The goal that sent Avispa into J1?
With the game tightly contested at 2-2, and with Tokyo Verdy having missed some clear chances to snatch the points in the 2nd half, Avispa had one last chance in the 93rd minute after a free kick was awarded 8m outside the Verdy box.
Surprisingly it was Yutaka who stepped up to take it despite Nakajima and Suzuki Jun both being on the pitch. The decision was totally justified as he struck an unstoppable shot into the top left corner to send the stadium crazy, and Avispa one step closer to promotion. The shot had power and placement, and is going to be replayed a lot of times.
After last weeks dire chanceless game against Oita this week started off looking like it might be more of the same. At times at the start of the 1st half it looked like Avispa were playing Avispa with both teams having some decent build-up between defence and midfield, but then struggling with quality in the final third to get the ball into the box and get a shot at goal.
It looked likely that it would take a set piece to break the deadlock, and so it happened as a Nakaji freekick which wasn’t cleared properly found Nakamachi bursting into the box where he was clearly brought down for a penalty.
Kudo calmly converted the penalty to give Avispa the lead, although the nervous situation was made even harder by the referee ordering the penalty to be retaken after players infringed into the area.
Avispa looked good to finish the 1st half with the defence working well together to make life difficult for the Verdy forwards, with the offside trap working particularly well.
Starting the 2nd half they came out with the momentum firmly in their favour and nearly scored within the first 20 seconds. Using the usual routine of a long diagonal ball to Jumbo on the right wing, Jogo collected the knockdown and played a 1-2 with Jumbo to get the ball alone on the box with just the keeper to beat. Striking the ball well it needed a smart save to keep the score at 1-0.
Maintaining the pressure Avispa did later manage to double their advantage with a goal out of almost nothing. Hideya played exactly the ball I have been looking for Avispa to play recently as a direct ball played through the defence set Jogo through on goal. Confident enough to take another touch he finished well with a typical edge of the area Jogo finish.
It looked like Tokyo’s season was over, and Avispa had one of their three wins needed, when as with a couple of times this season the defence went to sleep around the 60 minute mark. It still needed a moment of skill to get the first Tokyo goal as Tokyo made their usual progress to the edge of the box, but rather than the move over-complicating and breaking down, the Verdy striker turned and struck a curling shot beyond Kamiyama.
Buoyed by their goal, and with the Fukuoka defence looking panicked the scores were soon level. A simple ball into the box was converted by the dangerous #16 as he managed to get in front of the defender and head powerfully at goal and score despite Kamiyama getting a hand on it.
The game opened up and became the most entertaining, end-to-end game I’ve seen this season. Both teams had chances to win it, Avispa’s coming largely through Suzuki Jun after he had come on for Hideya on the left. His ability on the ball is something which Shinoda needs to work out how to use more regularly. Two crosses into the box were narrowly missed by a free header from Jogo, and a volley on the stretch by Jumbo, to make it look like the game would finish as a draw.
Step up Yutaka to steal the points, and the Man of the Match award despite only being on the pitch for 15 minutes!