The race for J1 League promotion got even tighter this weekend as the MEIJI YASUDA J2 League’s 38th round played out despite rainy weather across the country.
Leaders Shonan Bellmare were rarely troubled by Ehime FC on Saturday afternoon at BMW Stadium, winning 1-0 thanks to Hiroki Akino’s effort.
The Kanagawa side need just one point in the next round to clinch automatic promotion.
Second-placed Avispa Fukuoka were dealt a surprising setback when they lost 1-0 to JEF United Chiba.
Takayuki Funayama scored the game-winner for the visitors in the 30th minute, while Avispa striker Wellington missed two penalty kicks and was shown a second caution in stoppage time.
V-Varen Nagasaki are now even with Avispa on points following their 1-1 draw against Nagoya Grampus, with both goals coming in the last three minutes of play after Robin Simovic’s 88th-minute strike was negated by Juanma’s 90th-minute stunner.
Tokyo Verdy climbed into fifth place after a dramatic 2-1 win at FC Gifu, while Tokushima Vortis are in sixth with 61 points following their 1-1 draw at Roasso Kumamoto.
Just outside the play-off zone are Matsumoto Yamaga, who trail Vortis on goal difference, Oita Trinita with 60 points, and Yokohama FC with 58 points.