After 2 wins and a good away draw in their last 3 games Avispa would have traveled to Kitakyushu optimistic about getting all 3 points in their first ever J-League game against Giravanz.
I didn’t go to the game, but found out that one of the cable TV channels was showing the game, so could watch Avispa on TV for the first time.
There was only 1 change to the team from the previous week with Yamagata coming into the team at right-back with Miyaji dropping down to the bench.
Giravanz started the game with a good chance as Brazilian midfielder Wellington made some space on the right to cross into the box, but after that the first half was dominated by Avispa.
Genki fired a long range warning shot at goal in the 8th minute, before the first clear chance of the game fell to Okamoto having bounced down to him from a tussle in the middle of the penalty area. I don’t know if he thought he was offside but he seemed to very casually try to pass it into goal rather than shoot with full power and the keeper could make an easy save.
Avispa continued to hold the ball, but failed to turn their possession into chances as the final ball was either of low quality or resulted in an offside. It was nice to see an offside decision as it indicated that the midfield were trying to pass balls to the strikers rather than just kick it from defence, but having not played like this much previously they need practice to get their communication working.
Having held the ball for much of the half they were almost caught by a sucker punch right on half time as Wellington took a couple of players out of the game before spreading the ball to the left wing where #8 hit a good shot across goal which just missed the far post with Kamiyama beaten.
The second half continued in much the same way with Avispa having more possession, but failing to make really clear chances. A large part of this was that they were effectively playing with 10 men as Okubo was spending most of the game standing in the middle of the pitch waiting for the ball to land on his head.
The only good thing about his performance today was that it was so bad that the manager must have seen he needs to think of something new in attack. He has terrible touch, and his passes were so far out that at one point he nearly set up a goal for Giravanz by over-hitting the ball back into the Avispa box. With a fussy referee he gave away needless fouls at free kicks, and didn’t seem to be doing everything he could to get his head on the ball when it was crossed into the box.
At one point Kamiyama landed on him (one person I wouldn’t want falling on me) and it looked like Avispa might be forced into something new in attack, but he stayed on the pitch.
With 5 minutes left to play I gave up on the game as the more creative Avispa players seemed to have given up, and in pouring rain Giravanz were limited to long range shots (not a bad idea with the inclement weather), but then out of almost nothing Avispa scored the winning goal 1 minute into injury time.
Winning a free-kick on the right side of midfield the players grouped together on the edge of the penalty area awaiting substitute Suzuki Jun to cross into the box (presumably for Okubo to head over the bar). His initial delivery was blocked and returned back out to him on the right wing where he could come a little closer and try to flight in another cross. Making a slightly better cross at the 2nd attempt he still couldn’t totally clear the first defender, but for the second game in a row the ball ballooned up off the first man and fell favourably for Avispa.
Whereas against Yokohama it landed around the penalty spot for Daiki to challenge the keeper, this time it ballooned totally over the goalkeeper and landed in the corner of the goal; a horrible own goal which Avispa probably didn’t deserve. The Fukuoka players looked as surprised as I was that they had taken a lead, but after looking around briefly to see if the goal was allowed ran to celebrate with Jun who is unlikely to be credited with the goal.
While being very happy with 3 away points I hope that the poor performance was also noticed, with Okubo in particular needing to start playing for his place in the important game against Tokushima next week.