Things are looking up for Omiya Ardija, after two successive Nabisco Cup wins - and on the balance of play and chances created, Sunday's game against Kashiwa Reysol provided the Squirrels with a deserved three points. The Sun Kings, off to a piping hot start to the season, were disappointing. Prior to Masahiro Koga's header in the 72nd minute Ardija had the advantage and were rarely in trouble,although after that it was backs-to-the-wall stuff for Robert Verbeek's men.
Not wanting to change a winning team, it was indeed the same Verbeek XI who started against Yokohama F Marinos in midweek as took to the field at a rainy Komaba on Sunday afternoon. Daisuke Tomita partnered Yosuke Kataoka in the centre of the back four, Masato Saito was alongside Yoshiyuki Kobayashi in midfield and Kota Yoshihara kept his place up front with Daigo Kobayashi.
A wet programme...
The breakthrough came for Omiya in the 17th minute, when Yoshihara pounced on a deflected shot to slot home from close range for his second goal in three games. Indeed, the former Gamba Osaka man did very well throughout, never giving anything up and looking full of energy and ideas in spite of a lack of support - especially from Manabu Wakabayashi, who replaced Daigo at the end of the first half.
Chikara Fujimoto nearly made it two soon after Yoshihara's opener, although his shot was acrobatically tipped over by Yuta Minami after a trademark mazy dribble. But the Squirrels skippers managed to get his name on the scoresheet on the hour mark, with an angled shot across Minami after being put in courtesy of Hayato Hashimoto.
But Kota scores again
The final period of the match saw Kashiwa pull back into it following Koga's goal, but Verbeek shored up the defence with the introduction of Naoya Saeki for Hashimoto, shortly before taking off goal hero Yoshihara. In fairness, replacement Enilton did very well in his ten-minute cameo and in all probability achieved more than he had in the previous four games.
Worryingly, however, Daigo looked to be carrying an injury and the verdict of the medical staff will be anxiously awaited prior to next weekend's J1 match against Shimizu S-Pulse. But as for now, Ardija stand atop their Nabisco Cup group with a record of Played two, Won two.