Mito rarely has a draw game, but if it were to be against any team, it would be Tosu. The two teams play very similarly. Tosu definitely has more focus on defense this year than in years previous, though, and so despite being so far apart in the standings, Mito has scored six more goals to date in league play. In this game as well Tosu's defense was considerably more productive than the offense. Mito shot 20 times to Tosu's 10 and their goalkeeper had several fine saves. One of which was so close that the referee stopped play for a short time to make sure the keeper had not caught the ball across the goal line.
Tosu scored first soon after the second half began off of a corner kick, but otherwise keeper Honma had little to do as the defense effectively shut down most other dangerous chances. Other than that goal, the closest chance for Tosu came with a sharp shot to the upper right corner. Had there been an attempt to block the shot or punch it away as usual, it seemed destined to be deflected back into the net. So keeper Honma threw his arm in a circular motion in mid-air, and grabbed the ball, immediately flinging it away as he fell deep into the net. It looked like a play meant for basketball.
Mito's point came from defender and captain Hiramatsu, who after playing for years and never scoring now has four goals for the year. In fact, he now has his first streak of games with a goal, having taken the first for Mito in the last match against Kumamoto. Each of the four has always been the same way, as well... He stands at the near corner away from the goal on a corner kick, and heads the shot into the upper left corner. This time was more than fortunate placement though. After the match he said that he'd scouted Tosu's defense during corner kicks and found that there was a hole in defense, which is where he waited. Given his usual quality defensive play in addition to the goal, it is likely he will be placed in the leg's best eleven selection as he was last week.
The pitch itself was one of the worst I've seen, though. The team practiced hard on it for two days before the match and there were actual divots in the turf. I had to go out before the match and pack sand into some of them so the field commissioner would approve the day's game. It will surely be fixed before the next match at Kasamatsu, but the team may have to adjust practicing regimes.
This Saturday, Mito is very fortunate to take the round's bye. Other teams will play that day and then again on Tuesday. Tuesday's game will be in Hitachi city against Tokushima after having a rest and no travel. Perennial bottom team Tokushima will have just played a tough game with Shonan Saturday night, and then have to travel from the very early morning to Hitachi on Tuesday for the earliest game of that day. This game more than most points to a likely Mito win.