Mito got back into the winning spirit Saturday with a very convincing victory over Sagan Tosu. The team fired 20 mostly very good shots and dominated Tosu just as the shot count would suggest, and more than the scoreline would suggest.
The first half saw Mito press continuously and end up in Tosu's penalty area for an extended period of time, and would draw two penalty kicks for the effort. It was the same Tosu player both times and so that player would be removed from the second half. The first kick was taken and converted for the first goal by midfielder Kikuoka. The second was taken by Arata, and was blocked to end the half. Arata actually isn't the best at penalty kicks but the team has a policy of the person drawing the foul to take the shot.
Arata would make up for it in the second half by racing through the defense and placing a low Takasaki pass directly in the net. The two pointed at each other in agreement before the ball even crossed the line... They have great chemistry and perhaps work better together than Arata did with Akahoshi last year. Urawa Reds rentals have proven themselves recently. Arata's goal put him even further ahead in the goal rankings, with nine goals so far this season. The closest rivals only have six. Mito will absolutely have to be promoted to J1 to be able to afford to keep him again next year... Keeping him in 2009 was already very difficult and almost couldn't happen.
Tomorrow's match at Kofu is a big one, like last week's Sendai match... A win puts Mito ahead of Kofu and has a chance of passing Sendai to be 3rd... and a very small chance of out-goaling Osaka to go 2nd. A draw or loss means, at best, staying in 5th, and a Tokushima win would then put that team ahead.
Arata isn't just J2's goal leader at the moment, but the team is as well. Mito's 21 goals lead the league, just ahead of Shonan's 20 and Cerezo's 19.