Get him, Yoshiyuki! Ryoichi Maeda rips through the Omiya defence unhindered
It's seven games unbeaten for Omiya Ardija now, after a well-earned goalless draw at Jubilo Iwata on Wednesday evening - the Squirrels fourth 0-0 match of the season. Robert Verbeek's team really should have won the game and would have done so had they taken one of the chances created - a great display from the Squirrels, but once again let down by woeful finishing. Ardija nevertheless played well throughout, out-shooting and generally out-performing a disappointing Jubilo side, and coping well with the the departure as early as the 30th minute of the injured Kota Yoshihara.
Verbeek later confirmed that Yoshihara suffered only a minor knock, but in the closing second of the match Brazilian defender Leandro was also taken off after he took a tumble in the penalty area. Prior to kick-off, however, Squirrels fans were aghast to see that in-form Daigo Kobayashi had dropped back to the substitutes' bench, after having seemingly got over the back injury that kept him out of the team for almost two months. As usual, there is a disappointing lack of information from the club with regards to Daigo's condition and supporters are therefore left to hope that Verbeek and his coaching staff were simply resting their star man as a precautionary measure in the context of the current busy fixture list.
Thanks. Well done lads. Cheers. Good one. Unlucky tonight. Yeah
It was Hayato Hashimoto who stepped in to replace Daigo - the only other change to the XI that beat Albirex Niigata on Saturday being the return of Yasuhiro Hato for Terukazu Tanaka in defence - and Hashimoto had a great chance to open the scoring in the first half when put through by Yoshiyuki Kobayashi, only for Jubilo's international keeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi to turn his shot over for a corner. The best opportunity for an Omiya goal, however, fell to captain Chikara Fujimoto. Substitute Enilton hit the post with a left-foot shot after weaving his way past several defenders and the rebound fell perfectly for Fujimoto, who more or less passed it straight to Kawaguchi from about six yards out.
The home side meanwhile had two notable chances to go in front themselves. Ryoichi Maeda forced a brilliant save from Hiroki Aratani, who got his leg to a goalbound shot that went over the bar. And 21-year-old midfielder Kota Ueda hit the bar from a free kick with Aratani beaten, after a questionable foul by Leandro.
But while Sky Blues coach Admilson made two substitutions at half-time, it was an unchanged Omiya who continued to have the upper hand in the second period. Enilton should have buried Hashimoto's excellent left-wing cross but glanced his header harmlessly wide when unchallenged in the area. And even right-back Takuro Nishimura - who had an excellent game overall - nearly scored the winner near the end, but shot straight at Kawaguchi after a great ball from Yoshiyuki Kobayashi.
Click here to see Robert Verbeek's post-match press conference [in English]: