Avispa went into a game against Ehime needing a win to kick-start their season after a couple of disappointing results against Thespa and Fagiano. Still in 4th place and with a game in hand they are still very much in the race for promotion, especially with important games against Ventforet and JEF coming up in the next month.
The big news for the team was that after a lacklustre display against Fagiano, Jumbo had been dropped to the bench with Hideya brought back to the team with a chance to lead the line for the first time this season.
It was a change I was very happy to see as Jumbo was not doing a good job of holding the ball up, and I thought the more dynamic Hideya would help to stretch defences. I thought Yutaka would be a more likely choice, but was very pleased to see the younger prospect given the chance.
In the same hot and humid conditions as 2 weeks ago the team started at a fast pace, with Jogo looking like he is getting some good fitness back. Within the first 5 minutes the ball was being crossed into the Ehime box from both wings, with a clever interchange between Kudo and Yamagata creating a corner from the right wing.
Crossed towards the centre of the box it was met by a diving Nakamachi arriving late into the box. Bouncing off a defender, Genki was fastest to the ball and hit it into the goal to give Avispa the perfect start. Genki, Daiki, Makoto and Hideya ran off to celebrate the goal by dedicating it to Genki’s new baby.
As expected Avispa were looking much better with a more energetic front line. With Hideya and Jogo both running to pressure the Ehime defenders they managed to break up attacks before they started, and even produced a couple of chances by forcing mistakes.
Despite being in control of the game Avispa weren’t getting any clear shots on target and were then lucky to stay in the lead after a couple of chances fell to the tricky Josimar after mistakes by Sueyoshi and Yamagata. The first of these was stopped on the edge of the box by an incredible tackle by Makoto, the second stopped after a diving tackle by Miyaji (?) did enough to put the striker off.
Heading into half-time in a monsoon downpour I would have liked to see some long shots be hit towards goal. They practice these before every game, but never seem to try it in a game. Playing in conditions like yesterday a speculative shot from distance against a keeper who hasn’t made a save is a decent idea.
The 2nd half started much like the 1st one ended. Avispa Fukuoka players were putting in a great effort, chasing down balls, pressuring the opposition, but not making any clear goal-scoring opportunities.
Ehime had a couple of good chances to equalise. Firstly a left wing cross was knocked towards an unmarked striker right in the front of goal, only for him to miss the header and bounce off his shoulder for a goal kick. Secondly a chance made of very little by Josimar; collecting a ball on the edge of the box he controlled very well and hit a volley towards goal which Kamiyama saved well.
Having come on for Kudo, Suzuki Jun was playing with some energy on the right wing. Winning a free kick inside the Ehime half, he crossed a ball towards perennial target Nakamachi at the front of the box. Trying to head it backwards into the box the ball bounced off his back and ballooned over the goal-keeper to score Avispa’s second and make the game safe.
The game was pretty much over as a contest, and apart from a couple of chances to extend the lead which were both over-played when the attacking player should have just taken a shot, the heat and comfortable lead were played out to get the important win.