J2 Matchday 13
This will be, similar to Tokyo Bairn's Mito report, quite brief, as I had the same problem he did last Saturday: a horrible stream on justin.tv. Anyway, we took our three game winning (and six unbeaten) streak to Okayama last night, in the first of the six rescheduled games we, and the rest of the league, have to make up over the next four months.
There were some surprises in selection, as Mr. Okuma didn't change anything, he decided to stick with Hitoshi Shiota in goal over the fit and ready Shuichi Gonda, and its On the Gas 1-1 El Golazo after Naohiro Ishikawa was again named on the bench for the fifth game in succession.
The home team were missing their top scorer, Tiago, through suspension, but his replacement, Hiroki Kishida, had a great chance to give his team the lead in the 11th minute, but was denied when through on goal by a strong, instinctive save by Shiota. The only other clear opening they had in the first half came in the 27th minute when Yuhei Tokunaga's man got across him at a corner and glanced his free header (not the easiest of chances as he had to stoop to make contact) from eight yards across goal and wide with Shiota rooted to the spot.
In and around those incidents we had the better of things, again allowed to play with more freedom than we are afforded at Aji Sta. There was almost a comedy goal from Yasuyuki Konno, as he launched a ball from the centre circle inside his own half for Roberto Cesar to latch onto, The Salad stretched out his leg at the edge of the box but couldn't quite reel it in, BUT their keeper had come out and clearly thought Cesar WAS going to control it, as he completely misplayed it and had to scramble back to paw it away for a corner from about a yard out.
Apart from that comedic interlude there were chances for Sotan Tanabe, Yohei Kajiyama, Tokunaga and Tatsuya Yazawa, who again saw plenty of the ball but can be wasteful and often careless in his passing. But it was Yazawa, though, who provided the assist for the opening goal, which arrived in the 40th minute.
You wouldn't say we were all over them, or that a goal was inevitable, but against the team with the second worst defensive record in the league it was always going to be when, not if, we broke through. And so it was that after Tanabe set up Tokunaga for a shot that was deflected out for a corner, Yazawa sent in an out-swinger from the right that had Masato Morishige's name all over it, and the centre half obliged, nodding in powerfully to put The Gasmen ahead.
It remained 1-0 up til half time.....and that was the last I saw of the game, what with domestic responsibilities, shitty internet and a temperemental computer, everything conspired against me.
I can tell you what happened though: Ishikawa replaced Tanabe after 61 minutes, The Salad made way for Tatsuya Suzuki after 74, and just a minute later Hideto Takahashi capped off another good performance with his first ever goal for the club, and apparently it was a decent strike, one which I'll have to wait to see on the Tokyo Damacy show tomorrow night.
Our last change came with just a couple of minutes left, and saw Yohei Otake replace Naotake Hanyu, who is putting his "early bath and rip your kit off" reputation of seasons past to bed. No late dramas, and another away win was banked, a comfortable victory over opposition that are going nowhere but could always be dangerous at home to complacent teams.
The top two also won, so we stayed in third, but thats four wins on the bounce, and seven unbeaten, as we continue to round into the sort of form we'd expected to see from the start of the season. This Saturday evening we host 13th-placed Tottori. Its fireworks night (though rain is forecast!), and we may even have a Lucas unveiling! Should be massive!