Sunday, May 18, 2008

Kawasaki Frontale v Omiya Ardija

J.League Division 1: Sat, 17th May 2008

Kawasaki Frontale 2 - 3 Omiya Ardija
TOMITA 35' (o.g.)

Venue: Todoroki Stadium
Attendance: 14,235

In the next edition of the Illustrated Dictionary of Footballing Cliches, you'll see a picture of this match under "a game of two halves". Sadly, Frontale conspired to lose a tie which was in the bag after 45 minutes, simply by not turning up for the second half.

With the season back on track, the home team set out to erase the memory of last week's controversial defeat to Urawa. First half dominance eventually led to a breakthrough in the 35th minute. Chong Tese, who looks so much more comfortable inside the penalty area than anywhere else on the field, took down a floated ball from Ohashi, turned his man twice and drove in a cross that deflected in off an Omiya defender.

With the deadlock broken, Omiya were forced to change their defensive tack and push forward more. However, this resulted in a backline that proved far easier to penetrate. Juninho and Yamagishi both had good chances after being sent clean through, but saw their efforts blocked or missing the mark.

Then just before the break a through ball found Juninho with only one man to beat. As he ran past, under very little contact, the defender fell over leaving Juninho to slot home Frontale's second. Omiya clearly felt it was a foul - indeed it was the sort of innocuous challenge where 9 times out of 10 the defender would be given the benefit of the doubt - but from the way the game was going it seemed unlikely that it would have much bearing on the overall outcome anyway. What cruel irony!

In the dressing room at half time, Frontale chalked up the three points and began preparations for next week's trip to Kashiwa. Well, they probably didn't, but that's how it looked in the second half. Suddenly, the boot was on the other foot with Omiya penetrating at almost every attack and Frontale struggling to maintain possession for any amount of time.

Omiya's first may have been offside, but the defence didn't play to the whistle and were left in Kohei Tokita's wake as he ran in on goal. The equaliser was a virtuoso effort from Denis Marques, riding several lunges before clipping one into the corner of the net from the edge of the area.

The winner, however, added insult to injury. Omiya were awarded a free kick well inside their own half following a "pseudo-foul" (like a foul but not) from Harada. The next thing you know the ball is flying high and long in the air, Kawashima's scampering back to his line from god knows where, the ball's dipping under the bar and it's Goodnight Todoroki. Well, I suppose if you're going to be charitable enough to give up a two-goal lead you may as well go the whole hog and let your opponents win with a goal scored from their own half!

To be fair, Omiya did play well in the second half. They showed great spirit to come back after being comprehensively outplayed in the first half and the Denis Marques goal was a moment of true individual quality. But you only really turn round a game like this if the oppostion (to some degree) lets you.

You could blame Takahata's tactical naivety for the result. Omiya's half-time substitutions gave them an attacking edge they had been sorely lacking, yet the Frontale boss made no move to counter this. Maybe Kikuchi on in place of Ohashi would have made life more difficult for the visitors, but then again hindsight is a wonderful thing.





Soccerphile said...

Would it be possible for you to acknowledge the copyright of our partners for your use of the Kawasaki Frontale shirts please?

manyar said...

It's always been in the alt text on the images. Now made it more explicit.

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