There weren't too many surprises in our starting lineup - two top Mogi & Yoshida, Park & Popo on their respective wings, Botti & Mihara in the middle, Komoto & Kitamoto in central defense and Gukoto & Ishibitsu on the left and right, respectively. Tokushige got a start in goal so I suspect Enomoto has picked up some kind of injury. In hindsight, the only real mistake was Yoshida who provided very little in attack and I'm sure Wada will keep this in mind when he selects his starting eleven against Kawasaki next week. Gakuto had to fill in for the suspended Kobayashi at left back although he normally plays on the right. He got forward a lot and put in a couple of decent crosses, particularly in the first half, which may have half convinced the average fan that he is worthy of a regular spot. But not me because every time he did this, Botti had to drop back to cover. Had Matsuoka or Edmilson (still injured) started, Botti could have played more forward, thus relieving him of defensive responsibilities when we are attacking. At the moment I see only one solution. We get Mikitani to spend some of that dosh to make TWO Botti clones. Put one at the front of the midfield to direct the attack, and the other two as holding midfielders to dictate play from the back!
We were probably the better side in the first half and I think we caught them a bit by surprise. Popo had our best chance with a free kick that sneaked through the wall and hit the left post. Kitamoto couldn't control the rebound and his header bounced over.
They looked more up for it in the second half and it seemed almost inevitable that they would score. But the big fella upstairs was looking down favorably on us for once, probably because he noticed that Ryuji "traitor" Bando was on their team. Most could be forgiven for forgetting which team he actually plays for but Mr. G clearly knew. For what it's worth, he had a crap game and was replaced. Prick.
If there is one position we are totally OK in - it's goalkeeper. Enomoto has been the only really consistent performer over the last few years - keeping us in so many games when we didn't deserve to be. And to see Tokushige come in and give a match-saving performance is, well, just dandy. He was solid all round, and I clearly remember him pulling off two brilliant saves, one in each half, to keep us in it. Definitely man of the match.
If we were going to have any chance of winning the match, we needed to make some changes and Wada obliged. Unfortunately, he brought on the wrong player in Ganaha. With our two main strikers absent, it was the ideal opportunity for him to finally make his mark and we all were hoping he could. But it wasn't to be. He had a couple of chances but never really looked like scoring. Admittedly, for someone who plays as little as he does, it must be tough to come on and perform for 20 minutes. But that's what we pay him to do. He has been given enough opportunities to stake his claim as a Vissel player but I am just about to give up on him. I would even question his presence on the bench from now on.
We had a legitimate claim for a PK when Kitamoto go on the end of a sweet long ball from Botti, only to be clearly pulled down a few yards in front of the goal. Robbed. See La Famiglia video of the scene below.
Well, happy with the point and hopeful of more improvement in the weeks to come.
I've decided to do a player rating as of this week. The numbers will be based on my humble opinion but will be open for debate, and change, based on comments.
That's it. Oh, did I mention that Bando is a prick?