Avispa Fukuoka 1 : 1 Montedio Yamagata
18′ Akiba, 52′ Jogo
Things didn’t look to be getting any easier for Avispa after their terrible April as they played the league leaders Montedio Yamagata at Level-5 Stadium.
Worse than playing the form team of the moment was that half of all Yamagata’s goals this season have come from set-pieces; something which Avispa have shown they cannot defend with their ineffective zone defence.
Despite the hard task ahead of them Avispa started well with Jogo playing as striker alongside Nishida Go, which is a hard-working strike-force which helps our problem midfield. It also allowed Kihara to start who has been our best player in recent games, and full of energy.
With some crisp passing around midfield it looked like we were gaining some much needed confidence, but without ever really threatening the Yamagata penalty box. Times the ball were going into the box it was from head level crosses, which were never likely to trouble the very big Yamagata defence.
At the other end we weren’t really being troubled but then conceded a sloppy goal which characterizes our new defence and the lack of communication between them.
A long hopeful ball through the middle was allowed to bounce and then Hatamoto and Wada were both weak in the challenge and Yamagata’s striker Akiba must have thought himself very lucky to lift the ball over Kamiyama to score.
Avispa lost some confidence, but still tried to pass the ball when they could. Naruoka was again trying to be a little clever, but one of these moves did nearly come off as a dummy to Omata was crossed well low into the box where Naruoka came within centimetres of connecting to equalise.
In the second half Avispa kept pushing for an equaliser, but were always in danger of being caught on the counter, and from corners.
Bizarrely Avispa then did equalise through a set piece of their own. A throw from the left wing was headed backwards by Koga from the front of the box and bounced at the far post where Jogo managed to beat Tokio to the ball and finish with a high volley which he made to look easier than it was.
Jogo was playing really, really well. On his return to striker he could have gone missing, but after gaining some confidence on the wing he was incredible as striker. Hard-working, and dangerous. He went off with cramp late on, but if he can give 70 minutes like this and go off with cramp then that is better than 90 minutes at a slower pace.
Kihara flashed a shot across goal which the Yamagata keeper parried wide, while at the other end Yamagata should have scored from a free header at a set piece sent wide by #3 and then somehow managed to not score when it seemed impossible not to.
After an Avispa attack was countered quickly by Yamagata there were 4 attackers running down on Wada defending alone. He slowed the attack a little, but it was still crossed to #19 1m out of goal and faced with an open goal. That he didn’t score can probably be put down to him only having 1 foot, but it would have cost Avispa the game 99% of the time.
The game ended with Kim Min Je pulling a muscle on an Avispa attack and then refusing to go off after we used all our substitutes. It showed real heart, and I hope he didn’t make his injury worse by playing on, but despite leaving in tears his effort was appreciated by the fans.
A good result in the end, let’s confirm it by scoring 2 in 20 minutes against Tochigi tomorrow.