vs. Ventforet Kofu (report / youtube / ratings)   Leave a comment

Ventforet Kofu 1 : 1 Avispa Fukuoka
34′ Sakata, 47′ Davy

Avispa had a much improved performance on Saturday as they drew 1-all away to Ventforet Kofu, a result which I guess the manager and team are very pleased with as Ventforet have looked like they might be the best team in the division this season, and it is certainly a better result than some of the recent performances.

I don’t want to seem overly negative after a good result, but for me it merely papers over the cracks of some of the problems from this season. We got an away win against good opposition, but were quite lucky to do so. Ventforet seemed to be having an off day, and still probably had the better chances to win the game.

Lining up with the same team as which lost to Tokyo Verdy I wasn’t very hopeful of getting anything from the game, with Suzuki Jun and Sueyoshi struggling to get much of the ball again, but they did better than they have in recent games, while still losing midfield.

It took another moment of supreme finishing from Sakata after a good run down the wing from Jogo. After getting the ball in a little space Jogo chose to take on his man (something I’d like to see him do a lot more) and put in a low cross. Sakata showed why he is second top scorer for the division with a world-class near post finish over the keeper.
Two things shone out from the goal: 1) Jogo running with the ball rather than holding up up and passing back into the centre, 2) a low cross into the box rather than being lifted into the middle where our strikers aren’t the best in the air.

The first half finished with few other chances. The best of the rest being a shot from the angle of the area by Genki which hit the outside of the net.
The only other interesting point was Davi getting increasingly angry about decisions going against him. Koga came into his own in this situation knowing how to niggle things a little more, but I would have loved Sueyoshi or Suzuki to go in quite strong on him a couple of times to see if they could upset him even further as he was always a risk.

Holding a lead at half-time I really wanted Avispa to kill the game, as they had failed to do against Kyoto. Exactly the same happened in this game with a goal within 2 minutes handing the initiative straight back to Kofu.
From a set-piece cross Avispa’s zone defence totally missed Davi running across the line and he comfortably headed past Kamiyama to equalise.
I don’t really understand Avispa’s curent obsession with zonal defending. In open play it makes a more sense, but even the top Italian clubs switch back to man-marking for set-pieces as it is so difficult to follow runners in this situation. I’d love to hear the rationale behind it as we it isn’t as if we launch quick counters from set-pieces.

It seemed like Ventforet would go on to win the game, but to be fair to Avispa they hung on, and after switching the ineffective Yutaka for Kihara started to look like they might be able to catch Kofu out.

Avispa got lucky with a tight offside call on Davi, and Kofu got lucky after Sakata launched himself at a cross from Kihara only to be left on the floor when Jogo collected and passed back into the box.

A draw was a fair result in the end, and a result which Avispa will be far happier with than Ventforet, but I do hope that the problems in midfield are not going to ignored on the back of this game.

Kamiyama – 7 Didn’t do anything wrong, and made himself big for a couple of shots he did face. Kicking was much better.

Omata – 6 His height proved useful on one cross into the box, but doesn’t go forward much and isn’t amazing in defence.

Wada – 6 Still doing OK at right-back, but nothing spectacular. Bring Oh in as soon as we play a weaker team, he will make more goals than he costs.

Koga – 8 Some great last ditch challenges, and nearly came out on top against the top striker in the division. His experience will make everyone in the team better.

Hatamoto – 8 Still maintaining his form. Stood up against another big striker, his slightly smaller size doesn’t seem to be a problem at the moment.

Naruoka – 6 Very quick to criticize others, but is the not playing to any great standard at the moment. Plays like someone on Winning Eleven who has just discovered the lifted pass buttons.

Suzuki – 7 Much better today. Found Jogo in space for the goal. Still want him to play 10m further forward.

Sueyoshi – 6Intercepted the ball well a couple of times, but fairly anonymous the rest of the time.

Jogo – 7 Great run with the ball to get the assist. I want him to run forward more often, he still hesitates and plays the ball back in field too much at the moment which is our weakest area.

Yutaka – 5 Works very hard, and never hides, but isn’t playing at a level which justifies a starting place.

Kim – 6 Did nothing wrong, his main strength is in attack, but maybe it was sensible to stay back more in this game.

Kihara – 7 Looked lively and made the Ventforet defence a little more wary about pushing forward.

Maeda – 6 I didn’t like his tarting line-up, but he made sensible substitutions at good times, and managed to get a good away point.

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