What a weird season this is already. Long may that continue. And fingers crossed our good form does too. Shonan home is another fixture that is occasionally a banana skin for us. Whether Oniki rings the changes for this game (by which I mean moves the usual subs into the starting line-up and subs on the usual starters at the usual intervals), or sticks with his usual plan I don’t know. Hopefully we won’t need to come back from two goals behind, but it’s undeniable that the fact we did so in this game will give us a huge confidence boost. And you’ve got to think that we were probably quite confident already. Clearly I’m building this all up and it will now be a 1-0 home defeat. Hopefully not. Go Frontale!
GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
DF 5. TANIGUCHI Shogo
MF 25. TANAKA Ao
FW 9. LEANDRO DAMIAO
GK 24. ANDO Shunsuke
FW 11. KOBAYASHI Yu (on for LEANDRO DAMIAO 46')
FW 30. HATATE Reo (on for WAKIZAKA 46')
My Frontale Man Of The Match
NAGASAWA (Sendai) 30' 1-0