If Omiya Ardija do manage to avoid relegation at the end of this season, they will look back to Sunday's match with rivals Ventforet Kofu and will surely believe that they were lucky to get a point - and indeed to prevent Kofu from obtaining what would have been a crucial win for the claret-and-blues. Squirrels coach Satoru Sakuma fielded a starting line-up that had in total netted only seven league goals all year, adopting a 4-5-1 from the start and rookie forward Pedro Junior understandably struggled to cope against three markers.
Ardija nevertheless had some reasonable chances in the first half - defender Daisuke Tomita had a header from a 34th-minute corner that cleared the bar and Pedro Junior beat his man and was about to round keeper Tatsuya Tsuruta and score, when Tsuruta stuck out an arm to prevent the youngster from giving Omiya a 1-0 lead. The home side, however, were particularly dangerous from set plays, especially free-kicks, and had several notable opportunities when Squirrels netminder Koji Ezumi had to be particularly alert.
That idiot Nishimura chases Katsuya Ishihara
In the second half, star midfielder Daigo Kobayashi had a couple of long range left-footed efforts, Pedro Junior had a shot blocked with the keeper in no man's land and Ardija's chance of the game fell to substitute Naoto Sakurai who sent in a right-footed curler that Tsuruta palmed on to the angle of post and crossbar and out for a corner. The majority of possession remained with a Ventforet side desperately seeking a goal and those three precious points and the final few minutes were horribly nerve-wracking for Omiya supporters.
Unbelievably, right back Takuro Nishimura - on his first game back in the team - got himself sent off as he had done just last month at Albirex Niigata and after that it looked like Omiya would get punished in injury time, as had occurred in that match. And how Ventforet failed to score remains a mystery. Deep into injury time, confusion between Tomita and Yusuke Murayama resulted in Zeljko Radovic being completely clean through with the simple task of Ezumi to beat. He didn't. The ball went wide and seconds later the referee blew his whistle. A fortuitous point and thanks to Leandro's equaliser for Vissel Kobe at Sanfrecce Hiroshima, Omiya stay fifteenth.