Heading into this weekend the promotion race to J1 was almost totally decided, Kashiwa and Ventforet have already done enough to definitely be playing top flight football, while the 3rd promotion spot was going to go to one of Avispa, JEF, or Tokyo Verdy.
Avispa were big favorites to secure 3rd place, but with all teams struggling under the pressure and all 3 teams involved in matches against each other anything could change.
Going into the match the Avispa players must have known that JEF had come from behind to beat Tokyo Verdy to pull themselves back into contention as Avispa’s main rivals. The result of that match also meaning that if Avispa could win just 3 out of the remaining 5 games they would be guaranteed of promotion regardless of what anyone else did.
With that in mind it was frustrating to see that Avispa were again lacking the energy and creativity to break down a resolute defence despite holding the majority of possession. The entire first half only saw 6 shots at goal, most of these coming from Oita, and most coming from long range.
Regardless of whether the team get promotion it is now totally obvious what the team needs. At the moment I am very happy with all of the team except for those at the top of the formation. During this game Jumbo was trying his best to get to the ball, but 90% of the time he ever went for the ball he was being penalised for having fouled by a fussy referee. Jogo is a decent finisher, but beyond getting the ball on the edge of the box and finishing well he does very little else in terms of creativity.
The quickest route to get these players would be to try to import Brazilian players, a pair coming together would be ideal. While teams like Kashiwa have Leandro Dominguez to try to break down teams set up to defend, Avispa don’t have anyone to play a ball into the box. During this game, time and again Avispa would get to the edge of the box through good play by Nakamachi and the wingers, but were then missing the cutting edge to get any further.
As the game went on it remained scoreless, and Avispa had Kamiyama to thank again for keeping them level after some good saves as Oita found opportunities from a defence which was becoming a little fragmented as they became more desperate for a goal.
With 10 minutes left to play an Oita player was sent off for a very innocuous challenge on Nakajima where there was a clash of heads, but seemed entirely accidental. This seemed to spur Avispa into action, and Hideya and Yutaka were both sent on to have 4 strikers on the pitch. At this stage Avsipa went totally offensive and dominated the game even more. It looked certain a winning goal would come, but with only 10 minutes left Oita were able to withstand the assault on goal and keep the game goal-less.
Avispa can now afford to draw 2 games and win 2 and be certain of promotion so the point is potentially useful, but with a win being so much more important I would have liked to see them attack more before waiting for the 80th minute and a man to be sent off.