"Worrying" is the best word to describe the non-event at Omiya Park on Saturday, when Ardija hosted for the first time returning boss Toshiya Miura, now in charge of lowly Consadole Sapporo. Forward Kota Yoshihara returned to the starting line-up alongside Denis Marques, but the first half was almost humiliating to watch as the Squirrels were penned in their own half for most of the 45 minutes. When a player in an orange shirt did get the ball, he either gave it away quickly or kicked it out of play.
It was a desperately poor performance and although Sapporo are not a strong team, the home side were second best in every department. Ardija shot themselves in the foot for the opener in eighteen minutes, when captain Yoshiyuki Kobayashi glanced a header past Koji Ezumi for an own goal after a Consadole cross. The only effort Omiya had was a long-range Yosuke Kataoka shot that a shaky Sapporo keeper Takahiro Takagi - on long-term loan to the Hokkaido outfit from the Squirrels - could only parry.
The second half was better although, on the other hand it would have been difficult for Higuchi's side to have played any worse. Yoshiyuki Kobayashi almost atoned for his error by hitting the post with Takagi beaten, substitute Kohei Tokita was clean through on goal but dithered and was then robbed of possession.
Finally, it was Hiroshi Morita who grabbed the equaliser a minute after replacing the invisible Yoshihara, when Daisuke Tomita crossed from the left to find Morita on hand to clip home, despite the attention of two defenders. Omiya then huffed and puffed in search of an undeserved winner, but then got caught out five minutes from the end when Davi scored from close range. Terrible conditions and a Squirrels performance that ranks with anything seen under Miura, Robert Verbeek or Satoru Sakuma. Worrying indeed.