07 July 2009

Mito 1 - 0 Sapporo

It was a match that would have definitely resulted in a loss of position should Mito have lost but with all other nearby teams winning or drawing, a win still keeps 8th place and only one point separates 5th- 8th. The top 4 had trouble as well with draws for all but Shonan, and those positions seem a bit more reachable. Should teams below or teams in the top 4 falter on Wednesday, the second half of the season could start with the top 8 breaking away for promotion spots and the bottom 10 struggling to catch up. The opposite would bring all the teams right back to where they were on Friday.

The game itself was heavily defensive on Mito's side. Early in the game a foul in the Sapporo penalty box on forward Takasaki also brought that defender's second yellow card for the send off. Takasaki himself converted for his tenth of the year and he now leads the team's scoring list, exactly on pace to reach his predicted 20 goals for the year. While not quite on a healthy Arata's goal scoring level, he's made enough of an impact to be surely recalled by Urawa at the end of the year as Akahoshi was in 2008. Other great effort was shown by Yoshihara, who used a few great techniques to keep possession when pressed hard, and especially attacking midfielder/forward Endo. The second half went an astonishing eight and a half minutes of penalty time and Endo sprinted after balls to the very end, clearing them out and keeping Sapporo from easily linking anything. The defense did their job well, but it was the efforts of these three especially that sent more than 22,000 Sapporo fans home very dissatisfied.

Tomorow Mito hosts Fukuoka and looking at the schedule from now, there are a string of matches that Mito should be able to win. Just as the 4 game win streak that brought Mito to the top 3 early in the season, these matches could do the same depending on other team results. Even doing that, though, the problem would be to then beat Shonan and hope that Arata comes back healthy and as strong as he was in the match that injured him. If that's the case, and Mito is within striking position of the promotion zone, Mito fans will again dare to dream that the poorest kids on the block can be allowed a taste of the big time.

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