Just a few thoughts on Saturdays game for those who can’t be arsed downloading the podcast….
There was a slightly subdued atmosphere around the ground before kick off as the crowd built up as the news that neither Tokushima or Sapporo had slipped up filtered through, meaning that there could be no official celebration on the day even though our much superior goal difference means it is all but sealed anyway. In the event, the crowd was actually a disappointing one of just under 23,000, meaning that in our estimation at least 10,000 were missing who had been to the Verdy game. Fair enough the derby is a big game but this is one which could have seen us clinch promotion - the fickleness of our support continues to frustrate. On the pitch Morishige was suspended and Konno was on international duty (indeed scoring in Tajikistan) which meant Jade North continued at centre back with the returning Tokunaga partnering him. Shimoda and the harshly treated Soutan were the ones from last week’s line up to miss out.
The first half was probably most notable for a fluffed save from a free kick from Gonda, who managed to get back and cover his own error just in time to save all our blushes. Apart from that all the first period provided was more evidence that we are a second half team, and it seems to be policy to try and tire out the opposition early on, which often has the additional effect of tiring out the crowd.
Into the second half, and again we were able to breakthrough from a set piece, this time Hideto glancing a fine header from Ishikawa’s corner into the net. After this the game opened up with Mito playing a much higher line, and we were able to take more advantage of this when Hanyu was replaced by The Salad. As a result of the change, Lucas dropped back in to the middle of the three behind the striker and looked much more impressive as a target man and attacking linchpin, a role that Hanyu I am afraid just is not up to. Tokyo were creating many more chances now, and Lucas fed a great ball through to Cesar who sped through and walloped it into the net for the second. A great goal which was almost re-enacted by Lucas a little later, but he could only find the side netting.
Things we learned;
It might be time up for Hanyu, least in the role behind the striker. His vision is fine but speed of action is slow and he lacks the physicality to hold the ball up.
Ishikawa might be more effective in short bursts after all, although as he is still our best attacking player it does seem daft to keep him on the bench.
North is a steady, unfussy defender and the kind I have been hoping we acquire for a while, if we could keep him as well as the regular two for next year you could really say we had strength in central defence.
The Salad rules.
To Tottori next week then where we should clinch it, and then hopefully a big party home to Jeffrey in a couple of weeks. Let’s see a big crowd for that one eh?