Wednesday 22 September 2021

Vs Kashima Antlers (away) 22/9/21 J League match 32

Kashima Antlers 1 - 2 Kawasaki Frontale

Blimey! I was all set to knock out a quick blog post about another terrible performance and then forget about this game and then we had quite a finish to the match and everything seems wonderful in the world. Even though this was another away game that we weren’t able to attend, for once it wasn’t such a bad thing. Normally blog posts on the Kashima away game mostly contain my unoriginal thoughts on the bus ride there and (in particular) back. However, if we had been able to go to this game and things had continued as they had been going for the first 82 minutes, perhaps the bus ride would have been the most exciting and enjoyable part of the day. I want to gloss over the first 82 minutes of the game, and in a way it will be quite easy to do so, as we didn’t really do anything at all so there’s not much glossing required. Our shot count at around 75 minutes stood at two, with one on target. Kashima hadn’t been much better but had at least made a few more chances. Their goal, which on Twitter is apparently being blamed ridiculously unfairly on Sung-Ryong, was a scuffed header into the ground which looped horribly over our keeper who was probably expecting a professional footballer to do a bit of a better job of heading a ball than the Kashima forward did. But it went in, which is clearly more important than how it went in. We’ve had our fair share of fortunate goals so I’m not going to say they didn’t deserve it, but I will say that it was a goal that summed up the standard of most of this game. For long periods one team would launch a quick attack going about three quarters of the way up the field before giving the ball to the opposition who did exactly the same. Once again, definitely not an advert for the J League. Again we were blessed with another horrible pitch, which perhaps had been ruined by the Olympics. Kashima had tried to cover it up by relaying a massive rectangle from one end to just over the halfway line and it ended up looking like one of those graphics that shows the area of the pitch where a central defender who loves to dribble out of defence plays. The whole effect was more like a pair of jeans that had been destroyed by explosive diarrhoea, with the massive hole left by the explosion being patched up using a new pair of jeans without anyone bothering to wash the exploded jeans before the repair job. It would be too easy to make a joke about Kashima locals using the pitch to practice driving their tractors, so instead of making that joke here, I’ll merely leave this reference and that way I can say I didn’t make the joke, whilst claiming credit if anyone thought it was funny. In a similar way, I won’t make a joke about the weird horn noises that seemed to be plaguing this match. It sounded like the dreaded Vuvuzela was back, but you would have thought that it probably wouldn’t be a good idea when we aren’t allowed to sing at games to allow people to instead project their spit and possible germs over great distances with precision aim. So maybe instead it was just a regular night time activity for the local youngsters to drive around on those empty roads (probably only utterly blocked before and after games and on all other occasions completely empty), leaning on their car horns to have some fun. I know in the UK it’s a common thing for the youth in their cars to do laps round medium sized town centres blasting their tunes on a weekend evening in act intended to attract a potential mate, so perhaps the same thing happens in Ibaraki too.

Considering I’ve written a lot here about two snarky jokes THAT I HAVEN’T MADE (honestly…) I should probably talk a bit more about the game. But I’ve kind of covered that already. It was awful! And a continuation of us rarely being able to mount an even half successful attack recently. Ienaga was again anonymous apart from some little tricky flicks which didn’t ever come off (please let that hair grow back soon… we need the power of the hair), we did a great job of passing the ball along our back line and through midfield only to lose it, again and again and again. Marcinho showed flashes of brightness but still understandably doesn’t seem to be integrated into the team yet. But I can understand Oniki’s thinking as Hasegawa and Miyagi haven’t offered anything in the recent chances they’ve had (can you believe I’ve written that, having watched the end of the game?). Hasegawa was again absent from the squad which suggests that maybe he is still upset about the penalty miss. Or maybe that he has dropped down the pecking order. Hatate did ok up until he was moved to left back as Nobori seemed to be a bit injured and then we repeatedly had problems in that area. But I still don’t want to start blaming as everyone seems to be pretty dazed and maybe just totally knackered and really keen to finish another quarantine session and get home. Apparently they team had been staying in Chiba before this game. Maybe they can go home now. Although I suppose it’s still only a week so maybe not. Obviously the physical demands of the schedule are playing a part but it’s definitely a bit mental too I think. Hopefully the end of this game, where we actually looked pretty good for the first time in quite a few weeks, in tandem with our result and YFM’s result from the last match day might give us that little boost we need. We looked like we’d never score again in this game and we somehow ended up coming from behind to win. Please let this be the start of something a bit more positive!

After a lot of talk about nothing I feel like I’m going to wrap this up quite quickly with some more of the usual stupid jokes and observations and then get out of here. Oniki doesn’t know what to do and has run out of options. Oniki is a tactical genius and his changes won us the game. Don’t ask me where anyone was playing at the end but you can’t deny that sub Wakizaka’s free kick was headed home with his first touch by sub Yamamura and then sub Miyagi smacked home an absolute beauty just as I was formulating the thought that I like the fact that he shoots but he never looks likely to score. Perhaps it’s time to sub me with insights like that. And we really were a changed team after our first goal. We played like we were doing earlier in the season saving 2/3 of our shots in the game and 100% of our excitement for the last ten minutes. Long may that continue. The positivity I mean, not the nothing for 80 minutes part. Kashima’s Diego Pituca, who I would guess is not a fan of Joao Schmidt judging by their interactions in this game, looks like a man in disguise. I felt like his beard and moustache would normally be paired with one of those pairs of glasses with a fake nose and eyebrows attached to them. Not a comment on his style, just that he looked like he was trying not to be recognised, but strangely doing so by making himself very distinctive. As he came out for the second half I thought that maybe he looked a bit like CJ from Eggheads (you thought the references last time were niche…) and perhaps that might explain the disguise as he was still probably on the run from the Dutch police after claiming that he had maybe murdered someone by pushing him in an Amsterdam canal years ago. I’m not sure if it’s worth googling to fully understand this reference. On reflection, I’m pretty sure that it isn’t worth it. I always like a moan about a ref and on this occasion that would certainly not be out of order, but I thought the linesmen were utterly useless in this game so let’s focus on their uselessness instead. I guess I shouldn’t be that surprised about it though. Oh, and one final little dig at a thoroughly dislikable club who didn’t deserve to lose this game but did, (happy cat emoji here), is that their Spirit of Zico flags seem to be reproducing. As far as I’m aware he’s still alive so once again mentions of his spirit hanging around seem premature. I wonder if he is the one buying all the flags and that is the extent of his work at the club. Or perhaps it’s more a case of the Kashima fans buying themselves a new one every time they are a bit sad, much like the way I buy myself fake Pringles, ice cream, or oblique noise music records and cassettes. In these Corona times we have to take care of ourselves and our mental health guys. Go on, treat yourself to an oblique noise music cassette.

Ah, what an utterly joyful end to an evening that was. I now wish I hadn’t slightly over-indulged on alcohol last night as I feel like cracking open a few beers. I’ll abstain though as I need to keep my whinging and joke cracking in peak condition for the upcoming slew of games, Shonan at home on Sunday, Kobe at home on Wednesday and then FC Tokyo at home next Saturday, all in the league. Then no games for three weeks… Although maybe an Emperor’s cup game might get chucked in there I guess. Last year I was counting down and crossing off the games to our title with a mini blackboard. I have to say, I’m feeling nowhere near as optimistic this year, but the games are kind of running out so we should be pretty happy with the fact that we’re seven points clear. If this unlikely win knocks us out of our fug, maybe we’ll all be feeling a bit more optimistic soon! Go Frontale

GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro

GK 27. TANNO Kenta 
MF 8. WAKIZAKA Yasuto (on for JOAO SCHMIDT 67')
FW 20. CHINEN Kei (on for LEANDRO DAMIAO 78')
FW 24. MIYAGI Ten (on for MARCINHO 67')
MF 28. YAMAMURA Kazuya (on for TACHIBANADA 82')

JUAN (Kashima) 38' 1-0
YAMAMURA (Frontale) 83' 1-1
MIYAGI (Frontale) 90+4' 1-2

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