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Ventforet fail to make stride to safety in draw with Tokyo

Kyodo

Ventforet Kofu missed a chance to move three points clear of the relegation zone after being held to a 1-1 draw at home to 10-man FC Tokyo in the J. League on Sunday.

Ventforet came into the game looking to extend their winning streak to three matches and appeared to be in position to do just that as Lins headed them in front and Peter Utaka was sent off for Tokyo just before halftime.

But Kofu was unable to make its numerical advantage count as Yusuke Maruyama headed Tokyo level in the 60th minute to earn the visitors a share of the spoils.

With five games of the season remaining, Kofu (28 points) is fourth from bottom, just one point above the relegation zone. Tokyo is 11th in the 18-team table with 38 points.

“With a one-man advantage the aim was to hold the ball for as long as possible and make our opponents struggle, but weren’t able to do that and came undone on a set piece,” said Kofu manager Tatsuma Yoshida.

“But we have to take the one point we got in our bid for survival as a positive, even though people will say we should have taken three.”

Tokyo had the first clear chance to take the lead at a rain-soaked Yamanashi Chuo Bank Stadium, Kensuke Nagai showing great control before his shot brought a sprawling save from Kofu keeper Kohei Kawata.

But despite the visitors dominating possession, it was Kofu that broke the deadlock in the 23rd minute, Toshio Shimakawa swinging in a free kick for Lins to power his header beyond the despairing dive of Takuo Okubo and into the top corner.

“We knew from training that set pieces would present us with chances and Shima put a great ball in and I was able to get a strong hit on it,” said Lins.

Tokyo nearly leveled when Yu In-soo’s deflected shot came back off the underside of the crossbar, but the Gasmen were reduced to 10 men when Nigerian striker Utaka was dismissed for elbowing Yusuke Tanaka.

However, all was not lost as Tokyo managed to snatch a point when Maruyama headed in Kosuke Ota’s free kick.

“Tokyo have got a lot of high-quality players like Kosuke Ota that can strike the ball,” said Lins. “Even with 10 men we knew they would have a big chance from that set piece.

“It’s disappointing to concede like that and we have to make sure it doesn’t happen again in our next game.”

In another J1 game, Cerezo Osaka defeated Sagan Tosu 2-1 away behind goals from Kenyu Sugimoto and Hiroshi Kiyotake.