Shonan earn point in stalemate with Kashiwa

by Gus Fielding


Promoted Shonan Bellmare crept into the top half of the J-League table on Thursday night after earning a point in a 0-0 draw away to Kashiwa Reysol.

Chances were few and far between in a scrappy game, but the result was enough to move Shonan — for 48 hours at least — into eighth place on 15 points from 12 games.

Reysol, who play South Korea’s Suwon Bluewings in the first leg of the round of 16 in the Asian Champions League on Tuesday, have 13 points from 11 games.

“This was the only J-League game on a Thursday night and a chance to get some exposure on the TV,” said Shonan coach Cho Kwi Jae. “We wanted to get three points, but could only manage one.”

“Kashiwa played their own style but we did not just try and match them, we showed our own game and did not lack in spirit.”

Both sides have lacked consistency in the league this season and there was an air of mid-table mediocrity in a tepid first half in front of 6,701 at Hitachi Stadium.

Neither team were able to stamp their authority on the early stages, although Shonan, who have fared perhaps a little better than many might have expected on their return to the top flight, twice had half-chances.

Shota Kobayashi fired wide after Kashiwa goalkeeper Takanori Sugeno failed to hold a shot and Naoki Yamada was only inches away from connecting with Kobayashi’s cross in the sixth minute.

Cristiano blasted a hopeful effort into the side netting as Kashiwa looked to respond, but that was the closest it got to a goal for either side before referee Hiroyoshi Takayama blew for halftime.

Cristiano went close to breaking the deadlock with a header that substitute Shonan keeper Lee Ho Seung, on for injured Yota Akimoto, acrobatically tipped over the bar seconds after the restart.

Sugeno then did well to thwart former Reysol striker Kaoru Takayama in a one-on-one on 71 minutes, and neither side were able to make the breakthrough.

“Obviously we wanted to win, but all the players did their best and played well on set pieces and so we were able to keep a clean sheet. I’ll take that as a plus,” said Kashiwa striker Masato Kudo.