Sanfrecce Hiroshima 0 – 0 Avispa Fukuoka
Avispa came into this game on the back of their best form of the season having win a couple of games in recent weeks, and fielding a team which is probably close to the first choice of the manager. Sanfrecce in comparison had seen their performances dip a little after a good start to the season, but went into the game without their manager on the bench who had been taken ill.
A clear winner wasn’t obvious, and it showed in the opening exchanges as the game was played largely in midfield with chances being distributed equally between the two teams in the first half. The best chance probably fell to Nakamachi who arrived into the box to meet a ball on the volley about 8 yards out in a central position, only to blaze over the bar. Other than that Avispa’s chances were largely limited to long shots from Matsuura and Sueyoshi, although Sueyoshi probably should have passed as 5 players were breaking forward while he chose to shoot from well outside the box when facing a NT keeper.
Hiroshima had a couple of good chances with balls being crossed into the box, and shot across goal, but Rokutan was having a good game claiming crosses and making a couple of decent saves from distance.
The teams went in level, both in score and in chances, and continued in a similar vein after the break. The game was starting to be summed up by patient build-up onto the wings, only for a cross to be wildly over-hit or lobbed up to the goal-keeper. Mikic for Sanfrecce was most guilty of this, getting into some decent positions a couple of times and then hitting crosses about 10m over the penalty box.
The game was calling out for some directness and it got almost as direct as you can get after a long ball upfield was misjudged by Hiroshima’s central defender allowing Jogo to run through on goal. He got his shot on target, but tried to place the ball to the keeper’s right rather than leather it and it was well saved.
At the other end Mikic continued to be the most lively attacking player for Hiroshima, but had very poor end product. He may well score a couple of screamers this season, but in this game alone he skied enough to not really make his ambitious shots at the far post worth it.
Avispa then nearly caught out Hiroshima with some diagonal balls across to the right side of the box. The first falling to Jogo who tried to pick out Naruoka at the back post when he probably should have shot, and then to Yusuke in a wider position who tried to sneak one in with the outside of his boot when he probably should have tried to shoot.
The longer the game went on the more inevitable it seemed that Hiroshima would score, and they nearly did after an Avispa corner when players were committed forward and a fast break saw Tadanari Lee running with the ball on the edge of the box. Stopping to try to force one past the keeper from the edge of the box it was well saved by Rokutan.
Both teams were looking like they might be able to scrape a goal out from somewhere and Avispa came closest to getting it after 3 minutes of injury time as a cross floated to the back post was well met by Shigematsu’s head. Timing his jump well he beat the keeper with a bullet header, only to see the ball bounce off the inside of the post and out. It could have just as easily gone in, or fallen straight to an Avispa player to knock in the rebound, but it is symptomatic of Avispa’s luck at times this season it bounced to safety and was cleared.
Avispa need to start getting 3 points in games like this if they are to get themselves out of this mess, but in any other circumstance it was a good away draw.