Avispa 2 – 1 JEF United
After the mild distraction of the cup Avispa went into a game with 3rd place JEF united knowing that a win would see them leapfrog the team from Chiba into 3rd place. Coming at the start of one of the most difficult set of fixtures possible (JEF -> Kashiwa -> Tosu) it would be a month of fixtures which would decide how Avispa finished the season.
With the Summer dying down a little the game started at 4pm, and had the biggest crowd I have yet seen at Level 5 (over 12000, with not a huge amount of away fans). While still hot, it looked likely to bucket down with rain at any time.
In what may have been a late change, the team starting for Avispa was different to that listed in the match-day programme with Jumbo starting up front in place of Hideya. I can’t say I was happy to see this. While Jumbo has come on and changed games recently I think that is a good reason to keep him as a ‘super-sub’ rather than bring him into the first team.
Sure enough the tactics to start the game seemed to be to pump it up to Jumbo and bypass midfield. Allowing big areas of midfield for JEF to play, their #7 was bossing the game and pushing the Avispa players deeper and deeper. This then allowed acres of space for central defender #31 to strike a good shot at goal to open the scoring. It wasn’t the strongest hit shot in the world, but with time and space to place it he beat Kamiyama fairly easily.
Avispa then had the tough task of trying to stretch JEF and find an equaliser. Chances were few and far between, with balls being hit up to Jumbo. I don’t know where his nickname came from, but it is as likely that it refers to his first touch being like that of an elephant as much as his size.
Fukuoka had a greater share of possession, but the only clear chance was after Sueyoshi cut into the box from the left, beat the first defender and only narrowly missed the far corner of the goal with only the keeper to beat.
Looking the team more likely to score it was then Jogo who had a chance to maintain his scoring streak as he was fed a through pass on the left side of the penalty area, in a position we have seen him score from in recent weeks. Striking the ball well again he managed to hit the near post with a strong shot.
At the other end Neto was being a constant threat to Daiki and Makoto with his strength and direct running and looked close to breaking free on a few occasions, but was generally being dealt with well. The teams went in at half-time with the rain pouring down and Avispa still behind.
The 2nd half started in a similar way to the end of the 1st as Avispa tried to work an opening in the JEF defence, but being repelled by a solid team keeping 10 men behind the ball. They were trying to play more football, with some neat triangles being worked in midfield, but never truly looked like being able to break through. For all their endeavor the JEF keeper didn’t really have a save to make.
At the other end Avispa were indebted to Kamiyama who pulled out a smart save to deny a 2nd goal which would have put the game out of reach.
Midway through the 2nd half the predictable substitutions of Kudo for Yusuke, and Okubo for Hideya were made, and the team started to look a little more likely to break through with this injection of fresh pace. JEF were already trying to waste time, with their keeper booked for time wasting. It was directly after one of these time-wasting episodes that Avispa got an equaliser. After a clash of heads between Genki and a JEF player in the box the JEF player was very slow to leave the pitch and then stood in the way of the throw-in to get treatment. In the best possible retribution Avispa scored from a corner after the throw-in. The ball found it’s way to Yusuke at the back of the box who hit a shot towards goal which was deflected in by a JEF defender.
At 1-1 with 10 minutes to play there was a buzz around the ground that maybe Avispa could win it. JEF started to look panicked, and when a through pass was played for Jogo on the right side of the box in was inevitable that he would be able to bend one over the keeper into the far top corner to give Avispa a famous victory.
I’ve not seen the bench celebrate as they did after that goal, and upon hearing the final whistle, and hope that the good spirits can be carried into the next 2 important games.