30 June 2008

Mito 3 - 4 Sendai

My string of unfortunate home games continues as I needed to assist at the gate out of sight of the match, which turned out to be the biggest thriller in the league since, well, the last Mito - Sendai matchup that ended in a 3 - 3 tie. I could only see the middle of the second half. The sounds told the story though and then on TV after getting home, Mito went through yet another heartbreaker against a strong team.

It seemed as though Mito was done for in the beginning, after allowing a goal in 5 minutes and another soon after. By the time the half came to an end, Mito was down by three. Several dozen fans would leave during halftime in frustration.

After the restart Mito shifted to a stronger attack mode and would take advantage of a visibly tired Sendai side. First forward Arata took a cross from midfielder Muramatsu and tapped in what seemed at the time to be a consolation goal. Not too long later, Muramatsu would himself take a fantastic shot to bring Mito within one, and the home side cheered in slight disbelief with defender Owada's goal to tie it up.

Both teams fought hard to get the next one, and it was Sendai who could snag it. Mito then pushed to bring about the first 4 - 4 tie in league history and despite making great efforts and chances, things came to an end in Sendai's favor.

With Sendai's usual large away support, the stadium was about half and half as far as supporters go. After the match many opposing supporters spontaneously started talking with each other and making conversation, having bonded through experiencing two close and exciting matches this year. Assuming there is no fight for promotion in the third leg of the season for Sendai, I predict that the last match between the teams will have the highest attendance of the year at that stadium.

Also of note is the officiating... The Mito fans finished the day cheering the team but booing the referees due to constant strict calls. From what I saw as well, it seemed that some things were unfair to the point that the result may have been affected. It would also be unfair to dismiss the strength of the Sendai team too, though. I took a copy of the match commisioner's game summary sheet from the press room after the game and it seemed incredibly full, having seven goal slots and even more for yellow cards.

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