Avispa 0 : 3 Thespa
This will be a game largely forhgotten by Avispa fans for what happened on the pitch, but remembered for what I imagine will be Maeda’s last game at the club. On the final whistle he came over with the fans and in front of an angry crowd bowed in a gesture which seemed to me like he was saying goodbye. If he had any doubts then they would have been dispelled by they shouts from the crowd and even a special banner asking him to quit. I’ve never seen a more hostile crowd.
The performance by Avispa had been dire. Again handicapped by a totally useless midfield where Suzuki Jun and Okada made the Thespa number 6 look like a top quality midfield general rather than a J2 journeyman. Naruoka and Jogo tried playing narrow, tried switching wings, tried playing balls to the fullbacks and strikers, but nothing could solve the midfield issue. By the end we were playing with Koga as striker, having already tried 4231 for a while too.
Nothing was working, and while we were holding the ball for the majority of the match, again we made so very few chances. The best obviously coming from Kim Minje (again carrying the team on his own at times) who crossed for Sakata to head against the crossbar with Jogo making a real mess of the rebound.
Thespa were happy to defend deeply, and Avispa couldn’t find anyway to break down the defence. It turned into a boring crossing practice for the Thespa defence and keeper who were repeatedly easily heading clear or catching ineffective crosses into the box.
Maeda might try to claim that 2 of the goals were down to individual mistakes which no amount of preparation could stop, but I’d disagree, the mistakes were caused by players messing around with the ball and seemingly refuse to pass forward which resulted in them being caught out.
The first was scored after Jogo was caught in possession in his own half and the Thespa left winger was able to put a cross in which after missing the first forward was converted well by one at the back of the box.
They had 2 really good chances to score again as their Brazilian #10 started to run at people with a header flashed wide from 2m out and Kobara being in the right place to block another on the line, but Avispa eventually went behind as a ball from midfield was passed up to the Brazilian guy to choose his corner and squeeze it past Kamiyama from the edge of the box. He should have saved it, but with no midfield or defence ahead of him it is within his rights to say it should never have got near him.
The third was a goal which will be replayed lots of times. Kobara won’t be happy to see it gain as he was caught on the ball (again) by substitute Alex rafael who ran 1-on-1 at kamiyama and rather than try to take it past the keeper rifled an audacious shot over him from 40 yards out. The 3rd goal was indicative of Avispa’s whole afternoon; repeatedly passing back to Kobara to punt forward and lose possession when it would be easier to cross into the box.
Ishizu came on and looed better than Naruoka again, without being great, and Samir got a chance after presumably wondering why he wasn’t doing anything at a club in crisis. Samir actually did quite well with intelligent movement and a more direct game.
Thespa go above us in the table, and thankfully Kumamoto also lost to mean we aren’t yet in the bottom 5.