Avispa 1 : 1 Yokohama FC
As I arrived at the ground and got the match-day program I was half thinking I should have gone out to the beach. If possible the team had regressed from last week, with Yutaka coming in to start for Osmar, Kobara still playing out of position at right-back, and the totally ineffective Suzuki-Sueyoshi partnership in midfield.
The bench was full of players who will never be good enough rather than giving a chance to youngsters who might not be good enough, but it is impossible to know as they haven’t had a chance this season.
Of more interest to anything Avispa were going to do was how Jumbo would do. He had an expected warm welcome from the fans, and in the first 10 minutes showed that he could still cause real problems with his head, winning goal-kicks and set-pieces with ease.
Unfortuantely for Yokohama his strike-partner Kaio didn’t really seem very suited for that game. While he wasn’t a bad player in his own right, they needed a small energetic striker to collect Jumbo’s headers.
Avispa were actually passing the ball around quite well at times, but it is all too little too late, I don’t actually care if this bunch of players can start being able to pass forward with 10 games left of the season; they aren’t going to be at the club next year.
From one passing move high up the pitch Sueyoshi slid an excellent slide pass through to Sakata who had found space well in the box, but his finish summed up his confidence at the moment, scopping over from 8m out.
At the other end Kaio did have a couple of chances to open the scoring. First from a header he should have done better with after Kawata fumbled a cross, and then smashing a great volley on the turn against the bar which I doubt Kawata even saw.
It was a game between 2 teams who didn’t really have a creative spark in midfield, or cutting edge up front. The difference between the two teams wasn’t big, and Avispa could easily be where Yokohama are now in the table if just a few mistakes were cut out this season, but that still isn’t good enough.
Avispa should have a team which is easily in the play-offs and fighting for automatic promotion, not thinking we could be 8th if we’d been a bit luckier.
0-0 at half time the game was given a goal it hadn’t really looked like getting when Naruoka hit another contender for goal of the season. A corner was bundled clear to the corner of the penalty area where he hit an amazing volley into the top corner. It wasn’t the hardest hit shot, but his great technique allowed him to place it beyond the keeper’s reach.
In a collection of best goals of the season AVispa might be the best in J2, we have scored some incredible goals, but this sort of sums up the team. We don’t have a plan for scoring easy goals, and end up relying on the skilled players we definitely have to do something amazing. As good as some of our players are they can’t do that every week.
Avispa were looking good for 3 points, but with 20 minutes to go seemed to stop attacking and try to hold on for a 1-0 win.
This was never going to work, our defence is terrible and inviting attacks is the last thing we should be doing.
A couple of times we had chances for counter-attacks, and Jogo did get into the box with well timed runs and had chances he’d hope to score, but largely we tried to slow things down rather than try and play higher up the pitch.
With 3 minutes left to play the inevitable happened as a cross into the box ended up in the Avispa net. I don’t know who scored it, possibly even an own goal from some desperate defending but it was what Avispa deserved.
One incident which also served to sum up the season for me was the substitution of Naruoka. I was interested to see what the reaction from Maeda would be to a player who had just scored a goal which at that time was winning the game, but who seems to have fallen out with the management team.
He came off the pitch, walked straight past Maeda, who didn’t even turn to acknowledge his work. I don’t know what the situation is, I like to think that Naruoka has told him that the team is a disaster.