Avispa Fukuoka 2 : 1 Montedio Yamagata
9′ Nakajima, 29′ Ishizu, 74′ Kanakubo
2 games and 2 wins and the 2013 season has started very well. It leaves us as one of only 2 clubs who have a 100% record; the other is Vissel Kobe and while we have beaten Tokyo Verdy and Montedio Yamagata they have had an easier start with matches against Gifu and Tokushima.
The team came out looking very similar to last week with the only change being Jogo moving out to the right wing, with Sakata coming on as striker. It was a slightly more attack-minded formation (as Miyamoto dropped back to full-back), but one which I thought made the team a little unbalanced and allowed Montedio to get comfortable early.
Everyone knows how good Jogo can be, but when being asked to play a midfield role he can give up too much space and let teams play in the middle third of the pitch.
The problem was exacerbated by the midfield 3 of Nakahara, Okada and Funayama being a little isolated from each other and playing ‘one in front of the other’ rather than as a unit.
Montedio took the lead, and while it wasn’t directly due to issues with the formation they were certainly allowed to settle into the game rather than having the pace dictated by Avispa.
The goal was actually very good, and the team shouldn’t feel too bad to concede it. A ball was played out to the left wing from midfield where slick one-touch passing saw it move into the box and then be played out to the dangerous Nakajima at the back post. He could easily finish with the defence dragged out of position.
What happened next was very encouraging. Last season the players and crowd would have dropped a little, but you could get a real sense in the ground that everyone expected us to get back into the game with an obvious burst of clapping.
Going a goal behind I thought there was a slight tactical change, and it worked to make the team look much better.
Ishizu and Jogo tried to get forward a lot faster, and even switched wings at times, with the midfield 3 getting a lot more compact and closing the large gap which had previously been in the middle of the pitch.
Defensively you could see the centre-backs telling the full-backs to not get isolated, and with the game made tighter Avispa looked much better.
The equaliser came from an Omata cross as with last week. With Ishizu pushing forward (the formation was now more of a 433) Omata was able to cross into the box towards him. Ishizu made a difficult header look easy as he reached backwards and placed a header on target to score.
With a new shape Avispa started to dictate the game a little more, and while Yamagata still had chances I always felt we would be more likely to score.
As the game went on I was sure that with the weapons we had on the bench we would be sure of the win if it was still level after 60 minutes.
Kanemori, Nishida and Kanakubo came on to provide fresh energy. It was so good to see a manager brave enough to make all 3 substitutions to try and win the game. A few players picked up knocks, but the advantages of having fresh legs far outweighs the small chance we might have to finish a game with 10 men for the last few minutes of the game once or maybe twice in a season.
Kanemori was fantastic, running at tired defenders and picking out Jogo with his first touch of the ball. Nishida looks good on the right wing and gives defenders a headache. Kanakubo looked a class apart and could be the best midfielder we’ve had since Nakamachi.
Kanakubo got the winner after Jogo looked like he might have a chance to score when the goal-keeper came out to try and get to a ball before him. Just as it looked like the chance may have passed the ball was recycled to Kanakubo in space in the middle who hit an un-stoppable shit from out side the area to curl around and over the keeper.
We need someone who threatens to score from range, and hopefully this sweet strike was a sign of someone happy to hit it from distance.
Avispa saw out the match with few problems, and were more likely to score a 3rd than concede.
My Man of the Match: Omata.
Totally solid in defence and got forwards when he could. For the second week in a row he gets an assist with a well picked out cross into the box.
Official Man of the Match: Okada
Terrier in midfield and along with Nakahara closed down the space well after initially giving too much room.
nicovideo link Avispa Fukuoka – Montedio Yamagata