Kawasaki Frontale 2 - 2 Vegalta Sendai
We rotated our starting line up a bit and welcomed back Kobayashi from injury and he made a great start with a nice header from a nice Nobori cross. Jesiel, Damiao and Schmidt were all rested. As was Sung-Ryong. This is a new Oniki we’re seeing! Initially it seemed like we were going to get the usual kind of 2021 performance. We were all over them at the start of the game, and dominated possession in the first half. But only scored once. If you look at the match stats you might say that it was just a matter of us not taking our chances as we had 18 shots but only five were on target and a few of them were pretty ‘powder puff’. But there was probably something else at play. We looked very flat. Not necessarily tired, more kind of lazy or laboured. There were quite a few misplaced passes and nothing quite worked out. Lots of the game was played at walking pace and was just quite lifeless. I would say that our final ball wasn’t there, but I always think this is a kind of redundant thing to say, as it you don’t finish off a move it is inevitable that the final ball will be the one that messes up the move. You kind of know that from the name. By definition, the final ball either leads to a goal or nice shot or to a loss of possession. Sendai did a decent job of nullifying us, but it did seem like we didn’t really start trying properly till they scored. By which time we’d already missed plenty of good chances. But as this is all veering into the territory of the next bullet point I’ll finish this section with a few other observations. Taniguchi did some nice driven along the ground long distance passes from free kicks in this match. Was the first time I remember seeing this. I was pretty much in agreement with Oniki’s starting line up and subs in this game. And I'm fully in favour of him doing the two stage changes up front allowing Kobayashi to replace Chinen in the middle with Ienaga taking Kobayashi's spot on the right before he himself was changed for Damiao thirteen minutes later. It was nice to give him a chance in the middle. The fact that it wasn't more effective is probably more down to our general malaise in this game rather than it being a dodgy thing to do. However, I was a bit confused by Oniki bringing on Jesiel for Kurumaya. Seemed like an unnecessary change and a waste of what could have been a crucial final sub. Maybe there was a reason behind it that I’m unaware of, but it certainly didn’t make us look more solid at the back. It felt a bit like something done in a panic and maybe that was reflected in our play late on. (Now I’ve heard that Kurumaya had cramp, so this explains it. Perhaps it hampered our comeback plans. But probably we shouldn’t have needed to make a comeback given what had come before). To be honest though, it just wasn’t going to be our day. We almost conceded when Tanno and Ienaga collided trying to deal with a corner and a late Ienaga blaster was excellently blocked by a prone Mitoma so perhaps the writing was on the wall. Oh well, these things happen I guess, and we should already have been in the position where these things wouldn’t have had a bearing on the game.
They really gave it a go in the second half and could have come away with a win. As we get on quite well with Sendai, I can’t get too annoyed by the fact that they took a point from us. Hopefully it will help them stay in J1. My eyesight isn’t great but it looked to me that Teguramori was rocking the cool biz look on the touchline. The outline and general style reminded me somewhat of Sam Allardyce doing a cameo as a CID detective on an early episode of the Bill or similar gritty and slightly bleak police drama. They did a decent job of dealing with us and can’t blame them for the fact that we couldn’t hit the target. Slowik is an absolute beast vocally for them. His volume made the usually loud Tanno sound like he was meekly apologising rather than shouting instructions. Sendai’s game plan seemed to be to allow us to have the ball and mess it up for ourselves. Oh, and to 100% stop us from taking short goal kicks. Perhaps that shook our composure a bit and was therefore a tactical master stroke. Of course this wouldn’t be Frontale Rabbit blog post without a moan about something, so I’ll just say that Martinus had an action packed 10 minute game. Perhaps still with some residual hatred for us from his time at YFM he seemed determined to have an impact. He only came on on the 87th minute but in that time appeared to get so injured that from the stand on the other side of the stadium I could hear him screaming in pain lying on the floor in our box, doing that slapping the ground thing that always makes me think we’re going to need a stretcher and probably a plaster cast. After some treatment he managed to stroll off the pitch, castigate the officials a bit and come on completely recovered and smack the ball in from distance. Yes, I’m irritated that he scored after an amazingly quick recovery from what seemed to be a season ending injury gained from him running into Nobori. But given that his team were losing at the time there is absolutely no reason for him to time waste, so we should take it at face value. Perhaps he thought he should have got a penalty, but I can't imagine anyone else thinks so. Also, his finger to the lips celebration seemed a bit weird given that in the absence of them having any fans present we'd applauded the Sendai team onto the pitch before the game and also his recovery from his injury as he walked off after getting treatment, and COVID support rules mean that even in the unlikely event that we'd wanted to give them or him any stick before he scored we wouldn't have been able to. Perhaps I'm misreading the 'that'll shut you up' message or perhaps he's just so used to dealing with racists idiots on Twitter that he now presumes that everyone is against him. I hope not, as that would be a pretty rotten state of affairs from every angle. But not a particularly classy celebration. But then again he has come to Sendai from YFM via Urawa, hasn't he? 😉 This is clutching at straws a bit though isn’t it? Undeniably, we were the makers of our own misfortune and any rival team celebration is going to be a bit uncomfortable in that situation.
Ref and VAR -
All fine again. Do I need to get rid of this section? How weird! One thing I will say though is that our second looked like it could have had a hint of offside about it, (it didn’t after a VAR check), but the ref didn’t appear to know about this till we were all back in the middle and ready to kick off. The finger in on the ear outstretched palm is now a common signal for incoming misery but I wish they wouldn’t let us celebrate and leave it till we’re all ready to kick off again before any doubt creeps in. Better to do the pose after the ball goes in and mute the celebrations perhaps. But I wonder if I might have moaned about the opposite in the past. I hate having a celebration nullified though. But maybe better to initially squash it rather than get the full celebration and then cancellation. Minor quibble though, as we are mercifully VAR disaster free recently. Presumably that will all change in the next game now I’ve said that.
Without the drum our clapping support is all over the place, almost to the extent that it becomes a round, with different sections of the ground following a couple of beats after each other. I don’t know what’s going on with the drum. Is it not allowed with a 5000 crowd or is it down to us? If it’s the latter, please let us get it in for the next game. The atmosphere is understandably subdued so at least a bit of rhythm might help both the players and the fans do a bit better. The linesman in the first half seemed to be quite pernickety about the water bottles near the middle of the pitch on the touchline. A few times when he was up at the halfway line and there was a break in play he tidied them up. Guess having them scattered really upsets some people. And scattered they became again, not long after each tidying. Oh well. The ref had a similar problem with the corner flag which he jogged over to properly reinstate, only to find it droop again as soon as he turned his back. Thankfully the corner taker did a better job of putting it back properly. And perhaps the most surprising aspect of the match was the ice cool demeanor of the man siting in front of me who, with one eye on the match and one on his mag, managed to neatly tear the perforation of the pullout section of his magazine, revealing what looked like a dirty old man adult calendar. Weird time of year to release a calendar… Perhaps it was a valuable back issue he’d picked up. He certainly kept going back to his bag to check it was still there as the game progressed so it was some kind of treasure to him. Got to say, he showed an impressive lack of embarrassment for what was essentially a public display of pornography.
Hmmmmm… Pretty underwhelming. In the same way that Sendai’s first goal gave us a kick up the backside, perhaps this stutter will do the same for us in our next game. Hopefully the kick effect will last longer than it did in this game though where we rallied and then collapsed again after 20 minutes. As I have said previously, we have a run of games against bottom half teams which can all be banana skins. So far we’re one win and one draw. I think we need a win in the next game to untangle any knots in the stomach that this result might have given us. Next we have Consadole at home. Remember that game last year? Unfortunately you probably do. Let’s hope we don’t get a repeat of that. Then a midweek off and Yokohama FC at home the following weekend. Banana skins galore! Fingers crossed. Go Frontale!
GK 27. TANNO Kenta
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
FW 18. MITOMA Kaoru
GK 21. ANDO Shunsuke
KOBAYASHI (Frontale) 3' 1-0
My Frontale Man Of The Match
I was in the stadium rather than watching on TV so there should be one. But you've read this blog post and let's be honest, there wasn't that much to get excited about, was there? All a bit flat. Let’s not bother again.