It was some time in the mid-1830s when Omiya Ardija last won a match in the footballing outpost of Saitama that is Kumagaya - and that run continued on Sunday evening in a very bad night for Squirrels fans. For the 2-2 draw achieved by coach Satoru Sakuma a week ago in his debut match at Shimizu S-Pulse is already looking like some wonderful dream when viewed in the light of an abysmal display against Kashima Antlers from the men in orange.
Indeed, the negative adjectives come thick and fast when describing this match and although there are still upwards of forty points to play for, unless something drastic happens to improve matters in the truly vital games that remain, it's looking more and more likely that Omiya will be back playing J2 football next season. Needless to say, one of those vital fixtures is next weekend against a Nagoya Grampus 8 side currently out of form and sinking down the table rapidly.
Wow, and another one
The only surprise on the teamsheet was a rare start for Naoya Saeki in place of Masato Saito, who dropped down to the substitute's bench. He was joined there by new signing Pedro Junior as Denis Marques and Kota Yoshihara continued their partnership up front. Further back, Yoshiyuki Kobayashi returned from suspension, while Leandro missed out following on from his booking against Vissel Kobe in midweek.
Just in the previous two games of Sakuma's reign, Omiya took the lead but couldn't keep it. Denis Marques slotted home a penalty in the 25th minute after a foul by Mitsuo Ogasawara, who was eventually sent off for a second yellow card. But after that, it was totally downhill. Marquinhos equalised shortly afterwards and subsequently there were waves and waves of incessant Kashima attacks, with Ardija keeper Koji Ezumi very fortunate on several occasions that the Antlers did not go in front.
Denis Marques fires home the penalty
Midway through the second half, Pedro Junior came on for Yoshihara and although full of energy looked raw and not yet ready for first team action. After the dismissal of Ogasawara with over thirty minutes still to play, the optimism amongst the Squirrel Nation grew that Omiya could somehow eke out a priceless win. But unbelievably, quite the opposite happened and Sakuma's team were on the backfoot for the rest of the game, run ragged by a Kashima side clearly hell bent on gaining maximum points.
Scrapping it out at a set play
The inevitable winner for the visitors came in stoppage time via a header from substitute Chikashi Masuda - a fitting end to an atrocious display that could very well have greater ramifications for the rest of the season. Next Saturday sees a crucial trip to Nagoya and the failure to take any more than a single point from the first three games of Sakuma's reign means that that match has now become the latest must-win clash if Ardija are to remain a going concern in J1.