Tokushima 2 : 1 Avispa
30′ Takasaki, 38′ Ozaki, 82′ Nishida
A second defeat in 4 days, and the first performance of the season which was below expectations.
It was the first time to face the 343 formation which has become very popular since Oita’s promotion last season, and I felt it was a case of not being able to address this formation which cost us the game.
We played with the same front 3 as last week, but they became quite isolated in this game as all three played quite narrow which played into the hands of the Tokushima defence.
Compounding the issue we still had Okada at left-back, who despite being a midfielder is not someone who gets forward well and meant that the wings were rarely used.
Against a 343 we really needed to draw players into the full-back positions; either one of the centre-backs to upset their shape or to pull a midfielder back and hurt their ability to hold possession. With Ishizu and Kanemori it isn’t unrealistic to think they could bring both players at times.
What actually happened was we allowed Tokushima to dictate the game and play it in a part of the pitch which they wanted to. Using a spear-head striker playing on the shoulder, with 6 players available to hold possession and pick up second balls we ended up not being able to get quality balls to the 3 players up field.
When Tokushima took the lead it wasn’t a big surprise, but was totally avoidable. A long, hopeful ball forward made it past the defensive pairing of Kazuki and Tokio, but still had a lot of work to do as Takasaki and Kazuki ran back towards goal. Takasaki knew exactly what he was doing in waiting for Kazuki to make a tackle and going down straight away. It was a clear foul, but one which was totally ‘bought’, and just needed Kazuki to stay on his feet.
Takasaki got up to easily convert the resulting penalty.
Tokushima were steadily making chances, while only Kanakubo was really threatening the goal at the other end where despite having 3 strikers on the pitch, all playing fairly centrally it was his late runs into the box which were looking most dangerous.
Rather than equalise we went 2 behind. The central pair of Tokio and Kazuki seemed to be operating with Tokio trying to read the play and intercept, while Kazuki stayed back and made clearances. Not a bad plan in itself, but one which was caught out after 38 minutes as Tokio was pulled forward and a ball came back into the box where as with the header against Kyoto it was missed by Kazuki and Okada on the wrong side.
The game was being lost in midfield where Nakahara and Park were not able to find outlets for their balls out, and easily gave up possession numerous times. Both are good players, but when Funayama and Sakata came on at hlaf-time it showed that as good as these young players are (and will be) playing away at a team who are better than their league position suggests it is good to have experienced players on the pitch (with youngsters coming on as and when it is appropriate).
We looked better in the 2nd half, especially after Nishida Go came on who probably played the best he has in an Avispa shirt, but being 2 goals behind Tokushima were able to make things even tighter and we struggled to pass through them, often over-playing things in the final third.
It was crying out for the game to be stretched a bit, but only Miyamoto really offered any width.
Eventually a goal came with a nice move started by Nakahara playing a diagonal ball in front of Sakata. This is the ball we need, pulling defences wider, to feet, in front of out attackers.
he looked up and played a ball straight to Nishida Go in the middle of the box who finished very well.
It looked like we could get something from the game if it was 10 minutes longer, but time ran out.
We have still had a good start to the season; 6 points from the teams we have played is ok, and I think that there were lessons from this game which may help us in the long run:
i) We can’t keep playing a midfielder at left back, especially with a very good left back on the bench.
ii) As good as Kanemori, Nakahara, Park, are, they shouldn’t have too much pressure on them to keep performing each week. Players like Funayama, Sakata, Nishida have the experience to know what to do on a rainy day, away against teams like Tokushima.
iii) The puzzle which is Jogo still needs to be solved. If it can be then we can go to J1.
My Man of the Match – Miyamoto
Was the only player who gave us the width we needed to disturb their narrow 343. Good in attack and defence.
We needed a player the same on the other wing, and frustratingly we had one sitting on the bench.