Ehime FC 4 – 2 Avispa Fukuoka
3′ Arita, 9′ Naruoka, 42′ Urata, 46′ Arita, 61′ Akai, 81′ Naruoka.
After the poor display against Kyoto Sanga the team were looking for an improved performance with some new faces brought into the starting line-up. Oh got a chance at right-back in place of Wada, Samir started instead of Yutaka, and Miyaji played as a defensive midfielder with Okada absent.
On paper I liked a lot of the decisions, in reality it may have been the worst performance I’ve seen from Avispa.
Despite the new personnel the match played out in exactly the frustrating style which Avispa have been playing at times recently. The players in the squad are technically better than most of the others in the division, which might make their gameplan of trying to pass the opposition out of shape a good idea, but they don’t seem to be on the same page for most of the time and the ball rarely gets passed anywhere near the opposition half.
It is almost as if they have watched a video of Barcelona or Ajax and thought ‘That’s how we’ll play’, but unfortunately it is very difficult to make that work and usually requires the mindset drilled from about age 8.
Ehime were a team who would probably accept that they are not as skillful as Avispa, but totally destroyed us today playing a much simpler, better organised method which all of the players seemed to understand and adhere to very well.
I’ve seen an introduction of ‘Moneyball’ style play in football, and Ehime seemed to understand their percentages enough to know that if they won 40 headers, put 10 crosses into the box and forced play onto a certain area of the pitch they would likely win the game.
Avispa’s new team immediately had the wind taken out of them by a very soft goal. With Avispa’s midfield looking totally absent the ball ended up on the left wing where time and space was given to float a cross towards the back post. Between them Kamiyama and Kim allowed the ball to go unchallenged for Arita to take advantage and open the scoring.
Ehime nearly doubled the lead with another cross headed into the bottom corner, only for Kamiyama to pull off a great save.
It seemed that Avispa could get back into the game as it was fairly open, and after 9 minutes they equalised. Sueyoshi, captain for the day, hit a fairly soft shot from the edge of the area which ricocheted up for Naruoka to control with his head and hit a great volley into the far corner. It’s the sort of great goal Avispa have been scoring this season, but we need to start scoring simple goals.
Both teams looked like they could get another goal, but with Miyaji looking totally lost in midfield Ehime were the more likely and Kamiyama was called upon to make a couple more good saves.
When the go-ahead goal eventually came it was the sort of gift which Avispa have given a lot this season. After the ball was headed clear from the area Ehime’s full-back Urata headed a hopeful ball back into the box where rather than just clearing it Hatamoto headed the ball down and got caught in possession by Urata who had followed up his original header. He probably thinks he scored goal of the season, but it was in fact horrible defending. As a young guy making his 2nd start Hatamoto will have moments like this and I hope he isn’t dropped again.
It was the worst possible way to finish the half, but the game was open and I hope Avispa could do what Kyoto had done to us last week with an energetic start to the second half.
What actually happened was that having gone in behind Maeda made the incomprehensible decision to take off our best player and top scorer for the season (Sakata) and change to the 4231 system with Jogo as striker from last year.
Maybe he should have done this last week to try to claim midfield back, but this was a game where we needed strikers and he left a hopeless defender in midfield and took off our main attacking threat.
Ehime must have been laughing, even more so when another attack and cross down the left wing was converted by Arita to seemingly make the game safe.
Avispa were looking no better, and found themselves 4-1 down from the ultimate route-1 goal. A low goal kick from Ehime was allowed to bounce by Kobara and midfielder Akai ran on to score past Kamiyama and embarrass Avispa.
In face of being 3 goals behind I was hoping that Avispa might start to play a little differently, but they continued passing the ball around defence patiently looking for an opening.
I thought if they had given up on trying to score maybe they could at least bring on Nishida for his debut, but instead it was Yutaka who came on and to be fair made a couple of things happen with Naruoka getting a goal back and Jogo missing two clear 1-on-1s with the keeper.