Today's 1-0 defeat away at Yokohama secured our position in the bottom three, and has set the stage for another nerve-wracking run-in to the end of the season.
As usual, we had our chances but we failed to convert, despite fielding what I would consider to be our strongest starting line-up for a few months. I wouldn't say Marinos dominated the first half, but they certainly had more possession and shots on goal so 0-0 was a good half-time scoreline for us. About 10 minutes into the second half, Komoto got a second yellow card for a mistimed sliding tackle on Tanaka. There was no malice in the challenge, but we can have no complaints about the card. Soon after, Wada made the correct decision of sacrificing a MF player to secure the back line by bringing on Miyamoto for Park, who hadn't done much anyway. But it wasn't enough to stop Ono from netting a few minutes later with a nice one-two with Hyodo that left Kitamoto and Miyamoto looking pretty amateur.
Any chance of us salvaging a point from the match was unfairly snatched from us in the 84th minute when Okubo was sent off for an off-the-ball incident with goalscorer Ono. The referee judged Okubo to have purposely stepped on Ono's foot (is that a red card anyway?) when in fact the players merely clipped each other while jogging back into position. The replay showed that not only did Ono fake the fall and injury, but the referee didn't actually see the incident and had sent off our captain and best player based on a hunch.
We didn't deserve to win this game, but we didn't deserve to lose it like this, either.
Yuji Ono and Nobutsugu Murakami (ref) - shame on you both.