Mito played another hard game against a strong team on Sunday, and came away with a hard fought loss.
Head coach Kizawa traveled to Fukuoka in place of Kiyama, who was suspended from appearing due to being sent off in the last match vs. Osaka.
Mito continued its surprisingly aggressive offensive style in this match, pushing the lines forward and setting up numerous chances for shots. Despite the wealth, speed, height, and power of the Fukuoka side, not to mention the 15,000 to 20 fan support advantage, Mito stayed competitive until the end.
After a scoreless first half, Fukuoka opened the second with a quick goal from forward Kurobe. Mito would later equalize with a cross from Hori tapped home by Nishino, taking Mito's first goal of the year. It would seem that the game would end in a draw but a penalty later in the second half resulted in Australian Talay's first goal for Fukuoka through PK. Despite a few last minute chances from Mito, that's how the game would end.
Despite sharing the bottom of the table with Kusatsu at the moment, Mito fans have a lot to look forward to. Mito easily has the most difficult opening of the season, having now faced two promotion contenders and about to have three matches against the teams relegated from J1 last season. Even under these circumstances and with no coach direction for more than a game and a half of it, the quality of play is such an improvement that it seems unlikely for Mito to be considered as such a weak team this season as it has in the past. Taking a win or two in the next three matches or attaining two or three draws shouldn't be unexpected. The next match against Kofu (which I can unfortunately not attend due to work commitments) looks to be the best chance at a win among them. Kofu now has two draws with arguably the two weakest teams in the division, and if both Kofu and Mito play at their displayed levels, it's hard to predict a result other than a Mito win.
A small favor to ask anyone reading this, to not e-mail or comment on Thursday's match until the next day. I will need to wait until I get home on Thursday night to see the match and I don't want to know the result until I can.