Omiya Ardija played better on Saturday at Tokyo Verdy than they had against Kashiwa Reysol in their last J1 fixture - hardly a feat, after such a shambolic display - but Yasuhiro Higuchi's side lost for the sixth consecutive time and with only five games to go it is beginning to look as if there is indeed a relegation bullet with the Squirrels' name on it. Higuchi awarded rookie defender Taishi Tsukamoto a J-League debut and had other youngsters Masahiko Ichikawa and Takuya Aoki on the bench as well - where they were joined by former star man Daigo Kobayashi, as Tomoya Uchida kept his place in the starting line-up.
Tsukamoto looked like a half-decent player, although he did get caught out of position a few times and was the closest player to Diego when Verdy's Brazilian forward scored the winner in the 82nd minute. He took nearly all of the free kicks and all of the corners though and had an encouraging debut under difficult circumstances. Overall the Squirrels did manage to manufacture a few chances in the game, Uchida firing in a long range shot that sailed wide and a looping effort from Shin Kanazawa that hit the top of the net.
Kanazawa really should have scored after being teed up by Chikara Fujimoto, but with only keeper Yoichi Doi to beat the ex-Verdy player hit his shot straight at an onrushing defender. Overall Ardija just about matched a Verdy side that played in a similarly nervous and disjointed style, but as has so often happened in this desperately disappointing season Omiya conceded at the end and it was too late to salvage anything.
Not long after Kanazawa's miss Verdy scored the winner through Diego, who just about managed to evade Tsukamoto and dink a shot past Koji Ezumi. Only when the Squirrels were losing did Higuchi make any positive substitutions, as Daigo Kobayashi and Ichikawa were brought on - but with only five minutes left there was not enough time for them to have any impact. The players slumped to the ground as the final whistle was blown as the prospect of a return to J2 looms ever larger. Despite the promise of the first half of the season, like his predecessors Higuchi's Omiya team can't create, can't score and so can't win.