FC Tokyo 0-1 Kashiwa
J1 Matchday 9
Sums up both games, reallyPhoto from Tokyo Chunichi Sports Website
Captain Yohei Kajiyama had joined our mounting injury list in the home win over Cerezo Osaka, so Takuji Yonemoto came into the team and Aria Hasegawa started in the hole behind Lucas, but otherwise the XI was the same, with young midfielder Shuto Kono replacing Casual in the squad.
The first twenty minutes were basically a complete reversal of the Super Cup played at the same venue in early March, as Kashiwa controlled proceedings and their strong pressing meant we couldn't get anything going. Steadily we came into the game though, and the next fifteen minutes saw us fashion some good chances for Tatsuya Yazawa, Kenta Mukuhara and then Aria (following some excellent work by Lucas).
It wasn't all us though, and a sublime ball over the top from Leandro Domingues sent Jorge Wagner clean through on Shuichi Gonda in the 37th minute, but luckily for us Wagner volleyed miles over when he had time to take the ball down and steady himself. In first half stoppage time Kashiwa struck a body blow when Wagner's free kick from the left was volleyed back across goal by Naoya Kondo, drawing a fine save from Gonda, but unfortunately straight into the path of Kondo's fellow defender Tatsuya Masushima, who fired the loose ball into the roof of the net.
That was tough to swallow, as was the ref's decision not to award Sotan Tanabe a penalty in the second minute of the second half when after a slaloming run he looked to have been taken out as he prepared to shoot - seen 'em given. From there on out though we did a lot of huffing and puffing, and came close to scoring a few times in the last twenty minutes, but there was precious little end product and for the third time this season we fell to a 1-0 home defeat. We would've gone third with a win, but finished the night where we started it, in fifth.
Iwata 3-1 FC Tokyo
J1 Matchday 16I didn't see this game live, and that was probably a good thing, with the only real positive we can take from it Hiroki Kawano breaking his duck with his first goal for the club. Unfortunately it came in the 89th minute after we were well and truly beaten, the scantest of consolations as we lost for the third time in four league games and slipped down to eighth in the league.
With few real options at the selection table Mr Popovic plumped for the same XI as against Kashiwa, but we got off to a poor start after a weak clearance by Mukuhara saw one Iwata Yamamoto cross for the other to head past Gonda and give the hosts a seventh minute lead.
Yonemoto fizzed a drive just high and wide in the 18th minute, but clear-cut chances were again hard to come by as Aria and Lucas struggled to link up and we were getting next-to-nothing from Yazawa and Tanabe on the flanks. Into the second half we continued to flounder, and we saw the rare sight of Lucas being hauled off early, as he was replaced by Kazuma Watanabe in the 63rd minute.
Kawano came on with twelve minutes left, but by then we were 2-0 down after Gonda was embarrassed at his near post by Tomohiko Miyazaki, who fired home from an acute angle when Gonda advanced out of his goal anticipating a cross. In the 84th minute it was well and truly game over after Cho Byung Kuk beat Masato Morishige to a cross and headed home, with Kawano's goal coming with a minute left in the 90.
With no sign of our injury woes abating (the club have released no information on the expected length of Naohiro Ishikawa's absence), this same set of players will have to pick themselves up for Saturday night, and the highly anticipated return of former captain Konno.