The Mighty Squirrels suffered a monumentally disappointing result in Chiba on Thursday night - their first ever loss to Kashiwa Reysol. With Yusuke Murayama restored to right back in favour of Terukazu Tanaka and Daigo Kobayashi starting up front, Ardija dominated the majority of the possession and really should have come away with a comfortable win rather than a 1-0 defeat.
The responsibility for the fact that this happy outcome did not take place mainly rests on the shoulders of one man - those of Kota Yoshihara, who had several opportunities to score but blew them all and ultimately Omiya's chances of getting anything from the game. The former Gamba Osaka man, who has netted just twice all season despite consistently being awarded a place in the starting line-up, had two great chances near the end of the first half.
One he put wide after being set up brilliantly by Daigo and the other ended up being struck straight at Sun Kings keeper Takanori Sugeno after Yoshihara was put clean through by an interception from Yosuke Kataoka. Daigo also created a good opportunity for Naoya Saeki in the early stages of the second half, but with no-one near him in the goal area the dog-owning midfielder skewed horribly wide when it seemed easier to score what would have been Saeki's first-ever Ardija goal.
But as the missed Omiya chances came thick and fast - Chikara Fujimoto almost lobbed Sugeno in the first half and substitute Hayato Hashimoto blasted one over from a Klemen Lavric knockdown near the end - sure enough, at the other end Franca stole in to chip a flat-footed Koji Ezumi and when that went in it was all over.
Many Squirrels fans commented that it was hard to believe that Reysol are now third in the table, but even so while Yasuhiro Higuchi's team should have steadied the ship by coming away with all the points, instead they are are now looking nervously over their shoulders.