Omiya Ardija slumped to their third league defeat in a row - their seventh in nine J1 fixtures - at Sanfrecce Hiroshima in a holiday fixture on Thursday afternoon, providing players and supporters alike with the worst possible preparation for the forthcoming Saitama Derby match. To make matters worse, the team are now marooned four points from safety at the foot of the table, with only the equally hapless Yokohama FC to keep them company.
But it could and perhaps should have been different for the Squirrels, for whom Yoshiyuki Kobayashi was again in fine form in the centre of midfield. Daigo Kobayashi, who made a return from injury against Ventforet Kofu but appeared some distance from full fitness, was once again missing from the Ardija line-up, as underfire coach Robert Verbeek adopted the 4-5-1 / 4-3-3 formation that pulled off a win over Nagoya Grampus 8 but has subsequently proved unproductive.
Enilton managed a place on the bench for the first time in several games but Salles again started as the main striker, supported on either flank by Chikara Fujimoto and Kota Yoshihara. Masato Saito returned from suspension in midfield with Yoshiyuki and Yosuke Kataoka, with the now-familiar back four of Yasuhiro Hato and Takuro Nishimura on either side of the Leandro / Daisuke Tomita partnership.
And Ardija started quite well, fashioning some decent chances and proving well worth the lead when Yoshiyuki trapped Fujimoto's cross to thunder home from close range five minutes before half-time. Stupidly, however, Omiya conceded almost immediately afterwards when Hisato Sato - the Saitama man whose mission in life appears to cause pain to his local side - nipped in front of Leandro to head past Hiroki Aratani from six yards out.
Even then the Squirrels could have gone in for the interval in front, when that man Yoshiyuki Kobayashi blasted the ball against the crossbar with Takashi Shimoda helplessly beaten, but no-one was on hand for the rebound. The second half saw Omiya probing without much effect, although on balance of play the visitors looked worthy of at least a point. Then disaster. A deflection in injury time with Ardija on the offensive fell kindly to Hiroshima's Yuichi Komano, who out-sprinted Yoshiyuki to strike the post then knock home the rebound for an undeserved victory.