Vegalta Sendai 1 – 0 Avispa Fukuoka
15 Shots 9
10 Corners 3
18 Free kicks 15
3 Yellow 2
1 Red 0
Despite having a public holiday last Friday my work decided I had to work and miss one of the biggest home games of the season against Kashima Antlers. It saw the first goal of J1 for Avispa, and Avispa holding a lead at half-time, but again coming away with nothing after a chance of points slipped away.
It seems like I might be saying the same thing after all games this season as again today Avispa had a really good chance of getting at least a draw but will be flying home to Fukuoka as the only team yet to register any points this season.
I was hoping that Sho Naruoka was going to be back in the team having served his suspension as I am starting to see him as our only hope of getting any goals (whether I am right or wrong to think this it seems my only hope at the moment), but the team lining up at the start was the same as in previous weeks with Hideya playing behind Jogo with Matsuura and Yusuke on the wings.
The match started well for Avispa, with a much more direct approach than in previous matches and this nearly paid immediate dividends as Matsuura sprinted onto a ball from halfway having sprung the offside trap and being through on goal. It would seem to be a dream chance for him to dribble and cut across the last defender to at least get a sending off, but he seemed to get the ball stuck under his feet and tried to cut inside allowing the defender to get in front of him and block.
The direct approach led to a second chance to open the scoring within 10 minutes as Daiki headed over unopposed from 6 yards out after a free-kick was swung in by Kim. You could see he knew he should have done better, but the way they were playing against the team in 2nd position in the League was promising.
Having had such success by getting the defenders to turn, with wingers chasing onto balls they then regressed back to the patient play around defence which has proved so ineffective so far this season and in the enforced friendlies.
Allowing the pace to slow it gave Vegalta a chance to play and start finding some rhythm. A niggly game of few chances it fell into a pattern of Matsuura trying to get involved but failing to ever beat his man, and the central pairing of Hideya and Jogo again being woefully ineffective with Sendai’s Korean defensive pairing nullifying all threats after the initial burst by Avispa. At the other end Vegalta’s North Korean striker always looked like he could score, but was being limited to long range efforts.
Just before half-time Nakamachi seemed to stop running and was immediately brought off. I don’t think it was due to any other player, but the fact that he came straight off even though it was 30 seconds before half-time is quite worrying.
As the second half started with Suzuki Jun in place of Nakamachi the game remained level. Vegalta started to look the more likely to score and Kamiyama made a couple of good saves, and Yamaguchi and Daiki both did good blocks, most amusingly when Yamaguchi managed to get the ball blasted into his face from about a metre away.
Suzuki Jun was showing that he has the skill to put players through and swung another free-kick onto Daiki’s head but he again headed over. Yusuke was getting into enough space to get crosses in, but predictably there was no-one close to getting onto the end of them and the Sendai keeper was untroubled.
With 10 minutes to go I was feeling that this felt exactly the same as the Shimizu match, and so it turned out to be as Vegalta scored what turned out to be the winning goal with 10 minutes left to play. A corned was played in and while Daiki was prostate on the floor the ball was headed back in across goal. Kamiyama was obviously impeded by the big Korean defender allowing Akamine to nod the ball in from a metre out. It definitely should have been ruled out for a foul on the keeper, but it wasn’t and Vegalta were leading.
Shortly after the goal there was a fracas right next to the Avispa bench after Tatsunori clipped the Korean defender around the ear off the ball and then got into a pushing match with him. Both players received a yellow card which resulted in the Sendai player being sent off. Tatsunori was perhaps fortunate not to see red, but it didn’t matter as Avispa played out the remaining 10 minutes against 10 men without creating a single notable chance.