Omiya Ardija's attempts to turn their superb new home stadium into a fortress again turned sour on Saturday. Another underwhelming display against a spirited Jubilo Iwata side added weight to the view of those fans who have grown to believe that a trip to Omiya Park must seem about as threatening for away teams as an afternoon stop-off at Cozy Corner.
Jubilo have emerged as something of a bogey team for the Squirrels, for whom Daigo and Yoshiyuki Kobayashi both returned to the starting line-up, while The Offside King - a.k.a. Kota Yoshihara - could perhaps consider himself lucky to retain a place after his recent displays. New signing Klemen Lavric was on the bench and seems at first glance to have demoted Hiroshi Morita in the pecking order.
Just ten minutes in and Ardija were a goal down, after a header from Ryoichi Maeda fell perfectly for Robert Cullen to slide past Koji Ezumi from close range. Despite the jolt of conceding an early goal for the second consecutive week, Omiya apparently spent the rest of the first half in a daze and were constantly tormented by Gilsinho, by far the best player on the pitch. Iwata's new Brazilian midfielder actually seemed to have scored at the end of the half only for the the assistant referee to disallow it for offside - an action he was to repeat 45 minutes later.
The Squirrels started more brightly after the interval, but nevertheless went 2-0 down in the 52nd minute when Gilsinho stroked home from inside the 18-yard box. Almost instantaneously, however, central defender Daisuke Tomita showed an agile touch from Ezumi's massive kick and smashed a right foot effort past the despairing hands of Yoshi Kawaguchi to throw Ardija a lifeline.
The crowd came alive after this but although Omiya had the occasional chance, there seemed little hope of grabbing an equaliser - until the 89th minute, that is. Hayato Hashimoto, on as a substitute for his first taste of J1 action this year and looking desperate to impress, placed a perfect free kick for fellow sub Lavric to head past Kawaguchi. The crowd went crazy and then turned angry after the Slovenian's effort was contentiously disallowed for offside; a cruel call, although in truth Omiya didn't really deserve anything after the performance that had gone before.