Now on an unbeaten run of fully two matches, Omiya Ardija play their third home game in a row on Saturday when title-chasing Kawasaki Frontale travel to Saitama for an encounter that has implications at both the top and bottom of the J1 table. The 2-1 defeat of JEF United was arguably the performance of 2008 and although the weekend Emperor's Cup win over Cerezo Osaka was a lot more lacklustre, it was encouraging indeed to see wide midfield man Tomoya Uchida chip in with his second assist in two games.
It was Klemen Lavric who headed home a simple enough goal to knock out Cerezo following good work by the teeny tiny former Yokohama FC man. But against JEF, Uchida made a major contribution to perhaps one of the best goals that the Squirrels have scored all year, controlling a stunning cross-field pass by Taishi Tsukamoto before playing the ball in for Daigo Kobayashi to volley it in at the near post.
A peach of a goal and a team effort, unlike the thrilling individual scores by Denis Marques and Yoshiyuki Kobayashi that lit up the away match with Kawasaki back in May. After a disappointing start to 2008 that saw draw one and lose three of their first four games, the Kanagawa Blues have more recently put together the kind of form that pre-season had some commentators predicting that this year would see the club challenge for the championship.
Two defeats in fourteen matches is a run that has seen Frontale climb the standings back into contention - although FC Tokyo and Shimizu S-Pulse have both discovered that if the frontline of Juninho and Chong Tese can be stopped, Kawasaki can be beaten as they do find it tough to keep a clean sheet. The Squirrels will have to get by without the suspended Daigo, but if Uchida can keep up his more positive recent contributions and Lavric and Chikara Fujimoto are on top of their game, Ardija could just nick something and continue the fight against relegation.