The Mighty Squirrels came away from Shimizu S-Pulse's Nihondaira home with a very valuable point from their Sunday lunchtime game - but in truth this was a match that could have gone either way. Omiya had the chances to win and yet almost threw it all away at the death. Yasuhiro Higuchi continued with Yusuke Murayama at right back and elected to field Tomoya Uchida in midfield over rookie Kohei Tokita, but otherwise it was a familiar-looking Ardija line-up. The only shock was on the substitutes' bench, where Hiroshi Morita found a place ahead of Denis Marques - whose lack of first team action since the arrival of Higuchi must now surely call into question the issue of his future at the club.
Omiya played well throughout the game, but showed very little composure in front of goal. The major culprit today was Uchida, who could have hit a hat trick but for wasteful finishing. Koji Ezumi played superbly between the posts and made an excellent save low down from Takuro Yajima in the first half. Nevertheless at the other end both Pedro Junior and Kota Yoshihara had decent first half opportunities that they couldn't convert.
Kohei Tokita gets squashed by that rough boy, S-Pulse defender Naoaki Aoyama
In comparative terms it was an absolutely action-packed second period. Daigo Kobayashi put Uchida clean through but his cross-cum-shot went over the bar when a simple cross for Tokita would have led to a certain goal. uchida then hit the bar and struck the outstretched legs of a Shimizu defender from six yards out when a goal seemed likely. Yosuke Kataoka also went close with a right foot blast that beat Yohei Nishibe and his left-hand post.
Major drama came in the 89th minute, when Leandro gave away a clumsy penalty. Up stepped Marco Aurelio - who had just came on as a sub - only for Ezumi to dive to his right and produce a brilliant one-handed stop that saved Ardija's bacon. It was a close escape, but on the balance of play it could just about be argued that Omiya were the better team, a fact from which Squirrels fans can draw considerable comfort in the light of the busy schedule that lies ahead of the team.