It was a deserved point for Ardija in front of a 50,000+ crowd at Saitama Stadium on Sunday afternoon - and with better luck, the Squirrels could have got all three against deadly rivals the Reds. With Shin Kanazawa a surprise inclusion in the starting line-up in midfield, Omiya played well throughout the game and had the majority of possession against their supposed betters.
Indeed Kanazawa himself had several decent chances in the first half, although his tame efforts were easily dealt with by Urawa keeper Ryota Tsuzuki. In-form forward Denis Marques went close in the early stages of the second half with a curling right-foot shot that had Tsuzuki beaten, but ended up striking the post. At the other end, Koji Ezumi saved well from a long-range attempt from Nobuhisa Yamada, but overall he had very little to do.
Yasuhiro Hato clashes with Marcus Tulio Tanaka
Yasuhiro Higuchi's improving Omiya side tried to attack throughout the game and grew in confidence as the match progressed. Central defender Leandro spent much of the final five minutes up front as the Squirrels hunted for a winner. It was during that period that Yuichiro Nagai almost nicked it for Urawa, but his header came off the bar. A Reds goal at that time would however have given an undeserved win to a team that had played defensively and dived throughout.
Following on from Kashima Antlers' banner at the same stadium last weekend, it was particularly encouraging to see the Squirrel Nation come up with some anti-Reds flags of their own. And with the draw taking Ardija above Kyoto in the league into seventh position, all in all this is a good time to be Orange.