Saturday, 30 July 2011

Marinos Preview II

So then, enough of Agent Orange and his facts and his information and stories and opinions and jokes and anecdotes and statistics. Time instead to go back to basics, with a preview of Saturday's match against J1 leaders Yokohama F Marinos. Yes. Let's do that. I'll start now. Well, as it turns out Ardija will start tomorrow on the back of a unbeaten run stretching back - count 'em - two games, having drawn the original rearranged fixture with Marinos a couple of weeks ago and then beaten Vegalta Sendai last Saturday. Experience says it would be foolish for Omiya fans to put the previous woeful loss to Avispa Fukuoka too far out of their minds, but in all fairness coach Jun Suzuki has brought about a major improvement since that embarrassing result and performance.

The win over Sendai, Ardija's first in six games and a first clean sheet in ten, was a close-fought affair that had a sharp upturn in quality in the second half. Shortly after the re-start Lee Chun Soo put the Squirrels in front with a pinpoint long-range header that eluded Vegalta keeper Takuto Hayashi and although Sendai then pressed forward, they never truly threatened Takashi Kitano's goal. In fact it was Omiya who came closest to scoring as both Daisuke Watabe and Daigo Watanabe missed what appeared to be unmissable opportunities within a matter of seconds of each other.

Overall it was a close game, but the flash of quality from Lee was enough to unlock the home defence. And so Ardija came away with all three points from a Vegalta team clearly feeling the pressure from their recent downturn in form. With Naoki Ishihara still unavailable it seems unlikely that Suzuki will change a winning team for the trip to Yokohama and despite the Marinos' high position in the standings Omiya have nothing to fear from the game. Most observers agreed that a lacklustre Sailors were lucky to get a draw at NACK5 despite taking the lead through starlet Yuji Ono and a Squirrels win will help close the gap between them and the top half of the standings.



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