Avispa have been on a break this weekend due to the international matches going on, and as with the break at the end of April it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Having only lost once since April Avispa have now gone 2 games in a row without earning a point. The first of these games against Kashiwa was probably expected, and wasn’t actually a bad result, but the second was a disappointment coming against a Kumamoto side which hasn’t been playing very well and doesn’t have as much to play for as Avispa.
Both these games have had what I see as tactical errors by the manager.
It was the first away game for me to go to, and while driving down the highway I was a bit concerned the game might be cancelled as the rain was pouring down.
Arriving at the stadium I found a large multi-purpose stadium of the type I am really glad Avispa don’t have. By having a running track around the pitch you end up feeling a long way from the action.
The rain was till pouring down to the extent that the stadium started to flood where I was sitting and I was soon ankle deep in rainwater.
The pre-match entertainment was all cancelled, and it started to become apparent that a very direct game was going to be needed, rather than trying to pass the ball around the water-logged pitch.
It was then quite a surprise to see Jumbo dropped for the game. Not because of his performance last week which was terrible, but because when he plays it leads to the more direct game which the conditions needed. Hideya started up front and I was hoping he would be able to fulfill the role of a target man.
Unfortunately this was not the case and Avispa were trying to play a neat passing game when the conditions dictated that this was always going to be difficult. The ball was being given away in midfield over and over again, not entirely from a lack of skill by the players, but just because it was so difficult to control the ball or quickly change direction.
Despite holding a greater possession of the ball it was Roasso who took a lead after an attack which saw the ball switched from wing to wing until eventually finding the Kumamoto #10 totally unmarked on the right side of the box as the central defenders had been pulled out to the wing and Nakajima had not made up the space left as a result.
It still seemed like Avispa could come back into the game, but seemed to lose some confidence as the ball was being played around defence rather than midfield, trying to find an opening. Again this seemed to be totally the wrong to be doing as there was always the risk of a mistake with slippery conditions. The ball was given away weakly many times, but fortunately it remained at only 1-0 going into half time.
Going into the 2nd half Avispa started strongly on the attack again, but got totally caught out after again giving the ball away. Collecting the ball from a right-back position a long ball was played forward for the #10 to run onto and score past a helpless Kamiyama and give a 2-0 lead.
It had become painfully obvious that the game plan wasn’t working and Jumbo was brought on to repair the mistake which had been made in the starting XI.
The difference was immediate and with long balls up to Jumbo causing Roasso to scramble in the box there were always going to be chances.
The first of these fell to Hideya after Jumbo had knocked a cross down in the box. Turning smartly in the box he hit a shot which the keeper managed to half-block onto the bar. Hacked away by a defender on the line the momentum was with Avispa.
In a near identical position a corner was again knocked down and was hit into the bar again; this time rebounding onto a defender’s head and rebounding away to safety when it could just have easily gone in.
Finding the tactic which suited the weather conditions Jumbo was brought down in the box for a penalty while challenging for another high ball. The pressure for the penalty was put onto Yutaka. A crazy decision coming at the end of a game against his former club, but he must have felt comfortable with the pressure and volunteered for it and scored.
It was non-stop pressure from Avispa in search for the goal which would give them the point, and in injury time there was a chance from a free-kick to snatch a point from just outside the box.
While the shot was on target it lacked power and was too close to the keeper to cause any real problems.