All in all it was another good performance from Omiya Ardija on a cold and drizzly Sunday afternoon in Niigata. Although the Squirrels made some defensive errors, they played with a lot of grit and determination and deserved the point after a hard-fought ninety minutes. The only change from expected line-up was Yosuke Kataoka in for Naoya Saeki in the centre of midfield and as in recent games Ardija started off on the front foot and took the game to the opposition.
Taishi Tsukamotohad a great chance early on but put wide after being set up by a ball from the outside of Daigo Kobayashi's right foot. A quick free-kick from Tomoya Uchida nearly resulted in Omiya taking the lead, but Klemen Lavric blazed his left-foot effort wide with only the keeper to beat. Chikara Fujimoto was replaced by skipper Yoshiyuki Kobayashi as a result of having picked up what looked like groin trouble, but despite having had the majority of play the Squirrels fell behind after conceding a soft penalty in the 35th minute.
Leandro hauled down the Swans' Kisho Yano, even though the burly number 11 had very little chance of connecting with the ball as it came into the Omiya box. Alessandro placed his right-foot penalty only just past Koji Ezumi'soutstretched right hand and it was 1-0 to Albirex; Leandro's yellow card from the incident will now rule him out of the Kyoto game next week.
But eight minutes into the second half, the Squirrels were level with a fortuitous penalty. Daigo rounded Takashi Kitano but was at a very narrow angle - and with minimum contact from the Niigata keeper, the Ardija man stumbled slightly and the referee pointed to the spot for the second time. With no nerves at all Yoshiyuki impudently chipped Kitano from the spot for the equaliser.
Barely three minutes later, however, the home side took the lead again through some slack marking from Daisuke Tomita at a long free kick. That man Alessandro was on hand again to head home from six yards, but in the subsequent celebrations he managed to get himself a second yellow card for taking his shirt off. With the main opposition threat somewhat luckily removed, Omiya spent the rest of the game camped in the Albirex half, although without much success.
Lavric went close, but the Squirrels at last got a deserved second when Yasuhiro Hato played in a cross and Leandro atoned for his earlier error with a bullet header in off the bar. Yoshiyuki nearly grabbed the winner with a diving header that just went wide in injury time, but Yasuhiro Higuchi's team came away from their trip north with a merited and perhaps crucial point.