Thespa Kusatsu 0 : 1 Avispa Fukuoka
There were fears that Avispa would be tired and injured after the hard-fought derby win against Kitakyushu in the rain on Sunday, but they pulled out another tenacious battling performance to take 6 points from 2 games and be level on points with the team in 5th.
The game started brightly for Avispa with what seems to be our away formation; Jogo playing as a central striker willing to drop back, with Ishizu and Kanemori running after everything either side of him.
It will likely be remembered as the game in which Kanemori scored his first goal for the club, but it was a goal which both manager and scorer conceded more to Ishizu than anyone else.
Collecting the ball on the right he chose to use a burst of pace to get past the left-back rather than play inside to Jogo and then put a fantastic cross along the 6-yard box. It is the sort of low, fast cross we have been looking to play this season and this time Kanemori was on hand to knock in from a metre out at the back post.
It was a goal which Avispa’s play deserved, and looked very much like the ‘Avispa Goal’, I have been saying for 3 years that I haven’t felt we had as our bread and butter.
There were times we played our luck in the first half, especially with balls aimed across the box towards the back post again, but Kusatsu didn’t have the quality to convert chances.
The 1st half ended, and 2nd half started with Avispa being patient and putting as much into not giving up chances as to score another goal.
It was what we needed, and Sakata having come on for Ishizu showed with some touches and movement he is still probably our best player, even if the goals have dried up a bit.
The game then totally changed on the decision of a referee who was seemingly duped by an increasingly desperate Thespa. I few of their players were throwing themselves to the ground, and on one of those occasions the referee decided to show a second yellow card to Kanakubo when it didn’t appear he had even touched the opposition player let alone foul him.
It was a decision made all the more worse as Pusnik had been trying to substitute Kanakubo for about 3 minutes prior.
The decision changed the game, and it left Avispa trying to hold out against an attack outnumbering them for 30 minutes, 3 days after a derby match in a monsoon.
Truth be told Avispa rode their luck a bit with some terrible finishing and lucky bounces, but above that there was some incredible defending.
Sakata ran like a mad-man in a right-back spot, Miyamoto was calmness personified, Koga got his head to everything and Funayama ran at everything for 25 minutes. One man out-shone them all however as Tsutsumi put in a performance with a couple of blocks and one tackle in particular 1-on-1 with an attacker after Mizutani was beaten which was unbelievable.
I had said last season that if he could start taking the game more seriously he could be one of the best defenders in the division. 9 games into the season I think he might already be there, and can still get better.
Sakata’s experience at the end helped to kill off time and get the win which it looked like the referee might take away from us.
The team will be very tired heading to JEF in 4 days, but must be in an upbeat mood.
My Man of the Match – Tsutsumi
Has shown in patches this year what he can do, and never more so that with 10 vs. 11 in this game.
Battled for everything, and put in blocks and tackles which had his team-mates hugging him in amazement.