The result on some occasions matters more than the performance - and today was without doubt one of those occasions, with Omiya Ardija squeezing past Yokohama FC in a relegation six-pointer thanks to Daisuke Tomita's late winner. Rumours abounded prior to kick-off that a failure to win the match would see Squirrels coach Robert Verbeek dismissed and the under fire Dutchman reverted to a 4-4-2 formation, after several weeks of mixed success with 4-5-1.
The suspension of regular left back Yasuhiro Hato brought about a major re-shuffle of the defence. Youngster Terukazu Tanaka made a rare start on the right-hand side, with Masato Saito slotting in on the left; Takuro Nishimura meanwhile moved up into midfield alongside Chikara Fujimoto and the central pairing of Yoshiyuki Kobayashi and Yosuke Kataoka. Kota Yoshihara and the returning Salles commenced the game up front.
It was just as well that the final score was of greater importance than the football on display from Verbeek's makeshift team, as Ardija hardly set the world alight. The most memorable aspect of the afternoon in many respects was the torrential storm that necessitated a break in play during the first half. The skies above Komaba suddenly turned jet black and then the advertising boards flew up in the air, as rain fell that was so torrential it was almost hard to believe.
Looks a bit damp out there to me, you know
Thankfully, after about twenty minutes the heavens closed enough for play to be restarted. Just before half time, Salles should have scored after being put clean through by Yoshiyuki Kobayashi, but hit it straight at Takanori Sugeno. Kota Yoshihara was his usual busy-but-frustrating self and on a good number of occasions got himself into dangerous positions - but wasted them all, coming closest to scoring when he hit the post after a cross from substitute Hayato Hashimoto.
Returning after two weeks out through injury, Hashimoto was more incisive than the hapless Salles even though he was played on the right wing. And it was his corner that was glanced home by Tomita for the priceless winner seven minutes from the end. A crucial three points, but the Squirrels were far from convincing against a poor Yokohama FC. Robert Verbeek seemingly lives to fight another day - and the hope has only increased amongst members of the Squirrel Nation that the club will act quickly to bring in Masashi Oguro.