Yokohama FC 1 – 1 Avispa Fukuoka
24′ Kaio, 74′ Yutaka
Playing away against a team who have won 7 of their last 8 games, and with our form not very good you would say that we had no chance of getting anything from this game.
The reality was that for the first 20 minutes of the game we were at least matching Yokohama in midfield, with our attack now looking a little anaemic with Yutaka never being a big threat and Sakata being horribly out of form since his injury.
Jumbo is having a great season for Yokohama and was getting lots of flick-ons and making himself big in the box. Kamiyama kept us in the game after about 15 minutes as an attack down the left (Tsutsumi was having a terrible game again, nearly always caught in the middle of centre-back and right-back) ended up in the middle where Jumbo in space had his shot saved.
At the other end Sakata was set free through the middle by Yutaka with a great ball, but having created our first real chance in about 6 games he missed the goal by about 50cm after deftly chipping over the keeper.
Yokohama then took a lead from a penalty which they didn’t deserve. Kobara gave away a second penalty in 3 games, and again it was a very harsh decision. Caught a little behind a forward running into the box, but heading away from goal, when the striker threw himself to the floor after being brushed shoulder to shoulder.
The referee fell for it, and Kaio scored with a well taken penalty.
Avispa went into their shell a little after conceding the goal, and the energy seen in the first 10 minutes disappeared. Yokohama were making more chances than Avispa, with Kamiyama keeping us in the game with a couple of good saves, but there were some chances for an equaliser.
The closest of these were from a free-kick which Suzuki Jun sent narrowly over the bar, and from an attack on the left where Naruoka finally hit the byline and pulled a great ball back for Sakata who in his bad form totally missed the ball.
To finish the half was the worst defending from Avispa of the season as Koga and Kobara got in a mess and Kobara headed back for Jumbo to run at goal and somehow hit the post with only Kamiyama to beat.
The 2nd half started with the referee making another bad decision, this time one which favored Avispa as he missed a handball in the box by Koga after Jumbo climbed highest at a corner.
Avispa were having a few corners of their own, but hitting corners to the back post which no-one comes close to heading nearly always leads to a goal chance for the opposition on the counter.
Avispa were running out of idea and the game was calling out for a substitution. With just 20 minutes left to play Maeda changed things, and the substitution changed the game.
After leaving the pitch in tears after not being able to make a difference against Gifu (even though he did) Ishizu came on and was incredible, exactly what we needed.
Getting the ball and running at defenders, aiming to get into the box and hit shots at goal he was the best Avispa player I’ve seen for 2 months.
With fresh energy Avispa had more space and Yokohama started to tire. Sakata showed he still has the class and got past 2 Yokohama defenders on the right to cross for Yutaka in the box. He still had quite a bit to do, but pulled out a good finish to equalise.
Avispa then looked like they could win the game with Ishizu central to everything good. He hit a good shot on goal from the middle, dribbled into the box 3 times in 5 minutes, crossed for Jogo at the back post who only narrowly missed connecting and then passed for Suzuki to hit well at goal only for Schneider to make a good save at his near post.
As well as Ishizu coming on and for me looking a better option than Naruoka (let alone Yutaka) seeing Suzuki break forwards into the box was really refreshing and something I hope they do from the start against Ehime.
My Man of the Match
Ishizu was the guy who came on and changed the game, but if it wasn’t for kamiyama we would have been out of sight before maeda finally decided to change things.
He is having a very good season.