Kawasaki Frontale 3 - 2 Yokohama FC
Yikes! Another big let-off for us in this game. We rode our luck a bit but still managed to take three points from what on paper should have been one of our easier games. That does seem to be the way we do things though, so it probably shouldn’t have come as too much of a surprise to us. Before the game it looked like Yokohama were trying to throw the match, including all three of their veterans and giving King Kazu a chance to get his first league start in quite a while. Online there was some confusion before the match as to what kind of tactical decision this was. One motivated mainly by publicity I guess. But even up against a team including three players with a combined age of over 130 we huffed and puffed through this game. It was quite ironic given their inclusion that the half time ‘entertainment’ and I use that term loosely, was an impressionist singing YMCA. The irony of hearing someone repeatedly sing ‘YOUNG MAN!’ while two players who were almost forty, one in his early forties and one over fifty were having a well earned rest was perhaps the most entertaining aspect of said entertainment. Admittedly things got a bit tricker when the Yokohama three were removed and some younger and perhaps more energetic players replaced them early in the second half. But even with the three wiley old veterans on the pitch things weren’t particularly easy for us and they didn't look particularly off the pace. Yokohama looked tidy at the back and we whilst we had thirteen shots to their one in the first half, it didn’t feel particularly like things were going our way. In the second half they outshot us and had an equal amount of possession which probably gives a more accurate reflection of the game as a whole. It’s difficult to say what went wrong really. I guess every team has these kind of games now and again, but we can definitely consider this a bullet dodged. The fact that FC Tokyo did us a big favour and beat Cerezo means that we now have an 11 point lead at the top. But we can’t be too sure about hanging on to it if we keep playing like we did in this game. Sure, I’m a bit of a pessimist and should probably be happy about winning rather than being worried about not playing well and almost losing. Here are a few bullet points about things we might have learned from this game.
Big let off -
Credit to Yokohama. They gave us a bit of a shock and we were very fortunate to get three points in this game. Saying that though, perhaps their goals couldn’t really have been avoided. The first bounced off someone’s back into the net. I guess he had got between two of our defenders though, so that’s not great, but it was a bit of a freak goal and the scorer didn’t seem to know much about it till it had gone in. We gave them way too many chances though. A sloppy ball at right back created a chance for them from which Sung-Ryong had to pull out a great save and then Morita had to clear a follow up shot off the line. Their second was an absolute beauty of a hit from outside the box. Sung-Ryong was pretty unhappy with it, but I don’t think there was too much we could have done about it. But, once again we lost the ball on the right at the back. Saito had been swapped to that side by that stage so perhaps wasn’t used to playing with Yamane but whichever way you look at it, we gave them a chance that they took with aplomb. Whether our generosity was down to the substitutions we made, some fatigue or Yokohama upping their game I don’t know. But it was a bit worrying. If we were Marinos fans we would probably complain that the rain was preventing us from taking control of the game like they did when we played at their place. Certainly the surface cut up a bit, but I don’t think we can really blame it on that. Let’s just recognise that we played a bit dodgily but got away with it and then we can hopefully sort it out for the next match. Not saying that we didn’t have good chances of our own, but the fact is, we didn’t put enough of them away.
Hatate is the new Mitoma -
Hatate is the latest player to join the more than five goals scored club. As I’ve said before, it’s very satisfying that we’re really spreading the goals around this year rather than relying on one striker to score all of them. Hatate seems to be turning into a really important player for us and is recently getting a lot more match time than Mitoma (who is getting a lot more coverage). Perhaps Mitoma’s lack of starts is a bit confusing, but Oniki clearly seems to be up to something. A while ago we suspected that he didn’t want Mitoma to shine too brightly in order for him not to get snapped up by some Belgian league behemoth or Spanish second division powerhouse. This seems to have worked whether it was actually a plan or not. Unfortunately it seems to have had the side effect of totally draining Mitoma of all of his powers as a player. Of course, it’s hugely unfair to say so, given that his early session performances have perhaps set expectations too high, but he seems to have really dropped off recently. Whether this is because he hasn’t got his move or perhaps because he is now a marked man and is getting shut out of games a bit I don't know. Certainly he seems to play better against teams who are perhaps a bit more confident and therefore don’t base their game plan mainly on stopping him. I feel though that it’s his passing that has been letting him down recently. I don’t know why, but it seems that he always wants to cross with the outside of his boot in his last few appearances. Obviously this might not work quite as well as trying something a bit more simple. I dunno though, you tell me what's happened. He’s definitely gone off the boil though. Hopefully his mojo will be back soon. I wonder if Oniki could give him a go on the right for a change. I don’t think anyone would be expecting that. Hatate on the other hand is heading in the opposite direction, seemingly growing in confidence every game and scoring more and more goals. He seems to be more dangerous when he drops back into the midfield which is a bit weird, but maybe it's somewhere where he can be a bit more free than up front where he is expected to go down the wings a lot. Wherever he plays though, he’s doing great, so hats off to him. He reminds me a bit of last year’s Wakizaka, in that he does occasionally give the ball away unnecessarily, but at the same time has quite some drive when it comes to attacking and is not afraid to have a shot.
Starters and subs -
Once again Taniguchi was rested for this game, which was actually a bit of a surprise, but gave Yamamura another deserved start. I wonder if it will be Jesiel having a rest soon. I would think that Diogo deserves another crack too, but I guess after Yamane smacked in an absolute beauty against Urawa in the last game he might have felt a bit aggrieved to drop out of the squad for the next match. Diogo in the next game though please. Nobori was at left back again and made his 200th J League appearance. Congratulations to him! Morita really seems to be making the anchor role his own recently and had another good game. Ahead of him the partnership of Kengo and Ao looked quite exciting and showed flashes of excitement until it was taken apart at half time. Ao’s goal was lovely and he really looks like he’s enjoying his football recently. We don’t really know how Oshima is after his injury in the Urawa game. As usual we don’t get any news about that kind of thing from the club but it seemed likely he wouldn’t feature in this game and he didn't. Time will tell, I guess. We could probably have done with his calming influence in the second half when we were really under the cosh though. And up front it was Damiao’s turn to play the role of first half grafter with no luck in front of goal. Unfortunately when he was changed, his replacement carried on in much the same vein. Alongside him were Manabu and Hatate. I said plenty about the latter above, so I’ll just mention that again Manabu seemed to have a great time but on this occasion wasn’t quite with it, like many of his teammates. Normally, a lacklustre first half would be blown away by an all action second half transformed by half time changes. Sadly in this game both Kobayashi and Mitoma were pretty ordinary. Kobayashi did set up both Hatate’s goals but his finishing was pretty uninspiring again. Hopefully it was just a birthday blip. We’re going Wednesday/weekend for the majority of the next month so if it’s a fatigue thing I’m a bit worried as it’s only going to get worse. I think we need a bit of a shuffle this weekend. It’s against another team who we would be expected to beat easily, so perhaps it might be another tight game.
Just saying, Morita seems to have been taking shooting lessons from Tasaka recently as he recently has been blasting them over the bar at quite a speed. Hopefully this means he’s soon going to score an absolute beauty. He certainly deserves one as he’s been playing well and he’s been denied on two occasions by dodgy refereeing in the past few weeks. Fingers crossed!
Phew! Glad that game's over and done with. Next up we have a game against another prefectural rival, Shonan Bellmare away on Sunday. Last year this was a barnstormer and Shonan are in pretty awful form right now. So probably a nailed on second defeat of the season! After that, a midweek off so a chance for a little rest and then away to Cerezo Osaka the weekend after. Another banana skin against a team that we rarely beat and who probably really want to beat us. Hopefully it will go more to the form of our first meeting this season at our place rather than the usual depressing way the away games against them do. Keep it up lads! Go Frontale!
GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
DF 4. JESIEL
DF 34. YAMAMURA Kazuya
DF 2. NOBORIZATO Kyohei
MF 6. MORITA Hidemasa
MF 14. NAKAMURA Kengo
MF 25. TANAKA Ao
FW 30. HATATE Reo
FW 9. LEANDRO DAMIAO
FW 19. SAITO Manabu
GK 27. TANNO Kenta
DF 5. TANIGUCHI Shogo
FW 11. KOBAYASHI Yu (on for LEANDRO DAMIAO 46')
FW 18. MITOMA Kaoru (on for NAKAMURA 46')
FW 20. MIYASHIRO Taisei (on for SAITO 77')
MF 22. SHIMODA Hokuto (on for TANAKA 84')
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro (on for HATATE 68') (Yellow card 90+5')
My Frontale Man Of The Match
Slight shakiness in many areas of the pitch. Quite a bit of sloppiness. Feel mean not giving this to Hatate as he scored twice, but I think once again it’s going to…
MORITA Hidemasa - another great performance topped off by the goal line clearance which was pretty crucial. Real shame that he hasn’t managed to get over one off those shots yet, but I’m sure the goals will come soon.