Following on from Yokohama FC's win at Sanfrecce Hiroshima on Saturday, Omiya Ardija began the match with Vissel Kobe in bottom position in the J1 table. In such a precarious position, every point is clearly vital and a draw under such circumstances has to be viewed in a positive light.
As expected, the Squirrels lined up with Seiichiro Okuno coming in for Yosuke Kataoka in a defensive midfield role and Terukazu Tanaka replacing Takuro Nishimura at right back. Enilton, Chikara Fujimoto and Kota Yoshihara played up front in the continuing absence of Daigo Kobayashi.
The game turned late in the first half, when Kobe striker Yoshito Okubo prodded his head into the face of Ardija defender Yasuhiro Hato face. Idiotically, Hato retaliated and got himself sent off - meaning that the already under pressure Squirrels would have to play for more than 45 minutes with only ten men. Later on in the match, Enilton committed a dreadful foul on Vissel keeper Tatsuya Enomoto and reacted like a spoiled child when the referee brandished a deserved yellow card.
Leandro fights off Kobe dangerman Yoshito Okubo
With the relatively early dismissal of Hato, Omiya supporters will have feared the worst at this stage in the proceedings, but in reality the defence did a good job and Vissel had few real opportunities to score. Ex-Squirrel Leandro had gone close with a long range effort as early as the first minute and that was about it from the home team, which could go some way towards explaining why they were booed off the pitch at the end of the match.
But while Kobe is famed for its expensive beef, Ardija can't score until the cows come home [NB. to record publicly that this is Omiya Fan's joke]. There were a small number of half-chances - Leandro had a shot saved by the legs of Enomoto in the first half, Enilton's cross to Yoshihara was headed straight at the keeper and late substitute Hiroshi Morita, of all people, had a long range shot in the final minute that was inches over - but neither side deserved to win on the balance of play.
This was a reasonable point, all things considered, and one that helps to keep Omiya in touch at the foot of the division. But the Squirrels quite simply must defeat Yokohama FC next week.