Y Leandro 37' Y Saeki 61' Y Lavric 71' Y Fujimoto 81'
Omiya Ardija secured three precious and perhaps crucial points against Yokohama F Marinos last night, in conditions that were once again atrocious. After a gentle drizzle at the start of the game, the heavens opened and before too long there was a virtual lake in the centre circle that made passing extremely difficult and tackling dangerous.
As far as the Squirrels' starting line-up was concerned, coach Yasuhiro Higuchi left under-achieving forward Kota Yoshihara out after his non-performance against Oita Trinita. This was a just and correct decision, Higuchi choosing to move away from the traditional Ardija 4-4-2 approach with Chikara Fujimoto just behind Klemen Lavric in a 4-4-1-1 formation - and the rangy Slovenian almost opened the scoring early on, when after showing some neat dribbling skills he was tackled by Yuji Nakazawa just as he was about to shoot.
A long-range effort from Yusuke Murayama (a piledriver destined for the top corner, were it not for a one-handed save by Marinos' Tetsuya Enomoto), Fujimoto's skimming low drive and Shin Kanazawa's flash shot all preceded Omiya's 33rd-minute opener. Kanazawa dinked a smart pass to Fujimoto who sprinted down the left wing before producing an excellently-timed cross that evaded the visitors' defence - but not the head of the lurking Lavric, who nodded home from close range.
The conditions in the second half bordered on farcical, as both sets of players struggled to cope with the ever-worsening conditions. Koji Ezumi made a couple of brilliant saves - one of them from Naoki Matsuda's header was world class. The Squirrels keeper also got injured when bravely tangling with Sailors' substitute Yosuke Saito. Despite the fact that some of the stadium lights went off near the end, Ardija held on for a slim victory that may well be decisive in the league table at the end of the season.