The scoreline does not say it all as Kashiwa Reysol easily attained all 3 points from us in front of a bumper holiday crowd of 16,845 people who saw a lacklustre, heartless and mistake-filled 90 minute performance from Gamba that saw the atmosphere change to that of 2012 for the first time since we were promoted to J1.
With Oh Jae-Suk out of the game with concussion, Konno was forced to play at right-back, allowing Endo to move back into his defensive midfield role alongside Tatsuya Uchida. This meant one spare space up front and that was taken by Takahiro Futagawa, a man who had not started in the league since March. It seems that Usami was still not ready to start a game but was joined on the bench by his good friend Kotaro Omori after he missed the Kawasaki game with a slight foot injury.
I felt that we were the better side for the first 30 minutes of the game, looking confident and aiming high for the match. With the first 10 minutes lacking any real action, it was up to Lins to break the deadlock and his dry spell in the league since joining us, netting his first J1 goal in the 13th minute. Uchida had burst forward from midfield and passed centrally to Futagawa who was tackled ahead of the ball reaching him but the ball came loose behind him and Lins’ effort and desire got him to the ball, albeit the ball hitting his hand, but he controlled nicely and fired a low effort into the bottom corner from 20 yards with Sugeno beaten. Delighted for him after getting close on many an occasion, his effort made the goal so. A nice early lead for us against our recent bogey team.
We should have made it 2-0 10 minutes later after Lins battled well again and Endo was set free on the right. He kept his cross in and sent it to the back post and Abe headed back to Futagawa whose shot was well blocked by a covering defender. The visitors got warmed up with an effort by Kudo well saved by Higashiguchi. And after a pass mistake by Kurata set Reysol on the counter, the visitors got the ball out to their left and Kudo crossed to the edge of the area for Tanaka to shoot first time in acres of space and find the top corner via a hand from Higashiguchi. Konno had pushed up the pitch as we were on the attack and Uchida and Endo dropped back into centre-back positions with Iwashita out on the right and Niwa there. Either Uchida or Endo should have stayed with Tanaka, probably the former, and that is why we conceded. Poor by the “defensive midfielder”…
Uchida was quickly substituted for Myojin, a change understandable with the former by why Myojin? Surely Omori or Usami wold have been better choices considering Myojin was not going to add anything Uchida cannot do. Kudo should have it 2-1 to the visitors but put his effort right into the hands of Higashiguchi from 3 yards out, but the visitors did soon take the lead. Endo conceded a free kick 25 yards from goal, central, and Higashiguchi’s wall was awful, not covering his right post enough which allowed Tanaka to sweep the ball up and around the wall and into the unguarded side. A killer blow right on the stroke of half time.
We were dead in the second half. Kudo and Tanaka were set in on goal 10 minutes after the break with lax marking but they fluffed their lines and a culprit of that, Iwashita, should have headed us level from an Endo corner but he failed to his the target from 3 yards. Around the hour mark, Usami and Omori came on for Futagawa and Kurata. I still cannot understand why Abe was kept on ahead of Kurata – our number 13 showed nothing to say he was up for the fight whereas Shu was, and I can only continue my confusion here – reasons please!
We showed no goal threat from here on out with Fujiharu getting booked for a foul on Barada – his 3rd caution already this season. Usami had a chance to unjustly level the score to 2-2 in the 85th minute but his effort was blocked short of the line by a mix of defender and goalkeeper and that was that.
The fans were not happy with one ultra throwing his flag in disgust at the players and why I can understand his feelings, there was no need for that. I was left speechless and almost emotional about how we could not string passes together given our good 30 minutes – the players showed no desire bar one or two and we lacked any team spirit. The players are not giving their best and the manager is not getting the best out of them. I can accept us losing if we gave it our all – like against Kawasaki – but I cannot accept losing if we were simply awful.
Gamba Man of Match
Despite all the negativity above, I do think Lins was our best player. When he got a chance or a half chance – which was not very often – he did something with the ball and finally got a goal he has long deserved and threatened to get. He did put effort in and tried his absolute best whenever he could and I think he is finally getting his feet under the table. I still think he could do with not being the main striker because he is simply not that but I think the goals might come a bit more regularly with this monkey off his back, if he gets the service. Well done Lins, I am happy for you!
Higashiguchi – 5
Konno – 5
Niwa – 5
Iwashita – 5
Fujiharu – 4.5
T.Uchida – 4
Endo – 4.5
Abe – 4
Kurata – 6
Futagawa – 5
Lins – 7.5
Myojin – 4.5 (Sub)
Omori – 5 (Sub)
Usami – 5 (Sub)
We dropped a place to 15th, one above the relegation zone, thanks to the defeat coupled with a win for Nagoya Grampus. In the relegation zone, Tokushima Vortis got their first ever J1 win thanks to a 1-0 scoreline over Ventforet Kofu whilst Sendai and Omiya both drew. Our next opponents Yokohama F.Marinos sit above us by 2 points and has now turned the fixture to a must win for both sides.
Photo taken from J’s Goal. No copyright infringement intended. Original here.