Mito recovered after a bad loss in the last league match to defeat Kusatsu in Gunma. It marks the first win against that formerly weak team in over a year, and brings the two north Kanto teams to an even record for 2008.
Both teams played very well with special mention deserved for Kusatsu keeper Honda. Mito placed more seemingly unstoppable chances than any match in recent memory yet he displayed incredible reflexes to stop most.
The lone goal came from midfielder Akahoshi who fired a hard one-bouncer directly off of a Kusatsu clear attempt into the right side of the net. He would come close, hitting the post a few minutes later, making Mito the last J2 team to hit the post in a league match shot this year.
While Kusatsu now only has four points on the table since the beginning of September, Mito has now won 4 of 6 with an additional draw to take 13 out of a possible 18 points.
The win as the two nearest teams on the table drew together means that Mito is only a couple of good games away from 8th place. One of those teams, 9th place Fukuoka, will come to Ibaraki next week with an identical goal record as Mito. A win by the home team will mean a single point off overtaking a team with fewer goals and one less game to play. Fukuoka happens to be the only team this season that Mito could not yet defeat or draw in league play, but if the last win against them in the Emperor's Cup can be repeated, this will be rectified on Sunday.
Mito now has at least four more wins than any team below as no team ranked 11-15 have found win number 10 since Mito snagged it a month ago. Those teams are predictably made up of the two newcomers to the league and the two Shikoku teams, but also Yokohama FC, who have two of Mito's best players of recent years (defender and 2007 captain Yoshimoto and 2006 star striker Anderson) yet have the same lack of results as in their first J1 campaign last year.
However, despite all the positivity, Sendai's concurrent win means that Mito is mathematically eliminated from promotion possibility.
Other results have clarified next year's J2 a bit. Sapporo's loss confirms that team's return to the league it won last year. In the JFL, Honda FC continues dominating the second half of the season and seems locked into one of the J2 promotion spots sought after by the eligible teams. Tochigi, Okayama, Toyama, and Tottori all have a chance at the last three but if Yokogawa keeps staying in the mix only two of those teams will play professionally next year.