Omiya Ardija put in another battling performance today against a resolute Kyoto Sanga team in almost the same amount of trouble as the Squirrels. Lacking Leandro in the centre of defence but with skipper Yoshiyuki Kobayashi returning to the starting line-up, nevertheless Ardija started positively and closed down the opposition aggressively. As has been the case in recent weeks, this was an Omiya team that looked to attack at every possible opportunity.
And the Squirrels took the lead in the twelfth minute when Chikara Fujimoto's blocked shot fell to Tomoya Uchida, who crossed the ball across the six-yard area for Klemen Lavric to strike home powerfully with his right foot. Kyoto were dangerous on the break - especially through Takenori Hayashi - but Omiya had several other opportunities in the first half, with Yoshiyuki having some excellent long range efforts just go over or wide of the post.
Daigo Kobayashi also came close to netting the second goal of the game when his long-range shot beat Yuichi Mizutani - and the Sanga crossbar. At the other end, Squirrels keeper Koji Ezumi did well to parry a shot to safety that ricocheted wickedly off his team-mates. But it was the visitors who equalised in the 58th minute when Atsushi Yanagisawa crossed across the Ardija six-yard box for Hayashi to beat Ezumi at his near post.
There were other chances for Omiya, as Kyoto seemed determined to play for the draw that would serve to guarantee their place in J1 for 2009. Yasuhiro Hato, of all people, forced Mizutani to turn a shot around the post after an uncharacteristic mazy run - and that man Lavric had the ball in the net in the 75th minute with an excellent looped finish only for it to be chalked off for offside. Overall Ardija were probably the better team and this point moves them a bit nearer to safety. One more point next week against Jubilo Iwata will do it.