Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Kashima Antlers v Kawasaki Frontale

J. League Division 1: Wed, 7th October 2009

Kashima Antlers 2 - 3 Kawasaki Frontale
CHONG 19', 32'

(Abandoned game resumed from 74 minutes.)

Venue: Kashima Stadium
Attendance: 22,323

Last month's abandoned match between Frontale and Kashima Antlers resumed on Wednesday night at a much drier Kashima Stadium. And what a nerve-jangler it proved to be.

Starting where things left off, with 16 minutes of normal time remaining on the clock and Frontale leading 3-1, it looked a pretty safe bet that the visitors would come away with a win. But they were made to earn their 3 points, riding out a typhoon of Antlers pressure as well as a rather generous portion of injury time.

The home team came tearing out of the blocks with a crazed determination about their play. Within seconds, a free-kick from deep in Antlers territory was floated into the Frontale box. And the flick-on fell kindly for Daiki Iwamasa to stick out a boot and divert the ball past a helpless Kawashima.

Whatever pre-match game plan Frontale might have had, conceding within a minute of the restart probably wasn't part of it. And when, seconds later, another aerial assault saw Danilo thunder a header against the bar, it was clearly not only the woodwork that was left rattled.

Things did calm down a little after that, but Kashima had the bull by the horns and weren't about to let go. Frontale did little to help their cause by repeatedly hoofing the ball upfield and returning possession to their frenzied opponents. Chong Tese wasted a free header from a corner, but apart from that it was all Antlers. And, for an anxious-looking Sekizuka on the sidelines, the clock couldn't run down quickly enough.

Hearts were in mouths throughout the blue half of the stadium when the assistant's board showed that a minimum of 5 minutes would be added at the end. But, despite coming agonisingly close on a few occasions, and despite the final whistle not sounding til the 7th minute of stoppage time, Kashima couldn't find an equaliser.

So, all to play for in the title race. Now time for a lie down.


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