Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Reds Review - Kohei Tokita, Why Oh Why?

Again there were two GGOA staffers present at the Ardija - Reds derby game, a handy opportunity to compare notes and arguably to rein in the more left-field blatherings of Agent Orange with an altogether cooler, more analytical air. And so it is that Jang Wae Ryong's Squirrels conclude the opening run of J1 fixtures with 1-1 draws against two of the strongest club sides in Japan, having taken the lead in both matches, only to concede as the result of defensive uncertainty.

Those details aside, though, the Nagoya and Urawa matches were pretty different encounters. Against Grampus, Ardija to a great extent bossed the play in the face of a surprisingly weak opponent, consistently seeking to set up chances that would have enbled the team to add to Yoshihito Fujita's superb early strike. At Saitama Stadium on Sunday, however, it was Reds who controlled the bulk of possession - but it was only rarely that Koji Ezumi's goal was under threat, most obviously in injury time when Edmilson's shot hit the cross bar.

A bullet header from Mato Neretljak had struck the same piece of woodwork in the first half and Omiya had several other excellent opportunities to score, Fujita twice hitting the side netting when through on the goalkeeper. And substitute Kohei Tokita will surely have nightmares - well, if he doesn't, he deserves to - about the time he fired over the bar in the most clear-cut chance the youngster will probably ever have to win three points in a J1 match. But all these moves came to nothing and Jang's Squirrels managed only a draw.

The goals both came as a result of errors, Park Won Jae hitting the ball across the face of goal only for it to be deflected past Ryota Tsuzuki at his near post by defender Keisuke Tsuboi. Reds pulled level after a poor Omiya corner gave Urawa the opportunity to break and although they did this in a ponderous manner typical of their overall approach to the match, Ardija were so haphazard in the organisation of their retreating back line that it was no surprise when Hajime Hosogai had time to shoot into Ezumi's bottom right-hand corner.

Overall, Omiya's determination to win the match seemed to be a startlingly higher level than that of their high-profile opponents, but those missed chances combined with a clear quality gap meant that a draw was probably in the end a fair result. But the Squirrels did little to help themselves when so many of Ezumi and Neretljak's long clearances simply gave possession back to the Reds, when their appeared to be space for progress to be made via overlapping full backs Park and Yasuhiro Hato.

A further puzzle was the inability of Jang's team to engineer chances for the best finisher at the club in Naoki Ishihara. He and Fujita in general had far less impact against the better Urawa defence than was the case against Grampus, but it's difficult to avoid the feeling that if Ishihara had been in the position of Fujita and Tokita when their chances came around, the Squirrels would have won the match and so moved themselves two points further away from the relegation zone.



Anonymous,  26 May 2009 at 16:24  

I agree it seems like the Squirrels have much potential showing good results against two top J1 sides.
Neretljak's poor clearance in the box gave Hosogai a great opportunity for the equalizer. It's those types of mistakes that can mean the difference between safety in J1 or sinking to J2. My local team are exactly the same way, so much potential but fail to take the most of an opportunity.

I had wondered why there was a big "Omiya Spirit" Banner at midfield thanks for explaining that this was actually a home fixture. You looked amazing in the one end, great to see the colours and good co-ordination with the flags. Looking forward to the next match!

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