Avispa Fukuoka 3 – 2 Kateller Toyama
In my preview I had said it would mean nothing if we played our regular team and won; but I was wrong. It did feel good to win, with fans at Level-5 Stadium seeing their first victory since the 1st of July, but let’s not get carried away.
We managed to beat the worst club in the division with an injury time winner after twice going behind and were lucky to not be losing 3-0 at half-time.
The game started late after the prospect of watching another Avispa home game was even too much for God. The heavens opened and a huge electrical storm raged for about 45 minutes.
The supporters were told to get under cover and it started to look like the game might be abandoned.
Toyama must have the best supporters in the League, but even for them it would have been tough to travel all the way to Fukuoka for a mid-week game as the lowest club in the league only to see the game get abandoned.
The rain did stop, and the match kicked off an hour late at 8pm.
There were three changes from Sunday, with Kazuki coming in for the injured Kobara, Naruoka replacing Kihara and the very welcome addition of Osmar up front in place of Nishida.
Fukuoka stared much as they always do. Looking nervous, but trying to hold the ball. Naruoka didn’t seem to have learned much after a spell on the bench and was still playing in a free role, leaving the left side empty and complaining to everyone about everything they were doing. That said I was interested to see how Naruoka would link up with Osmar as his energetic movement would give something to aim for.
Unfortunately as so often has happened this season we conceded an early goal. The referee was being very fussy and after awarding a free kick on the left side of the box Toyama’s South Korean striker placed it over the wall to open the scoring.
Going behind is the worst thing that can happen to Avispa as it means teams can sit back and we don’t have the game-plan or confidence to break down defences.
As Avispa tried to open the defence they were open to counter-attacks and very nearly went further behind after firstly a shot was blasted over by a panicking midfielder on the left side of the box, and then the South Korean guy smashed against the cross-bar after Kazuki handled on the edge of the area.
The 2nd half started much like the 1st with Avispa holding most of the ball, but not really threatening to score (or even shoot). We were getting into lots of positions to cross, but through a combination of bad crosses and no serious aerial presence the Toyama defence was dealing with everything easily.
It was obvious that Jogo would be involved in any move where we did score, and after 67 minutes he played a dinked cross towards Osmar who equalised with a looping header into the far corner as he leant away from goal. A very hard move to pull off, and one which he deserved after doing a lot of running and playing with great energy in the few games he has had so far.
A draw was not good enough for Avispa and we went looking for a winner. We were still getting lots of opportunities to cross from open play and corners, but we have not looked like scoring from corners all season. In fact they are often good opportunities for the opposition as our central defenders both go forward and with no midfield to tidy up second balls it invites teams to run at us.
So it happened here, and after filming an attempted corner I didn’t stop filming as it was inevitable that we would give a counter-attack chance. A well taken goal, but we have given away about 10 goals like this this season.
The problem this time came after our man on the edge of the box, Naruoka Sho, passes the ball straight to a Toyama player with 8 of our remaining players in the box.
Being behind in the game again Maeda immediately brought on Ishizu and Kihara and Avispa entered frantic mode.
This is a time in a game when shouted on by the crowd they start firing balls into the box without any of the patience which is such a problem in the first half of games. It isn’t the prettiest style of football to watch, but it is definitely when we are at out most threatening and is how I would like to see us play all the time!
After getting a free-kick on the edge of the box after the still excellent Osmar had dropped his shoulder to get round the outside of a defender for the 3rd-4th time and be brought down the ball was aimed at Kazuki at the back-post.
Stretching to keep it in play the ball fell to Ishizu who shaped well and shot at goal only to see his effort blocked. Not standing around to anguish at how close he had been he nipped the ball straight back and hit an unstoppable shot on the turn into the top corner.
A draw was still a terrible result for Avispa and we kept looking for a winning goal. Toyama had started to try and hold on for a draw and invited us to attack.
With just injury time remaining Kihara slipped a slide pass through the defence to Ishizu who by now playing as striker and full of confidence hit a shot from the edge of the box to beat the Toyama for pace at the near post.
It was nice to see the team and fans happy, but I feel this game changes very little.
What I do hope is that from the 3 goals scored tonight Maeda (and the rest of the management team) have learned something.
– All three were scored by players who have not been regular starting members.
– The 2 late goals were scored when we were playing a faster more direct game, with young substitutes brought on.
– If you look at the assists and scorers (1: Jogo->Osmar, 2:Kazuki->Ishizu, 3:Kihara->Ishizu) then 5 of the 6 names are players who haven’t been playing this season.
– All goals were scored without long patient passing build-ups.