Avispa played their 2nd Kyushu derby in 2 weeks at the Level 5 stadium as Roasso Kumamoto made the short journey north to take on an Avispa side who had seen their promising start to the season evaporate with a run of 4 games without a win.
This lack of league form led to Avispa being low in confidence and in league position, especially after a hugely demoralising defeat to arch-rivals Sagan Tosu in their last home game which culminated with the home team being booed off the pitch. In comparison Roasso were doing much better in the league and were probably hopeful of getting an away victory which would take them close to the promotion spots to J-League 1.
The game started in ominous fashion as Avispa looked to be no better than they had been in the previous 2 league games which had resulted in uninspired home defeats to FC Gifu and Sagan Tosu. Up front they lined up slightly differently to the previous defeats, with Takahashi absent from the starting line-up with youngster Okamoto promoted, but suffered from the same lack of creativity and support as in previous games.
As a team they seem to be overly conservative at times with the defenders trying to play a passing game well within their own half, looking for an opening but more often than not being closed down and ending up under pressure from the opposition midfield. The one outlet which seems to be used repeatedly in this situation is a square ball out to left-back Nakajima who is a willing runner with a cultured left foot, but predictable for the opposition as the single angle of attack.
The opening 20 minutes were dominated by this passing game deep within the Avispa half, sporadically punctuated by a long punt upfield or a foul on a Roasso player after being caught in possession. Neither club had a serious effort on goal and it looked to be heading for another nervy game by players low on confidence and in need of a spark of inspiration.
Just as the game settled into this routine it was brought to life by a long punt upfield by Avispa goalkeeper Kamiyama which was flicked on by Nakamachi and smartly pounced on by Okamoto to slide it under the keeper and give Avispa an unexpected lead. After 2 horrific home defeats with almost no shots on goal let alone scoring any goals it caused the supporter in front of me to start crying and look around for someone to hug.
Having toiled with creating chances through Nakajima and Nagasato down the left wing for the best part of 3 games Avispa then scored a second goal straight down the middle with another long ball about 5 minutes later. This time punted up from defence and flicked on by Okamoto it was met on the volley by Nakamachi showing great technique to leave the keeper with no chance of making a save.
Having got into a winning position for the first time in 5 games the crowd were visibly buoyed and with the pressure taken off the team they started to play a much better game, moving their passing 20 metres further up the field and causing Roasso problems with every attack. Nagasato and Okubo started to play with a bit of energy and it was no real surprise when Avispa scored a 3rd goal shortly after the restart of the 2nd half. The only real surprise being that it came from a right wing cross, an area of the field which had been completely unused by Avispa in the 2 previous home games, with Nakamachi diving onto an unmissable header from a metre out to get his second and Fukuoka’s 3rd.
At this stage of the game it looked like a repeat of the 5-0 win against Kateller Toyama was in order, but Roasso had a spell of 5 minutes where they came back into the game. First forcing Kamiyama into a smart stop at his near post before undoing that good work by seeming to punch a right wing cross into his own goal. Listed as a goal by Ichimura I’d like to see a replay as from the far end of the ground it looked to have been an own goal by the keeper.
While I was then trying to work out how Roasso had scored, and possibly while they were thinking the same, Nagasato took it upon himself to run past 3 players on the right wing and drill a shot into the far corner of the goal almost direct from the kick-off. While undoubtedly a skilful player he seems to only really turn up and do things like this when they team is playing well.
With 25 minutes still to play it seemed inevitable that Avispa in this sort of mood would score again, and so they did with 2 more right wing crosses being headed in unopposed from more unmissable positions. Firstly by Okubo, and then by Nagasato to complete a 6-1 home victory.
Between these 2 consolation goals Jun Suzuki managed to hit the crossbar with a well curled free-kick having come on for man of the match Nakamachi, Oyama looked good as a second half substitute to move Takahashi further down the pecking order in my opinion, and a Roasso striker got sent off with a poor, frustrated tackle on the edge of the Avispa penalty area.
Final Score: Avispa Fukuoka 6 – 1 Roasso Kumamoto
Kamiyama – 6. Made one very good stop but seemed to let in a howler for their goal, and then nearly repeated it by letting a ball bounce over him. Still not totally convinced he is better than Yuji Rokutan
Nakajima – 8. Was the only attacking threat for the first 25 minutes again, and made some timely interceptions at the back. Smashed the megaphone of the Avispa cheerleader with one of his free-kicks.
Miyaji – 8. Solid at the back, and provided a good cross for the 3rd goal.
Tanaka – 8. Also totally solid, cleared up with no nonsense.
Daiki – 8. Didn’t stand out as he usually does, but still played very well and dominated the Roasso forward line.
Nagasato – 8. Scored a wonder goal and took his header well, but can drift out of games if things aren’t going for him.
Sueyoshi – 7. Worked, but is still part of a midfield which often gets bypassed and lacks creativity.
Nakamachi – 9. Excellent finish for the 2nd goal which settled the team down and supported the attack well when crosses started to come in.
Kudo – 7. The right wing was a threat once the game was won. Needs to do this from the start.
Okubo – 8. Showed much more heart than in previous games and held the ball up well.
Okamoto – 8. Took his goal very well to start the avalanche, but is definitely more of a finisher than a creator. A real alternative to Takahashi.
Suzuki – 7.
Oyama – 8.
Hiraishi – 8.
The mascots for 7 Kyushu prefectures came out onto the pitch and waved a bit.
Was funny as they all looked pretty crap, particularly Mustard Renkon girl from Kumamoto, but I would have liked to see them have a race or a penalty shootout or something which made them likely to fall over.