Monday 27 September 2021

Vs Shonan Bellmare (home) 26/9/21 J League match 30


Kawasaki Frontale 2 - 1 Shonan Bellmare

Hell of a week! For the second time in five days we’ve gone behind and come back to win in the 94th minute. This was highly satisfying against the always unlikeable Kashima Antlers. Against our Kanagawa neighbours Shonan, the thrill was equally as exciting, but the feeling was a bit different. Of course the games are coming thick and fast at the moment (next game on Wednesday, so only two days between games), and there is a need to do some kind of rotation before we have a long three week break with no matches at all. However,   Oniki seemed to show that he still hasn’t worked out how to rotate. Or perhaps demonstrated that he has so little confidence in players outside the regular 15 or 16. (I appreciate that I have written the same thing in about 50% of this year’s blog posts. Sorry). I was worried when I saw the starting line up and the first half was a perfect manifestation of these worries. I think it was the worst half of football I have seen us play in a few years. But Oniki did change things at half time and there was a feeling that we might be able to get back into the game and capitalise on YFM once again soiling themselves on Saturday (long may that continue!). As we don’t have much time to write blog posts between games right now, I’m going to try to keep this brief (also helpful given how terrible the first half was. There are only so many synonyms for bad before you start getting on to the really offensive ones). Here we go!

I’ve moaned above about how terrible Oniki’s rotation is and this just about took the cake. This lineup was a bit like work experience day, where everyone tries something new. One forward in midfield (Tono) and one at left back (Hatate), a midfielder in defence (but I’m sure both us and Yamamura are expecting that now) and a defender in midfield (Taniguchi).  I would also moan about a left back being played at centre back, but to be honest, Kurumaya like Yamamura, must be more than used to this now. The two major problems I thought were the two full backs and the defensive midfielder. Hatate is just never as good at left back as he is further forward. Sure, when we had no other option it made sense, but once again in this match, it didn’t work. On the other side, Yamane had another dodgy game. Give the guy a rest! Moriyasu probably feels the same way, kindly taking Yamane on a mini Asian tour with the national team to give him some time when he wouldn’t be playing any games and could just have a nice sit down on international flights and stadium benches. The guy has been going at full pelt all year and has only not featured at right back for us when he has been with the national team. I don’t know if Shonan were targeting these two areas or maybe it just looked like that, as they were the areas we were repeatedly getting in trouble in. Once again, I can’t help but mention Taniguchi in midfield. Please stop it Oniki! We are now approaching triple digits for the times that this experiment has been tried and has failed. At least he didn’t get injured this time. He didn’t do too bad going forward surprisingly, but the defensive side of what was expected from him was totally absent. He was further forward than Wakizaka and Chinen on numerous occasions and I just don’t think this is a good idea. The announcement of ‘5番, Midfielder, Taniguchi Shogo’ will always send a chill down the spine. Oniki noticed how bad things were and made mass changes at half time. I doubt that this will prevent him from attempting the same experiment again some time in the future. One other formational item of interest was that Chinen played on the right in the first half with Kobayashi in the middle. In the second half, this was switched round. I think both of them had trouble breaking though the massed defensive rows of Shonan. After we gifted them their goal they unsurprisingly went a bit more defensive. And considering that they started pretty defensive, this was quite defensive indeed. Fair play to them though. They made our attack look pretty blunt. Unfortunately the same could be said about pretty much everyone we’ve played in the last couple of months.
A few words on Shonan. In the first half they looked like they were Brazil, comfortably playing the ball around and generally running rings round us. You wouldn’t believe they were so low down in the table. Well, maybe you would, as it does seem to be against teams nearer the bottom that we struggle the most. They looked good though. I think their goal came mainly thanks to some generous play from us and afterwards they really seemed to shut up shop and wait to hit us on the break. It came as no surprise to see a fair bit of time-wasting from them, with as usual, no consequences, unless you count the referee pulling a stern face and pointing at his watch. It was a fun turn around to see us doing the same with a throw in after we’d taken the lead to kill the last minute or so of the game. They seemed a bit annoyed when the boot was on the other foot! Ever since Tani whinged and cried to the ref in the away game this year and got a perfectly fine (in my totally un-biased opinion) Damiao goal ruled out I’ve had something of a vendetta against him. Even so, I had to feel for him when the second goal went in and the final whistle was blown. He looked pretty dejected lying on the floor. Good on Hatate for going to console him. Both Tani and Sung-Ryong apparently had the same amount of saves to make. Only three each in the whole game. One of Sung-Ryong’s was a beauty so hats off to him for that and to Shonan for making the chance. Given that we had twice as many shots as Shonan this again suggests that we are still being pretty wasteful in front of goal. But as long as we keep winning I don’t think anyone is going to moan too much. Well, maybe I’ll moan a little bit…

Talking of shots, it was weird to see Hatate score with a header. And it was also weird to see Chinen play 90 minutes and end up being the crucial match winner. Perhaps we need to once again give thanks for the fact that Oniki is a lucky manager. Apparently he was about to change Chinen for Damiao when Yamamura had a muscle problem and he had to use Jesiel as the final sub instead. Muscle problems and cramp are all over the place at the moment. Fatigue is a huge issue due to the crazy schedule. Even players who aren’t playing every match (like Yamamura and Chinen) are having issues. I think we could do with a few players getting a proper rest instead of being put on the bench and then being asked to come on and change a game. It’s worth saying that being played out of your normal position doesn’t count as being rested in case there was any confusion. We have players in the squad, yet they are apparently not trusted by Oniki unless it is really necessary to use them. Our next two games are Vissel Kobe and FC Tokyo, so probably more challenging than Shonan. You could tell that this was something of a second team, but we still needed the usual suspects to come on and rescue us. The players who are getting nowhere near the squad aren’t going to improve if they never get a chance. And they’re definitely not going to be given a chance when we are playing opposition who are higher up the table. What might have possibly been the best goal celebration of his career for Chinen became one of the strangest, as after heading in the goal he writhed on the pitch with cramp and Wakizaka had to stretch his leg for him whilst giggling, only to then fall onto the pitch with cramp himself. Something is definitely going on. Normally we’d blame the pitch but probably won’t on this occasion. As I said, it must just be fatigue. Bring on this three week break. But there’s a bit to be done before then…

That ‘bit’ is, as mentioned above, Vissel Kobe and FC Tokyo at home on Wednesday and Saturday respectively. We have tickets for Wednesday but the Tamagawa Classico was just impossible to get tickers for due to a huge number of people buying tickets and immediately trying to resell them (and probably succeeding in doing so). Hopefully the anticipated change in State Of Emergency restrictions coming on Thursday might lessen the impact touts can have. How are they so damn good at getting tickets anyway? When we scored the winner in this game there was a very enjoyable but very un-Corona times roar from the crowd. How fun it will be when we can get back in bigger numbers and even support a bit more enthusiastically. Even if our supporter group bring the drums back it would be at least a bit more fun and it might actually inspire the team a bit. We have a majority of home games left and it would be nice if we could take advantage of that somehow. Oh well, this is all a nice dream. Fingers crossed for both Wednesday and Saturday as well as Thursday’s announcement. Go Frontale!

GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
DF 28. YAMAMURA Kazuya
MF 19. TONO Daiya

GK 27. TANNO Kenta 
DF 2. NOBORIZATO Kyohei (on for TONO 46')
DF 4. JESIEL (on for YAMAMURA 74')
MF 22. TACHIBANADA Kento (on for TANIGUCHI 46')
FW 23. MARCINHO (on for MIYAGI 46')
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro (on for KOBAYASHI 65')

My Frontale Man Of The Match

I wasn’t sure about giving this as the first half was SO TERRIBLE and it would have been much easier to pick out people for the opposite award. Not particularly doing this in the true meaning of man of the match and instead going for the ‘Who scored? Give it to them’ way of doing things favored by stadiums and team of the week graphics in newspapers and online, I’ll give it to…

CHINEN Kei - was there at the crucial time to put the ball in the back of the net and then suffer on the floor with cramp. Perhaps his luck is changing finally as he’s actually scoring recently and they’re important goals too!


TANAKA (Shonan) 15' 0-1
HATATE (Frontale) 66' 1-1
CHINEN (Frontale) 90+4' 2-1

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