In wet conditions in the north of Japan I was expecting a game of attrition between two relegated clubs fighting only to avoid finishing bottom of the table.
With rain belting down I was expecting Montedio to maybe have the upper hand with long direct balls bombarding down into the box in the swirling conditions, but couldn’t have been more wrong with Avispa finally getting the blow-out win they have deserved with their short triangular game clicking.
There were a few changes from the game against Shimizu with the most notable being the front 2 switched for Hideya and Yutaka, a move which seems a little negative to me as I’m not sure if either provide a solution for the future, but one which paid dividends in this match. Of all players in the squad these two are the most confident at taking shots on goal from almost anywhere, and Yutaka was directly involved in the first goal after just 2 minutes.
Naruoka was playing on the right again, and after staying in a wide position managed to beat his man and land a cross right onto the penalty spot where Matsuura did well to beat the centre-back with his feet. As Matsuura ended up getting kicked in the face the ball bounced down to the onrushing Suzuki Jun to score his first J1 goal. He rarely breaks into the box, and I think he needs to make a decision about whether he is going to focus on doing it consistently or develop his tackling and stay as a deeper midfielder because he doesn’t have the dynamism to maintain box-to-box.
Playing with the vigour an early goal often gives them, but has been so rare this season Matsuura then scored the Goal of the Season he has been threatening to do, wearing a crazy face bandage while doing so. Collecting the ball in the middle of the pitch he jumped over 3 tackles to get into the box and smash past the keeper for an amazing individual goal. He has always looked like he might score a goal like this, but it has taken all season and many managers would be saying to him to play the percentages and take a penalty.
Yutaka was dropping back when necessary and linking play with clever movement and scored a screamer of his own to make it 3-0 in the first half. Playing a ball to Sueyoshi who as with Suzuki Jun was taking a more advanced role than he has at times this season he collected a headed one-two and took an early strike on goal which surprised the keeper and left him motionless as the ball clipped the inside of the post and went in. On another day it would have whistled narrowly wide, but everything seemed to be going for Avispa today.
Their good fortune extended to the other end where Yamagata just couldn’t score. Firstly Kamiyama got a hand to a headed shot on goal which then bounced around the face of goal but got cleared, and then the ball hit the bar after another messy exchange in the Avispa box with Yamaguchi flinging himself around. It summed up the difference between J1 and J2 pretty well, and showed why Avispa have struggled at times this season with better team taking 90% of the chances they make.
With 15 minutes left to play I finally got what I have been crying out for with a youngster being given a chance as Ushinohama was brought on. There is no way of knowing how these youngsters will really perform in front of a crowd without being given a chance, the the rewards today were huge.
Having also come on Shigematsu intercepted a loose ball with 2 minutes left to play and played Ushinohama into the box. He still had a little work to do but finished well in the corner to score his first professional goal. While still happy to see such instant rewards for trusting youth he scored an even better goal bursting past the full back from the right to score a 2nd goal for the match and get himself a TV interview and be the talk of the away fans making the long trip home.
He should be getting a lot more game time next season, and after seeing an amazing bit of skill from him pre-season against Oita hope that there is much more to come from him.