J.League Division 1: Sun, 23rd August 2009
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Venue: Todoroki Stadium
Frontale returned to winning ways on Sunday night with a comfortable 2-0 victory at home to Montedio Yamagata.
Home form has been the keystone of Frontale's title challenge this year, winning 8 and drawing 3 of their 11 appearances at "fortress" Todoroki so far.
Things have been very different on the road where they've picked up a meagre 15 points from a potential 36. The fact that 3 of their 5 remaining away games are against teams likely to be battling for their J1 survival (Omiya, Oita, Kashiwa) doesn't augur all that well.
Only managed to catch the last 15 minutes of the Yamagata game, by which stage cruise control had well and truly kicked in. In the end it looked a walk in the park, but Montedio have a reputation for dogged defending and this could have been an evening of frustration for the Frontale players and fans alike. All important then that the home team made an early breakthrough.
That breakthrough came on 18 minutes. Montedio were caught napping as Kengo's quickly-taken free kick released Taniguchi to fire in from the right corner of the 6-yard box.
Within 5 minutes Tasaka had doubled the advantage from close range after Yamagishi had nodded down a Juninho cross. (There was a vague whiff of offside about the goal, but them's the breaks). And that, as they say, was that.
There were of course further chances, but Juninho was in profligate mood and Chong Tese can't buy a goal at the moment.
The Aichi assassin has now scored only once since his late winner in June's reverse fixture in Yamagata. He has had a few fitness problems which haven't helped him to rebuild confidence. However, judging by Sunday's performance it seems just a matter of time before he's scrambling his way up the goal-scoring ladder once more.
Most notable event of the second half was probably the debut of Jumpei Kusukami. The 21-year-old came on for Kengo for the last couple of minutes and almost made an immediate impact.
After winning the ball in midfield, Frontale's most recent signing made a strong run down the middle, before laying off to Juninho. The veteran striker curled a shot well wide from the edge of the box, ignoring the support run of young Jumpei - in acres of space with the goal at his mercy. Another encouraging glimpse of Frontale's future!
Big game coming up against 3rd-placed S-Pulse on Sunday. Every year, as sure as night follows day, Frontale drop 3 points in Shimizu. With any luck it can become just as inevitable that we take 3 points off them at home.
P.S. Anyone seen Vitor Junior???